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Paid Advertising Tips for Growing your Online Business

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>

I've been buying up a bunch of solo ads the last few weeks. That led me to wonder…

Do you buy Advertising? If so, what kinds? What's your biggest tip for success?

Any stories of lessons learned the hard way?

Here are the responses.

Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of Organize Your Online Business says:

Yes, I buy advertising. It's faster and more dependable than relying on free traffic only.

I've advertised on Google Adwords, as well as Bing. Now I tend to stick with small banner ads so that I can spread a wider net. I use those through several advertising networks so that they appear on blogs with content related to the product I'm advertising.

I also advertise on Facebook. I advertise my pages, sometimes a post, and often an event. Facebook ads are fast and easy to set up and are a great way to get started.

I think the critical thing is to start with an attractive banner. Definitely pay for a professional to do this for you. Then just jump in with a $10-20 ad. Everyone can afford that in your marketing budget.

If you don't get started you'll never know how helpful it is to control where your traffic is coming from and how much is coming. It's a very powerful feeling to know you're in control – and not at the mercy of the search engines. So forget those horror stories of people accidentally spending thousands of dollars on ads – set your daily limit to what you CAN afford and start now!

terryTerry Dean of My Marketing Coach says:

You're on a subject I'm passionate about. This may surprise readers, but I personally prefer paid advertising over free advertising. Everything you do in business requires an investment of time and/or money. Both free and paid advertising can be great opportunities so you're find me participating in both.
Time is limited. Money is not. If I invest an hour in a content piece, there is a limit to how many hours I can invest. If I spend $1,000 on an ad and it brings back that much or more, it can keep running and growing.

I've used solo ads, Adwords, Bing, Facebook, remarketing, pay-per-view, direct banner purchases, magazines, and direct mail. And I'm sure I'm forgetting others.

The biggest advantage to buying media is how it changes your mindset to force you to think about your conversion numbers from landing page to backend sales. You need the ad to at least pay for itself either immediately or in a trackable time frame such as 30 to 90 days.

Here are a few lessons I could give for anyone getting started with buying ads:

1. Never spend a penny on advertising that isn't being tracked. I use several different tracking programs such as 1SC's ad tracker. For example, we buy a unique domain name and redirect it through an ad tracker when running offline ads such as a postcard to a cold list.

2. Keep your investment as small as possible initially. Set daily budgets you're comfortable losing for daily ads. On something like solo ads or a magazine ad, buy the smallest option they offer. If you can buy a mailing to 5,000 or 20,000, choose the 5,000 the first time you run anywhere. On a magazine, but the 1/8th page size first. Every source of traffic is a new test no matter how effective your ad has been in other locations.

3. Reverse-engineer competitors in the same spots. It's easiest to explain in Adwords or magazines. Check the competition that is constantly running month-after-month. Analyze their landing page. Subscribe to their list. Even buy a product. See where the money is coming from. Look at what else is offered. How can you include everything required in the market while also giving a unique angle to what you offer? On an email list, subscribe to it. Look at what else is offered.

4. If you sell any type of information product or service, you will find pushing the optin is more profitable than going for the direct sale in most situations. Physical products can more often be promoted directly. If your competitors all push an optin, try to be more unique by running a “quiz” or something else else customized to get the email.

5. The name of the game is testing and optimization. It's a rare occasion where an ad succeeds right out of the gate. Improve each step in your funnel and watch your results multiply. Let's take a solo ad. You can change where you run the ads (which newsletters), the solo ad text you use, your landing page, your immediate offer, and your email follow-up. By the time you have a winning campaign, you likely improved in all those categories.

6. Test shouts instead of whispers. You've probably heard someone talk about how a certain color headline increased their response. Fine. But the first tests you should do are the BIG ones such as a completely different offer, complete change in headline style, or a change in the first photo people see.

7. The ad source I've consistently seen clients produce the most profits from are remarketing campaigns. A 3:1 or 4:1 profits to expense ratio isn't uncommon. Remarketing is where you cookie your visitors and then you can follow them around the web showing your banners to them. If you visit a site about “running shoes,” you may find yourself surrounded by banners about those running shoes even if you're checking the weather, reading a blog, or at a forum about dogs. If you have enough traffic to make it worthwhile, you could only tag people who land on your optin thank you page or perhaps people who went to your shopping cart.

Terry Dean teaches high level stuff like this at  –> My Marketing Coach.

