Social Media Marketing vs. Other Types of Digital Marketing

Social Media Marketing vs. Other Types of Digital Marketing

When working with your marketing agency to strategize a new marketing campaign for your small to medium sized business, chances are the campaign will include some type of digital and/or social media marketing. One common mistake in developing digital marketing strategies is assuming that all types of digital marketing are fairly equivalent. In this article we will focus on the key differences between social media marketing and other types of digital marketing.

We will start this article with a brief description of each of the types of digital marketing:

  •   SEO
  •   Paid search (PPC or pay per click)
  •   Email marketing
  •   Display
  •   Geo-fencing
  •   Social media marketing – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn

Then we will follow with:

  •   Differences between social media marketing and other digital marketing channels.
  •   Key aspects of social media marketing where it is significantly different from other types of digital marketing.

Types of Digital Marketing

SEO

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is focused on improving where your business’s website appears in the list of search results when people search online for terms relevant to your business. For example, if you own a local dress shop, you want Google to show people your store’s website as high as possible on the search engine results page (SERP) when they search for “dress shops in Lancaster PA”. Ideally, you’d want the search engine (Google, Bing, or other) to show your store’s website in the first position at the top of the first page of results.

Using SEO to improve the visibility of your business’s website on those search results pages is important because most people click on the first several websites listed on page 1 of Google search results, and the same applies to Bing, Duck Duck Go, or any other search engine results page.

SEO is a strategy that takes a significant time commitment to yield results. Six months would be the minimum time to dedicate to SEO and successful companies consider SEO to be a continual, on-going part of their marketing operations. There are three basic types of SEO work:

  •   On-page SEO – Adding relevant content to your site such as informative blogs, detailed product copy, images, videos, interlinking across internal pages, use of relevant keywords in the copy, easy navigation, etc.
  •   Off-page SEO – Adding links to your site from other reputable sites and building a solid social media presence that has engagement from your audience.
  •   Technical SEO – Ensuring that all the back-end functionality and code of the site is optimized, including responsive design, schema markup, robots.txt, H1 tags, secure https, sitemap, etc.

Properly executed SEO will, over the long term, improve both the quality and quantity of your website’s organic traffic from search engines. SEO is an important investment because it creates a sustainable increase in traffic to your site, which should also drive more revenue for your business. This is different from paid digital marketing campaigns where the traffic will stop when the campaigns stop.

The data that is collected on your site because of SEO work can be used to understand your audience’s shared demographics, how they use your site, and how to optimize paid digital campaigns. Optimized digital campaigns will do a better job of increasing online traffic and elevating campaign ROI (Return on Investment).

Paid Search (PPC or pay per click)

This is a digital strategy used to quickly increase traffic and leads to your site. PPC stands for “pay per click” which means that every time someone clicks on your paid search ad, you get charged for that click but you do not get charged for the impressions from ads that weren’t clicked. Paid search ads are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs). Google Ads is the platform used to deliver paid search ads, and it offers three basic types of paid search ad campaigns:

  •   Text ads
  •   Shopping ads
  •   Local services ads

Each of these ad types appear in different positions (and in different formats) on SERPs. A properly set up paid search campaign will result in a relevant ad for your business appearing when a consumer is searching for a product or service that you offer.

Benefits of paid search include but are not limited to: immediate online product sales, increased website traffic, and increased lead generation. The amount you pay per click is based on how much you bid for that ad space.

One of the most important factors in successful paid search advertising is the use of keywords. Keywords are entered during the ad creation process to help Google, Bing, or other search engines determine which of your ads are most relevant to serve on the SERP.

For example, if your company wants to reach people searching for low-cost family vacation ideas, you will want to bid on keywords such as “low-cost family vacations” or “family vacation on a budget”. This way, when someone enters “low-cost family vacations” into Google, Google Ads will serve your ad and bid for the top spot on the SERP. To learn more about PPC advertising and keyword targeting, read through our Beginners Guide to Digital Campaign Targeting.

Display

Display ads are the typical rectangular and square ads you see when you are browsing news websites. Display ads can be designed as animated gifs, which convey more information about your business than a static jpg or png ad. Targeting for display ads includes interests, placements, keywords, and demographics. Display ads are best for raising awareness of your business’s brand. The old “rule of seven” in marketing is that a person must see an ad at least seven times to retain awareness of your business’s brand.

Building brand awareness is an essential ingredient in your business’s marketing mix. Research shows that consumers are roughly 70% more likely to take an action, such as making a purchase, when they are already familiar with a brand’s name, which means that digital display campaigns should be part of your on-going digital marketing strategy because they set the stage for other campaigns that directly drive online shopping sales.

Geo-fencing

Geo-fencing is all about location. To run a geo-fenced ad campaign you specify, using GPS coordinates, a location with a minimum radius of 50 meters. This location could be a school, a competitor, your own business’s location, or an event venue – basically any location where you know that your target audience will be present. When someone enters the fenced area with their location-enabled mobile device, their device is tagged so that your ads will be delivered to that person the next time they are on a website or app that is in the ad network. Geo-fencing tends to produce a smaller number of leads than other types of digital marketing, but these leads tend to be highly qualified.

The key caveat with geo-fencing is that you must be very confident that the people you want to reach are, in fact, present at a particular location. For example, if you wanted to fence the offices of one of your competitors to try and attract their workers for a job opening at your company, you’d need to be sure those workers are still coming to the office. With the rise in remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic it is now harder to be confident that office workers are actually in a company’s office space.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is not only a form of digital marketing, but also a form of direct marketing, meaning that you are communicating directly with an individual consumer. Email marketing must be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act, which requires that email campaigns have an unsubscribe link, be sent to people who have opted-in, have clear subject lines, and clearly indicate who the email is from.

Email marketing campaigns can be sent to your own list of customers and prospects or can be sent to email lists from proprietary databases of opted-in email addresses. These large email databases offer selection criteria by age, interest, occupation, intent to purchase, and much more.

After your email marketing campaign has been sent out, you can target digital ads to people who have clicked on a link in the campaign. Email marketing is a good choice to keep your audience engaged with new information about your products, brand, offers, and events. Email marketing is a more personal approach than paid search, geo-fencing, or display marketing.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is a huge presence in digital marketing with billions of users across the main platforms. Below are the approximate number of users for each platform as-of 2022:

  •   Facebook – 2.9 billion users
  •   YouTube – 2 billion users
  •   Instagram – 1.8 billion users
  •   TikTok – 1 billion users
  •   LinkedIn – 774 million users
  •   Pinterest – 459 million users
  •   Twitter – 319 million users
  •   Snapchat – 300 million users

Source: Hubspot State of Marketing 2021.

As a result of the dominance of social media as a communications channel, some companies, like Spotify, have decided to exclusively use social media for outbound communications to their users. Spotify uses Twitter messaging as their only form of customer assistance because it is so accessible and easy to use.

There are two fundamental ways to approach social media marketing: 1) posting organically about your business (and sometimes boosting those posts), and 2) running ad campaigns on social media platforms. For ad campaigns, each social media platform has its own setup process, ad formatting requirements, targeting options, boosting options, and unique demographics. Like email marketing, social media marketing can help your company engage with your audience in a more personalized way than SEO, paid search, geo-fencing, or display.

Using Facebook as an example, the big limitation in using organic posting to promote your business is that organic Facebook posts only reach about 6% of your fans. So, if you put a lot of time and effort into organic posts you are, unfortunately, wasting your time because a large portion of your audience will not see what you have posted. A business can choose to pay to boost its organic posts, which will reach a somewhat larger audience, but boosted posts don’t offer the full power of paid social media ad campaigns. The limitations to boosted posts on Facebook include:

  •   No option to A/B split test a campaign. A/B split testing provides important data so that you can learn what types of posts perform better.
  •   Limited targeting options. With boosting, you can only select one of these options: people who like your page, friends of people who like your page, targeted audience. Note that the “targeted audience” option within a boosted post only offers a fraction of the targeting options available in an ad campaign.
  •   Optimization is only available for engagement (likes, comments, shares). You cannot optimize for web traffic, video views or conversions.

Because of these limitations, which are similar on all social media platforms, we recommend that businesses post once or twice a month to let people know that the business is still open. Then take that time you would have put into organic posts and instead work with your digital marketing agency to develop highly effective social media ad campaigns.

Next let’s review the key differences between social media marketing and other types of digital marketing.

Key aspects where social media marketing is better than other types of digital marketing

1 – Social media is powerful for both brand awareness and online sales/lead generation.

Traditionally, social media was considered better for brand awareness than for generation of leads or online product sales. Social media’s strength in brand awareness rests on its ability to personally connect your business with people who are interested in your brand. Your brand’s organic social media posts and ads can be intimate, funny, storytelling, or candid in a way that is difficult to replicate through other digital platforms.

Social media ad campaigns can be displayed in users’ feeds, thus appearing naturally alongside organic posts. And, even though organic posting is an inefficient use of your time, your brand can post organically at no charge. Plus, your brand’s social media followers can like and share your organic posts and your ad campaigns, thus giving you free help to reach more people. All these aspects mean that social media remains a brand awareness powerhouse.

For online product sales and lead generation, paid search campaigns have long been considered more effective than social media. More recently, this conventional wisdom has been changing as social media marketing has been proving that it can be very effective for lead generation, selling products online, and even hiring for open positions. Insider Intelligence estimates that half of all U.S. adults made a purchase via social media in 2021. The revenue from online purchases via social media ad campaigns in 2021 amounted to $492 billion dollars and this number is predicted to more than double by 2025. Selling products online through social media channels now even has its own name: social commerce.

While social media has is now considered a highly effective channel for both brand awareness and online sales/lead generation, paid search remains more one-dimensional as a great choice for online sales/lead generation, but a poor choice for brand awareness due to the fact that paid search ads reach a narrow audience that is actively searching for specific products, services, or information.

2 – Social media has the most interest-based targeting of any digital platform.

If you think about all the things Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest or TikTok know about your habits, likes, and interests, you realize that those platforms have a lot of data about who you are and what you like. The benefit for a business in Lancaster County is that you can work with your digital marketing agency to leverage this interest information to craft audiences of people who are highly likely to want to purchase your products, services, or apply for your open positions.

The different types of targeting available in social media platforms perform best at different points in the marketing funnel, according to Hubspot:

  •   Social media demographic targeting is most effective at driving brand awareness.
  •   Social media interest targeting is most effective at driving purchase intent and consideration, if the size of the interest-based target audience is comparable to the size of a demographic-based target audience. Meaning, you want to be careful not to create an overly narrow target audience using interests because if the audience size is too small it could reduce the effectiveness of the campaign.

Below is a partial list of interest-based targeting options just for Facebook. As you can see, the options are extensive and detailed. The complete list can be found here on page 9, but beware, targeting options on all social media platforms change constantly. While the interest options below are for Facebook, every other social media platform has as many or more detailed lists of interest-based targeting available. The options are truly staggering and are all derived from users’ real, tracked behaviors, making these interests very accurate.

