To stay competitive in the business world, marketing and advertising are extremely crucial – I know you know this. Paid ads are an important way of creating more traffic to your site. But due to the increasing demand from different businesses, it has become quite expensive especially if you lack experience in running ads. Is your team running ads as effectively as they can?

For someone who has never paid for an ad before for their own business (shoutout to content marketing and word of mouth), you might be wondering why I’m talking about this… At the end of the day, all that matters is that your product gets advertised and is generating enough new leads. And if this isn’t happening for you right now, diversifying your marketing strategy into paid traffic might be a good idea.

You might have an employee running ads, but what kind of results are they getting? Are you getting a significant return on your ad spend? Are you generating new leads and customers? Delegating marketing tasks to an existing employee who isn’t competent in the field is a mistake I see CEOs and business owners make too often. Everything – and I mean everything should have intention behind it and be working toward your end goal of building revenue. With that in mind, let me give you a list of the things to do before spending a single cent on a paid ad…

1. Know your business

This is the first thing you need to be aware of before even advertising in any way. If you don’t know your business, what details will you give for your business to be advertised? This includes knowing who you’re targeting. Your target customer is not everybody and the smaller your budget, the more narrow your targeting needs to be. The digital marketing world is more saturated than ever. If your messaging isn’t catered to anyone then it will get lost in the noise.

It’s also important to know yourself (as in your company’s mission, vision, and values). Unfortunately, many businesses fail to clearly define these and hurry into business with only the buy-sell idea. You need to know your products and services and what benefits they offer – not just features. Here’s why:

People aren’t interested in which version of your software you just released. They’re interested in how this can help them exactly. Does it help them with automation and save them time? If so, say that! Don’t leave it up to the audience to connect features with their benefits. Lead with benefits. Read that sentence again.

2. Know how a paid ad works

Before making any decision on who to go with, understand that there are various categories of paid ads online. Some include display ads, pay per click, and pay per view. In addition, when choosing an ad to run, you should compare the performance of different approaches like a free and boosted ad. Unlike a full ad, a boosted Facebook post has the best chances of being noticed because it will appear higher in users’ news feed. This usually generates the most likes and impressions, but I wouldn’t recommend it as part of your long-term ad strategy.

3. Have a budget

What is your average value of a sale? How much are you willing to spend for one lead (whether that’s a form submission or phone call)? What type of ad do you want to pay for? Know your limits so you know what your company can reasonably spend. Too often, I see companies being scared to spend more than a few hundred dollars per month. The issue with this is that it doesn’t give enough flexibility to test different ads and see which ones perform best so you can scale it. This way you aren’t throwing dollars into ads that the audience doesn’t engage with.

Another reason this is a problem because each platform has a learning phase that ads go through so that the platform can learn about your audience and place ads in front of people who are more likely to buy. With a small budget of a few hundred bucks per month, the learning phase will take a long time so you won’t get results as quickly as I’m sure you’d like. To be honest, I really wouldn’t recommend running paid ads unless you have a monthly ad budget of $1000-$1500 or more. And I learned this lesson the hard way.

For example for Google ads, the average cost per click is between $1 and $2 for the Google search network. For the Google Display Network, the cost is less than $1. LinkedIn costs vary by the advertiser but the average cost-per-click is $2 to $5. On average, Facebook has the lowest cost per click of about $0.27.

4. Be ready to track

You need to be aware of how the advertisement is performing. You can prepare for this by having Google Analytics that will make it easier for you to compare and track the performance of your advertisement. Google Analytics gives you information about the performance of your market, content, and product. You also need pixels installed onto your website so it can understand who’s visiting your site and what actions they’re taking.

5. Benchmark

Learn from other businesses that pay for ads, and how they do it. You can benchmark using the Facebook ad library to “spy” on competitors’ Instagram and Facebook ads. To do this, I suggest making a list of your top five competitors and search for their ads in the library. You will find information about the format or type of media they use, on top of Facebook notifying you whether there are different ad versions.

But don’t take this as the green light to copy your competitors. Chances are, they have room to improve, too.

6. Set realistic expectations

By realistic expectations, I mean do you expect people to see your ad and be banging down the door with money, ready to buy overnight? I’m not saying it’s impossible but you should set realistic goals that won’t disappoint you or expect miracles. Remember, you are also doing it for the first time and people take time to trust in something new. I always ask my clients to give it 90 days to be able to feel significant changes.

Paying for an ad is a great step to take especially when you need your business to remain afloat and above the competition. However, I always tell my clients not to rush but do their research because what works or has worked for someone else might not work for them.

Paid ads are one of the easiest ways to flush money down the toilet if the person managing them lacks strategy or experience—sorry, I won’t sugar coat it. If you’re ready to start making the most of your ad spend, Blubird is here for you. Let’s talk.

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