This is a re-run of Kim's answer last year when I asked this question, since I think she's pretty darned smart. (The details may have changed a bit over time, but the strategy is solid.)

Kim Roach of Traffic Dashboard says:

I started experimenting with paid advertising in 2010. My favorites include Warrior Special Offers, Solo Ads, and banner ads.

Personally, pay-per-click is way out of my skill set ;)

But solo ads and WSO’s I can do.

The key is knowing your numbers.

I use Hypertracker to test every traffic source individually. So, for example, if I’m placing a solo ad in someone else’s newsletter I will create a unique tracking link in Hypertracker so that I know exactly how many clicks, subscribers, and sales were generated from that particular traffic source.

For example, with our latest product launch of the Traffic Dashboard I’ve been doing a combined blitz of Warrior Forum Special Offers and Warrior Forum Banner Ads. Using this combination we’ve done a little over 100 sales just from the Warrior Forum alone – making them one of our top affiliates. But since this was paid advertising there wasn’t actually an affiliate link in place.

Maybe I should ask Allen if he’d like to become an affiliate ;)

The WF Banner Ads are a new advertising option that has recently been introduced by the Warrior Forum and it costs $100 to have your banner displayed for a full 24 hours.

Not bad for being able to position yourself in front of THE most popular Internet Marketing forum online.

And based on my stats from Hypertracker, we’ve been generating AT LEAST $200 in profit for every ad we place. So that means I spend $100 and get at least $300 back.

As you can imagine, I’ll do that all day long as long as I’m generating a profit.

But, it is a little bit tough to get a WF Banner spot – they stay full most of the time.

I wonder why :)

So that’s been a HUGE discovery for 2010.

We also did a number of solo ads in 2010 – which I plan on scaling even further in 2011. Again, it’s really just a numbers game. If you’re going to do paid advertising you MUST know your numbers.

If you’re not tracking everything down to the click, you’re really flying blind when it comes to paid advertising.

But start tracking properly and you’ll be able to zone in on the critical few that bring you the most results.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

One of the ways to reduce your taxable income (and therefore reduce the amount you pay this year in taxes) is to spend money at the end of the year.

My favorite thing to spend money on is advertising – simply because it means that I'll make more money next year from my sales funnels.

What Kind of Ads to Buy?

I’m going to focus here on email advertising. And, the only kind of email advertising I buy are “solo ads” (which are ads where my promotion is the only thing showing in the email itself). I do not buy email ads that are “top ads” (where you ad is on the top of the email) or “classified ads” (where there are a group of ads at the bottom of the email).

I also don’t do “ad swaps” (which is trading mailings with other marketers) with anyone outside of my personal JV relationships (which are people I personally know and trust). I’m highly protective of my online family and it's my personal choice not to sacrifice that in order to build my lists.

So, where do I find advertising opportunities?

I've been buying up oodles of advertising the last few weeks. The place that I've been using, I found through Tony Shepherd, and I really like it so far, because it's EASY to use.

It is really only good for Internet Marketing and business types of traffic. So, if you're in the health or parenting niches, then you're not going to find what you need.

Click here to check it out -> Buy Solo Ads. Sell Solo Ads. Swap Ads.

I did not upgrade, personally, because I'm not planning on selling ads nor in swapping ads. I just wanted to buy them at this time.

However, if you do want to sell ads to your list OR swap, then the upgrade is totally worth it.

I'm very pleased with the service so far.

Here's how it works to buy an ad.

1. Find a seller.

You can browse by sellers. Each person has a profile that shows how many clicks they have available for purchase or swap and how much it costs per 100 clicks.

So, for Phillip here, he has 100 clicks available for purchase. (His list is larger than that. That's just the number he's willing to sell.)

He charges $30 per 100 clicks. That's a great deal if you know what a sales funnel is and how to use it. 😉

Note: There are a few things to point out that you should look at here.

  1. The ratings. Be sure to choose sellers with positive ratings.
  2. Last login. You want someone who's active in here if you're buying from them.

2. Click on “Buy Solo”.

When I find someone who I want to buy an ad from, I click on “Buy Solo” and it takes me to a place to submit (reserve) my ad. In buying over 5000 clicks, I've only had one seller refuse my ad.

Here's what that screen looks like.

  • You choose a date and time from available options.
  • Either choose a swipe that you've already entered in your settings or click “Edit” to add your solo email copy.
  • Choose the number of clicks you want which will automatically update your price.
  • Then “commit to buy”.