  • Hobbies and activities:
    •   Political and social issues (e.g. law, environmentalism, volunteering)
    •   Home and garden (e.g. furniture, home appliances, gardening)
    •   Arts and music (e.g. fine art, guitar, singing, dance)
    •   Pets (e.g. dogs, cats, reptiles)
    •   Travel (e.g. adventure, air, vacations, nature)
    •   Vehicles (e.g. SUVs, RVs, trucks, boats)
  • Business and industry:
    •   Real estate, architecture, nursing, higher education, construction, and more.
    •   Design (e.g. fashion, graphic, interior)
    •   Online (e.g. digital marketing, web development, search engine optimization)
    •   Personal finance (e.g. credit cards, insurance, investment)
    •   Banking (e.g. investment, personal, online)
  • Shopping and fashion:
    •   Beauty (e.g. cosmetics, tattoos, spas, hair products)
    •   Clothing (e.g. children’s, men’s, shoes, women’s)
    •   Fashion accessories (e.g. dresses, handbags, jewelry)
    •   Shopping (e.g. boutiques, coupons, luxury, discount)
  • Fitness and wellness: dieting, running, yoga, Zumba and more
  • Family and relationships: fatherhood, motherhood, weddings and more
  • Technology:
    •   Computers (e.g. hard drives, network storage, software,)
    •   Consumer electronics (e.g. cameras, TVs, game consoles, smart phones)
  • Entertainment:
    •   Live events (e.g. theater, concerts, nightclubs)
    •   Games (e.g. card, board, online, video)
    •   Movies (e.g. drama, fantasy, anime)
    •   Reading (e.g. e-books, magazines, manga, non-fiction, newspapers)
    •   TV (e.g. game shows, reality, talk shows)
    •   Music (e.g. hip hop, pop, rock, soul)
  • Sports and outdoors:
    •   Sports (e.g. soccer, tennis, golf)
    •   Outdoor activities (e.g. hiking, hunting, fishing)
  • Food and drink:
    •   Alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer, wine, distilled beverages)
    •   Cooking (e.g. baking, recipes, beverages)
    •   Cuisine (e.g. Japanese, Thai, French)
    •   Food (e.g. barbecue, vegetarian, organic)
    •   Restaurants (e.g. diners, coffee houses, fast casual)

Note that there are even more options for demographic and behavior-based targeting which are not listed above because the focus of this article is how social media channels are different from other digital channels, and interest targeting is a key difference.

3 – Social media offers better creative space compared to other digital channels.

Ads in social media platforms are larger, more dynamic, and can use video at no extra cost. By contrast, the most dynamic ad format on a display campaign is an animated gif, which is nowhere near as engaging as ads on social media. Social media ads can be short videos (like speeded up cooking videos), or testimonials from users, or shots of products being used/modeled in action, or drone flythroughs of an event space, and on and on.

Of the different social media platforms, TikTok is, of course, 100% video while Facebook and Instagram can utilize either video or photos. Facebook and Instagram include more room for copy than TikTok does. Ad formats are shown in social media alongside organic content which only heightens the authenticity of the social media ads themselves.

4 – Social media is memorable.

People remember that they saw your business on social media. We often hear our advertisers say that their customers tell them “I saw you on Facebook”. This is because users are highly engaged when they are scrolling through the feed of their favorite social media platform. Your business’s ads will be shown to social media users while they are in that highly engaged moment. Using the professional design capabilities of a digital marketing agency, your ads will flow naturally within the social media feed, thus increasing the perception that the ads are part of the overall engagement experience. In this way, social media advertising is much less passive than other forms of digital advertising.

5 – Social media platforms offer a diverse array of dedicated fan bases.

Each social media platform has its own core group of dedicated users with distinct generational and interest attributes. Because each platform has its own fan base, you’ll need to consider which type of social media fans are most aligned with your brand and campaign goals.

Researchers at Brigham Young University identified four basic categories of Facebook users:  relationship builders, town criers, selfies, and window shoppers. While this type of research has not yet been applied to TikTok, we do know that 47.4% of TikTok users are under age 30. Facebook, predictably, skews toward an older audience, with only 24.9% of users under age 30.

Researchers at Lahore University have identified six types of Twitter users: professional users, personal users, business users, spam users, feed/news users, and viral/marketing users.

The lists of various user types for each social media platform are almost endless, but you get the idea. You digital marketing agency experts can help you dig into the details of which social media audience is right for your business’s campaign.

Conclusion

Having a strong social media strategy will maximize your business’s overall online performance. Working with a digital marketing agency to develop savvy social media campaigns will boost your company’s brand awareness and increase your online sales and lead generation. Social media marketing stands apart from other digital marketing channels because of its extensive interest targeting options, cost effectiveness, and generous amount of space for visual assets and ad copy.

Whether your business wants to reach people in Lancaster County or anywhere in the U.S., the digital marketing experts at LNP Media Group will help you to achieve your business’s goals. We work closely with your team and provide full transparency into the performance of every campaign. We are social media enthusiasts who can select the most appropriate social media platform for your business goals and develop the optimum combination of demographic and interest targeting. Plus, we provide digital creatives at no additional charge. Contact us to today for a completely free, no commitment marketing strategy conversation.

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Campaign Targeting

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Campaign Targeting

Do you feel like your digital advertising campaigns need a boost but you don’t know where to start? Are your social media campaigns struggling to bring in the results and reach your local small to medium sized business’s needs? Before your ads miss any more valuable views, clicks, and conversions, consider reading through this digital campaign targeting guide provided by your local media agency. This guide, written by the digital marketing experts at LNP Media Group, will help you to get a better understanding of how to efficiently reach, engage, and inform your target market.

 

Digital Campaign Targeting Basics

Before choosing an online campaign strategy and running your campaign, it is essential to know which people, and how many of them, you need to reach in order to drive revenue for your business. Targeting the right audience demographics will help ensure that you’re choosing to spend your money in the right places. One factor to consider is how long it may take someone to decide to buy your product. For example, if you’re selling an impulse buy like discount priced clothing or shoes, your target audience will probably be larger and broader than if your product is a more expensive item like a dishwasher. This is because a household appliance is a “considered purchase”, meaning potential buyers will take the time to research which dishwasher brand is known to last the longest, and which brand is best for their price range. Campaigns for considered purchases should target an audience that is more tightly defined because you want to reach people who are actively researching dishwashers.

To get an idea of the right location targeting for your ads, think about how far your customers are willing to travel to obtain your product or service. If you provide a specialty service that specific people would seek out, like physical therapy for severe scoliosis, you may want to set your location targeting to a 50-mile radius of your address, if that is a reasonable drive time to your practice. If you own a local pharmacy downtown, you may want to keep your location targeting to a 15-20-mile radius around your pharmacy, since people normally don’t want to travel too far to pick up their prescriptions. This type of thought process will help you avoid wasting money on mis-targeted impressions and will present your ads to people in the right geographic areas.

It is also important to know your audience personally. What are their interests and hobbies? How old are they? What social media do they participate in the most? Let’s say you’re promoting a new skate shop downtown. You may want to target an audience in the age range of 13-25 and serve your ads on TikTok and Instagram since younger people spend the most time on those two platforms.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to market your assisted living in-home care service, you may want to serve your ads on mainly Facebook because most of those users are in the age range of 30-99+. Once you know your target audience a bit more personally, you will be able to define the exact type of people who would benefit from seeing your online ads.

Circling a group of people on a whiteboard

Google Ads Overview

One of the most utilized online advertising platforms at LNP Media Group is Google Ads. Advertising on Google is one of the most cost effective and viable online marketing strategies that a business owner can choose. Google Ads is also fully transparent with regard to results because it uses a UTM tracking string within the URL of each ad that you create. When you create a campaign with Google Ads, your campaign’s report will show you exactly how many clicks, impressions, and phone calls your ad generated. You can also clearly see the effectiveness of your ad by looking at the click through rate percentage (CTR) and your cost per click (CPC). Once you decide how much you’re willing to spend for each possible lead, you can set a more refined budget for Google Ads and start seeing a better conversion rate.

Within Google Ads, you can target your ads to your preferred audience by choosing which audience segment you think your business attracts the most. An audience segment is a group of people with similar interests and demographics. Google will allow you to select the gender, age, household income, and parental status of your audience. You can also restrict your ads from serving to certain audience demographics as well. After your ads have been serving, Google Ads will show you the demographic data obtained from the ad’s actual clicks and views. Now that you can clearly see the success rate of the ads within your chosen demographics, you have a better idea of exactly who in your targeted audience is seeking out your product or service. With this valuable information in hand, you can narrow your targeting to that same type of audience that is already responding and thus improve your campaign’s performance. Remember that different campaign types within Google Ads will have different success rates based on the types of audience targeting that best fits each campaign.

Google Ads – Paid Search

Google Ads offers an array of different campaign options and one of their most popular choices is the pay per click search campaign (PPC or paid search). The targeting options that work best for a paid search campaign are location, keywords, in-market audiences, and remarketing list targeting. It is important to target your paid search ads to locations where it makes sense to sell or deliver your product. It is also essential to include only relevant keywords in your paid search ad’s heading, since this is what Google uses to serve your ads based on the search terms entered by a user. Many advertisers are focused exclusively on finding new customers, but using a remarketing list is an effective way to reach people who have already visited your site or app and interacted with your ads. You can also use the same demographic profile as your remarketing list to target people actively searching for your product or service, otherwise known as an in-market audience.

Google Ads – Display

If you would like to take a more creative approach, and provide a visual of your product or service, Google Ads offers the ability to upload image ads and GIFs. Unlike the paid search ads mentioned above, display ad campaigns allow your image ads to be presented across the Google Display Network, which is “a collection of over two million websites that reach over 90% of Internet users across the globe”, according to Google. Of course if there are Google-owned sites that you would rather not have your ad shown on, you can restrict your ads from showing on those sites by excluding them in the Placements tab in your Google Ads menu.

The best targeting methods to use for display campaigns are location, demographics, topic placement, keywords, affinity audiences, and custom audience segmentation. Before defining these types of targeting strategies, we first recommend that you categorize your ads into ad groups based on which goal you’re setting for each group. Maybe you want to run a group of display ads to target Lancaster, Lititz, Ephrata, New Holland, Elizabethtown, Quarryville and Strasburg, but also want to try an ad group targeted to Philadelphia to gain brand awareness and reach. Within your ad groups, you can also assign location, audience segments, demographics, and keywords to each group.

Google Ads – Topic Placement, Affinity, and Custom Audiences

A targeting strategy that is unique to display campaigns is Topic Placement targeting. With Topic Placement, Google Ads will serve your display ad on any Google Display Network site that relates to the topic of your advertised product. As mentioned before, Affinity audiences are pre-made audience segments provided by Google that match your ideal target audience based off your previous ad demographics. The difference between Affinity and Custom audience segmentation is that Affinity audiences are pre-made segments of people created by Google based on their demographics, while Custom audiences are audience segments created by you. To create Custom audiences, you can enter websites, keywords, and different topics of interest, which Google will use to generate an audience of people that match those attributes.

Google Ads – Shopping

Like display ad campaigns, Google Ads also offers users the ability to create a shopping ad campaign that shows ads with product images. This best utilized to target people who are searching for a specific product to buy. For example, if your business sells skis and you want to increase your ski pole sales during the winter months, your business could benefit from creating a shopping campaign. Just upload a picture of the product you want to sell, enter the price, and then the display link. This helps the viewer know exactly where the shopping ad will take them if they click it. Because this is a campaign that will have a very specific audience, the targeting methods that we suggest for this type of campaign are remarketing list, location targeting, and remarketing audiences. Shopping campaign ads can appear anywhere in the shopping tab in Google, YouTube, Gmail, and the Google Display Network.

There is much more that Google Ads offers outside of the basics we’ve covered, so if you are considering starting some online ad campaigns using Google Ads, we recommend that you work with a Google Partner, such as LNP Media Group, to optimize your spend on Google Ads and reach your digital campaign goals.

