You have a range of marketing tools and tactics at your disposal. There are online and offline tools, and it seems like new ones are popping up daily! Which ones are worth your time? One of them? All of them? A delightful mix of all of them? Here is an overview of the most common ad platforms for professional services firms today.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Pay Per Click (or PPC) is a form of advertising where a firm can pay to drive visitors to their website from search engines. Google Ads is the most popular PPC service although Bing does represent 5% of June 2021’s search engine traffic according to Statista*. These ads generally appear at the top and on the right-hand side of a search engine’s results pages. Firms can bid on service-related keywords for their ad to show up in these placements.
Generally speaking, the more that you’re willing to pay for a click, the higher up your ad appears on the page. However, A/B testing with your chosen keywords, headline copy and ad descriptions will allow you to optimize your campaign strategy.
While PPC campaigns can often be a powerful tool, it can also backfire if it’s not managed well. You can be paying too much for clicks and getting a lot of traffic without any conversions if you aren’t carefully monitoring your account. Many companies can get into a bidding war and end up paying inflated prices just to stay ahead of their competitor.
Ensure your ads are relevant and not attracting the wrong type of visitor. You can end up paying a fortune on junk traffic. You might see an increase in your traffic, but are these visitors actually converting or turning into new business for your firm? PPC can be a great way to build firm visibility and drive traffic for specific campaigns, but should only be set up by professionals that have a deep understanding of how it works. Otherwise, costs could quickly skyrocket without much return.
Social Media Ads
Social media ads are paid advertisements that can appear at the top, on the sides, or in the newsfeed of various social media platforms that can take you directly to the advertiser’s website. Size and placement vary depending on the platform that’s hosting the ad. You can place ads on the platform’s extended audience or create a lookalike audience for re-targeting purposes. Sometimes, you can even upload an internal list of contacts to create a matched audience on each social media platform.
There is some good news, though. Because social ads appear within the social media platform’s native content the user is already consuming, it doesn’t interrupt or interfere with what they are already doing as much as some other forms of ads do. Social media ads can also be good at helping to introduce brand messaging and build awareness, and since you only pay when a user clicks on the ad (CPC) or when the content is visible on the platform (CPM), a ton of people can be exposed to your firm for little cost.
There is simply no other social platform that has more bells and whistles for a paid digital advertiser than Facebook. The options can be overwhelming for the novice user. To place an ad on Facebook, there is a setup process where you need to verify your business, add payment information, verify your domain and install pixels on your website, among other things. This step is critical for your ads’ success and measurement.
Facebook’s targeting criteria is very sophisticated, as well. Facebook has data on its users that allows you to target paid advertising based on interests, group membership, website behavior, geographic location, and other personal information about a user.
One of the benefits of advertising your professional services firm on Facebook is the low cost. Paid digital ads on Facebook also create a higher level of campaign performance. Other social platforms can be low-cost but produce a lower yield/conversion rate for leads. Some other social platforms have a higher cost but produce a lower quantity of leads.
Another benefit to paid digital Facebook ads is the Facebook reporting capabilities. There are triggers created from Facebook pixels that you can track and capture visitors to your site or to specific pages within your site. By default, Facebook ads are also targeted to the specific KPIs you need to report to upper management or clients making it the perfect option for campaign transparency and decision making.
Specifically, ads on LinkedIn can appear across a number of pages on LinkedIn, including a user’s newsfeed, inbox, search results, or LinkedIn Groups. The placement of ads on those pages will vary. You can also sponsor content and InMail messages.
A major benefit of LinkedIn ads is their ability to target very specifically. Advertisers can select their audience by job title, job function, industry, geography, company name, company size, age, gender, LinkedIn groups, and more. You can set a maximum budget so you don’t end up paying more than you expect. It’s great to have a safety net, especially when it comes to your budget.
LinkedIn ads are ideal for B2B and professional services firms. You can reach the right audience in a targeted way, without being overly intrusive. Setting up LinkedIn ads is also much more straightforward than PPC ads, for example.
The downside of this type of advertising is that you must be cautious when selecting an ad objective and consider what data points the platform has access to. Do not be enticed by objectives such as lead generation. What criteria could the platform have to give you this offering? These objectives are often built by bundling different data points together such as behavior-based with demographic interests. Because of this, these objectives are very expensive and we have seen limited results by using them.
Twitter’s ad manager gives you all the data points necessary that allow you to easily make adjustments to maximize your money spent. Twitter also allows you to create a tailored audience and target those who went to your website but didn’t complete a download or another goal your firm may have. They also offer the ability to target audiences who are receiving your emails but not opening them. Twitter provides a number of different ad types, including:
- Promoted Accounts: This kind of ad suggests Twitter accounts to people that they aren’t currently following, but might find interesting.
- Promoted Tweets: These are normal Tweets that advertisers can purchase to reach a wider audience.
- Promoted Trends: This kind of ad allows advertisers to create a trending hashtag and pay to promote it for the day.
An advertiser must be aware that Twitter and other platforms like Facebook have advertising policies that restrict an advertiser’s ability to target by age, language, disability, familial status, civil or marital status, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, receipt of income from a public assistance program, exercise of rights under Consumer Credit Protection Act, or precise location (at the zip code level or more precise)
TikTok is a platform that is growing its advertising platform. Generally speaking, TikTok ads are great for B2C and B2B companies who are seeking to increase brand awareness and influence audience spending behavior. TikTok ads do require video creative collateral. Seek to make your video “native”. It should not stand out too much from other videos that users see in their newsfeed.
TikTok’s ad manager is rapidly growing in terms of functionality. You can easily make adjustments to maximize your money spent. TikTok also allows you to create a tailored audience and target those who went to your website but didn’t complete a download or another goal your firm may have. They also offer the ability to upload an internal file of customers. You must have certain criteria available on this list in order to match it with a TikTok audience.
TikTok provides a number of different ad types, including:
- Brand takeover
- Branded hashtag challenge
- Branded effects
There are also other platforms available for digital advertising. Google ads (PPC and in-stream ads on YouTube), Hulu’s ad manager (Beta), as well as, audio platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and others.
Google ads manager can be a little intimidating to novice users. Working with an agency that can produce your video/audio collateral and/or offer keyword research for your PPC campaigns are keys to success with these platforms. An agency can also work with your firm to ensure that your campaigns are optimized and performing well.
It takes a little effort to be allowed into Hulu’s ad manager since it is still in beta. There are other options to advertise on Hulu that include reaching out to a Hulu campaign representative that will allow you to book a video ad through them.
The ad manager on Hulu is rather robust and allows you to target your ad based on zip code, education level, and income level. It also offers targeting options based on other demographic persona data. Typically, we have seen CPM’s on this platform start at the $32/thousand level and rise based on additional targeting options that are selected.
Paid advertisements can oftentimes be a quicker solution to your firm’s marketing strategy, but should work in tandem with your other efforts. Paid advertising can be used by your B2B company or professional services firm to generate leads or enhance your firm’s talent acquisition strategy, as well as, build firm visibility. Dig deeper into these paid advertising options to understand whether or not they’re a good fit for your professional services firm.
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