A Small Business' Guide to Choosing a Website to Advertise on

A Small Business’ Guide to Choosing a Website to Advertise on

A friend of mine recently asked about supplementing his website’s traffic by advertising on other websites. He wanted to know how I would go about doing this, what best practices he could employ, and if there were any pitfalls he should avoid. Well, advertising is expensive, especially if it doesn’t generate results! Here’s my answer; a step-by-step list on how to choose the best websites to advertise on.

How to Choose a Website to Advertise on

Even if you can get accurate sales data from the website you wish to advertise on, it’s good practice to

Step 1: Ask Your Current Customers What Websites they Visit and Why.

First research what website your current customers go to.

You want more of them, right? Ask them. Don’t forget to ask them what they use to access those sites – web advertising is very different if they access a website on a phone or via an app or on a regular browser. This is very easy to do. Ask as part of regular keeping in touch – you are keeping in touch with your clients, aren’t you? As an aside, a great way to keep in touch with your past clients and current prospects regularly is via a newsletter. I use Aweber.

Maybe they are all on Facebook or they check the local high school football scores on the village booster club website. You can get this information from them just by talking to them and regularly keeping in touch a best practice if you want to make repeat sales. If you maintain a blog for your business, you could ask there – or on your social medial pages like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn – you do have a business profile for each, right?

Finding out if they were in a shopping mood when they visited those sites can go a long way towards saving your money and effectively getting that elusive ROI.

Step 2: Survey old Customers

Raffle off an iPad Mini
If you have past customers that you are not as in touch with as much anymore, perhaps you could poll them via a survey. If you don’t think they’ll respond, try an incentive like a coupon to your business or running a random selection prize. It would have to be a carrot big enough to cut through the 100 asks people get in a day – something big enough  like fill out this survey and get an iPad Mini.

This underscores how important it is to have your own customer and prospect email list. That’s why I have a free email newsletter signup sheet on my website- and you should, too.

Aweber newsletter review

Step 3: Evaluate the Websites

Now that you have a list of websites where the kinds of customers you want go, it’s time to pare them down. Let’s evaluate the website according to the metrics. If you are satisfied with the traffic numbers, the cost breakdown, and the kinds of visitors that website gets, you’re good to go. If not, drop that website from consideration – there are plenty of other ones to try.

It’s also worth it to visually inspect and test out the website you are going to advertise on. Click the links, email the administrators, try the website out on your phone, tablets, desktop, etc. Try to envision what your prospects will see when they encounter your ad. If the website doesn’t work, or if it looks too busy and cluttered, skip it.

Step 4: Identify the ROI of advertising on each website

This is really the Number 1 Thing to Keep in Mind When Marketing Your Website. The only reason to have your website is ROI. After all, it makes little sense to spend more advertising than you are going to make back. Therefore, the only reason to advertise your website is to bring in people that will buy from you! It sounds trivial, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget about this.

The best way to ensure you’ll make your money back from the advertising spend is to consider the part that will make up your ROI:

4.1) Traffic:

If you advertise on a website that no one visits, did you really advertise at all? Does the website get enough traffic to give you what you are looking for?

4.2) Ad Cost:

Are you being charged per million clicks? Per million views? Per set # of days? Each model is slightly different and changes your ROI calculation. Be sure you understand the terms of what you are agreeing to, then model the numbers to ensure you can have success.

4.3) Qualified Visitors:

Even if you get people to click on your ads, they may be the wrong people! If I am advertising a bar in North Carolina it makes little sense for me to put an ad on a local New York website. If I am selling high-end goods, it makes no sense for me to advertise on a freebee website. Check the context your ad will be displayed in and make sure it’s the audience you want.

4.3) Click Through Rate:

Obviously not everyone who sees your advertisement will pay attention to it. The click through rate is just the percentage of people who see your ad that will click through. There is a whole science devoted to ad testing and there is much you can do to optimize the % of people that will click your ad. Since this is the first part of your sales funnel it makes sense to do it right.

4.3) ROI:

How to determine which website to advertise on Click on this Image for a larger version.

Now it’s time to break out the trusty calculator or even excel. I use a chart like this. If you’d a copy, just leave a comment or contact me and I’ll send one over.

You can see that depending upon the numbers your research digs up, some websites make much more sense to advertise that others. In my example, the first website gives you the biggest bang for your advertising buck.

Step 5: The Most Important Step – or ‘How You Make the Money.’

Now that you have selected a website, run some numbers, and have a control plan in place to ensure the viability of your investment there is one last important thing you need to do. Have you guessed it? It’s to have your own website to link back to!

This may seem trivial to some of you, but there are plenty of small businesses that advertise on the web and don’t link back to their own website. Don’t believe me? Take a look at companies that sponsor local events – like a YMCA 5k. The race organization puts up the sponsoring business’ logos, but very few have links back to the website. Insanity!
Online Advertising
Another example are the Phone Books. Most of the companies advertising in a phone book opt for the up-charge of advertising on the website but never include their own website to link back to! When you do the research and realize that advertising on Yellow pages may kill your business budget you start to realize this is Double Insanity!

Step 5: Landing Pages – The Second Most Important Step

Landing Page StrategyUnless your advertisement is generic, don’t just indiscriminately link to your home page. Create a landing page on your website that specifically backs up your advertisement. Put your great copy writing skills to work and entice the buyer to make the purchase! Include testimonials, perhaps even a video of your offer.

Step 6: Web Analytics – The Final Step!

We are all about continuous improvement here at Charlotte Web Development. And be sure to have analytics enabled so you can measure how many clicks are coming through to your website from the advertisement. You should also be able to measure how effective your landing page is to converting those leads to sales.

Google Analytics

If you look at my example above, I include a column in the chart for Estimated Conversion Percentage. That’s how many people who land on your website will make a purchase. Since the quality of you website, the shopping cart and your landing page influence how large this is, I’ve included this discussion here. With analytics installed on your website, you will be able to see the actual # and then be able to devise experiments to improve it.

In the example I have included a conservative 5% conversion rate. If you were able to double that mark, your sales would double as well! Certainly worthy of investing time to discover.

Thank you for reading my Small Business’ Guide to Choosing a Website to Advertise on. How did you like it? What did I leave out? What would you add? Tell us in the comments.

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