Tips for Choosing an Advertising Platform for your Business Goal
From before they are aware of you as a business to the moment they purchase from you, consumers go through stages of intent for your product. As they spend time on various digital platforms, adverts help them navigate from not knowing anything about you as a business to considering your business against the competitors and making a purchasing decision. It is important to keep in mind how a marketing medium could help or hurt consumer intent. There are platforms that can engage consumers in every stage of their journey, and there are platforms better suited for specific stages. Let’s look at the funnel stages and the corresponding media suited for those stages.
1. Pre-Awareness – build awareness with this segment.
My favorite stage of consumer funnel is what I like to call “pre-awareness.” As a consumer, I love the blissful state of not-knowing that I need the pharmaceutical product with the long list of side effects that takes 5 minutes to disclose during the advertising break in “The Voice” our family watches religiously on cable TV.
As an SEM advertiser, I help many clients target pre-awareness stage of the funnel. The most straight-forward application of targeting this consumer stage is when an advertiser is launching a new business or a new product to be announced to the world. Another interesting application is when an advertiser knows that their target is entering the biological age or the life stage of high likelihood of needing the product while consumer is still unaware of having that need.
YouTube and publisher sites that are part of Google Display Network are great examples of where building awareness is most efficient. The main reason for that is that YouTube and Display Sites have a massive reach. An advertiser can usually reach between 80% and 95% of their target universe through Display and YouTube. The secondary reason would be the affordability of those channels. When people do not know anything about you as a business, it is usually best not to invest too much for reaching them just yet, as you may want to engage them more than once.
When they are a long way from considering your service or product, paying as little as 2 cents for having your prospective customer view your video or 50 cents to show them an engaging product image is the most inexpensive way I know of engaging a prospect by demographic and behavioral traits and being able to see how long they viewed the video or what did they do on your site after they clicked on an image ad. Targeting options on those platforms have become more and more advanced recently. To give a somewhat advanced but until recently unattainable example, a travel tour operator can target 55-65-y.o. seniors in-market for Asia-Pacific travel on Google Display network and on YouTube as follows:
Massive reach and affordability of customer engagement make those platforms the best choice of medium for the advertising goal of raising awareness.
Other non-search platforms offer different environment suited for various business goals. Family- and community-oriented audience spends time on Facebook, professionals visit LinkedIn, Instagram is most known for Beauty branding and Artistic expression. Twitter is believed to offer quick information in condensed form engaging many unexpected verticals.
Each of the platforms is good for raising brand awareness in certain sectors. Some of those platforms, namely Facebook have turned into precision targeting tools when it comes to finding “cold prospects” based on prospect’s interests. Facebook’s targeting algorithm has turned it into a very effective advertising platforms for lead generation in pre-awareness stage, and helped secure it’s market leader position when it comes to massive reach of relevant audience with the purpose of engaging them even before they search for your product on search engines.
2. Research phase – Influence consideration now.
As prospects become aware of their need for service or product and start researching benefits, features, providers, prices, post-sale expectations, and more, advertisers need to be proactive and smart about putting forward relevant information in front of them. In this stage of the funnel consumers engage heavily with search engines, as well as the provider websites. They tend to read many consumer reviews. Google and Bing, as well as some smaller search engines are called that because they are designed to answer questions. Having become indispensable in the modern life of consumers, those platforms are also a must for advertisers looking to grow. Knowing what search terms your prospects are searching for on Google and Bing in their research helps advertisers craft their best ads and allows to decide how much they want to bid on the “slices” of the research stage.
For example, as college prospects progress from searching for “summer school” to a more specific “ivy league degree summer programs” or “affordable college prep course” their intent is expressed through their search. An ivy league college advertiser may decide to double up their bid to the “ivy league program” search, while lowering their bid or opting out of the “affordable prep course.” Advertising on search engines like Google and Bing is an effective way of engaging with your customers in this stage of the funnel, as identifying intent with good degree of specificity can easily be achieved here.
There is a subsegment of the research phase in this stage of the funnel, which consists of the prospects who have visited your site during their search for answers. Once a searcher left a (cookie) footprint on your site they can (and should!) make it on your remarketing list (note: some industries cannot be remarketed for privacy reasons, i.e. healthcare).
Remarketing to your prospects gets us back to using all of the main advertising platforms we’ve discussed so far. Remarketing is possible on search, and Display, and on YouTube. Through Bing’s display sites advertisers can remarket on such prominent sites as Yahoo! Finance sites and Huffington Post, notable examples of great remarketing opportunities of Google Display network include Weather.com and TheNewYorkTimes.com.
Remarketing is a way to up the frequency of your brand exposure to your prospect during their search phase. Studies confirm what we know through common sense: you need to engage a prospect more than once to make your mark with them. Remarketing also usually performs better than “cold” advertising in early awareness stages of the funnel.
Additionally, local service businesses and some specific verticals can take advantage of the YouTube search at this stage of the funnel. People search on YouTube knowing that their results are going to be in video format, as opposed to site links. So, they look for the step-by-step instructional videos.
A local plumber with a video showcasing their expertise in kitchen sink repairs can generate prospects through a very relevant exposure on YouTube by targeting their geographic radius to YouTube searches for “how to repair waste disposal,” or “diy waste disposal installation instructions” for instance. A local pizza joint can feature their pizza making techniques to the local “how to make pizza at home” searches and win a customer by showcasing their brick oven cooking process and the healthy ingredients they use.
YouTube has made the act of filming a smartphone instructional video and using it as a viable advertising medium a viable advertising tactic for growing small businesses. Maybe not for long, but to this day – March of 2019 – a view of a YouTube “discovery” ad can cost as low as 75 cents to $2. With video format being one of the most effective ways to engage your consumer, YouTube search is a very affordable and very effective option for the research phase of the funnel.
3. Purchase-ready – Drive action, don’t lose to competitor.
Search engines offer an easy way to know whether a person is searching for your product or service at the specific moment they have come to a search engine and typed in their search query. When they type “deep dish pizza near me,” “acne cream for sensitive skin,” or “2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment rental Pleasanton,” – they are raising the proverbial hand for the advertiser to see. Some of them are purchase-ready when they type up those phrases.
What helps to know their readiness to purchase is whether or not they use brand names, specific price points, geographic identifiers and some other “telltale” signs. Those searches are considered to indicate the end of the consumer journey to purchase and are therefore quite valuable. Search terms with such identifiers as brand, location, or price are the main examples on the purchase-ready search. They will happen on search engines again, some on YouTube, for example when prospects are doing last minute feature comparison between competing products.
During this last stage of the funnel consumers can be reached via search engines, as well through Display and YouTube, if they are in your marketing lists. Messaging often becomes quite important during this stage. Informing them of your on-going promotions, or offering competitor feature comparison can help them make the final purchase decision at this stage.
When your prospect is looking for you as a business, being at the right place at the right time is not random, many advertising media can help businesses achieve that. When your prospect isn’t looking for your business but you believe they will soon need your services or products, you should make sure you get on their radar. Some platforms are better than others for those purposes.
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