Graphic representing a guy shopping online

Social Media

One of the most popular strategies for online advertising is social media platforms. Depending on their campaign goals, many companies will advertise on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, or YouTube. The trick to advertising on social media is first setting a goal for your online ads. Are you trying to raise awareness of your brand? Do you offer specialty services that are difficult to find? Do you need to increase sales for specific products? It is helpful to work with social media experts, like LNP Media Group, to ensure that your social media ad spend is targeted correctly to ensure best possible results.

Social Media – Facebook and Instagram

If your business’s goal is to gain brand awareness, Facebook and Instagram are known to have huge success rates for branding campaigns. Facebook and Instagram are a package deal when it comes to social media advertising. You can structure the exact same look and targeting method for each campaign and it will post on both Instagram and Facebook. According to Facebook, there is an “80% greater discovery for new brands or products on Facebook than on brand or retailer websites”. Facebook and Instagram are great choices not only for large businesses to expand their reach, but also for small to medium-sized businesses that want to target a local area. Another statistic from Facebook informs us “Over 10 million businesses have used Facebook advertising, the majority of which are small to medium-sized businesses”.

Facebook and Instagram give advertisers the ability to reach what they call “Core Audiences” which are audiences based on interests, age, and geography. You also have the option to use their Custom Audience targeting method, which is similar to the remarketing lists in Google Ads. This method allows you to reconnect with people who have visited your site or engaged with your business on or offline. You can also target what Facebook calls a “Lookalike” audience. This method targets people who have similar demographics as your current best and most engaged customers. From this selection of audience targeting, it is clear that if you’re looking to give your business more reach, Facebook is a great platform to explore.

Social Media – LinkedIn

If your business is advertising to fill open positions, consider LinkedIn’s targeting abilities and transparent reach. LinkedIn has stated that their platform has the ability to “combine targeting criteria to build your ideal persona: IT decision makers, C-level executives, prospective students, small business owners, and more.” With LinkedIn you can post an ad for open positions and review potential candidate’s profiles. LinkedIn is so transparent that you can see proof of people’s qualifications in their profile and make an informed decision on whether you should reach out to them.

Social Media – YouTube

For businesses that are trying to expand their reach, we suggest leveraging video ads on YouTube. Businesses advertise on YouTube to connect with their audience on a more personal level. When you can convey the story of your business and show your product, you can build a better connection with your audience by captivating their attention. The targeting methods used by YouTube are demographic grouping, interests, placements, and remarketing. You can even choose specific audiences based on what content they are currently viewing on YouTube. YouTube provides an array of different video ad formats, such as skippable ads, non-skippable ads, in-feed video ads, and bumper ads. You can manage your YouTube video campaign through the Google Ads platform. Within Google Ads, you can upload the desired video ad and monitor how it is performing.

SOCIAL MEDIA – TikTok

The most recent social media platform that advertisers have started utilizing is TikTok. TikTok is an app where users upload 15-60 second videos, and which allows for the placement of video ads. With an audience that spans across 150 countries, TikTok is a great tool to use for gaining reach and engagement from your target audience. Similar to the previously mentioned Google Ads platform, TikTok allows businesses to create ad groups with specific target audiences for each. Like Facebook, you can also create Custom and Lookalike audiences within TikTok. TikTok includes a wide variety of targeting options such as gender, age, location, interests, internet connection type, device model, phone carriers, and even the price of the user’s device.

One unique aspect of TikTok’s targeting is its ability to track user behaviors. Behaviors are user interactions with TikTok creators and videos such as liking, commenting, watching, following creators, and viewing creator’s profiles. TikTok even focuses on the interest categories that each user interacts with the most within the app to drive ads and additional videos of the like to the viewer’s device. The user behavior tracking and interest category algorithms are so precise, that you shouldn’t be surprised that if you like a TikTok with cute and fluffy kittens, your TikTok feed becomes populated with kittens of all kinds.

One important factor to keep in mind is that TikTok’s audience consists of 47% of users between the ages of 10-29 and 42% of users between the ages of 30-49. Statista.com states that this leaves only 11% of TikTok’s audience in the 50+ age category. Based on these statistics, advertising on TikTok is not for every business’s target market, so if your product or service would not be of interest to the Gen Z and Millennial audience, you may want to consider advertising on a different social platform.

Although there are other social media platforms to advertise on, these five are the most popular. No matter which platform you pick, remember that you can save time and money by working with a Lancaster digital agency that is experienced in all the nuance and detail of social media marketing.

LancasterOnline.com and LancasterFarming.com

If you are interested in advertising your small to medium sized business to a strictly local audience, we suggest advertising on LancasterOnline or LancasterFarming. We have a wide variety of targeting options provided by Google Ad Manager 360. These options include targeting by IP address, by device type, by zip code, radius, browser language, or browser type. You have the option of choosing display ads, which only show on browsers, or on the LancasterOnline or LancasterFarming mobile app.

Targeting people by their IP address is similar to targeting people by location because an IP address identifies a device on the internet. If you want to target by zip code, Google Ads 360 will give you an estimated radius of how far your ads will reach based on that location. If you would rather save money on ads and only serve them on certain devices, you can restrict your ads from serving on certain device types. For example, if you are trying to run a campaign for your business’s new app, you may want to only target your ads to phones and tablets because these devices can download apps. If you find that most of your customers prefer Google Chrome to Microsoft Edge, or if you prefer how your ads render on Google Chrome rather than Safari, you can restrict your ads to serve on only on specific browsers.

In addition to targeting by audience attributes, LancasterOnline and LancasterFarming also offer the option of targeting by content type. LancasterOnline is the largest news website in Lancaster County, reaching over 1 million unique users per month. LancasterFarming is the largest agricultural news site in the mid-Atlantic region with over 100,000 unique users per month. For both of these sites you can target users based on the type of content they read. For LancasterOnline, key topics are sports, entertainment, breaking news, crime, food, business, home & garden, and health. For LancasterFarming, key topics are dairy, equine, crops, beef, recipes, antiques, history, livestock, and farm life. On both of these sites you can also target based on ad position. For example, the large ad at the top of the page is a premium position called the reveal ad, while the small ad at the bottom of each page is called the sticky anchor.

Because of our digital campaign targeting expertise, Lancaster’s local recruitment company known as PA Career Link chose to advertise their upcoming job fair with LNP Media Group. Our digital marketing team created and sent out email blasts, posted and maintained PA Career Link’s online advertisements on Facebook, and featured ads on LancasterOnline to raise local awareness about their job fair. Because of our integrated, multi-channel marketing campaign, our team attracted 350 local job seekers to the job fair, while other job fairs in the same year had struggled to bring in even 50. Click here to learn more about PA Career Link’s success with LNP Media Group.

OTT, CTV and Video

Digital advertising media that are often overlooked are OTT, CTV, and video ads. OTT stands for Over the Top because this type of ad placement only shows on top of streaming networks such as Hulu, Netflix, and Disney Plus, served via the internet. The targeting options available with OTT advertising are home demographics, state, designated market area (a broad metro area designation) and zip code. CTV advertising is a type of OTT that serves video ads on TVs connected to the internet, like smart TVs. These ads will serve on networks such as Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and PlayStation. However, CTV does not allow specific household targeting options. Video ads are 15-30 second videos that serve on websites and apps, like ads on YouTube as discussed previously. These can be viewed on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. With video ads, you can target a wide variety of users. You can target people by their behaviors and interests, zip code, age range, gender, education, parenting status, household income, and annual income.

Conclusion

Are you ready for your small to medium sized local business to try digital advertising? Or are you already using digital ad campaigns but have been disappointed with the results? Whether your business is focused strictly on Lancaster County or anywhere in the U.S., the digital marketing experts at LNP Media Group will help you achieve your digital campaign goals. We work closely with your team and we are fully transparent every step of the way. Whether your goal is to raise your brand awareness or generate more leads and more product sales, you’ll find that our deep experience will drive campaign results that are better than any other digital agency in the area. Contact us to today for an absolutely free, no commitment marketing strategy session.

Google’s algorithm changes in 2021: What do they mean for your Lancaster business?

Google’s algorithm changes in 2021: What do they mean for your Lancaster business?

As a local business, you may not have time to pay close attention to the goings-on at Google. However, changes in Google’s search engine algorithms can affect businesses across the globe, including mom and pop businesses right here in Lancaster County. If any portion of your new customers find your business via an internet search, then your business can be impacted whenever Google makes a change. In this article we’ll summarize the most important changes in Google’s updates through July 2021.

First – the basics

Why do Google updates matter? They matter because Google’s algorithms control what appears in search results. So, if a local consumer types “hardware store near me” into Google, Google decides whether or not your hardware store’s website appears in the list of results and, if it does appear, how high on the list. Google’s algorithms change over time, so while your hardware store might have appeared at the top of the list earlier this year, it might not appear that high on the list after a Google update. Appearing high on the list of search results is important because most consumers don’t scroll past the first page of search results.

There are two types of Google updates, regular updates and core updates. Regular updates are generally unheralded in the mainstream press and have smaller impacts on specific types of searches. Regular updates happen frequently. An example of a regular update was an April 2021 update for search results for product reviews. That type of update would only affect sites that have product reviews, like e-commerce sites. Google also regularly does spam updates to attempt to keep junk websites from appearing in searches. Google also rolled out a page experience update in June, more on that below.

The other type of update is a core update. Core updates only happen a few times a year. Core updates are broad in scope and affect most types of searches. An important Google blog post about core updates can be found here and it is definitely worth a read. As Google explains in that blog post, their focus is on high quality, original, trustworthy content when determining which sites will outrank other sites in search. Google is continually assessing the content of every website in the world to determine if it is relevant, valuable, and useful to searchers. In Google’s perfect world, every time a user searches for something, Google would provide the perfect website as the first result.

Google uses the acronym E-A-T to summarize how it identifies quality websites: E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.

• Expertise – Google has different expertise requirements for different types of content. For example, a site that has product reviews from ordinary users can rank highly for expertise since these users, even though they don’t have expert credentials, can be considered experts because they have used the product. However, for YMYL sites (Your Money or Your Life) the standards are higher. YMYL sites are focused on content such as health, news, safety, law, finance, and shopping. Google has higher expectations for YMYL sites and will look for site authors to have relevant credentials.

• Authority – Google assesses your site’s authority by looking for links to your site from other sites, as well as mentions of your site on other sites. If your site’s content is widely cited and shared by other sites that’s an indication to Google that your site has authority.

• Trust – Google assesses trust by noting several attributes on your site, such as: privacy policy, terms of service including refunds and exchanges, clear contact information, product specifications (if applicable), product reviews (if applicable), and positive reviews on other sites.

Overall, if you think about the content on your own site from an E-A-T perspective, you’ll have a clear lens through which to assess whether your site’s content meets Google’s definition of quality.

Because Google is always trying to make search results more relevant for users, it needs to do regular updates to its algorithms. So if your store’s website dropped down in search results after a Google update, it’s because something in your website’s content or metadata is no longer considered by Google to be as relevant to that particular search as it used to be. This is actually a good thing in the long run because the more relevant Google’s search results are to users, the more users will trust Google to provide the right information. This means that when your business’s website appears in a Google search results page, consumers will trust that your business will satisfy the need they searched for. However, as you’ll read as in the paragraphs ahead, Google’s updates don’t always work perfectly or predictably.

