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How To Create And Analyze Killer Ads

The exponential growth of the internet in the last three decades, has thrown up some very interesting statistics. Approximately 60% of the global population (7.73 billion) are internet users. About 11 new internet users are added every second. The average time spent online per user is approximately 7 hours. says that an average person is exposed to 4000-10000 ad messages per day. This could be in the form of TV ads, radio jingles, billboard images or online marketing ads. 

I am no fortune teller, but I can definitely see that the future of marketing lies in digital advertising. The statistics reveal that people are spending more time online, having an average of at least 7 social media accounts. Digital marketing and performance marketing should be an integral part of your brand strategy, if it has to grow and thrive. 

Importance of Digital Advertising

An average American spends 4 – 6 hours online every day. Gen Z and millennials easily spend more than 10 hours online, whether for work or leisure. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google are the most popular platforms and account for a major chunk of time spent online. Create Facebook ads and ads on the other platforms to grab the eyeballs of the online generation.

These stats highlight the growing impact of the online world. A savvy brand and marketer, should make the most of this online boom and break away from traditional advertising. The focus should be on social media marketing strategy, because – 

A good majority of the world population is online and most buyers prefer to interact with brands, make their purchase decisions and spend money on online platforms.

Focused and targeted marketing is easily possible. Inbound Vs Outbound marketing can be explored. Digital ads can be tweaked to impact your target audience at various levels and influence their buying decisions. You can personalize your ad content to suit their browsing or past purchase history.

Gives people the comfort of checking online reviews, make product features and price comparisons and then choose to establish a relationship with you and your brand.

Smaller businesses and brands get an equal opportunity to rub shoulders with bigger names and still reach customers. Digital advertising offers an equal platform to all brands to be relevant.

 Digital ad spend helps you stretch your dollar to the max. it is a cost-effective method to drive traffic and generate leads. Performance marketing helps you keep a strict control on your advertising budget. 

PPC or Pay per Click can be established through performance marketing and further advertising strategy can be built around this metric.

 Social Media Marketing Strategy

A clear and achievable social media marketing strategy is needed to survive, grow and thrive in the modern business environment. To build an effective digital advertising strategy, you, as a company need to perform a series of potent actions designed to help you achieve your company goals. 

Make your brand stand up and be counted: Take a strong stance for your brand. Make sure you either talk the customer into a strong stance, or have a profound say on your brand. Stand out from the crowd, and know clearly what you are trying to achieve with your ad. 

You may end up alienating certain customers by being vociferous and aggressive about your brand at first. However, it is best to remember that your brand is not going to attract new customers by tempering its personality. Let the personality of the brand shine, have opinions, do things that are exciting, captivating, attention grabbing. Those are the things and brands that get shared. Limelight and word of mouth really help brands grow. 

While creating ads remember the first step is picking what you want to say and making sure that it is a strong opinion, one you are willing to stand behind. Make a rough version of the ad, review it after a week, and if you are uncertain about your strategy, post it after a month. Move forward with your ad strategy when you believe it is the right direction to take. 

Ask “What is the Job to be Done?”:

Before you zero in on the best digital advertising strategy for your brand, stop for a moment and figure out why customers are buying your product. 

 "Competing Against Luck" by Clayton M. Christensen talks at length about "What is the job to be done?" being the right question to ask of consumers buying your product.

This can best be explained by an example - If you are in a train station about to get on a train ride and you buy a magazine, it is probable that you did not buy the magazine because you like it, but you just bought it to entertain you on your train ride. Here the features, content and brand name of the magazine is irrelevant, it is just a product purchased or ‘hired’ to serve a need. 

If you not sure about the answer, call as many customers as you can and find out why they bought the product. What did they want the product to do for them? Once you know the answer to that question, put that aside and start thinking about other details like brand features. Narrow in on what makes it unique. Start writing them out in bullet points, compile all these points. Then break down the information based on the pros, cons and differences. Why is this product the best? What is the need that it fulfils?

Work on the Most Relatable Storyline: Based on this information, start working on a storyline for your brand. Focus on engaging in a unique way. Find a way to communicate with customers and influence their minds to see your brand as different from every other brand. Work on creating a recall value for your brand. Your brand should remain uppermost in the mind of the prospects and they should yearn to associate with you for a unique, memorable experience. They should feel compelled to talk about it with friends and family, giving you that much needed word-of-mouth advertisement. 

 Grab Attention with a Catchy Headline: A catchy headline is the important part of your ad. Eight out of ten customers will read your headline, but only two out of ten will read your body copy. A brilliant headline will decide on whether or not people care to click through the ad. 

 Follow up with Copy that Converts: Start writing by articulating your thoughts and vision. Do not worry about length, words to use, etc. There is a number of different strategies and unique things to apply and goals to achieve.

Start writing. Sentence length, structure does not matter as long as all the information is contained therein. After writing 20 – 30 sentences, step back and review. Words used frequently are keywords to goal attainment, and are already dominating your mindset and subconscious mind. Before you begin to refine your copy, look at all you have written.

Think “What angle do I want to adopt for this ad? Should I ask a question or present an answer? Should I use social proof in the ad? Should it be very literal and use more creatives for articulating my message? Should it be an indirect ad with mystery surrounding it? Should it be a direct ad?”

Start applying different strategies for writing the copy and then refine it. Take your top three long-winded sentences and refine them into questions or rephrase them as social proof. Do not worry about condensing them. Just clearly articulate. Once you have got this long copy and different strategies, maybe three or four ideally, try to pick the one that other people respond to well. Ask co-workers, partners, friends, family. Put it on social media and ask people to vote. 

Absorb the feedback and apply it to write fresh copy. Write, revise and rewrite many more times to forcefully present your message. Finally, begin to condense the copy. Trim some of the fat from the copy, by applying pithy synonyms and try to fit into the 30character limit. It is time consuming but necessary. 

Once you have written the perfect copy, rephrase it 3-4 times and create multiple ads to split test. 

Play with Creatives: Creatives or images, should bring out the flavour of the headline or copy. There are many different strategies to employ while playing with images. You can have the image and the headline build on each other, or work opposite to each other. Most times it works best to have an indirect headline and an obvious image. Other times, have a mysterious image and straightforward headline and copy. 

 Create a good balance so viewers know exactly what they are looking at. If the mysterious creative happens to catch their eye they may read the headline. If the mysterious headline catches their eye, they may look more at the creative. A lot of information can be left off the ad and be in detail on the landing page. 

When Facebook started allowing ads in the newsfeed, it was flooded with a big influx of ads. It was a new experience for people to be on Facebook looking at ads. Many ads that were going up used stock photos, Shutterstock photos, etc. However, my agency and I employed a unique strategy. We put up amateurish and candid ads using regular people and locations.

It made people viewing the ad feel like, "Wait a minute. Is that my friend? Do I know that person? Let me look closer." It got their attention. 

Text on creatives is restricted to 20% on Facebook. Reserve it for brief messaging and discounts. 

The Bath Bomb Example: On a bath bomb ad created by my agency, we could have said homemade, organic, high quality bath bombs delivered to your doorstep, and it would have worked reasonably well. Instead, we decided to leverage the beauty of a bath bomb in the bath with a creative indirect headline, and connected it with Maldives. Talking about the Maldives in the bathroom got people’s attention. Compounded with the image of a bath bomb, and it got their mind going. Suddenly they were interested in an experience and not just organic, high quality bath bombs. Needless to say, the response was beyond expectations.

The trick lies in getting people to click through the ad and take action. This can be done with some inspired written text in the creative. Always remember to balance the creative and the headline. 

Another important point is to have a pop of color on the images. A good example is YouTube thumbnails. Of the two thumbnails one has a pop of color, and the other is just a basic thumbnail. 100% of the times the one with the pop of color is going to do better no matter what. If you slap some text on top of the color, it will do even better. The pop of color does not have to be extreme. If trying to sell your swimsuits, don't choose the black swimsuit. Choose the red. It will be more impactful.

If a human is in the photo, make sure to test angles of the face. It can be extremely successful to have a human look straight on to the camera in a photo versus to the side. Make sure you test it. The results will depend on the product. In some tests it was found that if we have a person looking directly at the camera in the ad, and then on the landing page we have them looking to the side, the time spent on the page is much higher.

Leverage the Influence of Influencers: Today, influencers on social media platforms have their own band of organic, loyal followers. Their followers expect to see pictures and posts from them and products seem authentic when promoted by your role model, hero or idol.

 Pick the right kind of influencers that resonate with the kind of ads you wish to make. You can choose a lifestyle influencer, a travel influencer or a photography influencer, depending on your need. Let them do their thing, in their own way. Lay down certain parameters of working but let them use their creativity for best results. Flush out fake influencers and strike good deals with genuine ones and leverage their potential to the maximum.

A great example of influencer marketing comes from my own agency. We used an influencer who had a carpet in her bathroom. As happens, many opinions flowed in about this carpet. In the post, she is reading hateful comments about her carpet, and then says in the end that she is washing away the haters with the soap that she's promoting.

The influencer in her own inimitable style managed to organically strike a chord with her followers and turned her haters to an advantage for the brand. This was an indirect and inbound marketing strategy that worked fantastically. It was creative, different, engaging and relevant.

Split test: Conduct split tests with different headlines, copy and creatives. Understand what resonates with people by using various test concepts. Evaluate the performance of one strategy against another and see which one does the best. There will be a difference in the response to each ad strategy and if you do not test it, you could be leaving money on the table. 

