Imagine, if you would, two eCommerce websites. They both sell the same products, target the same customer demographic, have a similar brand identity, and operate at roughly the same price point. Both owners are planning an exit within the next several years.
Their stores are virtually identical, save for one minor difference.
The owner of the first business understands the importance of advertising. She promotes her store via multiple channels, including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, business partnerships, guest blogging, and paid placements with influencers. She takes an active role in her business’s growth by maintaining both a blog and a presence on social media.
The owner of the second business, meanwhile, is focused more on his product portfolio. He’s done everything he needs to bring in organic traffic. His website has a well-thought-out blog, and he’s made absolutely certain he understands the ins and outs of search engine optimization (SEO), but he’s done nothing in terms of actual outreach.
All other things being equal, which business do you suppose will receive a higher valuation when it’s time to sell?
While it’s certainly possible to operate a successful online business without advertising, that doesn’t mean it’s something you should do. The old adage of “if you build it, they will come” no longer applies, especially if we’re discussing the digital realm. You need to be advertising your business, and you need to be actively engaged in outreach.
Here are just a few ways effective advertising can help your online business both grow and increase in value.
Increase Website Traffic (And Leads)
Let’s talk about reach for a moment.
Reach basically refers to how many people see a particular piece of content, such as an advertisement. It’s closely-related to impressions, which is the total number of times that content has been displayed. A single person can receive multiple impressions from a single piece of content.
Provided people are interacting with your ads or content, higher reach generally translates to more traffic to your website. And the more traffic you generate, the more opportunities you have to convert visitors into leads. To go back to our earlier example, the second owner has very little reach beyond the search engine results page, and people occasionally sharing his content on social media.
Mind you, that’s still extremely important. The power of effective on-site content cannot be understated. But it also shouldn’t be the only way you promote your website.
The first owner is doing everything the second owner is, while also leveraging paid outreach. While neither storefront is necessarily unsuccessful, the second owner will likely be able to sell for more. And traffic isn’t the only reason, either.
Promote Brand Awareness
I know, I know. You’ve heard the phrase brand awareness belted out as a buzzword so many times it’s lost all semblance of meaning. Just bear with me for a moment.
It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic caused a massive upset in how we live, work, shop, and even consume content. Even before then, according to brand management platform Frontify, people were growing disillusioned with brands. You’d think it would follow, then, that paid advertising would actually be counterproductive.
After all, if people don’t trust businesses, trying to reach them through such a traditional, sales-focused approach seems like a wasted effort. And maybe if we’re talking about traditional banner ads and popups, you’re right. The key is to get creative and to make sure you don’t bungle things and destroy your reputation once people start talking about you.
Consider, for instance, the mobile game RAID: Shadow Legends. If you watch YouTube content that’s geared towards millennials, it’s difficult to go more than a few videos without hearing a pitch from at least one YouTuber. And the thing is, it’s working — almost anyone who spends any amount of time on YouTube has at least heard of the game.
Of course, between the game’s poor quality, poor monetization, and shady behavior — such as lying about sponsoring YouTubers (as reported by CCN) — the game hasn’t necessarily been a runaway success. It’s gotten to the point that the game’s overly-aggressive marketing has been turned into a meme. Tons of people are talking about the developer, Plarium.
It’s just that many of them aren’t saying anything positive.
Connect With Your Audience
Advertising / paid outreach should not be treated as a separate beast from organic marketing. Instead, you need to view them all as components of your overall outreach strategy. Unfortunately, that’s where I see a lot of online businesses fall short.
Audience engagement and ad placements are completely separate from one another. There’s no effort to connect with customers who’ve clicked on an ad beyond the usual sales nonsense. And on the other side of the coin, there’s no effort to even gently direct people towards a purchase.
By combining your channels and treating paid ads as part of an overall marketing push, you’ll do more than acquire new leads and generate awareness. You’ll draw people in. And if you play your cards right from there — if you ensure that each user’s experience is positive from beginning to end — you’ll gain something far more valuable.
Grow Your Business
Web traffic. Brand awareness. Loyalty. These three things all translate into higher revenue.
Most people who purchase a website want one that they know is well-positioned for growth. They want to acquire a brand that’s popular, successful, and appreciated. Without putting time and effort into advertising, it’s significantly more difficult to offer that.
There’s a decent chance that both of the theoretical owners we’ve discussed throughout this piece have successful exits in their future. But it’s also very likely that the owner who’s engaged in advertising and outreach will be able to sell for more. After all, it’s a lot harder to grow if no one’s heard of you.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.
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