The best way to increase the likelihood that your business’s site appears in relevant searches is to pay continual attention to your site’s search performance. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You can read more about SEO here and here. Most small to medium sized businesses do not have the resources for an in-house SEO expert. If this is the case for your business, then you should invest in a shared SEO expert through contracting with a Lancaster County digital agency, such as LNP Media Group. While an SEO expert cannot 100% “future proof” your site against Google algorithm changes, an SEO expert will stay on top of Google algorithm changes and will help your site respond appropriately. This will make your site “future responsive” and help your site achieve and maintain good organic search placement over the years.

What has changed in the 2021 updates?

Google does not directly state the detail of changes in their core updates, but resources like Search Engine Journal and SEM Rush publish articles with observations and information from SEO experts. Reviewing multiple such sources revealed the following list of significant changes and impacts from the 2021 updates.

1. Volatility – Many experts report that there has been significant volatility in search rankings (and thus in traffic generated by searches) after the June and July core updates. Experts have indicated that some sites may have gained traffic after the June core update, only to lose it after the July core update, or vice versa. This is because every update may have unintended consequences in search results which, as they become apparent, may require a correction in a succeeding update. If your site’s organic traffic has experienced a sharp dip or boost, it may be because of this post-update volatility. Consult your local SEO expert to understand the specific factors that may be in play on your site.

2. Certain types of sites were more affected than others – According to SEM Rush, the 2021 Google core updates affected almost all industries. However, some industries were slightly more affected than others. If your business is in an YMYL category, your website is more likely to have experienced search/traffic volatility than other types of sites. Generally speaking, Google is especially cautious about content on health, medical and financial sites because searches that produce links to spammy health, medical or financial sites can have a significant negative impact on users. When just looking at the mobile web, sites that are in the industries of real estate, people/society, and beauty/fitness also experienced increased volatility in search rankings after the core updates. The specific reason behind this mobile web volatility is not yet clear. If your site has been affected on mobile, consult a local digital agency for an SEO consultation.

3. Certain sized sites were more affected than others – Also according to SEM Rush, sites with small to medium sized traffic (500k or fewer views per month) were more affected by the core updates than large sites. This is relevant to Lancaster PA businesses because most businesses in our area will have sites with small to medium amounts of traffic.

4. Sites with common content – Sites that publish content that is readily available on other sites (think song lyrics, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and business directories) may experience more volatility than other types of sites as a result of Google core updates. This is because the identical nature of the content makes it hard for Google to determine which sites should rank higher. Although this should not be an issue for local Pennsylvania business sites, a solution to this issue is to always add unique, relevant, value-added content to any pages that have commonly available content.

5. Product reviews – In April 2021 Google released an update focused on sites with product reviews. In essence, this update aimed to reward sites that have high-quality, relevant product reviews, and aimed to penalize sites with thin product reviews. However, the concept of a “thin” product review does not relate to word count, it relates to quality. Product reviews, ideally, should be written by named authors who have expertise in the products they are reviewing. The reviews should be original, helpful, personal, and insightful. Google’s product review update also penalized sites that over-use affiliate links and a lot of ads on their product review pages. This is because Google has accurately determined that users don’t like being overwhelmed by monetization strategies while they are in an information-gathering phase of their shopping journey. You can read more detail about the product reviews update here.

6. People Also Ask – Have you ever done a search and found, just below the first few results, a box that says “People Also Ask” with several questions underneath, all related to your search? That is Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) feature, which was introduced in 2015 and has currently expanded into over half of search results pages, according to SEM Rush. PAA is Google’s way of refining searches, by letting you see related terms/questions other searchers are using. If you click on a PAA box, it will expand and you’ll see a short answer. Google’s latest core updates continue the expansion of PAA into more searches. Worth noting is that Google has stated that requests from businesses to update/remove information in PAA boxes will take longer than other types of update/removal requests. This is because the PAA results are more “indirectly” sourced. The details on this seem scant, but you (or your SEO expert) should pay attention to PAA results as they relate to your business’s website.

7. Less country code top level domain crowding – Country code domain crowding is when several search results have the same domain name listed multiple times but with different international country code extensions. This can happen when an international company has multiple sites with the same top level domain name, but different country codes such as .ca, .uk, .rs, etc. For local businesses in Lancaster PA, this is not an area of concern, but it’s worth noting that Google’s core updates have made this less of an issue for users overall. Conceivably, this could result in a Lancaster County business’s site moving up on the page because there should be fewer repeated international domains taking multiple positions on the page.

8. The impact of page experience – The page experience update was a regular update that rolled out slowly June through August and is not predicted to have a large impact on search ranking. The main point to note about this update is that while Google pays some attention to user experience when determining rankings, content is more important. If your site is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, is secured (using HTTPS instead of HTTP), and doesn’t have disruptive interstitial ads, then your site most likely qualifies as having a good user experience. Google will use page experience as a tiebreaker when determining how to rank several sites with equivalent content. As always, your local Lancaster SEO expert can help you make changes in these areas if needed.

Closing thoughts

With Google frequently changing how it evaluates and ranks sites, what is a local business owner to do about keeping up with and responding to these changes? The best approach is to keep a consistent focus on providing a great user experience. As a site owner, you need to understand what your users want and then deliver it to them. For example, most users now visit websites via their phones, so making sure that your website offers a great mobile experience is critical. You also need to ensure that your site navigation is clear and that there are no dead end pages (404 errors) to frustrate users. Put the time and effort into populating your site’s pages with useful, honest, clear content that provides value to your users.

And, finally, if this all seems too much to worry about while also running your business, consider contacting LNP Media Group to contract for SEO services. SEO is a long-horizon project and requires expertise with Google’s ever changing rules. SEO does not have a payout within a week, it pays out over the course of six months and longer. But, this long term investment pays off when new customers find your business again and again at the top of a crowded Google search results page.

 

Video Production in Lancaster PA

Video Production in Lancaster PA

If you have a small to medium sized business in Lancaster County PA, or in surrounding counties such as Berks, Dauphin, Chester, York, or Lebanon, you may wonder how to secure high-quality videos for your company’s marketing campaigns. Lancaster is not a large metro area like Philadelphia but it’s still very possible to find affordable video marketing services locally. This guide will walk you through three topics:

1. How to find a local video production agency.
2. What to expect during the video production process.
3. Ways you can leverage video in your marketing.

Step 1 – Find the right Lancaster video production company for your business’s needs

To find a video production company that suits your needs, first develop an initial list of requirements for your video project. Your list may evolve after you have found a video production company, but you need to have a starting place.

Here are some considerations for your initial list of requirements:

  • • Video length: A commonly used video length is a 15 to 30 second spot for pre-roll ads, TV ads, or social media. Another common length is a 2 to 3 minute video for branding or how-to instruction. Of course, videos can be much longer as well. You’ll need to think about where your video will be distributed (see below) and the content of your video.
  • • Distribution: Consider where your video will be distributed, for example, on your website, TV, OTT/CTV, Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc). If you want your video to be placed as a pre-roll ad, then you’ll need the services of a digital marketing agency. In this case, working with a video production team that is part of a digital agency will save you time and effort.
  • • Topic: The options for video topics are almost limitless, but here are some common examples: a history or narrative of your company and its brand, a short advertising spot to entice customers to buy a product or service, a how-to video about using your products or services, a training video for onboarding new hires, or a testimonial video from customers who are your company’s fans.
  • • Style: Will the video be taken in a single shot? Or will there be multiple shots that are edited together? Will sound need to be recorded, or will there be music or voice-over added in post-production? Do you need actors? Do you need animation or drone footage? Animation and drone piloting are a very specific skills that not all video companies can provide. Drone pilots are required to be certified and the drone itself must be registered with the FAA. In Pennsylvania, drone pilots need to abide by regulations including no-drone zones, altitude restrictions, no surveillance, and more. So if drone footage is a requirement, make sure to find a video production company that has a properly licensed drone pilot.
  • • Location: Videos can be shot on-site or in the studio. Not all video production companies have their own studio, so if you want your video shot in a studio, you’ll need to inquire about facilities. An on-site video could be shot at your location or at another location such as where your products are services are being used. Because video production companies will need to charge for their travel time to the site, in-studio videos are more affordable than on-site videos.
  • • Budget:  Video is an incredibly valuable format for conveying your business’s marketing message in a way that is engaging and accessible. An inexpensive video can cost as little as $500 for a 30 second promo filmed in the studio. A longer affordable video format is two to three minutes that are filmed on-site at a cost of $3,500 to $5,000. These price points are reasonable given the skills and equipment required for the production of high quality videos. Of course, videos can cost much more if they are longer and more complex.

Now that you have your list of requirements, how do you go about finding a local Lancaster County video company? Here are some ideas to help you with your search:

  • • References:  Ask colleagues in your field if they have had videos made by a local Lancaster video production company. Make sure to ask if they were happy with the work and if they have advice for your video project.
  • • Browse your competition: Take a look at competitors’ websites and marketing campaigns. Do they use video and, if so, do you like what you see? A quick call to the competitor may provide you with information on who produced their videos. The value of using a video production company that has worked for a competitor is that the video team will already be familiar with the types of products and services your company offers.
  • • Search engines: Use Google or your favorite search engine to find local video production companies. Use several different search terms to develop different lists of video production companies. Remember to look past the first page of search results; hidden gems can be found further down the list. Use search terms that include your location, such as “Lancaster County PA video production”, in order to find the most relevant companies. You’ll see ads on search results pages too and some of these may be worth checking out.
  • • Review samples:  Video production companies should have samples of their work included on their websites. Take a look at those samples and see if the style and content match up with your needs.

Step 2 – What to expect in the video production process

You’ve found your ideal video production agency and you are ready to start work. What does the video production process look like? This handy guide breaks down the steps, so that you’ll have an idea of what to expect as you get started.

PLANNING

The first phase, naturally, is the planning phase. You should expect to meet with your video agency team members to discuss key points such as:

  • • Audience Profile: The video team will need to know the audience you are trying to reach. The first question will be whether you are trying to reach consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B). If you are trying to reach consumers, who are they? Retirees? Young parents? Home repair do-it-yourselfers? Fashionistas? If your video will be viewed by other businesses, who are they? Firms in need of legal advice? Companies that need construction services? Manufacturers who need safety compliance consulting? Knowing the audience will help your video team point the project in the right direction.
  • • Brand position: In addition to defining your audience you also need to define your brand. Is your brand identity young and edgy? Is it down-home and comfortable? Does your brand identity include professional certifications or expertise? Is your brand a market leader or an underdog? Is your brand a bargain or a luxury? And, is your brand satisfied with its current position or does your brand need to develop a new identity? Answers to these questions will help the video team understand the tone they need to achieve in your video.
  • • Content Development: Once you have defined the audience and your brand position, you can brainstorm the content of the video. You’ll work with the video team to decide what will be shot and where, as well as the number of shots and how they would need to be threaded together. You’ll decide if there will be people in the video and, if so, who they are. If you’ll be filming people speaking, then you’ll need to have scripts written; your video team will be able to help with this. You’ll also make choices regarding voice-overs, background music, special effects, drone footage, and text on screen. Your finished video will need to be framed with an intro shot and an exit shot, or possibly an exit screen that has written messaging such as your business’s logo, web address or phone number.
  • • Storyboarding: Once all of the content decisions have been made, the video agency team will create a storyboard. A storyboard is a visual, graphical plan, shot by shot, of how your video will flow. The storyboard proceeds in a linear fashion from intro to end with notes about the action, the script, and production. Once the first draft of your storyboard is completed, consider sharing it with members of your team to get their input before shooting starts. A well-developed storyboard will make production faster and will help avoid costly re-shoots.
  • • Production Planning: After the storyboard has been finalized, you will be ready to make a production plan. This plan will include all the details for the shoot, such as dates, times, locations, equipment, props, scripts, and persons. If you are planning an outdoor shoot, you’ll need to consider the time of day/angle of the sun, so as to get the best opportunity for good natural lighting. You’ll also need to plan for rain dates in case of inclement weather.

