The purpose of marketing online is to get the Internet audience to take a certain action. In many cases this action is to click a link, fill a form, make a phone call, but it all leads to the ultimate desired action, which is to make a purchase. Whatever this action is, your job as an Internet marketer is to get as many people to see your advertising and take the action that you want. In the following few paragraphs I’ll outline an advertising campaign that gets results.
1. Understand the audience
Understanding the audience comes as a result of proper and thorough market research. Your main goal from the market research is to find out what people want so that you provide it to them. This gets you the best results out of your campaigning. There is another direction in market research is to create a trend, like soft drinks when they first came out. Creating a trend is going to be discussed somewhere else on this website, for now I’ll focus on the straight forward method of market research for the purpose of providing what people are ready to buy.
There are different methods for the market research, here are the most effective ones:
a. Forums and Yahoo answers: On forums people ask questions and get answers, and usually a discussion extends in a way people spell their guts out on the forum. In such threads you can spot one or more common problems that people would like to have solved. The same on Yahoo answers, most of the time people ask questions that they really need an answer for, and sometimes these questions are serious enough to form a trend of demand that a smart marketer would capitalize on by providing the solution.
b. Best sellers: Best selling books, equipment, apparel, or anything else is a way to read the market. Find out what those best sellers do, identify a problem that some of them solve, and take that problem and start searching forums and Yahoo answers to learn more about your audience. A best seller is so for a reason, that reason is probably a solution for a big problem in people’s life, or it could be just a fashion trend like the soft drink example above (no one needs a soft drink but every body wants one). A good way to know about the best sellers is to check on amazon.com and ebay.com. These two websites give precise information about what’s hot right now.
c. News, talk shows, and infomercials: I consider infomercials a short cut in market research. Somebody else did the market research, spotted the problem, and spent a lot of money developing a solution. If it sells on infomercials it means it could sell online as well. Talk shows on the other hand are a good way to predict a trend before it starts. For example, if on the talk show they discuss DIY baby food to avoid introducing preservatives to the babies diet this means that there will be a trend among parents to prepare this food at home. This means less sales for baby food jars and more demand on baby food recipes. The news, on the other hand, is a good source of information to predict a trend in the market so that you avoid losses or increase profit. For example, the unrest in the Middle East caused higher gas prices. Assuming that there are no lobbyists who will do their best to prevent it, a smart marketer could go on and invest in hydrogen fuel plants. Hydrogen vehicles are already in the market, and the availability of hydrogen fuel stations at the same density of gas stations will encourage more people to switch to hydrogen fuel vehicles, and eventually hydrogen fuel could replace fossil gasoline.
d. Spying on the competition: Part of it could be done by finding out what are the best sellers on the market on amazon and ebay. Another method is by spying on the advertising done by the competition. This could be done simply by going to the platforms of advertising, act as a user and see what will show up to you if you are a target of a certain market. For example, if you want to check what is being sold to a certain market to the audience of Google’s Adword program, to go Google and perform the search that you would do as a customer. If your competition is selling something there would show on the side or on top of the result as “sponsored ads”. Keep searching as a customer and dig deeper and deeper in the market and collect data about what is being advertised, what it does, any weaknesses you can avoid in your product, and the price point that the market is comfortable spending on the solution.
2. Align Yourself with the Customers
After you do your research and understand your audience you can use this information to tailor your message so that it fits with your audience. Here is how it’s done:
a. State the problem: Make sure you clearly state the problem that your audience have. As they say: admitting that you have a problem is the first step on finding a solution. The same applies here, state the problem in clear language that anyone can understand.
b. Sympathize with the audience: Unless you have this problem yourself it will be a lie to claim that you have it, just sympathize with your audience and connect with them emotionally. Show your sympathy both by words and by action. Your actions could be in the form of the research you did around the subject that you’ll share some of its results with your audience upfront.
c. Elaborate more on the consequences of the problem: Make the problem look even bigger by educating your audience about the consequences of this problem if left untreated. Do that gradually until you reach a scary point.
d. Show them the light at the end of the tunnel: Here you start showing that there is a solution to the problem and that you have this solution.
e. Call to action: Instruct your audience clearly about what to do to get the solution to their problems.
This will be your sales message that you can deliver as a sales page or a video.
3. Test the Market
After you aligned yourself with your target audience it’s time to test your product or conversion funnel, be it a product of your own or someone else’s. To test the market you can do one or more of the following:
1. Set up a pay-per-click campaign and target the exact questions, with all kinds of wording, that your product provides an answer for. Pay-per-click has been discussed before in the “advertising” page. It is always recommended to set one keyword per ad group for quality score and other optimization purposes.
2. Build a one-week-marketing campaign if you have more time than money and target the same keywords as above. It will take more time to test the market but you’ll have some web 2.0 property to use in future marketing efforts. If you’re not familiar with one-week-marketing campaigns it’s a method that drives organic traffic to any website using a link-building strategy that sends direct traffic and helps with search engine ranking on the long run.
3. Provide a free sample of your product and collect names and emails, and follow up with a survey. This sample could be a real physical sample like those free trial offers of Acaii berry and cellulite cream. It could also be a free chapter of your book or a limited trial version of your software. Whatever it is, find a way to present a free taste of your solution to the customers and get feedback. Use the feedback to enhance your product or change your sales message.
4. Plan the Campaign
Planning the campaign is done based on competitive intelligence and some creativity from your side. The competitive intelligence could be done by utilizing some tools to spy on your competition, or done manually so that you master the process and later design your own custom software to do it for you.
One of the most popular tools in the market today, and also the most affordable ones, is Spy Fu (will be reviewed soon on this website).
If you have more time than money then you can do it manually as I said above until you have the resources to build a custom tool to do it for you. The data you are looking for is as follows:
1. The highest converting ad copies: and you can get that by monitoring the most visited websites in your market for the ads that show frequently and for an extended period of time. An ad copy that shows all the time for a week or two is probably making money, which means they are getting the highest click through rates.
2. The most converting landing pages: are going to be advertised for frequently and for an extended period of time. Those landing pages could be accessible through different ad copies, which is also an indication of their success as a converting copy.
3. The sites those ads show up on are probably the best place to start advertising for your product. Also take notes of the advertising networks that monetize those websites as this could be your gateway to test your ad copies on those sites. You could also contact those website owners and buy advertising on their sites directly.
Make a spread sheet with this data and keep track of the number of days, time of the day, days of the week, and position of the ad on each website. This data, together with the demographics of those sites on which the ads are displayed, will give you a better understanding of your market. For example, if the ads that get the highest click through rates show and link to the best converting landing page keep showing on a site that’s most visited by women, ages 25-45, with kids, and their household income is above $70,000 it means your target is probably best represented by conservative middle class housewives.
Use the data you collected to create your own ad copies and landing pages, then advertise on the same sites you found your competitors advertising on. It is important here to stress on creating your own copies. Swiping other advertisers work can only harm you both and is not a good business strategy for the long term.