When it comes to online marketing, the number of platforms, placements and opportunities out there can be overwhelming if you are just starting out on your marketing journey, which is why so many businesses often get it so badly wrong, all because they did not define their audience before they started to spend their budget.

If we go back ten years, the only real options to spend money online for advertising were centred around AdWords, banner advertising and the odd start up here and there, but these days pretty much every social media platform, every search engine and hundreds of leading affiliate firms are all looking for you to spend money with them. You can look at working with them one by one, use an agency to do it for you or use some of the online marketing platforms that bring it all under one roof, but if you have a budget, these days, you won’t be short of offers to spend it.

With so many options, what do you, who do you choose and how do you know you are going to get this right?

Generally, it comes down to audience. If you know the people you want to attract, if you know the people that are potentially your perfect customer, if you know the demographics of who you want to target, then this is where you can really start to really tailor your advertising and get the best results.

This is no different to offline marketing. For example, if you were selling kids toys, you are more likely to place adverts with cartoon broadcasters, children’s magazines and magazines aimed at parents, rather than spending your budget on a full page in SAGA magazine. You try to spend your money in the most likely places that your audience is going to “hang out” online, rather than trying to blow your budget getting your adverts seen everywhere. Whilst you might miss a few people, online marketing is about getting the best ROI from your spend, so you have to target correctly, otherwise, your scattergun approach will blow your pounds and deliver next to nothing.

The Right Platform

Unless you have an open-ended budget, you are going to need to put a lot of thought into your chosen platform or platforms where you are going to spend money. Google AdWords is perfect for getting in front of people searching for what you do, whereas Facebook is perfect for getting in front of people of a certain age who might be interested in what you have to offer. If you are targeting the older generation, then Instagram might not be for you, whereas if you only want B2B, then Linked In could be the right path to take. By understanding what each platform can offer, and then matching this with what you want to achieve, you can choose a handful of the right ones to use and therefore spend your budget more effectively.

The Right Audience Information

Platforms like Facebook offer a massive range of audience definition targeting that allows your campaign to hit the right people at the right time. For example, if you were an estate agent selling properties in Bristol, you would generally want to target Bristol and nearby areas, people between 35 – 50 and people that are either a current homeowner or similar. You can then go further and look at incomes, behaviours and interests, until you start to get your perfect demographic audience, which might take time to tailor and perfect, but will, in the end, deliver amazing results. Taking the time to understand the options open to you allows you to find the right people and audience, and this in turn, allows you to get your adverts in front of more people that might want what you have to offer.

The Right Advert Type

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with online advertising is hitting the right audience with the wrong type of advert. Although this is not a perfect science, understanding what type of adverts work best for your audience is a bit of trial and error, but equally, never trying new things will just mean you never get this right. For some audiences, video advertising delivers massive returns, but for others, they want a slower sales journey, maybe starting with a blog, which then makes them join your mailing list and then after email send 4, they become a customer. The point here is to try different things, see what works for you, and above all, never fear failure, as only through failure can you get success with the right advert type and format.

The Right Times

Rather than letting your advert run 24 hours a day, you should be looking at historic conversion data and then hitting the times hard that have previously been the most successful. 24 hour, 7 day a week campaigns often waste money, as once you know when you get the most enquiries, you should be spending more money at these times. Most B2B service companies should set a schedule that eliminates most of the non-working hours and usually Sunday’s, whereas if you are targeting people in their early 20’s, the weekends would be the ideal time. Whilst you might feel you are being stereotypical in some cases, it’s important to remember you are going for your best audience, so whilst you might miss some, you will hit the majority, and this is the key.

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