Practical Ecommerce

5 Questions to Answer before You Advertise

For small and mid-sized ecommerce companies, advertising is part of doing business, necessary for getting customers and earning profits. But before those companies’ owners or marketers spend money on ad production and placement, they should take a few minutes to answer five ad-related questions.

These questions might seem obvious to some, but just because something is plain to see or understand does not mean it is unimportant. So before you buy your next ad, consider these questions.

1. Who Is Your Customer?

Advertising is communication. Your business is trying to send a message to potential customers that will cause them to take an action, like buying products from your online store.

For your advertising message to resonate with them, have some idea of whom your customers are and what things are important to them.

This includes understanding quantitative information, such as how large the available market is, where your potential customers live, and even if your store’s customers tend to be men or women, young or old, married or single. There is also qualitative information, like which social networks they use, how they feel about politics, and what YouTube channels they watch.

Asking “who is my customer?” may seem a little cliche. There is no shortage of marketing articles and books that recommend knowing your customer in one form or another. But there is practical value in answering the question.

First, understanding customer qualitative preferences will help you write your advertising copy and develop your ad creative. For example, if you know that your customer hates country music, you probably wouldn’t want to use a country song as the background for your Pandora commercial.

Second, knowing something about your potential customer’s typical location could also impact your advertising. If you know that your customer lives in rural areas, you would likely not place a newspaper ad in Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.

…if you know that your customer hates country music, you probably wouldn’t want to use a country song as the background for your Pandora commercial.

As you plan your next advertising campaign, get a good idea of whom your target customer is.

2. What Are Your Advertising Objectives?

What are the specific reasons you’re investing in advertising? What is your objective? What would this advertising do for your business?

For many ecommerce companies, advertising objectives tend to focus on generating profit, making sales, or acquiring long-term customers.

Before you can design an ad, know what that ad should accomplish — what action you want the person who sees the ad to take. An advertising objective to get email subscribers requires a very different campaign than one to immediately boost profits.

To help define your advertising objectives, consider using the SMART goal approach. Make your advertising objectives:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Realistic;
  • Time-bound.

Before you advertise have a specific, SMART objective.

3. How Much Will You Spend?

Marketers like to think of advertising as an investment. You’re buying ads with the idea that your business will receive more in return. But advertising can be something of a gamble for small businesses without a lot of marketing experience.

With this in mind, determine how much to spend. How much you can risk, in the event that a particular ad campaign is not as successful as you hoped?

4. Where Will You Advertise?

What you know about your potential customers, your business objectives, and your campaign budget should inform your ad placement.

If you sell window boxes and window box gardening supplies, as examples, you may want use Twitter to target apartment dwellers who like gardening articles. If you sell kayak fishing gear, you could reach out to possible customers via regional organizations like Kayak Fishing Idaho, which live streams a question-and-answer show on Facebook.

Need to make sales quickly? Pay-per-click advertising on Google, Bing, and Facebook may be the best solution.

There are lots of ad placement options, in other words.

Online stores tend to think of digital advertising first, but there are also many other forms of media you might choose for your ad campaign. For example, direct mail can be a good tool for acquiring customers.

Decide where to place your ads even as you plan your campaign.

5. How Will You Measure Results?

Advertising is not something you do once. Rather it is an iterative process, wherein you cycle again and again through campaign planning, ad creation, ad placement, ad measurement, campaign analysis, and back again.

Thus, you need to know how you will measure your ad before you place it. In fact, understanding how you can measure the results of your ad may make it easier to answer the other four questions next time around.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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