March 15

How to Make Google Display Ads Work For Your Local Business

What if I told you there was a way to have your business seen in your local community with more exposure than any other paid digital marketing program. And you would also pay pennies on the dollar for the impressions. Interested?

Then, welcome to the world of Google Display Advertising!

The Google Display Network (GDN) reaches over 90% of internet users across 2 million different sites, and the Cost per Click (CPC) can be pennies on the dollar. 

By the end of this article, you’ll understand:

  • The advantages of Google Display Ads
  • The disadvantages of them
  • Tips and best practices to make display advertising work for you

Advantages of Google Display Ads for Your Local Business

Besides the obvious benefit of a broad reach, using display ads comes with several advantages.

Low Cost Per Click

Google Display Ads are about 75% cheaper than Google Search Ads (the average cost per click (CPC) for Google Search Ads is $2.32, while for Display Ads, it’s $0.58). With a low cost per click, you can be seen at a much higher volume than any other form of paid advertising while generating more clicks at a cheaper cost.

Great for Top-of-Mind Awareness

The low CPC and the ability to reach a broad audience allow display ads to improve your business’s brand awareness.

According to a recent study, companies that used display advertising improved their brand awareness by 12% due to consistency and a wide reach.

Impressive Retargeting Opportunities

With only 2% of consumers converting after the first visit, retargeting is essential to maintaining a high marketing ROI. When visitors leave your website, Google will track them via cookies and serve ads as they visit other websites. 

Retargeting tactics are highly beneficial for bringing back lost traffic and turning the unconverted into actual customers.

Visual Appeal

Unlike search ads, display ads are visually appealing.

Even if the customer doesn’t click on your ad, it will register in their minds subconsciously. Consistent exposure to your ads can have a cumulative effect where they eventually want to buy weeks or months down the road.

What Are The Disadvantages of Using the Google Display Network

While display ads can be highly beneficial for your local marketing campaign, using them comes with a few disadvantages.

Spammy Website Network

The ability to show your ads on more than 2 million websites comes with a dark side. Some websites within the network can be created specifically to earn money from clicks. These sites are optimized for keywords and interests you bid for. However, they carry no value to your target audience. Webmasters can design their sites in such a way as to force users to click on your ads, therefore, earning money through Google Adsense.

Relevancy Issues

While Google’s algorithm does its best to match your ads with a relevant website, it can make mistakes. Your ads could be showing up on websites that your target audience never visits.

As a result, you could be paying for useless clicks and wasting your ad budget.

Low Click-Through Rate

It’s not the year 2000 anymore. Back then, everyone would click on display ads because of the novelty it brought; we were curious about what the ads were selling. Today, consumers see display ads as a nuisance causing many people to use adblockers. Because of these market conditions, you can expect low CTRs of less than 1%.

Google Display Ad Tips for Your Local Marketing Campaign

While it has several downsides, we’ve developed several tactics to help make display ads more effective which include:

Take full advantage of managed placement

It gives you control over websites you place your ads on, thus avoiding some of the spammy website networks. This is a useful tactic for local marketing efforts since you want to keep your ads localized. For example, a roofing contractor serving Baltimore, MD, will have custom placements in major local media such as the Baltimore Sun due to higher relevancy.

Focus on authentic creatives

Too many businesses use fancy stock images when they should use authentic photos of their staff or company. We always use the latter and have seen better results in Click-Through Rates (CTR) and ad recall. For example, a doctor’s office should have an image of the doctor as it encourages higher CTR and brand recall.

Budget allocation

For retargeting, we allocate 10% of the overall Google ads budget to go to display ads.

Advanced Google scripts

We use scripts to help filter out some of the trash sites, including foreign domains, which are responsible for a lot of the spam. This means more of your ad spend can go towards more legitimate placement within the Google Display Network. 

Measure Brand Awareness Rather Than Direct Response

Too many advertisers and small businesses are trying to use display ads as a form of direct response advertising. Instead, they should be using it as a form of brand awareness. 

When done this way, it’s easier to cope with some of the downsides of the GDN because, again, you’re not trying to generate inbound leads. You’re simply trying to build mindshare within your community.

With our local business clients, I measure success in display advertising in two ways:

An uplift in brand searches

If we see a significant increase in the search for the business name over the ensuing months, then we can attribute that to increased top-of-mind awareness through Google Display Ads. We need to give it six months or more to see any lift in brand awareness, and we measure in quarterly periods.

Implement promo specials tied directly to the display ads

This is an appropriate strategy if you run a business where promos or discounts can be applied. Connecting your promo special directly to display ads only allows you to measure your ROI because you know that any sale tied to that promo is due to display ads.

Anecdotal stories

This is certainly not the most scientific approach you want to use, but we do have customers who come in the door and tell our clients that they came in because they kept seeing their display ads. The customers felt “comfortable” with the business owner due to the number of times they saw the ads with his/her face plastered on them.

Streamlining Your Local Marketing Campaign with Display Ads

When done correctly, Google Display Ads can be a powerful force behind your local lead generation. They can help you reach a large percentage of the target audience, increase brand awareness, and improve marketing ROI.

Wanna see what other tricks we have up our sleeves with paid advertising? Contact us at any convenient time for a consultation.


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