“Why Isn’t My Online Advertising Working?”

If you own an online business and have been wondering why your advertising efforts online have not been as successful as you might have hoped lately, you can’t just blame the industry.

The quest for click-through has been forcing agencies and advertisers alike to explore new and more creative ad models to supplement banner advertising. But if visitors are arriving at your site and you’re not seeing the number of sales, leads or downloads that you would like to, the first finger you point should be at yourself. It should not be pointed at the online ad industry in general, or the sites you are advertising on.

I’ve been involved with the web advertising industry since its birth, circa 1995. I’ve seen online businesses succeed beyond their wildest dreams, and I’ve seen businesses fail miserably. By far, the number-one reason why online ad campaigns perform worse than expected is that many online businesses are not bringing visitors into a site designed as a place of business. Some sites are simply not designed as a comfortable place to do business.

Your site is (or should be) a place of business. It should incorporate strong branding of your company name and what you do. It should appear professionally designed, be fully functional, load quickly and address all barriers to sales that your customers may have. The idea, of course, is to make it as easy as possible for them to contact you or convert into a lead or sale.

Your site should allow you to measure whether you are successful with your online objectives, and to what degree. If you own a site that sells Widgets, for example, how can you possibly tell how effective your ad dollars are if you don’t have the ability to track how many visitors enter your site, how many Widgets you sell per day, or how much revenue is generated per day? Simply you can’t.

Businesses shopping around for the cheapest site design or banner design firm out there is doing things ass-backward. In this industry, perhaps more so than any other, you get what you pay for especially in site design and in online ad creative.

The sad thing is that many businesses don’t understand that there is a direct correlation between the design of their web site and how much they are currently paying to acquire one new customer, one new lead or one new sale from the web. Instead of shopping by price, those entities should really be focusing on this one issue: “What will be the best design solution for our business that will allow us to cut costs online by reducing our overall Cost Per Sale/Cost Per Action/Cost Per Visitor and increasing ROI on an ongoing basis?”

The key words here are “ongoing basis.”

Ironically, businesses end up spending more money by having their site or banner ads designed by the company or individual willing to do it at the cheapest rate possible. An amateurishly designed site has a dramatic effect on whether or not visitors will convert to sales, which in turn means that you could be paying two to three times what you need to just to generate an action on your site. The same goes for banner ad creative. You’ve saved your company $400 per banner – bravo!

But what if professionally designed ad concepts and creative could have gotten you another 1 percent in click-through? On a large ad buy, this could mean the difference between having 50,000 additional visitors each month (translate to sales and ultimately to dollars) or not.

If you’re one who shops for the lowest design rates, try not to look at site design or ad creative as an expense. Look at it as an investment in your business. How well your business does online is dependent on a combination of factors, but site design and the online ad campaign that brings customers to your site are two that should be the highest on your list. They are not the most optimum places to trim the fat from your budget.

Yeah, yeah I know your argument. “But our budget can’t afford it right now.” The truth is that you can’t afford to pay for a cheap site. It will cost you two to three times as much money in online advertising dollars to accomplish your online objectives with a shoddy site or banner design as it would if you had invested in quality and done it right the first time.

By incorporating the best site design and banner design you possibly can for your business — even if you have to invest more money into it than paying Bobby, the kid next door who knows some html — you can generate more Return On Investment from existing and future online ad campaigns. Most importantly, you’ll reap the benefits for months and years to come.

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