How to Get Better Results with Online Ads

How to Get Better Results with Online Ads

Wondering why you aren't getting good results with your online advertising efforts?

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.

Marketing a small business online is very different from traditional forms of marketing. When diving in to the world of online advertising, knowing exactly how to target the right audience is incredibly significant. However, even with the best audience targeting strategy in place, there are a few other factors to pay attention to…including your headlines, copy, creative, and retargeting strategies.

Lets take a closer look at each of the 4 elements that make up a sensational and revenue generating ad campaign:

Element 1: Headlines & Copy

The average attention span has shortened significantly in the past two decades, to the tune of just 8 seconds (according to research conducted by Microsoft). We are constantly interrupted by text messages, tweets, push notifications, ads, Facebook, email, and the list goes on. That means if you don't have an attention grabbing headline at the very least, your ad is likely to get passed over.

You don't necessarily need to be a professional copywriter to come up with a great headline, but it does take a little thought and careful planning. When social media first hit the scene for business, the year was 2006. Most corporations and small business owners alike weren't even sure if social media would stay the course long-term or just become a passing trend. Now the competition is becoming more and more apparent, but those who know how to implement the strategies and tactics properly can soar past their competition.

Here's an example of a scenario that has happened hundreds of times over the last 14 years as I worked at a digital agency and assisted small business owners from all difference nîches who simply weren't getting the results they were hoping for from their Facebook ad campaigns. Turns out it was all in how the ad was positioned which didn't quite resonate with their intended audience.

What is positioning?

A positioning statement is a very brief, concise description of how your product or service benefits your customer and solves their unique problem. In order for an ad to be effective, there are two parts to the positioning of the ad: 1. you need to be able to state how your product or service solves the problem in just a few words. When it's unclear what you're offering, people get confused and keep scrolling. 2. The problem and solution need to match up to the proper phase of the sales funnel. Lets expand on this with an example.

A Not-so-good Positioning Statement

Does wanting to learn how to start a blog make you want to pull your hair out? I have the answer to your frustration! I've created a comprehensive training program that walks you through how to start a blog and make money step by step so you can get you up running in under an hour.

A Good Positioning Statement

Stuck on how to start a money-making blog? Start by downloading this Free Guide!

With a few tweaks to your copy and the image, you can easily get great results when running an ad to the right target audience. I've been running online ad campaigns for clients since the start of online advertising, and I've seen businesses of all sizes struggle to get it right. Why do they struggle?

Element 2: The Sales Funnel

If you don't have an extensive background in sales and marketing, you might not be quite as familiar with something called the Sales Funnel. A Sales Funnel is really just a fancy way digital agencies describe talking to their potential customer in a way that resonates.

A digital sales funnel has 3 phases: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision, and each one of these phases is markedly different. Designing a proper ad campaign needs to properly correspond to the exact phase in the funnel or it just won't work.

Here's why. Most businesses who are new to online marketing intend to target “new” customers, which would correspond to the “awareness” stage. However, the business unknowingly designs an ad campaign which corresponds to the decision stage and then wonders why nobody is buying their product or service.

Think about it this way: What do you do when you hear about a product or service that is new to you? You Google it. At this time, you're most likely in the research phase, where you're probably not quite ready to buy, but you're looking for more information to learn about how this product or service will solve your problem.

If the ad campaign is set up to target “new” customers and then the link takes them directly to an order form that you created with Samcart or Paypal, you'll never get that potential buyer to open their wallet because you're targeting them in the wrong phase of their customer journey.

They're not ready to buy yet. They need to learn who you are, how and why your product or service will solve their problem better than anyone else, and then read testimonials from others who have experienced great results. So what does this mean? In this particular instance, it means that you should have something called a sales page which is an intermediate step that comes between the ad campaign and the order form.

