How to Develop a Paid Advertising Strategy: A DIY Guide for Beginners

About Paid Digital Online Advertising

Digital advertising is growing and businesses are embracing it.

It creates a lot of opportunities to reach the unreachable when you focus on traditional media such as TV, Radio, and Direct mail advertising.

When you advertise on the internet, you’re achieving multiple benefits:

  • You generate traffic
  • You getter new leads
  • You create brand awareness
  • You grow sales and revenue

And so on…

As of today, more than 4 billion people surf the Internet. It was under 4 billion in the previous year, according to the State of Digital in 2017. This indicates a massive increase in web usage numbering up to half of the world’s population.

How amazing is that?

And it’s even more amazing if you’re advertising online. The internet doesn’t just offer you instant access to half of the world’s population — but it provides numerous advertising channels for marketers.

As a marketer, you can now reach your target audience in multiple ways, on multiple fronts, and for multiple budgets.

Source: We Are Social

Paid advertising is an excellent way to drive some of this enormous traffic to your website and get quality conversions. However, it can get very expensive quickly if you don’t develop an effective strategy for positive returns.

So, how do you ensure that you get the best out of paid ads? There are certain basic steps you can take to utterly improve your chances of getting results from paid advertising.

Let’s go over a few of them:

1. Understanding Long-tail Keywords

The first thing that must be understood before you dive into paid advertising (Google Ads especially) is how it works — specifically, keywords.

Google Ads is an excellent advertising platform for B2B and B2C companies alike. Once you find the right keywords, you can get ahead quickly with lead generation, sales, and revenue.

If you’re not smart, you can lose a lot of money in Google Ads. Why? Because if you target broad keywords which gets the click but no conversions, Google will still charge you but what’s your benefit?

These broad keywords are commonly referred to as “head keywords.”

It’s vital to know that you shouldn’t necessarily be searching for keywords with the highest traffic. And yes, ‘head keywords’ have thousands of monthly searches. But they’re not always the best for conversions.

You should be looking for targeted key phrases your customers are searching for that clearly shows their interest in your product or content.

Hence, you need to target more long-tail keywords in your ad campaign.[source]

Long-tail keywords are more specific and longer. Most of these longer keywords variations don’t generate a lot of searches per month. However, when you target 50 to 200 of them, that would drive a large proportion of search traffic to your landing page.

You need to pay attention to these long-tail keywords, as you’d be using them in your Google ads campaigns, content creation, landing page optimization, etc. This illustration shows the difference between short and long-tail keywords.

In the chart above, the term “tomato plant” is known as “head” keywords. It’s broad and generates 12,100 average monthly searches.

You also see the term “why are my tomato plants yellow.” This is a long-tail variation of the head keyword, with only 390 average monthly searches.

But it’s targeted. People who are searching for this long-tail keyword are telling you exactly their problem.

Those who searched for “tomato plant” are actually confusing you because you don’t know what they truly want — is there tomato plants dying? Do they want to plant tomatoes at home, are they researching about tomato plants?

The biggest mistake a lot of beginner marketers make with Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is picking the wrong keywords.

When you bid for head keywords such as “small business,” it’d be difficult to maximize your ad spend. Worse, you might lose money at the end of the day.

To get quality ad clicks, conversions, and sales, only bid for long-tail keywords that will yield a high ROI. It’s not about generating a lot of clicks, the clicks must be relevant and valuable.

When it comes to keywords research, the Google Keywords Planner isn’t the only tool. There are third-party tools that you can use.

Also, your best keywords source can come from surveys you carry out on your site.

Using a survey tool to find out why your web visitors are interested in or why they prefer your services or product (after checkout), is another way to gain customer insights. The terms they use or thoughts they share with you may be very powerful in paid adverts.

2. Understand the Terrain

There are different places to advertise online, with various platforms having varying weaknesses and strengths.

As a matter of fact, Social Media Examiner stated that “Approximately 97% of marketers are involved currently in paid adverts but 85% are uncertain about the best way to go about it.”

That’s why when you’re getting started, you must understand a few of the major paid advertising channels and opportunities that are available to you.

A few of these advertising opportunities are:

a). Banner Ads or Display Ads

When one speaks of online advertising, banner ads come to mind immediately because of how noticeable they are on any page. They come in different sizes and are quite common. Here are examples of display ads or banner ads on Tech Blog

Most times, they are visual rather than textual like search ads. Typically, these ads are horizontal boxes at the top of a page, or by the side.

These are very effective ads but tend to aim at customers who aren’t searching actively for anything new.

Display ads could be very effective when they’re viewed by the target audience.  You can purchase display ads either by opting for a Google Ads Display Networks or advertising directly on relevant websites.

b). Textual ads

Going deeper, whether Yahoo!, Bing or Google, all major search engines have their own pay per click (PPC) advertising platform. And it involves you bidding on your chosen keywords.

