In this article, we will cover the steps and the reasons why planning your advertising strategy will help you save time and money.

This article is part of a series of articles for founders, marketers and anyone interested in the display advertising world. If you need to market your product or service you've come to the right place.

You can read the previous article of this series "Available advertising networks and their key differences" which covers some of the available Ad-networks you should consider depending on your type of business.

Why planning ahead make sense?

Taking time to plan ahead will reduce the risk to make strategic mistakes. Walking into a room in the dark without a torch can be painful, just like when you step on a LEGO brick with your barefoot. that could cost you an entire advertising budget with no returns and possibly hurt your brand reputation

==We don't want that!!!==

Instead we're going to use a three step process:

  • Understanding and setting goals
  • Defining target audience
  • Picking your winning lottery tickets

These 3 steps will allow you to avoid making mistakes that could cost you a lot of time and money.

Understanding and setting goals are important.

You don't want to choose the wrong advertising goal: What would happen if you chose the wrong goal and drove traffic to your homepage to then realize you have no way capture traffic into a potential customer?

We have seen way too many ads that point to a landing page that is too generic, not optimized for their target audience. That's another huge mistake that will cost advertisers a huge amount of money and a very diminished return on investment but also a low conversion rate!

These mistakes are real, they happen when you just started working in the online advertising world!

Let's jump into the first step of the process straight away.

How to define your advertising goals

To help you create successful ad campaigns, we listed for you the 5 most important steps necessary for you to plan & define accordingly your ad strategy and budget segmentation.

Start with the campaign goal

What are the outcomes you are looking for in this campaign?

  • Are you trying to attract new customers?
  • Are you looking to re-target visitors?
The best goals are specific: What are you trying to achieve with this campaign, and in how much time  are you planning to attain these goals?

On many open self-serve ad-networks, one of the first things you will have to define are campaign goals.

Google ads knowledge base has one of the most understandable explanations available. We strongly suggest you read their article.

Goals can be divided into 5 categories:

  • Sales - Ads reach customers close to making a purchase decision.
  • Leads - Ads delivered to relevant customers that have an interest in your products.
  • Website traffic - Ads to drive potential customers to visit your website.
  • Product & brand consideration - Ads to encourage leads to explore your offer.
  • Brand awareness & reach - Ads to increase awareness of your products or services.

Understanding these goals will help you define where display ads could fit into your current acquisition strategy (a strategy which will evolve over time).

Define your audience

The second step of your process is defining a target audience.

Targeting an audience is important: for example if you're a company delivering healthy cat food to your customer's door on a monthly basis, you shouldn't target owners of dogs, horses or birds. They're a totally different audience.

Do you think such a mismatched audience would to purchase recurring cat food? I doubt it.

Defining an audience can be done in multiple ways, the best is to use tools provided by your advertising platform and create small tight groups of people who match the characteristics of a "perfect customer" (also called a persona).

Most platforms have audience targeting options such as interest segmentation,  A/B testing, audience re-marketing and many other tools that give you the opportunity to precisely target your market audience.

Each platform has its own strengths in enabling you to match your ads with the best possible audience. This means that your audience, the one you have defined as your target, will see your ads when in the right context.

Context here means that the ad platform will show specific product-focused ads to a subset of customers that are ready to make a purchase.

On the other hand, with a different context, the ad platform could show ads to raise awareness of your product/brand to another audience, particularly those who haven't heard of your product or brand yet. These customers might be the ones who have just started researching products in a certain space or are just doing general research of what's out there available for them to purchase or consider purchasing.

Context basically allows ad-platforms to tailor ad-experiences to predefined customer journeys.

The more information you gather on your target audience the more it will help you define your segmentation & targeting parameters:

  • Websites your target audience visit: websites regularly visited like ProductHunt, TechCrunch & Reddit
  • Facebook/LinkedIn groups your audience are part of
  • Common keywords and phrases your target audience might be searching for in Google. Another powerful tool to achieve this is called Search Engine Advertising.

What is your budget?

How much are you willing to spend on promoting your business? If you have some ideas already, how much will these ideas cost to implement? Planning ahead is critical to understand how much money, and for how long you will be running ads - but also what goals you're setting yourself given the time and money specified.

Let's face it, you are looking to bootstrap your business  as much as possible, by definition your budget is tight.

This doesn't mean that you can't advertise with a small budget of $100/month, it just means you have to double down on being careful where you spend your money. Eventually as your product scales over time, your marketing budget will also grow, and so will the channel where you can advertise as well as your monthly budget.

It is noteworthy that most self-serve ad-networks (Google, LinkedIn, Facebook) give away free additional budget when you start to use their platform.

Below are some links to these promotional giveaway programs:

Define which products or services you want to feature

The more specific you can be, the better. That's why corporations will mostly focus on advertising particular products that they know are "hot" sellers or services, instead of global advertising campaigns like it was common before the internet became popular.

Specific product or offer advertising campaigns

Below are some subjects you should think of:

  • Are you launching a new product?
  • Are you looking to increase brand awareness?
  • Are you offering a discount to drive acquisition?
  • What should be highlighted?

Play your key strengths and analyze your competition

Put yourself in your target audiences' shoes: what makes you different from your competition? Are you cheaper? What makes you stand out? Use that to your advantage.

You'll want to exploit those strengths in your advertising strategy, and adjust the WHAT you promote, content-wise, accordingly.

Analyze your competitors marketing & advertising strategy:

  • What are they posting on social media?
  • Which type of content are they pushing on their blog?
  • How do they speak to their customers?
  • What types of banner creatives are they posting?

You can easily find the banners from competitors or even other types of brands who are currently promoting similar products online.

Looking at businesses outside of your own market can help you come up with great ideas that could be used in your own marketing content. Be careful, we're talking about inspiration, not copying.

How to find your competitors' ads?

  • Facebook Ads Library
    A comprehensive and searchable collection of all ads currently running from across Facebook Products.
  • Moat IAB search engine
    Hundreds of thousands of mobile, desktop, and video  advertising IAB banners at your fingertips.

What's next ?

Now it's time to take all of what you've learned and start thinking on how YOU can create your own strategy! Most people have similar initial strategies. Don't try to stand-out with some over-complicated strategy yet.

Take little steady steps first.
In the next part, We’re going to look at the necessary steps to effectively track and measure your upcoming advertising campaigns.

How to Measure and Track Advertising Performance
Tracking which ads are driving what actions on your website is critical, if not done correctly it could result in inefficient Ad spending (bad Return On Ad Spend, or ROAS for short).