How to advertise online

Online advertising can be a useful addition to any communication campaign to help you reach the people you want to target.
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Want to get noticed online? Paying for online advertising can help you cut through all the information on the internet. The great thing about online advertising is that it can be a lot more targeted and specific, meaning you’ll be better able to reach the people you want. It could be a useful addition to any communication campaign that’s part of your communications plan.

How is online advertising different to traditional media?

If you’ve taken out an advert in your local paper, you know that unless you ask your clients, it’s hard to know if people see it, who they are, or if they take any sort of action on it. This means you can’t be confident that the right people are seeing your ad. Another issue is that your local paper may only come out once a week and your ad is tucked away at the back amidst other ads.

Online advertising is a lot different, especially when connected to a larger service or website. This is because websites capture a lot of data about the types of people who use their services. This means they can offer targeted options to advertisers which are a lot more specific than traditional media.

For example, you can choose to only advertise to people who live in your local area, are aged between 18-25 and are interested in sport.

This means that you can be more confident the ads you’re paying for are reaching the right audience.

Where can you advertise online?

Most major websites and social networks have advertising options for businesses. Each one is set up differently so it’s best to get started with websites that you know your target audience uses. Generally, Google and Facebook will be the starting point for many.

How does online advertising work?

There are a number of channels you can advertise your organisation.

1. Google Ads/SEM: you can pay for your organisation to show up in search results based on relevant searched key terms. Use Google Adwords tools to conduct keyword research and then craft high-quality, relevant ads that resonates with your target audience. Once you launch your campaign, you can then use Google Adwords analytical tools to monitor the performance of your campaigns and make data-driven adjustments to improve your results. 

2. Social media: Depending on where your target audience is, there are many opportunities to advertise your organisation through content that can be targeted towards a relevant audience. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube and most social media channels will allow you to create content that can be directed in front of your target audience. Many platforms also allow you to do A/B testing, where you can experiment with different ad formats and messages to see which campaign or content resonates better with your audience. 

3. Email marketing and newsletter marketing: many newsletters with high subscription numbers will let you pay for ad placement in their newsletter. Newsletters are an intimate way of sharing your message with your target audience. Select the relevant newsletters you wish to feature in and enquire through the newsletter contact details to see if they will allow you to advertise through them. If you have a low budget but highly relevant content, you could also try pitching to the newsletter contact/editor to ask if they will feature your organisation's content if it is of high-value to their readership. 

4. Influencer partnerships: these days, many people prefer to trust messages from an influencer than an ad. So it's important to consider whether your message would be best shared by someone who is influential, and whom your audience trusts. To leverage influencers, try working on campaigns or events together, sponsor posts to have influencers share your message or cause with their followers, and allow influencers to take over your social media account for a day to create engaging content.

5. Guest blogging or opinion editorial: Many blogs, online magazines or newspapers will allow you to pitch certain topics and articles to the editor. You don't usually need to pay for this type of content, but it must be high value, bring a unique point of view, and address a problem or issues that is relevant to the reader. Have a look at the existing opinion editorial or guest blogs to get some inspiration for what you could pitch. 

6. Native advertising: Many online publications and media offer sponsored ad placement for articles. You usually have more control over how you'd like your article to read with this form of advertising, but you need to pay for it. These ads are designed to look like part of the editorial content on the media platforms. 

7. Affiliate marketing: This involves collaborating with affiliates who promote your organisation in exchange for a commission on sales. 

8. Google Adsense: You can advertise on an advertising network for your ads to appear on other websites – some websites (e.g. news sites, blogs etc) have ads on their website that are supplied by an advertising network. If you create an ad with the advertising network (e.g. Google Adsense), it may also appear on the websites that use the ad network’s services. You can choose the type of websites you would like your ads to appear on. For example, a website about healthy lifestyles may run ads from Google Adsense. If you have an ad on Google Adsense that targets people interested in fitness or health, it may appear on the health lifestyles website.

What should we consider when advertising online?

Planning is crucial

If you’re paying for advertising space, you want to make sure you get the best return on investment. Optimise your ads through good visuals and good copy, fit for the ad space you're given. You may even want to test different types of ads, images or text to see which performs the best.

Have a clear message and call-to-action

When advertising, it’s important that your viewers are compelled to take action. Simply putting your logo and phone number on an ad may not be enough. Make sure your ad has a compelling reason for people to click it.

Consider a partner with an advertising engine

Many smaller not-for-profits choose to partner with an organisation like Chuffed for ad campaigns that are seeking donations. They have access to large databases and can work with you to tailor your ads and to access engagement data so you can see what's working. See how one not-for-profit ran a successful campaign in this way.

ConnectingUp offer a range of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Agencies, alongside Chuffed who can support you to tailor your ads and reach new audiences.

Measuring outcomes takes effort

Measuring your ads' performance will help you improve and understand your return on investment. Make sure you have your measuring tools set up and that you have time to monitor how your ad performs. Google Analytics is a good starting point, along with any tools you're provided with. Setting up tracking codes, website goals and comparing click rates can all take time but is definitely worth the effort.

Google Ad Grants

Google Ad Grants allows you to create text-based Google ads for free and get access to tools to help build effective campaigns that can display on Google Search when people look for information related to your organisation. 

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