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Really, Your Company Might As Well Have a Hole In Its Wallet

By Erin  |   Online Marketing

illustration of wallet with money falling out

Many companies dedicate a small portion of their marketing budget to placing online ads, in hopes of sending people to their company website. When done correctly, this can be an effective way to gain new customers and generate additional sales.

Unfortunately, when it comes to online ads it’s extraordinarily easy to (very) quickly blow through your budget while minimizing your potential ROI.

Fortunately, once you understand the common reasons online ad budgets are so easily wasted, you’ll be able to immediately assess your current ad campaigns with a more critical eye—and fix any costly mistakes you’ve been making.

Here’s a simple way to think about an ad placed on WebsiteXYZ.com that encourages people to visit your company’s website:

  • Out of all your potential customers in the world, only a certain percentage will visit website XYZ.
  • Out of all your potential customers that do visit website XYZ, only a percentage will actually see your ad.
  • Out of all your potential customers do see that ad, only a percentage will have the time, interest at that moment, and willingness to leave website XYZ that motivate them to click on your ad.

This is how almost all your advertising works – you spending a portion of your marketing budget grabbing the interest of potential customers and getting them to visit your website.

This is where it’s so easy to go wrong.

Yet this is where companies dust off their hands and walk the other way, giving little thought to the importance of connecting what their ads look like and say to what their prospects see upon arriving at the company’s website.

If you learn one thing about online marketing today, it should be this: getting prospects to your site via your ads does not necessarily mean you’ve spent your marketing dollars wisely!

Let’s take a look at some real-life online ads, shall we?  Each of the following examples (company names removed) highlights an actual ad I clicked on while browsing a local newspaper’s site during the past month. Do any of the online ads you’re paying for contain similar weaknesses?

  1. Ad for a Legal Services Company: Clicking this ad took me to a page displaying nothing more than a *broken* contact form. QUESTIONS: What percentage of visitors do you think feel ready to call or email the moment they arrive at a new site, when they know nothing about the company other than what the online ad shared? How might potential customers feel about a company if they do spend their time filling out an online form but see a dead-end ERROR page after hitting the Submit button?
  2. Ad promoting a discounted bike ride/tour opportunity: Clicking this ad took me to a busy homepage packed with a tremendous amount of company info crammed into lengthy paragraphs, info on various products and services unrelated to biking, videos, images of brands sold, links to more bike rental info and links to make online reservations (should I click one of these?). After ~20 seconds, I located a link pointing to a info on the discounted bike rides—placed in its own banner advertisement on the site. QUESTIONS: Do How long do you think most site visitors will spend searching for the info promoted in the ad? How might visitors feel when they arrive at a page they assume contains details about something they’re interested in, but are instead presented with an overwhelming amount of info not related to their expectations? Might visitors have different experiences if the ad pointed them to a page focused solely on these discounted bike rides?
  3. Ad promoting a sale at a local retail shop: Clicking this ad took me to an Error page stating the page no longer existed. I don’t think we need to ponder how this type of mistake can waste a company’s marketing dollars.
  4. Banner ad promoting 10% off any product in a local company’s online store: Clicking this ad sent me to the company’s homepage. The homepage contained a slideshow and general info on the company owners and history, but offered zero information on the promised 10% discount. After finally locating then clicking the link to the company’s online store, I found that the online store itself had no mention of the ad’s promised 10% discount. From what I could tell, no discount actually existed. QUESTION: How would you feel knowing your marketing dollars were actually bringing potential customers to your site…but that these customers were all leaving in frustration without purchasing because you’re not giving them what you promised?
  5. Ad showcasing a beautiful home for sale: Clicking this ad took me to a real estate company’s homepage. The page’s featured property was not the beautiful home I saw in the ad. In fact, the page contained no photos of or references to the beautiful home. Rather, the page encouraged me to search the site—yet I knew nothing about the home I’d seen in the ad, and therefore didn’t know what to search for. QUESTION: What percentage of site visitors who click this ad will have the energy, time, and desire to begin searching through a new website for a property that may or may not still be for sale and of which they know essentially nothing about?

It’s simply irresponsible to assume that getting people to click your online ads (or visit your site after seeing your printed ads) equals success. Your ad might drive 5,000 people to your site in a day, but if your site contains no mention of what your ad promotes, the vast majority of those visitors will leave (and quickly), flushing your marketing money down the toilet and spoiling hundreds of opportunities to generate new business.

What Not To Do:

You’ve worked hard and spent money on online ads to draw people to your site. So don’t make these people work to find what your ad promises. Don’t make these people wonder if they’ve arrived at the right site. And most definitely stop presenting these people with (literally) nothing more than a contact form asking for their email, phone number, and comments the moment they arrive.

What To Do:

Use common sense. Make the money you spend on ads work hard for you by ensuring a strong, crystal clear and instantly obvious connection between your ads and what people see after visiting the links in those ads.

In other words: prevent surprises; focus on giving the people who see your ads exactly what they expect to see.

The Bottom Line:

No more excuses. Stop throwing your money away.

Assuming you offer your prospects something they truly value in the first place, creating an obvious connection between each of your online ads and the web page associated with those ad will absolutely and substantially increase the return you receive from the marketing dollars you spend.

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