The beauty of digital ads, whether they be social media, pay-per-click search, display, etc., is that you can target your audience so precisely. Back in the day of advertising in newspapers and billboards, you basically had to pay to show your ads to everyone, interested or not. Now, you can target precisely the right users that need to hear your messaging. Still, companies are dripping out money without realizing it simply because of the targeting.
You will never win with advertising in the long term if your targeting is off.
We’ve found 3 major ways that companies are making mistakes with their targeting that are costing them money. Sure, there are more than this (you can find some good tips on finding hidden money in your PPC account here), but if you can refine these three, you’ll see some good return on your spend.
Casting Too Big of a Net
Nobody outside of Google and Amazon has an unlimited budget. You need to be smart with how you spend yours. “These people may be interested in our product” is significantly different than “these people would love our product.” Unfortunately, most people don’t consciously make the distinction. When you have a limited amount to spend on your audience, make sure you target the most qualified people.
Let’s use PPC search and doctors offices as an example, because it’s easy to translate and it comes up a LOT. Doctors need to understand how far someone will travel for their specialty. People usually like a primary care doctor that is pretty close and convenient. If they’re looking for a specialist like a cardiologist that they may not need to see as often but high skill level is valued, they may travel a little bit more. When we ask practices how far they think people will come in order to target the right people, we often hear things like “we have one guy that comes from 100 miles away!” That really doesn’t matter. In a place like New Jersey, if you’re a urologist, orthopedic, etc., you don’t want to target any more than 10 miles away, and really 5-8 is optimal. Will people travel 10+ miles? Sure. But, maybe 85% of people within 5 miles would consider the travel reasonable, while only 50% in the 10 mile radius would.
That is a significant number of people that you are then paying for with ad visibility that won’t even consider you.
It’s a flat out waste.
Now, if you’re reaching 100% of people in a 5 mile radius with your budget, then absolutely expand. If you’re looking at relocating or opening a new office closer to that 10 mile spot, you may want to consider further ads. But if your budget is limited, don’t waste money on people that won’t even consider you to begin with.
Outside of radius for a business that people come to see you, here are some other “big net” traps:
- Search keywords – only bid on keywords that are highly relevant. Google has a metric called “Impression Share” that will show you what percentage of searches you are showing for presently that you qualify for with your targeting. If that is low, you’re not reaching everyone with those keywords and you may want to refine to something more highly targeted.
- Tangentially related interests – particularly in social media. When you’re able to target by interest, use interests that are highly related. Don’t bother with people of a subset that “may” have an overlap with you. Be as targeted as you can be.
Not Understanding Your Geography
There’s a difference between knowing how far someone will travel, and how they travel. It’s critical that you periodically look at your records and see where people are coming from when they visit your location, especially for businesses like healthcare practices, attorneys, etc. What towns do people come from? What parts of towns do people come from?
There are typically a handful of natural and unnatural barriers that cause people to travel a certain way. Sometimes it feels like it doesn’t make sense, but we see it over and over again. It’s the psychological principles that are often over looked. Where a user is coming from and the direction they have to travel will often dictate if they even consider you as an option. Here are some examples that are extremely common in healthcare, and are likely transferrable to other businesses (which is why you need to look at your specific data):
- State lines – People have an aversion to crossing state lines for services like healthcare. Like we said above, you may have the one person that does it, but you’re tossing your money away if you’re actively trying to recruit people across state lines.
- Bridges – Seriously. There’s something about a bridge that makes people feel like it’s much further away than it really is. The bigger the bridge, the bigger the barrier.
- Interstate highways – Interstates create a barrier in people’s minds. If you plotted out a healthcare practices patient’s by household on a map, we can almost guarantee that an interstate will look like a fence. People think of the other side of the interstate as the other side of the world – it’s not where they are thinking about healthcare.
- Commuting patterns – If people in town “x” commute north as a typical pattern, they’ll probably travel 15-20 minutes north before they travel 10 minutes south. The area is much more unfamiliar and it simply feels further. Commuting patterns also often move to the direction of larger cities, where there is a perception of better healthcare.
Mismatching Your Targeting and Ad Content
Maybe you’re at the point where you want to try to reach a broader audience with your budget. Know who you are trying to reach and match it with your ad content. “Order Now!” typically isn’t as effective with someone who has never heard of you before. Think about your funnel. When you try a one-size-fits-all ad, it’s likely going to fail with certain segments of your targeted audience. Your targeting needs to match your ad content. Think about the exact needs of your user and segment your ads out accordingly. This will likely require different campaigns/ad groups in order to reach your target audience effectively. Do the extra work and segment everything out. It will pay out greatly in the long run.
Tune Up You Campaigns
Maybe your just starting up campaigns and want to start them off the right way, or maybe you have a bunch of ads running and you’re afraid you’re just wasting money. Either way, we can help. We do short term consulting engagements with clients to help them plug any holes in their campaigns as well as long-term management of ads an accounts.
Think you may need some help? Contact us. We’re happy to talk things through with you, and we’re pretty friendly with no pressure!