PRODUCTION

Once planning is complete the next phase is production. With your storyboard and production plan in place, production should proceed smoothly and includes the following elements:

  • • On-site or in-studio shooting: Shooting on-site involves the video team and their equipment traveling to the specified location for the shoot. To save time, ensure that you have the site all set up and ready for the video team’s arrival. Conversely, shooting in the studio means that you’ll need to transport all of your people and items on the designated time/place.
  • • Directing and filming: Your video production team will direct the action as they film it. Having an experienced team directing the action ensures that the storyboard is followed, so that the end product is what was planned. An experienced director will also help navigate any unforeseen last-minute changes that might occur, such as missing props, missing actors, or a cloudy day.
  • • Photography: Consider contracting with your video production agency to have still photographs taken at the same time as the video is being filmed. Still shots can be used on your website, social media, or in ads. Still photographs will be an additional expense because a photographer will need to take the shots while the videographer does the filming. However, if you’ve gone to all the effort of setting up a great plan and a great setup for a video, having still photographs taken at the same time will maximize the value you’ll receive from your efforts.
  • • Lighting and sound: Your Lancaster video agency will bring appropriate lighting and sound equipment with them, according to the needs outlined in the storyboard and production plan. Professional lighting and sound equipment are essential to producing a high-quality video. You may think you can produce a video yourself just using your iPhone, but there is no comparison of visual and audio quality from an iPhone vs. professional equipment. A top quality video is a long-term investment in your business.
  • • Set design and styling: The video team members will also be able to guide you in the design of the set and overall styling. Styling includes the selection, placement and usage of items such as props, costumes, hair, and makeup. Props can be as simple as notepads, laptops, and coffee cups for a conference room video shoot. Or, they can be as complex as having the right vehicles in the background, or pouring the perfect mug of beer. All of these elements need to be aligned with your brand position and intended audience in order for your video to be a success.

POST-PRODUCTION

The video shoot has been completed and now it’s on to post-production. This phase will take your video agency a week or more to complete and involves the following aspects:

  • • Professional Editing: Your video production team will have more footage than needed for the length of your final video. All of the footage needs to be reviewed and the best footage selected for inclusion in your video. Video footage will be rearranged to match the sequence dictated by the storyboard and transitions will be created between clips. Color corrections, filters, and other enhancements will be applied as needed.
  • • Voice over: If voice over is part of your video, it will generally be during the post-production phase using a professional voice actor. Your video team should be able to provide a resource for voice overs. Once the voice over is recorded, the video production team will sync the voice over to the video, so that they work together seamlessly.
  • • Music: Your video team will be able to guide you with regard to music that is legally allowed to be used in your video. Most music is copyrighted, so you can’t just put your favorite songs as background to the video. The video production team should have access to a library of stock background music, much like stock images. However, this music may have a generic feel that is not the right mood for your video. If that is the case, discuss with the video production team if it’s possible to acquire a license to use a copyrighted piece of music. Another alternative is to work with a local Lancaster County musician who would like to sell their music, or perhaps allow you to use for free it in exchange for a credit at the end of the video.
  • • Graphics and animation: If your video production team is part of a digital agency, they will have artists who can design graphics and slides for your video. Animation is a much more difficult skill to find in the Lancaster area. Animation also tends to be expensive, so discuss this with your video production team to decide if it is truly essential to your project.
  • • Color grading: Color correction, mentioned earlier, involves ensuring that the color in the video matches what was naturally present during filming. Color grading is different and is a creative effort to apply color to create a mood or effect. Your video may or may not need color grading, depending on the goal of your video.

Step 3 – Ways to leverage video in your marketing.

Your video is complete and it’s perfect! But how do you get it in front of your target audience? Ideally, the video production team you selected will be part of a Lancaster digital agency. A local digital agency has the expertise to consult with you to find the most targeted and effective digital channels to distribute your new video. Examples of possible channels include the following:

  • • Websites/Blogs: If your video is a branding or testimonial video, posting it on your own website or blog page is a logical choice. Videos on your site are useful for two main reasons. First, video is an easy way for users to learn about your brand, service, and products. Watching videos quickly conveys information in an engaging fashion that text can’t match. Second, Google favors video content, so posting videos can help with your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). However, to ensure best results from having a video on your site make sure you follow all of Google’s best practices when posting your video.
  • • Social media channels: 15 or 30 second videos are perfect to use in social media. You can post your videos on your social media channels organically or you can get extra value out of your video investment through a paid social media marketing campaign. Facebook and other social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter provide options for targeting your desired audience by demographics, hobbies, location, behaviors, and more. Your Lancaster County digital marketing agency will help you with targeting selections, copy-writing, and ad creatives. A local digital agency will also report on campaign performance and will optimize the campaign as needed. Read our social media marketing blog post here:
  • • Targeted emails: Email marketing is another digital campaign type that has many options for audience targeting including location, interest, business category, occupation and more. Video can be embedded within the email body, or the email can contain a link to a web page with the video. Embedding video is a great user experience on most email clients, with the exception of Outlook, which does not support video players. Read our blog post on email marketing here.
  • • TV, OTT, and CTV commercials: TV, OTT and CTV are prime placements for your new video. CTV pre-roll ads allow you to reach people who like to stream content but don’t use cable. OTT ads also reach people who don’t use cable, but have the advantage of being clickable and viewable on phones and tablets. TV, of course, is the traditional video ad channel. All three formats provide targeting options including by day part. Read our blog post primer on OTT and CTV here.
  • • Pre-roll and post-roll: If your video is a 15 to 30 second ad spot, pre-roll and post-roll offer a wealth of placement and targeting possibilities. Your pre-roll/post-roll video ad can be distributed via Google Ads or Youtube and targeted by demographics, interests, affinities, custom intent, and more. Remarketing is an option that will allow your video to be shown to audiences who have previously engaged with your videos. Video pre-roll ads can also be placed on local news media websites that have news videos, such as LancasterOnline. When video is placed as a pre-roll ad on local news videos, you can select the type of video content that you want your pre-roll ad to be associated with. Placement on a local news media site ensures that your video is associated with trusted local news content.

According to Forbes magazine, the use of video for small and medium sized businesses can be summed up in four broad categories. First, it increases social engagement, second, it works well on mobile, third, it boosts SEO on your site, and fourth, it conveys brand personality. All of these reasons, and more, make a compelling argument for investing in video for your local Lancaster business.

LNP Media group is a full service digital agency and video production company. We have an in-house video production staff with years of experience crafting the stories of companies in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York area and beyond. We have a certified drone pilot, a state-of-the-art video studio, and full post-production editing capabilities. Once your video is complete, our digital agency team can place your video in a targeted digital campaign such as pre-roll, social media, email marketing, display, or more. Contact us today for a free video strategy session.

The Importance of Setting Goals and Tracking Performance in Digital Marketing

The Importance of Setting Goals and Tracking Performance in Digital Marketing

It goes without saying that all successful digital marketing campaigns start with the digital marketing team settling clear goals. Goal inform the details of the marketing campaign plan (how to get to the goal) and illuminate other objectives to reach. However, if a digital marketing team fails to set a goal properly, the campaign is doomed from the start. As such, it is absolutely critical that every digital marketing campaign have clearly defined and achievable goal; that goal is the foundation upon which the rest of the campaign relies.

But setting a goal properly is no easy task. While it may seem simple, specifying the exact objective of a digital marketing campaign is actually one of the hardest parts of planning the campaign. Therefore, it is vital for digital marketing professionals to understand how to form, analyze, and track their goals.

Choose a SMART Goal

Digital marketing campaign goals should be SMART. SMART is an acronym standing for:

Specific means narrow and clearly defined, not vague, and understood fully by all involved. “Improving sales” is too vague, “increasing by 10% the number of blue widgets sold in Florida by the end of the month” is more specific.

Measurable means having an objectively quantifiable or unambiguously qualifiable target to reach. “Selling a lot more blue widgets” is unclear and unmeasurable, since people will have different ideas about what “a lot” entails. “Increasing blue widget sales by 10%” is measurable.

Attainable means being realistic and not excessively ambitious, but still challenging and worth reaching. “Putting a widget in every home in America” is not attainable, “becoming the leading state distributor of widgets” is attainable.

Relevant means being worthwhile, aligning with company or consumer values, and fulfilling needs. “Lobbying Congress to remove environmental regulations” is not relevant, “finding cost-effective green production methods” is.

Timely means having a deadline or end-date that the goal needs to be completed by. “Releasing a new widget” is not timely, “releasing a new widget by Christmas of next year” is, because there is a clear deadline.

SMART goals have been used for decades in the professional and academic world. Until recently, their success was so self-evident that few even bothered to question them. But recent studies have confirmed what many already knew – SMART goals help people work smarter, not harder. In fact, a 2018 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that SMART goals can even be helpful in making students smarter. Resident medical students were found to study more after being briefed on SMART goals,

“SMART goals serve as a powerful primer to promote additional self-directed learning,” the study authors wrote in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. “This intervention can be readily applied to most simulation debriefing sessions and requires little training to be employed effectively.”

But SMART goals aren’t just for medical students. A number of different digital marketing campaign strategies mesh perfectly with SMART goals, which means that it’s smart to use them for digital marketing teams, too. The examples listed above are just a few of the ways that digital marketers can integrate SMART goals into their campaign plan. To really make SMART goals work well in the digital marketing world, however, KPIs are the place to start.

Getting SMART with KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measure success against a specific target. Any objective or numerical goal can function as a KPI. Fortunately, SMART goals usually have key performance indicators built into the first two letters of the acronym. However, it is still important to understand KPIs on a deeper level.. As Forbes puts it:

“Too often owners fail to get an understanding of how their business operates. They fail to log any departmental metrics of their operations throughout the year, and they’re stuck with an idling business wondering where problems lay…KPIs are a pertinent part of measuring the successes and failures of your business.”

Because KPIs are data-driven, they are often tied to financial goals that measure profit margins or revenue. Perhaps the most popular and widely known KPI is net profit: the revenue left from a given period after accounting for all expenses in that same period. For many KPI measurements, net profit is converted to a percentage of revenue called the “net profit margin.”

There are many other KPIs and new ones are invented to measure performance in new situations every day. However, there are some ubiquitous tried and true KPIs that have been used for years across a diverse range of different industries. It is important for digital marketing teams to know what these common KPIs are. Even if these KPIs aren’t useful for a campaign right now, learning about these common KPIs can provide insight for designing or selecting other relevant KPIs (and the more common ones might always come in handy some day in the future). Here are some of the most widespread KPI categories and how they are used:

Customer Metrics. KPIs focused on customers tend to cover customer retention (how many repeat customers a business gets), customer satisfaction (usually based on ratings or reviews from customers) or various measures of productivity/efficiency on a per-customer basis. Some common customer metrics include Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV, which is the total quantity of revenue that a customer gives to a business over the whole lifespan of their relationship with the business, and Customer Acquisition Cost, or CAC, which is the total marketing and sales cost necessary on average to get a new customer. Many businesses also get more perspective by comparing CLV and CAC, which can help determine the efficacy of marketing campaigns that are aimed at acquiring more customers.