 If you are selling a hair product, you do not know if a redhead, brunette, or blonde is going to perform best, but one of them will surely perform better than the others. The best way to know is to test it. Create a variety of ads like this because it will help you understand what works best for you. 

Split tests can be done at zero cost and the data availed quickly. 

With the data in hand and equipped with the right knowledge of which angle will work well, go ahead and employ professionals to refine, present and create at scale the fundamental idea. It saves you money when you are actually making many ads to figure out a best strategy. It helps to have prior knowledge about the success of your ad strategy before you go ahead with the ad spend. 

Get Around the Lack of a big budget: If on a shoe string budget, you can still reach out to people on Instagram through hashtags. Reach out to the people that own the content and say,

"Hey, I love your photo. We'd like to put it in an ad. I think our users would really enjoy seeing it. Can we buy it for $20?" Most likely the answer will be, "Yes, you can." 

 Alternatively, if you like their photo, but they are not wearing the right clothing, and your product is a fitness apparel line, you could reach out to them and say,

"Hey, we'd like you to recreate this photo and sell it to us. We'll send you the clothes. We really like the style."

The chances of them agreeing to do that is 100%. If you are a big brand with a huge reputation you can close the deal every time. 

If you have an idea for a video, but a small budget put an ad up and say, "Hey, we need a male/female actor to sell our product. You will need to do this and this. We'll pay you $10." Believe me you will be flooded with more responses than you can handle. People want notoriety and fame so desperately that they will grab any opportunity they get.

Use Craigslist and other free resources available online to make a unique and cost-effective splash. The success rate and the ROAS is phenomenally high with this strategy.

Video Ads Get Highest CTR: Short but sweet is the mantra of an effective video ad. The first 2 seconds of a video ad will decide the click through rate (CTR) of the ad. The advertiser has only the first two seconds to capture attention of the viewers. The viewer is most likely scrolling through very quickly, and your ad has to grab his interest instantly or he will decide to pass it altogether. There is no time to waste, but rather cut to the chase with some attention-grabbing graphic, picture or text. Different will catch the eye of the viewer.

 For example, if I was making a video ad for a flameless candle company, I might start with a woman blowing out birthday candles, and she lights her fake eyelashes on fire. Highly attention grabbing and then move in with the ad afterwards.

This is a great example of an ad that will get organic attention, and people will immediately stop scrolling to watch the ad. It is on topic, on brand, makes sense to people, and they are not taken away from what they are actually looking at. There is a reason that the flames in one match up with the flames in the other, and it can get people talking, sharing, and engaging.

 Know Your Customer Avatar: Ad targeting is all about learning your customer avatar. You need to know if your 35year-old customer, loves beer, baseball and mountain biking along with being an accomplished chef with interest in the latest kitchen gadgets. Once you understand your customer persona, it becomes easier to know what they would like to see and then target them with some focused messages through the ads which show up on their online feed. 

Understand Customer Journey: If the goal is to have leads or sales on a landing page and the ad does not really perform well, it is still relevant because it is just the beginning of the customer journey. It might take five touch points for them to actually take that action depending on the offer. 

Even if it does not get the initial conversion, the Cost per acquisition (CPA) or the Cost per lead (CPL) that you are looking for, do not worry. You have got your visitors pixeled and you can re-market them with a different ad, with a new idea, that might speak to that person or that targeted audience a little bit more effectively. All is not lost, especially in today's world. It is not like television and magazines. You get to track everything, and you get to re-approach these people using different tactics.

Customer Acquisition Cost in Digital Marketing

Specific marketing technologies like Google analytics or Facebook reporting can relate to 

the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) or Lifetime Value (LTV) of the customer. Figure out the metrics aside from CPC, that you should look at to decide if your overall strategy is working. That is the most important information you need, not just the first click. Only 2 out of 100 people might take action on their first visit to a website. Hence, it is all about the third, fourth and subsequent clicks.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

An ad that performs well early on, or gets you cheap traffic, might not really be the best for a customer in their journey. They might convert after six or seven touches as opposed to two or three with a different ad. KPI helps you look at those metrics, decide which ones are good and bad, and how to make decisions based on data. The key performance indicators you need to look at are – 

Overall number or volume of sales coming in. 

The conversion rate and how to accelerate their conversion process, getting them to go from six initial clicks to buy down to two or three clicks to buy.

If price sensitivity can be decreased with good ads, good quality branding, and good communication. 

A good amount of data is needed for this kind of analysis. You need to test several angles, split test with several ads. You certainly do not want to optimize for one angle when you are running your campaign. Have multiple ads while testing your product and aggregate all the information you collect. Google and Facebook algorithms may reveal that though you did not start well on a specific ad, it could end up being the best ad in the end. Just let it run with variations to find which angles work best.

