When you’re interested in product advertising online you have a number of different options. These options range from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising through search engines like Google to direct ad placement, and include several other alternatives. The most important part of product advertising online, though, is making sure that you have some way to measure the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. Measurement is important because you need to know whether your online product advertising is profitable or is costing you money.
Below are some of the top ways to approach product advertising online, and how to measure whether what you do is effective or not.
Varieties of Paid Online Product Advertising
Pay Per Click (PPC)
The easiest way to try out paid product advertising online is with Google AdWords or Yahoo! Advertising. By giving them a budget that you are willing to spend, along with information about your website, you can reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of search engine users. In this form of online advertising, you select and bid on key terms that are related to the products you sell.
For example, if your company sells a variety of cocoa and chocolate products, you might bid on the keyword, “hot chocolate“. The amount you bid on this term dictates where your advertisement appears in relation to other businesses who are bidding on the same keyword. Generally speaking, the amount you bid is the amount you will be charged if somebody clicks on your ad.
Let’s say that you bid $1.50 for the term “hot chocolate“. To keep things simple, assume that there’s a competitor who is bidding $2.00 and another one that is bidding $1.25. This means that your ad will appear in the #2 slot – below the $2.00 bidder and above the $1.25 bidder when a person does an internet search for the term “hot chocolate“.
The great part about PPC advertising is the fact that you can measure and monitor almost every aspect of your product advertising online. The goal here (as is the case with other forms of advertising as well) is to make more money from your online advertising than you are paying for your ads.
An alternative to PPC is display advertising. With this approach, you pay for the number of times your advertisement appears instead of the number of times it’s clicked. With display advertising you either contact website owners directly or work with one of many display advertising networks to get your product advertisement to appear on websites.
The price you pay for display advertising is known as CPM. This stands for Cost Per Thousand and represents the amount you will pay for every thousand times your advertisement appears (known as an impression). For example, if the rate is $2 CPM and your advertisement appears 50,000 times in a week, then you will be charged $100 (50,000/1,000 *$2 = $100) for that week.
Some websites also charge a flat rate for display advertising. For example, you may pay $500 for your online ad to appear on a website for a month.
Although not as easy as with PPC, you can still fairly easily measure your return on investment with display advertising.
For even more focus on your website, consider paying for product reviews. This type of product advertising online involves hiring a website, typically a blog, to write a review about one or more of your products. The blog includes a link to your website as well as a disclosure, as required by law, that they were paid to write the review. If you pursue the product review approach, make sure that the review is impartial. If the review seems too “rosy”, readers will quickly see through this veil and will be turned off.
If your products or services are local, consider paying for local listings. There are also free ways to do this as well. For example, if you’re a landscape architect in the Minneapolis area, then you might purchase a local listing on one of the many local directories. Local listings do best when you sell your products or services in a specific location and you also have a physical business address.
Affiliate programs represent an interesting approach for product advertising online. Your cost with affiliate programs is not out-of-pocket but rather an opportunity cost. With affiliate programs, you work with other websites and help them promote your products or services. When these websites (known as affiliates) send a visitor to your site and that person buys something from you, then you pay the affiliate a percentage of the sale (usually between 5% and %15).
Alternatives To Paid Advertising
Many online businesses find the greatest success in pursuing product advertising online that includes a combination of paid advertising as well as organic traffic. The term organic refers to the natural ranking that a website has in the search engines.
If you own a furniture store in Tampa, the content on your website might target keywords such as Tampa furniture store, Tampa discount furniture, Tampa furniture outlet, etc. If you rank well for these search terms, then your website will appear higher in search engine listings. When a potential customer searches for a term you target and then clicks on your website link, you don’t pay anything for that traffic.
Studies have shown that internet users generally trust organic listings more than paid advertisements and, as such, are more likely to click on a website link that ranks at the top of search engine results.
How Do You Know If Advertising Online Is Working?
It may take you a little while to zero in on the product advertising strategy that works best for your website. Like many learning experiences, this will require some trial and error. To know whether you have hit on a winning strategy though, you will need to know where your customers are coming from.
Use a web analytics program, like Google Analytics, to track where your website’s visitors are coming from. Drill down in the data that the program collects to find out whether the visitors to your website from a particular source are new or returning visitors.
You can even see if the visitors from your paid product advertisements are clicking through several pages to make a purchase or if they are “bouncing,” which means leaving your site from the page that they entered on. Google Analytics is free to use and easy to install on your website, which makes it a great tool for you as you refine your paid product advertising online strategy.
Product Advertising Online – Success Factors
While you will inevitably make adjustments as you refine your online advertising strategy, there are some key success factors that all online advertising shares…
- Getting a visitor to your site is much easier than having them buy something from you. Even with the best online advertising strategy, if a prospective customer doesn’t find what they’re looking for when they get to your site, you’re not going to make a sale. Make sure you do everything possible on your site to trigger a sale. Make sure your website is professional, your content is compelling, and you have a product that people want to buy. Test out a variety of ads and keep those that perform the best. Even small wording or color changes can improve the performance of product advertising online. Foster a sense of community. Just like the offline world, word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Get engaged with social media and cultivate online relationships with your customers. Honesty is the best policy! Don’t mislead people with inaccurate claims, descriptions or testimonials. This approach will only cost you in the long run and can even get you banned from some online advertising providers.