Process Performance Metrics. These metrics tend to analyze operational performance in an organization. One example is measuring the efficiency of a production process by dividing the total number of defective products by total product output to find out how much waste is in the process. If a significant portion of products a business makes are defective, then waste is losing the company money and that number needs to get cut down. Process performance metrics are useful for this type of analysis, such as Throughput Time which measures how long a particular process takes to run and complete.

Financial Metrics. Metrics focused on the financial performance of a company are also important. One example of this type of KPI is Burn Rate, or the rate that a company is spending money for a given period of time. Financial metrics vary considerably based on the size and type of company, so Burn Rate KPIs (especially short-term ones that cover periods in the week or month range) are most popular among small companies that cannot undertake extensive, large financial analyses but still want to look at how sustainable their expenditures are.

However, digital marketing offers a whole range of its own KPIs that are based on the unique industry they represent. But before choosing KPIs for a digital marketing campaign and learning what KPIs can do to enhance campaign goal setting, it is crucial to understand what KPIs cannot do.

What are the Limits of KPIs?

Digital marketing teams should keep in mind that KPIs are limited in their efficacy, so they shouldn’t be relied on exclusively as the only type of SMART goal that can be set. Some of their limitations are their requirement for non-stop tracking and monitoring (as well as close follow up) to be useful and the fact that they usually need to be measured over a long time to produce meaningful data. Still, their biggest limitation is their effect on workers. Since KPIs are typically numerical and quantitative, they can ignore the qualitative traits that companies need to thrive. For example, a company maximizing the widgets made per month as a KPI can end up making lower quality widgets that break easily or don’t work as intended. KPIs can also force employees to shoot for unrealistic targets, undermining the point of SMART goals and creating unnecessary stress that damages long-term productivity. Workers that are just chasing after a numeric goal are less happy and less fulfilled, which may make them more likely to leave the company for competitors or other fields entirely.

Perhaps worst of all, KPIs have the potential to lead managers to “game the system” to try and appear to meet their performance targets. Although some level of “cooking the books” is an unfortunately widespread practice in many organizations, poorly designed and implemented KPIs can turn minor number tweaking into total falsification, which can spell death for any organization big or small. The importance of getting KPIs right shouldn’t be underestimated; historically it has led to the collapse of entire nations. One classic example is the Soviet Union. After Stalin seized power in the late 1920s, he implemented a series of “Five Year Plans” that were meant to rapidly industrialize the USSR which was still reeling from World War One, the two bloody revolutions and a civil war that followed, and a crushing economic crisis. Five Year Plans, interestingly, made use of KPIs – managers of factories and collective farms were given production targets that had to be supported with measurable data.

During the Five Year Plans, goal success was measured exclusively using these production quotas, and they were the end-all, be-all of the plan. However, the quotas were usually set far too high, and were sometimes impossible to meet. By the 1930s, the pressure to reach production quotas was so high that managers routinely falsified their numbers. As the British National Archives describes it:

“If workers did not achieve their targets, they were punished. Desperate factory managers fiddled the books or committed suicide as the pressure to produce more and more became too great. If the workers succeeded in reaching targets, they might be rewarded with increased wages. But usually their targets were increased as well [leading to] problems with wastage and inefficiency in the plans.”

The lesson here is that the more unrealistic the goal is and the more pressure workers are under to meet it, the more likely they are to fabricate results. As such, when building KPIs into a goal, it is critical to ensure that the goal is reachable and that there are not excessive consequences for failing to meet it. It is almost always better to reward people for meeting KPI goals than to punish them for failing to reach the target. Another important lesson is that significantly raising KPI targets because workers reached the previous target can backfire. The USSR isn’t the only place this this has happened – in the U.S. federal government has this problem too. The “use it or lose it” approach – where agencies risk future budget cuts if they don’t use their entire yearly budget – has led to serious wasteful spending. It is counterproductive to punish people with budget cuts or drastically higher productivity targets. Finally, KPIs should never be the totality of any goal or plan, but rather be used as an objective indicator that helps paint a larger picture. Other methods of goal measurement should be implemented to compensate for the limitations of KPIs.

“Despite having multiple KPIs,” according to Forbes, “every report should tie together into a single flash for the business as a whole. Not every KPI measures the overall performance of the business. They don’t show the totality of a project’s performance.”

What KPIs Work Best for Digital Marketing Campaigns?

For digital marketing campaigns, KPIs are based more on the digital world than the financial or customer service world. While all these areas are of course still important, there are unique circumstances in the digital marketing industry that have led to innovative new ways to measure success. One of those circumstances is social media, and the way individuals can express themselves and tailor the content of their feeds. As such, digital marketing campaign KPIs are as varied and curated as the customers the campaigns are trying to reach. Still, there are some broad goals and KPIs that are often used to measure the success of digital marketing campaigns, such as:

Digital Marketing Return on Investment. Most people who have worked in the business world are familiar with return on investment (ROI), but digital marketing teams face the unique challenge of clients asking “how do we know all this digital marketing stuff even works?” Fortunately, digital marketing return on investment is the answer to that question. Calculating digital marketing ROI is easy as long as the digital marketing team can figure out what new revenue to attribute to their efforts. The equation for calculating this metric is: (Total Revenue From Digital Marketing – Total Digital Marketing Cost) / (Total Digital Marketing Cost)

Conversion Rate. The term conversion refers to users completing a desired action, such as creating an online account, signing up for a free trial, or downloading a file. The importance of conversion lies in the data it generates; every conversion is another entry in a marketing database that helps further analysis. Conversion rate is the percentage of users in a given period of time who complete the action desired and is calculated like this: (Conversions / Total Visitors) x 100%

Cost Per Click (CPC). One of the most common KPIs in digital marketing is CPC, the price paid for each click users make, typically on ads. CPC is useful for measuring the effectiveness of a digital marketing campaign and is commonly used in display campaigns. It illustrates not just whether a campaign is generating clicks, but also whether those clicks are worth the cost of the campaign. It is also useful for comparison between different campaigns. CPC is calculated simply by dividing cost of an ad by total clicks.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). CPA is the average cost in marketing and sales for every new customer acquired during a campaign. It is a critical digital marketing KPI since it can make or break a campaign; campaigns that fail to acquire customers efficiently will inevitably be abandoned. CPA doesn’t apply in all circumstances, though. It is most useful when the goal of a campaign is acquiring customers that will have high lifetime value, rather than campaigns that aim to facilitate one-time sales. CPA can be calculated in two ways. The first equation is: (Total Ad Cost) / (Total Conversions). The second is: (Marketing Costs + Sales Costs) / (Number of Customers Acquired).

Cost Per Conversion (CPCon). Though similar to CPA, CPCon is a broader metric. While acquisitions refer specifically to gaining a customer, anything can be called a conversion (a sale, a lead, a download, a subscription to a newsletter, etc.) so CPCon takes a bit of a wider view. It varies and is defined by the business model and type of campaign it’s measuring. CPCon is also calculated in two possible ways, first: (Cost) / (Conversions). Note that in this first equation the term “cost” is vague; that is because the costs being used to calculate CPCon will also vary from campaign to campaign. The second equation is: (CPC) / (Conversion Rate).

Cost Per Lead (CPL). Although it can be tempting to look at the raw number of leads to measure success, that isn’t enough to mark the success of a digital marketing campaign. Lead acquisition costs have to be low enough to maintain a good margin and show significant growth. That’s where CPL comes in. It can be calculated as: (Total Campaign Cost) / (Number of Leads)

Revenue Per Lead (RPL). Measuring CPL is good, but it’s important to consider the other side of things and look at the approximate sales value for each new lead. This metric allows digital marketing teams to predict their future sales based on conversion rates and expected traffic. It also helps reveal where the most profitable leads come from so the team can allocate resources effectively and reinvest in those more profitable channels. It can be calculated as: (Total Revenue Attributed to Campaign) / (Number of Leads)

Email Clickthrough Rate (ECTR). In email marketing campaigns, the email clickthrough rate measures the target audience’s engagement. It shows whether an email is actually getting customers to take a desired action and can help the team discover what aspects of an email do and do not work. It can be calculated as: (Number of Clicks) / (Number of Emails Successfully Delivered) x 100%

Email Open Rate (EOR). It is one thing to measure ECTR and know how many people are taking a desired action, but it is important to compare ECTR to EOR. Why? Because some members of the campaign’s target audience will open an email and then not click through. EOR also shows how effective the email subject lines are at grabbing the attention of potential customers. A big difference between ECTR and EOR demonstrates that an email has an eye-catching title, but the content of the email might be failing to get customers to take the desired action. EOR can be calculated as: (Emails Opened) / (Number of Emails Successfully Delivered). However, it is worth noting that tracking of email open rate is achieved through the use of an invisible pixel on the email which, when downloaded in the email client, informs the email service provided that the email has been opened. In June 2021 Apple announced that, with iOS15, the iPhone mail app would no longer support this type of email open tracking in a bid to assure users that Apple valued user privacy. As of this writing, the impact of this change is not yet clear.

Bounce Rate. Of course, not all emails are delivered successfully. Sometimes things go wrong, such as the email list having incorrect or invalid emails. A high Bounce Rate means it is time to clean up the email list and potentially get more email addresses. The Bounce Rate can be calculated as: (Emails Sent – Emails Delivered) / (Total Emails Sent) x 100%

Cost Per Install (CPI). There are few metrics more significant for mobile app owners to measure than CPI. It is a way of measuring the number of paid installs against organic installs. For companies that are trying to extend their existing business into the mobile world, CPI is a critical indicator of where they need to invest to make sure mobile marketing is effective and reaches out to their target customer base. CPI can be calculated as: (Total Ad Cost) / (Total Installs).

After creating a digital marketing plan and selecting the main KPI metrics that will measure its success, it is time to choose what tool to measure them with.

Choosing Analytics Tools

There are a number of different platforms to manage digital and social media analytics. They fall into three categories: web & SEO tools, social media tools, and email marketing tools.

Web & SEO Analytics Tools

Search Engine Optimization and web analysis is difficult and complex, but fortunately there is an abundance of different tools to help assess the success of efforts in these areas. Here are some of the biggest ones:

Google Analytics. By far the most popular, Google Analytics runs on a freemium model provided directly by Google to help digital marketing teams track various metrics about traffic and other web performance measures. The basic version is free, but the premium version (Google Analytics 360) has a number of additional features that many find well worth the cost.

Google Search Console. This program, which is a part of Google Analytics, offers in-depth SEO reports when linked to a Google Analytics account. The service is completely free to use and does much of the SEO-based analysis that Google Analytics doesn’t offer.

HubSpot. For those looking for inbound marketing and automation, HubSpot can be used to track website traffic, social media channels, landing pages, inbound marketing, calls to action, and more. HubSpot is especially geared toward B2B companies.

Moz. One of the more comprehensive platform for web analytics, Moz offers a broad range of tools for virtually everything a digital marketing team would need to do, including: keyword analysis, SEO competition, SERP features, search volume data, and more.

ClickMeter. As a single virtual platform, ClickMeter aims to be a one-stop shop for businesses seeking to analyze and optimize their marketing links and conversion rates. If Moz is a toolbox, ClickMeter is a comprehensive multi-tool.

