This is a piece that was written by KWK Studio’s Founder, Kasey Kaplan, and originally published in Forbes.

I was in college when I first started running what was then called Google AdWords (now Google Ads). I was amazed that I could, after some practice, effectively run useful ads to complete strangers about topics they were interested in. I became obsessed and read everything I could about digital marketing, PPC and social media strategy.

Over 10 years have gone by since I first got involved in digital marketing. In that time, I’ve launched a company or two and learned a lot about the startup world. And although many things have improved (from a marketer’s perspective), effectively implementing digital campaigns is still not 100% straightforward. For business owners who’ve never seen the results of an effective campaign, it can be hard to believe. With that said, if you are able to understand the fundamentals, you can drive significant revenue for your business.

Having grown a business from nothing into something, I know better than most the struggles that business owners face and the constant balancing of cash flow to keep the business alive while still being able to grow. It is because of this that I generally don’t like outsourcing things. I hate feeling like I am spending my precious capital on something that is, in my view, overpriced. That said, sometimes it is more cost-effective and can provide better results.

So, whether you want to do digital marketing yourself or you plan on outsourcing, here are some things to consider for your strategy.

Create Authentic Content

Great content is what wins people over. This might sound like common sense, but it can be tricky to implement. No one wants to see annoying, flashing ads that only grab your attention for a second, nor do they want to see boring, numbers-heavy ads that don’t tell a story.

People respond to authentic content. Regardless of what we see in the media today, I think most of us are used to seeing ads that almost don’t seem like ads, in part because of how good and relevant they’ve become.

Recently I helped a company promote an event they were having with Facebook Ads. The creative team produced content, but I wanted to experiment, so I created an ad starring myself, explaining, in an enthusiastic manner, why people should attend the event. My video, which took very little time to produce, outperformed all the other ads, which mainly focused on facts and information.

Segment Your Prospects By Lifecycle Stage.

The next thing to remember is that you can’t treat all prospects the same. You should think about your prospective customers in different life cycle stages. Have at least three groups: cold, meaning they have no idea who you are; warm, meaning they’re familiar with your product; and existing, meaning they’ve purchased from you before.

This matters for a couple of reasons. In many cases, like in consumer goods/retail, it is easier and cheaper to get an existing customer to purchase your product again because they have committed before and know your brand. In some of the campaigns I’ve worked on, I’ve seen the cost to acquire a new customer be three times that of getting an existing customer to purchase again. Looking at prospect data can have a huge impact on your marketing strategy, ROI and where to focus your digital spend.

Keep track of who is receiving what ads so that you can target them correctly. For example, if you send all prospects (warm and cold) the same ad that was either too broad (only appealing to cold audiences) or too specific (only appealing to warm audiences), you’re going to waste a lot of money and opportunity; your ads will have a lower relevancy score than if you just ran two separate campaigns with more niche targeting.

In the consumer’s mind, it is about the journey, not the destination. Yes, you want to sell something, but allow your prospective customers to become familiar and build trust with your brand by nurturing them. Once this happens, they will be much more likely to engage with you. One method I use to help identify each audience is custom pixel conversion on Facebook Ads.

Prioritize Site Speed

For years, Google has told the world how important site load time is — especially because so many people now access content through their mobile devices. If you look at the data, you will see pages that take longer than three seconds to load have an increase in bounce rates. You can have the best ads targeted to the correct people, but if your site doesn’t load fast, you’re going to be missing out on a lot of business. People don’t have time to wait.

So, make sure your sites are loading fast. Improving site load times can be a bit technical, but start by using tools like Google’s PageSpeed tool or the Pingdom Website Speed Test to see how your site is performing and understand where it can be improved.

Look At The Data

Finally, look at the data available to you. If you are running a campaign and getting bad results, but still continue to pump money into it, you’re not making good decisions. Establish a baseline, and then constantly test new things to try to improve what you’re doing. Pick KPIs to keep track of, and regularly monitor them. Some examples might be click-through rate (CTR), return on advertising spend (ROAS), conversions, cost per click (CPC), etc.

Digital marketing should not be undervalued and can drive a lot of value for businesses, but it is no longer the Wild West. Best practices have been established. To be competitive, constantly be thinking about trying new things. Do your research; test a couple of different things, and get the results you want. As always, keep being great!

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