In today’s world of online commerce, keeping up with the latest technology, software and apps is a full-time, but essential, job. The “latest thing” is a constantly-moving target, but if you fail to keep up, you can’t effectively compete.
Just when we think we’ve “got it,” things change. Take the most basic part of online commerce – getting the word out.
Whether it’s advertising, promotion or PR, if people don’t know about you, or can’t find you easily, you can’t grow your business. But you and your company are savvy and tech-forward, right? Your website is slick, easy to navigate and mobile-friendly. You pay close attention to SEO optimization so you rank high in online searches. You have developed and are using a smart social media program across many platforms. Of course, you have a specialized app entry for those who use their smartphones for everything and have never owned a desktop computer. And you allocate adequate funding to online advertising, including Google promotional content and social media advertising.
You’ve got it all covered, right? No so fast.
Welcome to the world of ad-blockers.
With more and more people using the web primarily through their mobile devices, the world of online advertising is about to change fast. As ads have grown more sophisticated, sites load ever more slowly, and people just don’t have the patience. More of your most desirable target audience are turning to ad-blockers. And where does that leave you?
In the dark.
Actually, you lose out double, with the growing popularity of ad-blockers. Not only does your message fail to reach your target audience, but you are likely to still be charged. Cost-per-impression charges still apply if you ad is served but then blocked by the user’s device. There goes your money down the drain. You could be losing up to 37% of your mobile advertising budget.
And ad-blockers aren’t being used only on mobile devices. They are becoming more popular across every platform and device. What’s more, in the coming years, privacy issues are bound to be more in the forefront, with big data and tracking devices following us contantly.
So, if you can’t even count on your ads reaching the eyeballs you’re paying to reach, how will you get your message out there?
Television has faced a similar challenge, as more viewers use DVRs or online streaming and have the ability to skip over ads. Product placement and sponsored content are tools to counter that trend.
In the same way, organic SEO and smart use of social media are the answer to keeping your online business growing.
First, you still need to use outright social media advertising: Paid, boosted posts on Facebook and LinkedIn; promoted Pinterest pins; Twitter ads; ads on Instagram, Tumbler, and other sites are more important than ever. And it’s vital to use really good ads – interesting, eye-catching and sharable. The best ads even become meme-worthy, and then, well, you just can’t buy that kind of exposure.
But beyond the paid posts, you should be using these sites to post content that promotes your brand in more subtle ways. Posting content that your target audience can use, finds interesting and will want to read for its own sake – content that provides benefit to your audience – is an essential and strategic way to build followers. The 80/20 rule still applies: 80% of the content should be useful, interesting or entertaining to your audience, while no more than 20% should be seen as self-serving. Keeping to this ratio will ensure that your audience wants to read what you post, and will be willing to, and even feel positively about, reading your promotional material.
Organic SEO is key to your web 2.0 media plan. You can never know if your paid ads are reaching people. How many of them are using ad-blockers? And what about promoted results on searches? Even if they don’t use browser add-ons and plug-ins that block search results ads, more people understand and ignore advertised search results, even with Google’s new SERP layout featuring the paid-result “sandwich.” No, if you want to reach your target, you must rely on getting results based on actual relevance to search queries – organic SEO.
Organic SEO involves a variety of techniques, including boosting relevant keywords, employing tags and metatags properly, and, of course, using high-quality content. Black-hat SEO methods should be avoided, since they’re not worth the risk of getting penalized. You actually get much better results using acceptable methods. Developing well-written, useful content that viewers trust, appreciate and will come back to time after time – this is how you ensure that your site will rise above the worthless online clutter. Cross-linking with other reputable sites, providing content that is actually valuable or entertaining, and updating frequently will do more for your business growth than a “quick fix,” which will inevitably backfire and, in fact, do lasting harm to your brand. Quality and up-to-date content means better business in the long run.
In addition to organic SEO, offline marketing still has value, and ad-blockers can’t touch it. It’s smart to include “old-school” solutions like print (remember print?), point-of-sale (not everyone buys online… yet), TV and even direct mail, depending on your business.
But there’s no going back. Smart online marketing is the best way to grow your business, and that starts with quality content. Better content means more clicks. It’s as simple as that. It’s more cost-effective than advertising, the results last longer, and as you build trust, you promote your brand.
You’re passionate about your brand, and you have something to say. Offer your audience something of value, and they will respond. That’s how you build trust, a solid reputation, and a thriving, profitable business. Yes, it’s old school. That’s because it works.
Here is a recently published article about Ad-blockers and what this particular website is doing about it: