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How Online Search and Display Ads Attract Qualified Clients

In an ideal situation, your custom integration business would have an unlimited marketing budget. But we all know it doesn’t work like that. The question you need to ask is, “How do we optimize limited marketing dollars to produce the best return on investment and install more?”

In an ideal situation, your custom integration business would have an unlimited marketing budget. But we all know it doesn’t work like that. The question you need to ask is, “How do we optimize limited marketing dollars to produce the best return on investment and install more?”

When considering where to allocate your investment, consider that online awareness of your business, products, services and brands you carry is critical to success.

In a previous blog post, I mentioned a BIA/Kelsey study that shows that 97 percent of consumers research online, both from their mobile devices and PCs, prior to buying locally. Even if you don’t sell online, you must be found online in your local market.

Formula for Online Success

My mantra of online marketing success is this: With $5 to spend on marketing, you should put $3 into search engine marketing and $1 into display advertising (and $1 into mobile, but that’s another blog post). These tactics will effectively drive your marketing messages to smartphones and PCs in both text and graphical formats.

The combination of search and display is the cornerstone of a successful integrated campaign, but you need to start with search. Search marketers average a 7:1 return on their marketing investment (McKinney 2012).

In general, purchasing specific local search terms is cheaper than launching right into buying display ads. Terms like “luxury home theater” or “lighting controls” tend to be more expensive and broad, so start with more specific keyword phrases like “Integra home theater��� or “Lutron whole home lighting solutions.”

To make sure your AV business shows up in online searches that have purchase intent, bid on keywords based around your unique products, brands and service lineup. With Google, you can see what search terms your prospects are already using to find your competition and websites like yours. Leverage this information and be the smartest bidder for those specific and related long-tail search queries.

Display Ads Boost Results 25 Percent

After you’ve established a solid search campaign, next layer on display ads. This is a tactic we’ve been using since 2009 to help clients beat their national and local competition online. Our research shows that display boosts qualified clicks and foot traffic by more than 25 percent over just doing search alone.

Think of it as covering both proactive and reactive bases. Search is an active process that prospects undertake to gather information. Display ads, on the other hand, are more like billboards on websites that are relevant to your customers.

Traditionally, people think of display ads primarily for brand/store awareness, similar to “image” ads that promote brands rather than specific products. These ads are still important, but today display ads also set the stage for the sales funnel – they push prospects down the funnel from awareness to consideration and ultimately to sales.

Display works at all of those levels to visually represent your services and brands. The key is to run co-branded and localized banners that contain a special offer or imagery from one of your top brands. Be sure to insert your business name, location and custom, tracked phone number. You should direct every click to a conversion-optimized landing (or lead) page on your website.

Display ads generally are available in six primary sizes and also can be sized to show up over relevant YouTube videos (known as InVideo Ads). A good web designer can easily produce correctly sized ads for you.

Purchase display ad placements on contextually relevant websites, whether they’re focused on security systems, speakers, lighting controls, or local news and weather. That hits both web shoppers who are interested in your services, and those drawn to popular local websites with a lot of traffic. Your local ads will be served up on national websites but shown only to customers within the local geography (radius) of your business.

Search and Display Working in Tandem

Independently, both search and display campaigns can generate results for you, but how they work together can win your local market online. Targeting for both search and display produces more conversions.

According to iProspect, 50 percent of all Internet users react to a display ad by conducting a search related to the brand, product or service described in the ad. More specifically, exposure to display ads may increase the number of relevant search queries by more than 25 percent. Not only can display ads lead directly to your landing page, but they can also trigger search activity that leads the prospect back to your website if your search campaign is active.

There is additional evidence that display ads can impact behavior even if the prospect doesn’t click on the ad. A University of Maryland study showed how consumers exposed to a display ad (even if they don’t click on it) will change their online shopping behavior to include searches for the brand featured in the ad (Rutz and Bucklin 2009).

Although direct click-throughs via display ads provide trackable data, a 2012 study by comScore found that ad viewability and hover time are more strongly correlated with conversions (defined as purchases and requests for information) than clicks or total impressions. In other words, your ad being seen is more important than your ad being clicked.

Selecting the right online advertising partner is critical. Work with a Google Premier partner with great technology that offers handcrafted search and display ads, proactively tuning up your campaign 300-600 times per month to deliver a 70 percent share of local advertising voice. The best partners collaborate with you, rather than following a script and “setting and forgetting” their digital campaign, and have invested in hiring marketing pros who know the AV industry.

Brendan Morrissey is CEO of Netsertive, a Raleigh, NC-based company offering a cloud-based system for automating localized digital advertising and channel marketing programs.