Target = Net Profit

A brand owner and a marketing agency look at ads differently. A brand owner looks at net profit. They do not care about the ROI on ads. An agency will probably look at ROAS, which is a wrong mindset to have. 

Net profit is the final goal. Gross profit is beneficial when talking about performance of ads. It can make you look like you are doing your job as a marketer. However, it is not as relevant as net profit on ad spend. 

Find product cost, scale targets and goals. Focus on net profit. Look at numbers. Good return on ad spend, does not mean that you are making money. Investing in customers and customer reviews is important, but not at the cost of your net profit. A healthy cashflow does not necessarily mean profits. Your churn rate or CPL may be high, but remains hidden because you have a new product with high ROI and you think profitability has gone up. The relationship between ad spend and the overall profitability of the company is very complex with many facets to it.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)

This key metric indicates the revenue a business expects to get from an individual customer throughout their lifespan. Knowledge of CLTV will change the course and trajectory of your ad spend.

If the estimated CLTV is $100, and the cost to customer is only $30 to start, you can comfortably pay $50 or $60 more in ad spend because the lifetime value is still net positive. Once you start looking at it from that mindset, you begin to scale and increase your user base. There is a direct relationship between lifetime value, net profit, ROI and churn. A change in churn indicates that it is time to bring in more traffic. 

Monitor the difference between cashflow and profit as it signifies the relationship between ROI and churn. How much money are you spending versus what are you recouping, and the lifetime value of customers every month? Has your churn stayed consistent? Has it risen? Has it dropped? 

Look at changes made a few months ago. If churn goes from six months to five, you made a change to something five months ago in the way that you acquire customers maybe, or you changed the email path over the last month. There are many things to look at that can be a part of that decision-making process, but you have to focus on quality of traffic to cost. 

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

CPA is the cost per acquisition and is often used interchangeably with CAC. Ideally CPA is equal to cost per lead or CPL. It is just the cost involved in acquiring a lead and may or may not convert to a paying customer immediately. It depends on the performance of the ad over time, the customer journey with you, how you send them emails, and how you re-market. All these relationships correlate directly to the first ad they ever saw. 

CPA is an important metric when buying traffic. It will tell you how good the traffic is. However, later a different strategy may get a more expensive CPA.

CAC is the cost of acquiring paying customers. The cost involved to get customers, the number of touch points before they buy, tools used to acquire customers, emails, spend on re-marketing – this is the true customer acquisition cost and a most important metric when you have a dynamic social media marketing strategy. 

You can relate customer acquisition cost to lifetime value. Once CAC and the strategy to get people to be customers is known CLTV can be determined. If it takes four touchpoints to get a customer and then they are on for eight months, do some math, increase budget up or down on many other different acquisition paths. Go ahead and spend more money on advertising because you know the average spend of your customer on your product is say $200 but you have spent only $30 so far. 

Once you know your CLTV and your CAC, you can look at cost per visitor and your revenue per visitor. This metric is helpful when buying traffic. When buying traffic at scale or working with agencies at scale, it helps simplify the process for them because often there will be newer buyers that need simple metrics to look at. Get a handle on your numbers, your traffic, revenue coming in and then make decisions based on that.

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is more about attracting an interested audience by helping, guiding and educating them when they are searching online for solutions. It is content based and developed for a distinct audience. This audience is magnetically drawn to and engages with this kind of marketing as it helps them find a right solution for their problem. It creates brand awareness at a time when prospects are exploring various brand options.

Outbound marketing is more ‘interruptive’ or ‘push’ marketing. It is advertising to a large number of people with the intention of making sales. It is a traditional format of advertising and carries a general message in its content. It may or may not be relevant to the audiences it reaches out to. This is costly and yields a lower ROI.

Value Per Visit

This is a somewhat abstract metric and difficult to quantify. Essentially, when a consumer buys your product and then shares it on Facebook or other social media platforms, it is a brand lift, and you may actually get conversions from that. Social media likes, shares, pins, tweets and retweets garner interest, popularize the brand, help with lead generation, brand awareness and customer engagement. 

Comparing data over time can reveal the tangible value obtained by social shares. This is the value per visit of the customer who is causing social media ripples for your brand and product. This is an excellent extension of performance marketing. 

Value can be assigned to it depending on the engagement it gets on social media, reactions and the feedback you receive. Any ad spend you allot in this direction will increase your value per visit. 

Some Last Words

“Pioneers get slaughtered, and the settlers prosper” – Daymond John

This quote is so true and an immense comfort when you find yourself stuck for ideas and do not know where to begin. Visit websites like WhatRunsWhere and see what strategies competitors are using. Just go ahead and adopt a similar strategy.

Find something that you know is working and use that as a starting point. Create your own content, innovate by improving on it, add value and build further on it. 

When in doubt, remember this quote and just be a settler. You will soon be a successful marketer.

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