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In a busy marketplace,
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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Paid Ads

Selina Latimer

February 10, 2023 · 6 min read

Over the past few years we’ve seen huge changes in the marketing landscape, and more deeply, human behaviour. With content farms like Instagram, Snapchat and Tiktok vying for our attention, it’s becoming harder and harder for brands to stand out.

Enter paid ads. Paid advertising is an important aspect of scaling a business, but too often businesses overlook crucial components of advertising that can lead to ineffective campaigns. These mistakes can make for money down the drain and leave you with disappointing results.

Want to create high performing ads? Then make sure you avoid these all too common mistakes and have a well-structured plan in place. 

1.No strategy.

If the average Aussie spends 5.5 hours per day on their phone, why is it becoming harder for advertisers to find solid and consistent return on ad investment? Truth is, attention spans are shortening and there’s more content being made than there is time to absorb it. 

If you want to win over customers, you’re going to need a solid game plan. A well thought out strategy will help your ads hit the mark (and customers hearts) every time. Trust me, this sounds harder than it really is. If you can answer the following you’ll already be ahead of the pack. 

  • What are your goals? Be realistic.
  • Research your target audience. Who are you targeting? Remember, in marketingEveryone’ is not an answer. Being generic is a sure-fire route to being forgettable.
  • What kind of content would your target audience engage with? 
  • Will the ad be Top-of-Funnel (Awareness) or Bottom-of-Funnel (Sales). Depending on which stage of the buyer journey you’re targeting, you’ll need to tailor your content accordingly. We like this example on Lucidchart
  • Think of every reason why someone might object to buying your product. Create content on your landing page around this, your unique positioning, and why your product/service comes out on top against competitors every time.

Having a solid strategy will be the key to success in paid advertising. Especially in a world post iOS update.

2. Not creating enticing content

Ad creative is one of the most crucial elements in determining the success of a campaign. These days, it’s not as simple as selecting a few nice images against pretty backgrounds (though good styling and photography will go a long way). 

The answer? Create eye-catching visuals and be sure to test different formats that are relevant to who you’re trying to target! I know, I know… You’re probably thinking ‘With what budget?’. But surprisingly, some of the highest performing creatives I’ve seen have been filmed on iPhones (hello user-generated content!) – so get creative! 

With the average attention span down to 8 seconds (at time of writing), focus on creating scroll-stopping hooks within the first 3 seconds as well as ensuring dimensions are appropriate for the placements you’re serving on.

At the end of the day, (and I cannot stress this enough) audiences don’t owe us anything. People are selfish and self-interested (that’s the way of the world). If you continually write content, create visuals, or nurture a community that sparks an emotion or offer value to your target audience, you’ll create an invaluable brand for years to come.

3. Not using data to drive strategy

Website and ad platform analytics can give you valuable insights into your audience’s behaviour and preferences. Use this information to refine your ad strategy and make data-driven decisions. For instance, if you’re seeing a high ad click through rate but not enough conversions, you might want to optimise the user experience on your landing page. Try talking to your audience’s pain points, your unique positioning or throwing in a couple testimonials.

All too often we can have preconceived ideas of what we think will make a great campaign, or great creative, but ultimately, we need to let the data do the talking. Ego’s aside, if you’re not A/B testing different angles, wording, website elements, and graphics, then you’re leaving money on the table.

4. Boring ad copy

Let’s start with an inconvenient truth. No one likes listening to that one person in the room that only talks about themselves. So why do this with your ads? A pushy, sales-y approach is a sure-fire way to turn off your target audience and reduce the effectiveness of your ad campaign. Ad copy should be clear, concise and straight to the point. 

These days, audiences are looking for community, connection and value from the brands they interact with. This means creating a brand that speaks to your target customers’ own mission.  If you’re able to establish what your product or service can do for them, talk to their pain points or offer real value (e.g. tips or inspiration), you’ll position your brand favourably in the eyes of your target audience for some time to come.

5. Wrong bid strategy

Choosing the wrong bidding strategy can lead to wasted ad spend and ineffective campaigns. Make sure you understand the different bidding options available and choose the one that best aligns with your goals and target audience. For instance, Facebook traffic campaigns are optimised to drive link clicks by default. Switching this over to Landing Page Views will help give your pixel the right signals to optimise toward. 

All in all, ad platforms can be wild, confusing beasts, and while we could go on endlessly about what else you should and shouldn’t do, being mindful of these 5 key ad mistakes will put you miles ahead of the game. By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to creating successful paid ad campaigns and driving real growth for your business.