Online Advertising: Three Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

online advertising

Are you paying out for online advertising and not getting significant results for your business?  Make sure you aren’t making these 3 common mistakes!

More and more businesses are turning to paid online advertising, most commonly Google AdWords or Facebook Advertising, for a number of reasons:

  • Search engine optimization takes effort – and time and money, if you are using a professional SEO expert.
  • Paid AdWords ads at the top of Google searches can overpower the organic (not paid for) results, which are pushed down on the page.
  • Directories and other large sites are very hard to compete with in organic searches.  Even if you put in the effort, time and money — these businesses often have (or hire) a professional or team of professional online marketing experts and more money.
  • Paid online advertising can give a boost to your results when you are waiting for your organic search engine optimization efforts to ‘kick in’.
  • If you are having trouble targeting certain phrases organically, either due to lack of content or if you have a competitor that is very strong for those phrases, paid ads may give you results for these phrases.
  • If you have a specific product, service or offer you want to push; paid online advertising is a good way to get it out there quickly.
  • Getting relevant users to Like your Facebook Page is hard work!

I am NOT a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising expert.  Luckily my sites and clients’ sites do so well for organic searches that we’ve not had to do much online advertising, but because of some of the reasons outlined above, I have done some and I’ve helped a number of people recently with Facebook Advertising.

My experience as an online marketer, and especially in SEO, does give me some great insight into what works with paid advertising and I see people making three big mistakes that are causing them to waste a lot of money:

1. Not focusing on the transaction (aka goal) that they want to get a user to do via the ad.

2. Targeting too general an audience.

3. Using ad copy that is not relevant or specific to their audience. This could be because they are making mistake no. 2 noted above.

Don’t throw your online advertising money down the drain. Do not make these three mistakes and ensure your ads are focused and targeted.

Pick a specific action that you want a user to take after responding to your ad.

The most successful online marketing (or any marketing for that fact) is focused on the transaction that you want the user to take. Do you want the user to purchase a product, sign up for a course, call to make an appointment, join your mailing list, etc? If there are a number of transactions, you need to run a number of relevant ads.

Make sure that after a user clicks on the ad that he arrives on a page or post (whether on your site or Facebook Page, where it would be a tab or a post) where the user can get the information required to take the action and then immediately take this action. This is called a Landing Page (or post or tab, I guess) and brings the best results.  Don’t make them search for the information or how to buy or contact you, etc.


facebook advertising options


If you are doing Google AdWords advertising don’t run one ad for all of the keyphrases you’ve selected as relevant to your business. Organise the ads in relevant groups and have an ad specific to each group.  Make as many groups as needed to be targeted and focused.

You may only want to target what I call transactional phrases, phrases where the user is looking to make a transaction. For example: ‘buy sports watches online’ versus ‘sports watches’. These phrases will cost more per click but are much more likely to bring you a user that will buy rather than just browse.

You shouldn’t judge the effectiveness of your ads by how many clicks or visitors to your site you are getting; but by how many sales, bookings, mailing list sign-ups, etc. — results that actually mean a measureable value to your business. If you get sales worth $1,000 and you’ve paid $50 for ads to get those sales that’s a great result.  If you get 1,000 visitors to your site that haven’t purchased or contacted you and you’ve paid $50 for ads, you aren’t sure what value you’ve got from the ads.

Be careful if you are thinking of using paid advertising just to build brand awareness (unspecific traffic to your website or Facebook Page) — it’s an overly expensive and ineffective way to do this. If you are not being very specific with your advertising, make sure you are not paying much for it and carefully monitor the results you are getting, if any. Organic search and social media are much more cost effective for creating general brand awareness.

If you charge advertisers on your site by the amount of traffic or impressions your site gets, then you may consider this more general advertising to increase ‘hits’, but even then you’d find greater value for your advertisers, and therefore your own business, in getting more focused and targeted.

If you are using Facebook Advertising to increase Likes on your Page, you also need to watch that you are getting these Likes from the type of user that is going to then take the action that you are hoping to achieve from you Page.  You will get more measurable value from a Facebook Ad that goes to a relevant post or landing page on your Facebook Page or your website.

Target a very specific segment of your desired audience.

example of good facebook advertising

Unfortunately this ad is targeted to me because of my age 🙂

Using the sports watch example above, the user looking to buy a sports watch could be a sportsman himself or his wife looking to buy a watch for him, or a mother looking to purchase a watch for her sporty daughter’s birthday. The language in your ad and the audience it is shown to will determine the effectiveness of your ad.

If your ad is being shown to a very general audience, either because you are targeting very general keyphrases on AdWords or haven’t defined a more specific audience for Facebook Ads, you will not get the measureable value you need for best results.

 Use Ad Copy and Imagery that is specific to that segment of your target audience.

If your copy is too general it will not catch the attention of anyone, or it will get ‘wasted’ clicks from people that will realize they don’t want your product/service AFTER they get to your site/page – and you are charged for that click. If your ad copy speaks to the needs/wants/desires of a specific audience you will get more clicks that will result in a sale (or other action you are focusing on).

In the sports watch example, ad copy like “Sports Watches for Sale” is very general but “Manchester United Sports Watches: Get Yours Before The City Match” (if there’s a big rival match coming up)  is much more targeted.  On AdWords have it shown for Manchester United watches and Manchester United Sports Watches.  On Facebook have it shown to those that have Liked a Manchester United Page.

facebook advertising audience targeting

You may have a hard time relating my sports watch example to your own business, so give it a try yourself. Pick a product or service that has a measurable value, determine what you need the user to do to achieve that value (a sale, booking, sign-up, etc.) , determine the audience and make up an ad with relevant copy/imagery. Then pick another product, mix and repeat.

Always keep the following in mind with your ads.

In Google AdWords:

  • target only relevant phrases;
  • targeting transactional phrases will bring more specific, measurable results;
  • use the Ad Groups to show different ads and ad copy (and imagery if included) to relevant phrases;
  • select regional settings and channels to get very specific with your audience
  • run as many different campaigns, ads, groups, channels, etc. as is necessary.

For Facebook Advertising:

  • target only relevant audiences;
  • set up different ads with different relevant copy (and imagery) to specific audiences;
  • run as many different ads targeting specific audiences as id necessary.

Running a number of highly targeted ads takes more time and effort, but it will bring you a better return on your spending.

Don’t forget the other important selling points: call to action, speaking to a users problems/needs, etc., AND be sure to monitor the cost and results of your ads regularly and change your campaigns to improve.

FYI: not many people are doing Facebook Advertising well (I had a really hard time finding good examples, maybe because my location is set as Ireland and less would be targeting here), so if you ARE, you could really smash it!

Have you done any paid ads?
What results have you achieved?
Do you have any other techniques that have worked for you?

Leave a comment below and share with this community!