3. You pay.

After your seller accepts your ad, you have a few days to pay. You'll get a notice in your email that the seller has accepted your ad.

Important. You log into your dashboard and pay through there. That way the system will know you've paid for that ad.

4. You get notification.

After you pay, you get a notice that the seller has added your solo ad to their queue.

5. You keep an eye on things the days your solos run.

The system spits out the ad WITH a tracking link in it for the people to send out. (That's how the site tracks how many clicks you actually get.)

So, you sit back and watch your clicks add up. You can see where which countries your clicks are coming from, as well. The service also filters out odd clicks to make sure you only get real ones.

It may take a few days to get all of your clicks. If it's going slow, don't be afraid to contact the seller to make sure they're on top of it. (Nicely.)

6. You rate the seller.

After your ad runs and all of the clicks have been delivered, you go in and rate the seller as “Good”, assuming they were. 🙂 If they were not good, you have the option of giving no rating (by clicking on “none” in the rating area) or giving them a bad rating.

Click here to check it out -> Buy Solo Ads. Sell Solo Ads. Swap Ads.

Things to Watch out For and Note.

Refer back to Terry's list. 🙂 Don't go willy nilly buying ads. Please.

1. Make sure you have an offer that's monetized well – building your OWN list. Do not just send traffic to an affiliate program.

2. Start by buying 100 ads with someone before going crazy with 700-2000 clicks. Their list may not be the best fit for your product.  I went a bit overboard on this, because I wanted to test the service fast so I could decide whether to proceed or not. So, I bought more.

3. Test. Test everything so you can tweak quickly and adjust before the next block of ads run.  I could have done better with this, but am happy with my first few runs so far.

4. Follow-up. Make sure you have several autoresponder messages in your sequence so that your new list members get lots of goodies from you.

So how about you? 

Do you buy advertising? Got any tips or hints for me?

I would love to hear what you have to say about it.

Nicole Dean

PS. A Word (or Two) of Common Sense Before I Leave You.

First let me just say that I don’t willy-nilly spend hours on this. It’s one piece of my entire marketing portfolio – and, as I always say “Do what works and ignore the noise”.

If you're brand new and don't have a marketing funnel, please get that info place first.

And, on the other hand, if you’re getting killer results from video marketing or article marketing, guest blogging, getting interviewed on teleseminars or webinars, recruiting affiliates, getting JV partners, or, writing & submitting press releases, then just read this post and set it aside as a tool that you can pull out and use another day. The last thing I want to do is send you off on a wild goose chase to research advertising if you’re better served to go recruit some new affiliates instead today. 🙂

That is all. Have a GREAT day!

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Celene Harrelson | The Happypreneur

    Fantastic post Nicole! This was super informative on the exact topic I’m getting ready to tackle. I love how freely your friends share with us. I now have lots more to chew on concerning my ads. Great stuff!

  • Terry Dean

    Here are a couple of quick additions to what I wrote above. From what I’ve seen, solo ads generally are the best first investment in paid advertising. They can get the traffic moving effectively. This is even more true in other markets besides “internet marketing” but you will have to work harder in those other markets to find the lists by often emailing and asking list owners if they sell ads.

    I also didn’t give any resources for remarketing. One of the good ones for a smaller user is, but remember you don’t go here until you’re already consistently generating traffic. This is a way to make more money from traffic you already have.

  • Kelly

    I’m very interested in solo ads – thanks for sharing so much about it Nicole 🙂

  • Lain

    I signed up for the solo ad dealio – very cool! But they appear to be all IM-related. Do you know any sources for solo ads outside the IM niche?

  • Brian Rock

    Depending on your niche, PPC marketing may be worth a shot. Some keywords are ridiculously expensive, but some keywords are low competition and low cost. Bing, especially, has a lot of keywords that are only $0.05 or $0.10 because there’s much less competition.

    And the best part? Both Google and Microsoft offer free credits when you first start out, and $50 or $100 in free advertising is nothing to turn your nose up at. You can get a few clicks for free (or a few hundred, assuming you picked an affordable keyword) to see how the advertising and converting works out.

  • Sean R. Nicholson

    Thanks for the great article! I have been relying solely on organic traffic in 2011 and 2012 and now 2013 will be the year of paid media for me. Appreciate the insights from all involved in the post.



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