Depending on how much other advertisers in your niche bid, your ads will be shown to the target audience either at the top of the search results or below.

This is why PPC is so effective. It offers you the chance to get your business or product in front of thousands of qualified online users who are searching for related topics.

c). Social Media Adverts

Several studies have shown that marketers actively used social media to reach their audiences. A lot of marketers agree that social media marketing was vital to their business, with over 80% stating their efforts multiplied visitors to their sites.”

Hence, every social media platform is a great opportunity for businesses to reach their target audience.

This is why they provide users the ability to boost or sponsor posts. When you boost your post on Facebook, for example, it will be seen by your target audience.

Source: Social Media Examiner

More social media platforms are opting for ad space instead of organic content as this brings more revenue in.

For businesses that are just starting out with digital ads, starting with Facebook Ads platform is a great step to take this year.

As they won’t just advertise your services and products but, also grow your following and boost your social media pages.

Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have their specific versions of social media ads. You should explore all of them and stick to platforms that generate the best results for you.

d). Sponsored Content and Native Ads

Since 1922, Sponsored Content has been on the advertising scene, when entire radio shows would be sponsored by brands. However, today sponsored content relates to an article or blog content subsidized by an advertising platform using native ads.

Have you ever read an article on Buzzfeed that references a certain service or product heavily? Well, that’s a sponsored by another brand that’s capitalizing on Buzzfeed’s audience.


Look at the image above clearly, does it blatantly promote a service? I don’t think so. It fits naturally onto the page. The purpose is to inform and entertain.  

With a sponsored post, sponsored video, or sponsored banner ad, you simply promote your product or content to your audience on the same website or page they like to visit.

3. Have Tracking in Place

If you aren’t able to see how each of your ads is doing, then you probably shouldn’t be opting for paid advertising. The amazing thing about digital advertising is the ease of tracking your campaigns.

You can use Google Analytics to track everything from traffic sources to demographics to devices used, and more.  

When you get started with Google Analytics, you need to become familiar with Custom Google Analytics Campaigns. This will give you the option of creating customized URLs for all your ads. And it will enable you to see the overall performance of your ads.

When you use Google Analytics like this, you get to analyze all your campaigns in one central dashboard.

4. Landing Pages

When executing a paid advertising campaign, it’s vital to direct all your incoming visitors to a landing page or a unique page on your site, rather than the homepage.

Even though this could look counter-intuitive, there are three major reasons why you should use his approach:

i). Clear Messaging

With a landing page, you’ll be able to customize your message appropriately for your incoming visitors. What this means is that you can carry on with the message you projected with your ads. This creates a connective experience for visitors.

ii). Relevant CTA

Using call-to-action buttons on your landing pages is important. With your landing page, you’ll be able to direct potential customers towards a specific action, like downloading an eBook or filling out an opt-in form.

iii). Easy to Track

It’s easier to track web visitors on your landing page as compared to the entire website.

If you mix this strategy with funnel-tracking tools, it allows you to quickly get massive information on how to sell and get across to your new customers.

In certain situations, you can develop a specific landing page for a whole ad campaign.

These landing pages allow you to track who visits your page and know how effective your ads are performing. Simply install the pixel on your landing page and start tracking.

It’s extremely important that you block all your unique landing pages from organic searches. You can do this by simply editing your “robots.txt” file. This step will make the tracking of your ads much more reliable!

This is because you could get a fake sense of paid ad performance if you permit Yahoo!, Bing or Google to send organic visitors to your page.

5. Calls to Action (CTA)

Once a visitor arrives on your landing page, what do you do to convert them to a paying customer? Simple: all pages you direct them too must have a visible call-to-action button. See this example from Health Life.

Choose your CTA button wisely because it’s what determines whether or not you’ll get results from your ad. You need to decide what your primary desired outcome is for each page before designing the landing page. Just ask yourself:

“What action do I want visitors to do?”

Then create your landing page based on your response. A great call-to-action tells your users what you need them to do.

Every single aspect of your page should drive your visitors to actions you need them to take. If you don’t consider this, you’re throwing money down the drain.

6. The Importance of A/B Testing

Your landing page may have been launched but it isn’t over yet. Making adjustments and tweaks can be the deciding factor of your conversion rate. If you’ve followed the strategies above, you must already possess a custom landing page and quality tracking in place.

A/B tests are a scientific test that shows you the best performing ad elements or landing page elements.

Essentially, you’re testing two or more variants of the ‘control’ — the original. If the new variant performs better (as in the example below), then you stick to it and discard the original. It’s that simple!

