Digital ads: The good, the bad and the ugly

Home Column Digital ads: The good, the bad and the ugly

By Jim Augustus Armstrong Digital advertising is miraculous. Never before have you been able to put your ads in front of so many people so quickly and so cheaply. You can literally decide on an ad at 10 a.m. and have the ad showing up in front of people by 10:01 a.m. But there’s a catch: so can everyone else. In fact, it’s so easy to put out digital ads that more businesses than ever are advertising. You can’t go online without being bombarded with thousands of ads. Depending on the study you read, the average person sees between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every day. The advertising noise is overwhelming.

The result? The vast majority of ads are ignored by the vast majority of people. It’s not uncommon for an ad that gets 100,000 impressions to get a just handful of clicks. And it’s no wonder. No one can possibly process this amount of information. So, we filter out 99.9% of the advertisements we see online. I do it. You do it. Your prospects do it. If you’ve ever run an ad on Google or social media and gotten tepid results, that’s why. It’s not your fault.

“Jim, are you saying I shouldn’t promote my flooring business online?” No, and my intent is not to discourage you from digital marketing. But before you invest time, energy and money into any given promotional strategy—online or offline—carefully consider what you’re trying to accomplish and have realistic expectations.

You can’t deposit clicks, impressions, web visits or engagement. You’ll often hear about metrics such as the number of followers, impressions, clicks, etc. These are important and should be measured. However, the most important metric is revenue. Did the promotional widget you’re investing in result in a closed sale? More specifically, if the promotional widget cost you $1,000 in ad spend, did it generate more than $1,000 in gross profits? In other words, is the ad paying for itself?

Dealers can often tell me how many website visits they got last month, or how many clicks their Google ad generated this week. But when I ask them what percentage of their closed sales came from their website or Google ad, they usually have no idea. That’s because they’re tracking everything except the most important metric: how many sales a particular strategy generated.

“But Jim, how can I track the number of sales my website, FB post or Google ad generated?” By asking this simple question of every single person who calls or visits your store: “What prompted you to visit (or call) us today?” Will this tell you with 100% accuracy where every single lead and closed sale came from? Of course not. But by tracking this data over time you’ll see patterns emerge. You’ll get a pretty accurate picture of how many of your sales were generated from repeat customers, referrals, customers driving by your store, website visits, digital advertising, etc. And this will give you a pretty good indication of where you should continue to invest your advertising dollars and where you shouldn’t.

“Jim, what about ranking high on Google searches? Isn’t that important?” The holy grail of local search is for your business to be in the top of the search results when a prospect Google’s “flooring store near me.” There are two ways to accomplish this: with search engine optimization (SEO) or by purchasing Google ads.

Both methods have costs associated with them, and the more competition in your area for those top spots, the higher the cost. If you can afford to compete for those top spots and win, great. But what if you can’t? In the next installment I’m going to answer that question and give you an approach to digital marketing that enables you to succeed at cost-effectively acquiring high-quality customers even if you never appear at the top of the search results.


Jim Armstrong is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information, visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.

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April 12/19, 2021

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