The Digital Sales Funnel

This above is just one small example of how a small business owner might not be getting the results they expect with online advertising. Keep in mind there are 3 phases to the sales funnel, and knowing how to both position your product as well as speak to your intended customer is what makes all the difference from a stellar ad campaign and one that flops. Need some help with your online marketing and advertising strategy? Click here to view my services. Prefer to DIY instead? Read on for some ways to get started…

For small start-ups and budget conscious entrepreneurs who need help but also want to DIY, you might want to consider investing a small amount of money into an online tool that can really ignite your copywriting. FunnelScripts can save even the best copywriter an incredible amount of time and effort, and for those who make a living with an online business, it's an absolute no-brainer that is worth it's weight in gold. The software asks you a few simple questions about your topic, and then writes your headlines, ads, and email sequences for you. You plug in answers to the questions, click “generate” and then just copy and paste! The software literally generates 100 headline options with the click of a button.

FunnelScripts Affiliate Partner

Element 3: Ad Creative

We all know the old adage…a picture is worth a thousand words. Never overlook what your ad looks like. A good ad can help with branding, credibility, and provide you with authority overall. But again, not every small business owner has the budget to hire their own designer. There are a few options if you are fairly tech savvy and you want to design your ad yourself. You could start by grabbing some free stock art from sources such as Unsplash or Pexels. Keep in mind though, that using free stock art and/or clip art will increase the risk of your ad looking the same as hundreds, even thousands of others. A better option is to pay a nominal fee for stock art from one of the following resources (each of the resources listed below is a link):

PixiStock (Great for Female Entrepreneurs)


Stockvideo (One-time fee of $37 for access to a library of 25,000 video clips)

Adobe Stock



Getty Images

Once you've got the perfect image to capture your audience, you can use a tool like Photoshop (but not as expensive) called PicMonkey. Start with a free-trial of PicMonkey by clicking this link. Prefer to work one-on-one with a freelancer instead? Try Fiverr

Finally, if you're not in to DIY design, the most cost-effective option for a professionally designed ad or a logo and branding package from a designer that can elevate your brand to an entirely different level, check out 99Designs. Their packages are inexpensive compared to hiring a graphic designer straight up, and you get a great quality design which you can have a hand in selecting.

99 Designs

Element 4: Re-targeting

Aside from an ad's creative, one of the most recognizable ways to use social media advertising is for re-targeting.

Using the ad platforms to retarget is one of the most sought after strategies that big corporations use to increase sales and brand awareness, and the same strategy works for small businesses too. It’s a powerful way to improve the effectiveness of your ads, especially for e-commerce businesses.

When you visit a website and then you see the exact product you viewed a day or two later in your newsfeed, that’s retargeting. Psychologically, buying habits are complex, but it’s widely known that consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they see an item they were previously considering again.

According to research from Moore Stevens, an accounting firm in the United Kingdom, brands in Great Britan and North America now spend 23% of their budget on marketing technology. That equates to over $52 billion ad dollars a year in online advertising. So if big business can do this, so can you.

Selecting and segmenting (in other words, grouping) your audience is the most basic and important criteria of running a successful retargeting campaign because you absolutely don’t want to target everyone who visited your website with the same ad. This just happened to me recently. I bought someone’s ebook, and then a day later, the ebook ad was shown to me again, several times over the course of 3 days, in my newsfeed. It was getting so annoying that I actually unsubscribed from her email list.

To avoid annoying your customers with ads, it’s important to segment and group your website’s visitors into categories according to their behaviors and the actions they take on your website. For example: you can segment based on people who visit your page without buying anything, a visitor who clicked and almost made a purchase but abandoned their shopping cart and closed their browser without buying, and then visitors who completed a purchase from you.

The best way to get started is to segment the buying customers from the visitors so that you don’t accidentally show the buyers an ad the next day for the product they just bought.

To do this, you would simply configure a custom audience for each different ad. By using the custom audience feature inversely, you can exclude anyone who visited the thank you page URL (because that means they already made a purchase).

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel, as I've posted a mini-series on online advertising with specific insights into the different steps to configuring your audience, setting up your ad, measuring the metrics, and optimization. Each video is only between 4-8 minutes in length.

The Digital Collective

Would you like to join a FREE Private Community of women to help you connect and grow your online business? Click here to join my new Facebook group where I post share threads so you can gain blog or video comments, as well as likes and follows for all your social media channels.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, I would love it if you would click here to share it on Pinterest!

How to get better results with online advertising