When carrying out an A/B test, it’s vital that you make just one testable modification each time. You could test for example, how effective your CTA button placement or headline is, but not together. Test one element at a time.

When you test one element at a time, you can see clear cut results and also gain insights on how to improve them.

website design page template landing ui ab a b split testing concept with two business men compare test result between 2 page of website design comparison – vector illustration

The process of A/B testing is a continuous one, so you shouldn’t stop. Keep modifying and testing your page. You’d be shocked at the results it’ll deliver to your conversion rates.

7. Regular Review of Results

Whatever you do, never track your results daily. This is a practice that can push to make quick but uncalculated decisions about your paid ads. It’s best practice to wait for your analytics to gather accurate information and trends.

Then choose a set period for reviewing your ad performance and making changes. It may be weekly or monthly.  

Most businesses and marketers are reviewing their ad every other week or monthly.  You might also want to consider using spreadsheets to easily track your campaigns.

It’s much easier to find trends and understand what you’re seeing by digging into your analytics to get your spreadsheet numbers.  Utilize basic spreadsheets for tracking your ad traffic.

Also, be prepared to remove underperforming keywords. Remember, your most important actions are conversions not click. Mere clicks simply waste your money and time. What you care about are conversions.

As with all paid ads, the length of time you run your ads will determine the quality of your rates and score. This is particularly true when you rely on A/B testing before jumping into conclusions.

8. Don’t be in a hurry

Don’t expect to get a significant paid ads results in a week. This is a process that will be carried on for some time. You need to finesse your plan and give it time to obtain quality results.

Cumulative information and trends provide you with the best picture. Paid advertising is not a quick fix solution; it’s rather one that requires observation and patience.

Best Paid Advertising Tips

There are numerous tricks, tips, and strategies that will help you to drive better results with your paid ads.

When properly executed, these tips and tricks will get you ahead of your competition and completely transform your brand.

Let’s cover a few of them in this section:

1. Emotional Appeal

Studies have shown that people rely majorly on emotions instead of data when making decisions about a brand. An emotional response to an ad greatly influences the intent of the person to purchase more than the content of the ad.

Here’s an emotional appeal banner ad from Unicef:

Source: Pinterest

Whether you aim at evoking anger, fear, sadness or happiness, an emotional appeal will help your audience to not only see your message but feel it.

2. Positive Connections

When a visitor associates your offer with a feeling of accomplishment, happiness, or state of achievement, they are likely to remember your service or product in the future

You’ve probably also been on the consumer side of this before and didn’t even realize it.  

Have you seen an Instagram influencer or favorite celebrity pose for a brand and instantly wanted to do the same? Brands consciously create this positive subconscious association in advertising with the hope that consumers relate positive emotions to their service or product. Here’s a good example from Pepsi:

As you develop your paid ads campaign, take into account the desires you want your product to evoke or drive in people’s minds. Weave such feelings into your ads through testimonials or videos.

Search for influencers willing to align with the core values of your brand. Use the influencers to create an irresistible banner ad.

3. The Bandwagon Effect

Everyone wants to belong. It’s the nature of all humans. We’re not immune to it. This simple desire makes is effective when considering the bandwagon effect. No one wants to be ignored.

People value their peers’ opinions and don’t want to be the only ones making use of a product or service.

That’s why you should use customer testimonials, social shares, and even customer reviews in your ad.

4. Showcase Benefits not Features

Benefits and features are two different things. Benefits explain why an individual should purchase a protein bar or chair from you, and how it would affect the quality of their life when they start using it.

Here’s a good example of Asana’s Facebook ad:

Source: Niel Patel’s Blog

Features, on the other hand, are the capabilities of the product or service that you offer, such as the ingredients of a Chocó bar or width of a chair.

Advertising must focus on the service or product benefit, not the details of what you sell.

Instead of wasting ad space listing the service details and product specifications, speak to the customer directly by highlighting the strongest benefits of your product and how it can help them.

If they relate to your benefits and like it, your paid ads will inspire them to search out the features of the offer themselves. Meanwhile, they will buy the product first before they can discover the features.


Paid advertising is an amazing opportunity to include in your marketing box — if you want to drive traffic to your landing page, acquire more leads, and grow your revenue.

With Google Ads, for example, you can reach hundreds of thousands of prospects and customers globally.

To best engage and connect with your audience, you need to know them, understand their pain points, and communicate benefits to them via your text, banner, or sponsored ad.

Also, tap into their wants and appeal to them emotionally. Capitalize on your customer’s needs to associate with a community.

Develop an authentic and clear brand message in your ad copy that illustrates the true connection of your brand to their values.

By using these true and tried strategies in your paid advertising campaigns, you’ll create a magnetic brand. These practices will enable you to attract customers and grow your revenue.

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