SimilarWeb. SimilarWeb is a platform that allows businesses to compare their website to competitors around the world, discover what sources drive traffic to any website (search inquiries, social media, referrals, etc.), and analyze target customer base interests. SimilarWeb has the unique advantage of allowing digital marketing teams to see the organic and paid keywords – even the “Google not-provided” ones – of any website.

Crazy Egg. With a number of unique tools such as Heat Map, Scroll Map, Overlay, and Confetti, Crazy Egg allows heatmap tracking of website usage. Crazy Egg is notable for its visualization features, making it easier to understand the data without getting buried in numbers. Crazy Egg also offers A/B Testing and other editing tools that are designed to help businesses build and modify content features for success.

Ahrefs. Unlike its competitors, Ahrefs is made for maximum ease of use and minimal navigation. A paid SEO software suite, it has various tools for rank tracking, link building, keyword analysis, competitor analysis, and website audits. For many businesses, the biggest draw for Ahrefs is that it is designed specifically to learn why competitors rank highly. Getting that inside information can give companies an edge by showing them what they have to do in order to outrank the competition.

Social Media Marketing Analytics Tools

Social media marketing can seem deceptively simple, but a deeper look reveals that there is much more than meets the eye. There are a handful of good programs to help dig in and gather metrics so help you engage social media users better.

Facebook Business Manager – Facebook Business Manager is your control console for paid Facebook and Instagram marketing campaigns. In Business Manager you’ll build you creatives, add your copy and calls-to-action, set campaign targeting, and set the goals for the campaign. You’ll be able to track progress to goal and see engagement with your paid Facebook promotions.

AdEspresso. Hootsuite’s latest social media management suite, AdEspresso offers a wide range of helpful tools that provide real-time social media performance metrics. Some of the analytics it includes are: engagement, clicks, follow/unfollow statistics, mentions, and the performance of the social media team in responding to visitor messages and comments.

Socialbakers Social Media Analytics. A completely free collection of cutting edge social media analytics tools, Socialbakers is designed to measure social media performance against competitors. It is built on the idea of multi-channel publishing, social media listening, and analyzing competing companies’ social media accounts to learn from them.

Buffer. It can be exhausting to try and keep up with all the different social media accounts that a modern business can have, but Buffer helps by providing a platform to manage them all in one place. Buffer helps social media and digital marketing teams schedule content and publish it automatically, get analytics insights for all social media accounts, and understand how to improve performance. It also has the unique bonus feature of creating reports for managers and clients with pre-designed templates.

Email Marketing Analytics

Email marketing is like Pong: easy to learn, but hard to master. Email marketing analytics fall into several basic categories:

Email service providers (ESPs) – ESPs are the tools you use to design and send out your email marketing. They range from simple, easy to use tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact, up to more sophisticated ESPs like Salesforce and Marketo. ESP analytics generally cover open rate, click rate, unsubscribe rate and bounce rate. ESP analytics will also include details on which links or buttons were clicked and some insight into deliverability.

UTM codes – Putting UTM codes on your email CTAs (calls to action) allows you to track how well each CTA does in driving traffic to your site. Using Google’s UTM code builder is the easiest way to generate logical UTM codes. You’ll track UTM codes in your site’s Google Analytics dashboard.

Email deliverability – Deliverability has to do with whether or not your outbound email marketing is being received and, if so, in what tab. If you have a Gmail account you know it has three tabs: Primary, Social and Promotion. Of course, every email marketer would like their outbound email offers to land in recipients’ Primary tabs, but can be difficult to achieve. Use Google Postmaster to monitor your IP and mailing domain reputation for recipients’ Gmail accounts. To assess deliverability across all email clients you can use a tool like Glockapps which will send test emails and measure whether they are delivered or blocked in Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, and more.

Email rendering – Every email client will read your email code slightly differently. This means that your email will look different depending on whether it is received by Gmail, Outlook, AOL, Yahoo, or others. And your email will also look different on an iPhone, Android phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet. Tool like Litmus and Email on Acid will test your email designs across all email clients and viewport sizes to give you clear metrics on how it will look.

Making Digital Marketing Campaigns Work

Often, the reason that digital marketing campaigns don’t succeed is not that they lack quality, creativity, or skilled team members. The actual reason that many campaigns fail is that they do not set the right goals and track the campaign’s performance.

LNP Media Group is a leading Lancaster digital agency with the staff to do all of your digital campaign management in-house. We work with businesses across the Harrisburg-Lebanon-Lancaster-York area as well as businesses up and down in the east coast. During a marketing planning and strategy session we’ll set SMART goals for your campaigns to ensure their success. And, following campaign deployment, we’ll continue to be your partner in mid-campaign optimization and post-campaign analysis. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Digital Display Advertising, the Unsung Hero of Digital Marketing

Digital Display Advertising, the Unsung Hero of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a constantly evolving field. Since digital marketing agencies already work in a bewilderingly complicated industry, they sometimes find themselves stuck with old habits. However, the dynamic nature of digital marketing means that digital agencies must keep up with the times and strive to find the hidden strategies that give them an edge over the competition. One of those strategies is display advertising.

Although virtually all experienced digital marketing agencies are at least a little familiar with digital display advertising, it is immensely underrated by many firms. Understanding the potential of display ads can rocket even the smallest digital agency into unparalleled success, making display advertising the unsung hero of digital marketing. If your business needs a hero, it might be time to look into digital display advertising.

What is Display Advertising?

Before explaining exactly why digital display advertising is so effective, it is important to understand what the term entails. Put simply, display advertising refers to any technique used to attract the audience of a website, social media platform, or other online space with an advertising graphic of some kind. Display ads can be text-based, images, or even audiovisual ads. The goal of display advertising is dependent on the campaign strategy.  One of the most common goals is to encouraging the user of the site to click the ad and be directed to a landing page and take a specific action, such as purchasing a product, subscribing to a newsletter, or signing a petition. However, there are other digital display advertising goals to consider, such as branding and overall campaign support.

Display advertising campaigns, like many other online advertising campaigns, can be charged on a “cost per click” (CPC), “cost per thousand” (CPM) or a “cost per day” (CPD) basis.

Cost per click is also sometimes referred to as “pay per click,” depending on which party is talking about it. CPC bidding means that the person buying the ad pays the publisher (such as a search engine or social media platform) for each click on the ad. That means that the person paying for the ad only pays for it if it works, which can be a huge advantage for them. Often clients purchasing CPC bidding campaigns will set a maximum CPC, which is the highest amount they are willing to pay for a click on the ad.

Display advertising campaigns are sometimes used for retargeting campaigns, where ads are delivered to users who have already visited a site, with the goal of “retargeting” them and getting them to return to the site to take the same action or take an action at a later stage of the marketing funnel.

Although display advertising has a modest click-through rate (about 0.05% on average, depending on type of display advertising), it is an important part of a well-rounded marketing strategy. While certain marketing strategies have a better click through rate (such as native advertising or email marketing campaigns), display advertising raises brand awareness every time users see your ads.

Even if they don’t click through, display ads support other campaigns and generally improve the effectiveness of your advertising strategy. In fact, Harvard researchers studying display ads found that display campaigns – when sustained over a longer period of time – significantly increased the conversion of search campaigns.

The Different Kinds of Display Ads

Most digital agencies are familiar to some extent with a few different forms of display ads. However, not all display ads are created equal, and as such it is important to understand the various different forms that display ads take. Since one of the main motivations of display advertising is to reach as many people as possible, using different formats is vital. Having a deeper understanding of the formats allows digital agencies to fit display ads into more spaces, maximizing the reach of the ad campaign and giving a wider range of options to pick from. Here is a list of the main formats that display ads can come in, and some of their unique advantages and disadvantages:

Banner ads

The very first display ad to appear on the internet was a banner ad. On October 27, 1994 – in the era of Netscape Navigator and fax machines – the Wired Magazine website (then known as “HotWired”) uploaded a boldly colored image reading “Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE? YOU WILL.” Its impact on online advertising was gargantuan. To this day, banner ads are one of the most common ads used by digital agencies. Banner ads that appear on the top of the page, highlighting the offer quite literally above all other content can be advantageous to the advertiser. However ad blocking software can prevent these ads from being displayed.

Interstitial ads

Interstitial ads are interactive, almost always full-screen ads that cover the graphic user interface of the website or app that they appear on. For the most part, interstitial ads appear at natural breaks or transition points between content, such as between levels in a game app (hence the “interstitial” in the name). What makes interstitial ads different is their full coverage of the content that the user came for. To take a specific example, the popular video editing app InShot displays interstitial ads when exporting video footage. Often, the ads are for game apps, and the ad can allow the user to play a demo of the game for 15 to 30 seconds before being able to close the ad and return to InShot. Interstitial ads are highly attention-grabbing. Since they are placed in the natural interstices between content, users do not generally find interstitial ads intrusive or particularly obnoxious. Most of the disadvantages of interstitial ads are technical, such as their potential to negatively impact loading time and search engine optimization.

Pop-up ads

Pop-ups are so ubiquitous that they hardly need explanation. The traditional form of a pop-up ad (which hardly exists nowadays) is a new window opening simultaneously with a user entering a website. Although pop-ups are far less common today than they once were, there are still some reasons to consider them. The traditional “new window” pop-up ads are now blocked by most internet browsers, but some pop-ups are still effective. For instance, pop-ups that open a new tab in the browser, open a sub-window within a page (sometimes referred to as modal pop-ups), or open up a live chat dialogue can be highly valuable in encouraging users to click through. The advantages of these pop-ups is that they are nearly impossible to ignore, they grab attention (50 percent more effectively than banners according to AKA Marketing), and certain kinds of pop-ups are practically invulnerable to ad blocking software. However, there are considerable disadvantages to pop-ups as well. They have a bad reputation due to a historical association with fraud, scams, and adult content, and many users find them extremely obnoxious and intrusive. As such, using pop-up ads can hurt a brand or digital agency’s reputation. They should not be used as a long-term marketing solution, since ad blocker and browser software developers are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with pop-up designers, but they can be an effective short-term boost.

Unicast ads

Unicast ads are comparable to traditional television commercials. They are videos that play on the browser window, usually lasting somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Of course, unlike traditional television commercials, unicast ads are display ads and viewers can click them to get more information. Unicast ads have similar advantages and disadvantages to television commercials, although they do have one unique drawback: they can lay a heavy burden on bandwidth and cause slower loading times, resulting in viewer frustration and a worse user experience.

Contextual advertising

Contextual advertising is a type of targeted advertising where the ad content is based directly on the content of the page. As an example, contextual advertising could take the form of an advertiser placing an ad for airline tickets to France next to an article about travelling through French wine country. Nowadays, contextual advertising is usually organized by semi-automated systems that scan the text of a website or other digital platform for keywords, and then places relevant ads on a page based on those keywords. One major advantage of contextual ads is that users consider them less irritating than traditional ads. Due to the lack of irritation and the targeted nature of contextual advertising, it influences users more efficiently than many other ad types. Contextual advertising has very few disadvantages. Perhaps the only major drawback is that it requires very close cooperation between the digital agency and the publisher/host since the contextual advertising system needs access to a database of content on the site to scan for potential keywords.

