Digital advertising: A winning game plan (Part 3)

The digital advertising landscape is constantly evolving, which can be overwhelming for many local business owners and decision makers. Over the next few weeks, we are going to pull back the curtain and take a look at how you can build a winning game plan for your digital advertising. Last time we focused on setting clearly defined goals for branding campaigns. This week we will begin looking at how to do the same thing for a direct response campaign.

Part 3: Set clearly defined goals (continued)

Direct Response

Direct response advertising is all about driving an immediate action (newsletter opt-in, form completion, ticket purchase, return visit to your site, etc.).  Instead of targeting specific demographics or audience segments like you do with branding, you want to get in front of anyone actively looking for the goods or services you provide. This means selecting products and mediums that align your message with users at the bottom of the purchase funnel, where they are declaring intent.

On the ads themselves you will need a strong call to action to drive people to your site, and then appropriate landing pages and lead capture tools in place for when they get there (as I mentioned in part one of this series, you want a streamlined process connecting people with the information they are looking for).

Some products to consider for a direct response campaign include:

  • Google AdWords and Bing Ads
  • Mobile ads with a click-to-call
  • Site retargeting
  • Search retargeting
  • Targeted display ads with a strong call to action

How will you measure success?

For direct response, focus on formulas. First, determine how much each conversion is worth to your business, and then determine how much you are willing to pay per conversion (Cost Per Acquisition).

If your desired conversion is an email signup, and you know that each new email address you get is worth $10 to your business, it’s obvious that your CPA needs to be lower than $10. Otherwise, you are losing money on your advertising. Likewise, if you know that 1 in 10 clicks from your AdWords campaign will result in a phone call, and each of those phone calls is worth $20, you need to make sure you are bidding less than $2 per click on those keywords.

Another important formula to keep in mind is the conversion rate of users on your site. If you know that 97% of your site visitors don’t convert on their first visit (average according to Google), but that those same visitors are 50% more likely to convert on a return trip, you will want to make sure to integrate site retargeting into the campaign to encourage return visits.

Once you have established what your acceptable CPA is, you can A/B test different calls to action, creatives and landing pages to improve performance and ROI.


Don’t get ahead of yourself. Take the time on the front end to really sit down and think through the goals and strategy for your upcoming campaign. Whether you are looking to change consumer perception over the next year, or to simply drive ticket sales for an upcoming show, you’ll want to be able to confidently look back and know if it was money well spent.

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