Takeover ads

The name takeover ads is an especially accurate one. Takeover ads refer to an advertiser “taking over” the content of a publisher, for instance replacing a website’s homepage primarily with ads (this specific scenario is called a “homepage takeover”). This type of display advertising is usually reserved for successful, high profile brands on very high traffic online publications. Although the specifics of takeover ads vary a lot, in general they involve some portion of a platform’s content being replaced with a digital agency’s content. In recent years, thanks to web development advances, takeover ads are often incorporated into the website background or have interactive features that boost user engagement. The advantages of takeover ads are many: the advertiser becomes associated with popular platforms, the ads grab attention extremely well, and they get a lot of reach. However, takeover ads are usually very expensive and can cause technical difficulties for the host.

How is Display Advertising Efficacy Measured?

For Lancaster County businesses considering using display advertising, it may be important to ensure that the digital agency managing the ads can accurately measure how effective they are. Therefore, it is smart to understand exactly how digital agencies measure display ad efficacy and the basics of the research behind display advertising.

In recent years, the impact of marketing has become far more objectively measurable. Thanks to the digital revolution, computerized metrics can now be automatically measured and analyzed to see whether a campaign is working well or not. On the other hand, that very same digital revolution has made the question of what to measure far more complex. Fortunately, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe has developed a set of integrated definitions, measures and metrics for making those measurements, called the Digital Advertising Effectiveness Measurement Framework. The framework covers three main areas of digital advertising effectiveness measurement: effectiveness of sales, brand, and media. For instance, for brand effectiveness, the framework looks into the following key questions to evaluate the influence digital campaigns have on delivering brand outcomes:

  • – Was purchase intent positively impacted?
  • – Has brand favorability been achieved?
  • – Was trust in the brand improved?
  • – What was the ad recall rate (unaided and aided)?
  • – Was brand awareness increased?
  • – Was brand equity improved?

However, it is always good to ensure the effectiveness of an ad campaign before the campaign is launched. Making digital advertising maximally effective requires that digital agencies place their ads in high quality, contextually relevant environments. Brand suitability is crucial for a successful campaign. For instance, if you don’t want your ads appearing next to extremely sensitive content related to COVID-19, certain display ad services can control for that. Often, maximizing effectiveness means learning from past campaigns and seeing what does and doesn’t work – so ensuring the success of future campaigns means looking at ones that are already done. And if brand suitability is not taken into account, then it is virtually impossible to accurately measure whether an ad campaign would or would not have been effective otherwise. Tools like Google’s Brand Lift measurement can help determine what audiences think of an individual ad or ad campaign.

What Makes Display Advertising Work Best?

In 2018, the United Kingdom IAB branch conducted a meta-analysis of a variety of research studies looking at the effectiveness of digital advertising campaigns. The analysis, which covered 675 campaigns, demonstrated that digital display advertising increases (unaided) brand awareness by up to 12 percent compared to controls. The analysis also found that digital display advertising improves public perceptions of brands, and that digital display advertising drives intent to purchase products associated with the brand.

So the question that digital agencies are left with is not whether or not display advertising is effective, the question is what makes display advertising effective and how to maximize that effectiveness. So whether your Lancaster business has an in-house design team or will be hiring a digital agency, it is necessary to ensure the team follows some of the following basic best practices in digital design to stretch every dollar spent on advertising:

Use responsive sizing

In a world that is split between mobile devices and computers, your ads must be responsive and able to properly display on any digital device. Kristanne Roberts, global development director at Kantar, writes that for digital campaigns to succeed they must be carefully tailored to display properly on all formats. Using common sizing for display ads ensures easy trafficking and reduces failed response bugs. Fortunately, there are some standardized sizes for responsive ads that design teams can choose from.

Choose clean design

Minimalistic, uncluttered design is critical to getting your message across. The internet is a place full of fascinating information, a place where your ad is competing for attention with everything from cat videos to breaking news. People will naturally skim past and ignore overly complex ads. Furthermore, digital ad formats on mobile devices are small, so optimize for the mobile world and embrace the “less is more” philosophy. Font choice and font size need to be readable on mobile, so be sure to double check ads on a smartphone.

Be colorful

Making use of colors that reflect your brand’s identity can be immensely helpful in attracting the right audience. The psychology of colors is something everyone in marketing should be familiar with. Different colors are culturally associated with different things, and therefore represent different feelings and ideas. For instance, green represents freshness, growth, vitality, renewal, dependability, practicality, nurturing, adaptability, loyalty and kindness – it is a versatile color that is ideal for portraying feelings of nature or health, particularly environmentally friendly products. Blue represents trust, integrity, responsibility, peace and calm, and helps customers trust businesses which is one reason that blue is so common with IT business and social media logos.

Don’t violate copyright law

It may seem obvious, but it is vital to double check the rights to use images before using them. Never copy and paste an image found on Google, for instance, into an ad. Use professionally taken photos that you own or use image services like Getty. Brands can (and have) gotten into serious legal trouble for violating copyright laws in their marketing campaigns.

Pick the right color mode

The RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color mode is much better suited to digital environments than the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black) color mode, which is better for print media. The RGB color mode uses what is called “additive mixing” meaning that all colors are formed from adding red, green, and/or blue light on top of black darkness to create the correct color. This reflects how digital screens render color, and is therefore ideal for digital environments.

Use GIFs optimally

Animated GIF images can have major benefits over static images. As an example, they can present more information or catch a user’s attention more effectively than a traditional still ad. However, when used improperly, they can overwhelm users with too much movement or information and get glossed over and ignored. If you use GIFs in your display ads, make sure not to overload users to the point that they get annoyed.

Harness the power of HTML5

Back in the day, interactive ads primarily operated off of Flash. However, as Flash became obsolete, HTML5 ads became the standard. HTML5 ads enable animation and interactive content in the same way Flash did, but they have the added benefit of being responsive and looking the same on any device or browser. Any device that can render HTML5 code can render HTML5 ads as well. HTML5 coding is easy to learn and optimize, and there are many tools specifically designed to produce HTML5 ads even with limited coding skills.

Have a clear call to action

The call to action is everything in advertising. Without a clear call to action, even the most eye-catching and otherwise effective ads are useless. Make sure that the call to action is obvious and distinct, and make sure other design elements support the ultimate goal of getting the user to follow through with the call to action.

Targeting Options for Display Advertising

Good targeting is essential to making sure that ads get in front of the right audience. An audience that is interested in photography is far more likely to buy an expensive camera than a general audience. Fortunately, many ad services such as Google Ads offer customizable targeting options that can engage audiences in the right niche. Ad groups can operate off audience targeting, reaching people based on who they are, how they have interacted with similar businesses, interests and habits, and what they are actively researching. For display advertising, here are some common category types that ad services use to reach audiences:

  • – Affinity Reaching users based on what they’re passionate about is one of the most common ways to connect a brand to an audience. Search engines and social media have a wealth of data on the affinity groups that their users belong to, so digital display advertising is ideal for this type of targeting.
  • – Demographics: Reaching users based on long-term life facts is a time-tested method of designing targeting groups.
  • – Life events: Reaching users when they are in the middle of important life milestones can be an extremely effective technique. For instance, a real estate firm might target ads to people who are buying their first house, or a baby product company might target people who are expecting a child.
  • – In-market: Finding a user base from their recent purchase intent has become an extremely common method, especially in recent years. One of the best indicators of whether someone will buy a product or service is having shopped for or bought it previously.
  • – Remarketing: Reaching users that have interacted with your business in the past is effective for reasons similar to in-market targeting. Remarketing is critical to building a base of repeat customers who can develop brand loyalty and essentially serve as free marketing for the business.

Of course, the ultimate goal is not just to use pre-determined targeting categories, but to design a holistic custom audience with a broad range of traits. Ad services such as Google Ads allow digital agencies to set up custom audiences in display advertising campaigns by adding keywords, apps, and website URLs related to the brand. The ads are then shown to audiences with those interests or purchase intentions. Creating custom intent or custom affinity audience types is a fairly new phenomenon, but it has massive potential. For instance, whereas in the past a bicycling gear company may have tried to reach a sports fan affinity audience, they can now reach avid cyclists specifically. With custom audiences, the shoe campaign can define this audience by entering:

  • – Keywords such as “bike race,” “cyclist athlete,” or “mountain biking”
  • – Entering apps in the health and fitness category that an avid cyclist might be interested in, such as Strava, Google Fit, or Endomondo
  • – Entering URLs of web pages with content about cycling, ride schedules, cyclist nutrition, and competitive cycling themes

Why Switch to Display Advertising?

If you still aren’t sure whether display advertising is right for your Lancaster County business, you should understand what advantages display advertising has over other methods. Virtually all modern digital agencies incorporate display adverting as an essential part of their online strategy. Display advertising lets brands creatively connect across the internet to countless potential customers. Unlike email ad campaigns, for instance, display ads’ reach is not limited by a user’s email provider, social channel, or willingness to sign up to an email subscription.

Brands that effectively make use of display advertising can reach consumers across the web anywhere that they could be looking for news, goods, services, recommendations, or any other information. Just the Google Display Network on its own can reach more than 90 percent of total internet users all over the world. Using additional demand-side platforms can increase that reach even more. But even with Google alone, brands are more or less guaranteed to reach more potential customers with display advertising than any other offline or online advertising method.

Display advertising is also far more responsive and ubiquitous than other advertising strategies. Since our modern lives are fully integrated with the digital world, a display ad campaign can let your branding follow a consumer all day – from the morning news checkup, to their workday, to their evening leisure activities.

Retargeting and remarketing allows ads to perform at levels that were thought to be impossible a generation ago. However, the reason why is obvious – users that have a prior interest in a product are more likely to purchase it again. Retarget ads have an excellent click-through rate of 0.7% (compare that figure to 0.07% at the top of the marketing funnel). Retargeting potential repeat customers with display ads is a fantastic method for attracting those customers back to a brand’s site or social media page. This method is ideal for advertising campaigns that are directed more toward conversion. One common example of this is setting up a script-tag on a company checkout page and retargeting with relevant products. This also reduces cart abandonment. Display advertising can even interrupt consumers who are considering going to a competing business and convince the consumer to come to your brand instead. Using search retargeting, companies can go after customers who have looked for products or services on a competitor’s website, and then offer deals for the same product or service at prices that undercut the competition. Brands that don’t use search retargeting in this way are likely having it used against them, so it can be a huge mistake not to.

Another excellent benefit that display ads have over other ad types is its dynamic nature. Display advertising allows designers, advertisers and digital agencies to explore the breadth of their creative potential. As the field continues to grow and evolve, and technology continues to advance, display ads gain more and more features. In recent years, display ads have adopted interactive elements, high quality video, countdowns, live product feeds, and many other new options for designers to take advantage of. In the future, more features will surely come into play. The ability of display advertising to adapt and change over the years means that they are likely to be around for a long time, surviving fluctuations in both the economy and in people’s relationships to the digital world.

Since it is so important to measure marketing performance and know that every dollar spent on advertising is creating a return on investment, many brands that want to know their marketing budget is being used effectively op for display advertising. It is very easy to get a variety of data on the efficacy of display ads, using metrics ranging from how many times ads have been seen, to how many users have clicked the ad and more. Because display ads are best suited for building brand awareness, the number of impressions an ad receives is one of the most important metrics. It is also built in to virtually all display ad services and easily accessible.

Overall, display advertising is an excellent option for any Lancaster County digital agency looking to broaden its reach and maximize impressions with potential customers. Display ads let brands get an edge on the competition, connect with consumers, and build widespread brand awareness and loyalty. In a world so deeply interwoven with the digital domain, brands cannot afford to ignore display advertising.

For more information on display advertising, Google Ads, or any of our other digital services, please contact us.