The best place to advertise online really depends on your budget, product or service and individual circumstances. There’s no one-size-fits-all place that will suit all objectives, budgets and resources. To answer what’s the best place to advertise online, we first need to understand the available options, how they differ from each other and how your objectives, current resources and preferences will best fit each advertising platform.

When choosing where to advertise online, there are many factors to consider – such as budget, marketing objectives, product offers and personal preferences. 

However, arguably the best place to advertise online will be wherever your target market is found and also where they are most likely be in a buyer state of mind.

Since this answer is rather varied, this post breaks down many of the best and most popular choices when it comes to advertising online. Each of the choices have merit and can boost your company’s awareness, sales and reach.

As such, you’ll want to carefully comb through each option and decide which one(s) your target audience is most likely to be on and how your offer and objective can work on there.

Outline

  1. Where Will Your Product Sell Best?
    1. Product Types
    2. Platforms
    3. Finding & Appealing to Your Target Audience
  2. Your Objective, Offer The User’s State of Mind
  3. Paid Advertising
    1. Social Media Advertising
    2. Search Engine Marketing
    3. Google Display Ads
    4. YouTube Ads
    5. Influencer Marketing
    6. Amazon
  4. Free, Organic Traffic Strategies
    1. SEO
    2. YouTube
    3. Pinterest SEO
    4. YouTube, Social Media & Content Marketing
    5. Influencer Marketing
*This post contains affiliate links, which I may receive compensation from. This is at no cost to you and lets me keep the lights on. Read more here…

1. Where Will Your Product Sell Best?

This first section will cover some important considerations when deciding where and how to advertise online. 

Essentially, different advertising platforms will have different results depending on who your target market is and what product or service you’re selling.

Product Types

According to Lombardo for study.com, there are 4 consumer product types:

  • Convenience Products
    • Everyday items
    • Need to sell high quantity
  • Shopping Products
    • Products can be either heterogeneous or homogeneous with many similar competitors (in which case, consumers will purchase based on lowest cost)
    • Consumers perform more research and selling may require a longer sales funnel with followup advertising
  • Specialty Products
    • Products where brand image, uniqueness and quality are most important
  • Unsought Products
    • Products where the consumer is unaware of them or is not actively searching to buy
    • Requires a longer sales funnel, retargeting and a higher budget with more strategic marketing tactics

Recommended Read: Methods to Virtually Guarantee More Sales Online

Advertising Platforms

Once you understand what type of product (or service) you’re offering, you can start thinking about which platform it would perform best on. 

This section is more of an introduction to understanding how and why different platforms serve different advertising functions. 

More details on the individual platforms will be covered below!

So let’s consider for example you”re trying to sell everyday convenience products to consumers. These are cheaper, daily necessity items that don’t require of much research. 

Therefore, I would not set up complicated advertising campaigns and sales funnels. I would try using somewhere like Amazon to build your brand and start advertising these types of products.

On the other hand, let’s imagine you were trying to sell a specialty product, such as trendy fashion or a clothing brand.

You could use Amazon of course, but you would build your brand and story more successfully by leveraging social media platforms. 

For example, if you’re a fashion brand targeting millennials and you’re looking to build a following, you’d want to consider adopting an Instagram and Pinterest marketing strategy, highlighting the unique, niche elements of your brand that your target customers would want to engage and be involved with.

For example, maybe your brand is pivoted towards younger 20-35 year olds that love post-hardcore music and also care about the environment. 

Creating and growing your brand for this specific group would be best achieved by advertising somewhere like Instagram.

In fact, fashion industries tend to perform extremely well on both Instagram and Pinterest (source). 

This may be because 1.) users are already actively consuming content related to fashion while visiting these sites and 2.) both places are heavily visual, which is perfect for fashion brand marketing.

Finding & Appealing to Your Target Audience

To find your target audience, you must understand who they are and what platform(s) they spend their time on. 

Then you can determine how your product or service can fit into that platform and create value for them.

Notice how I said how your product or service can create value for your target audience. This is essential to advertise successfully online. 

Beside impulse purchases or daily necessities (which are heavily price based purchases), providing value for your target audience and setting up a sales funnel for your business and marketing is essential.

Recommended Read: How to Make A Sales Funnel For Your Business in 4 Simple Steps

So once you clearly define your target market, you’ll want to analyze this group and find out where they spend their time online and how you can present your product to them in an appealing way.

While many platform skew towards younger users, Facebook can be profitable for almost any product or service simply because it has an active user base of over 2 billion people and encompasses all regions, demographics and ages.

In the Paid Advertising and Free, Organic Traffic Strategies sections below, I’ll review the specific platforms commonly used for advertising in more detail. 

For now though, let’s continue to develop our preparation by identifying your advertising objective and how the user’s state of mind changes depending on the social platform they’re using.

These elements are also crucial for determining the best place to advertise online.

2. Your Objective, Offer & The User's State of Mind

The first thing you’ll need to determine (or have a better idea of) is where your target market spends their time and how your product or service would best match that particular platform. 

After this, you’ll need to further develop a specific offer that both suits your objective and the user’s state of mind.

Your Objective

Whenever you’re creating a marketing campaign, it’s critical to identify exactly what your objective is. In fact, this is often a required step when creating a digital marketing campaign. 

Facebook for example has objectives that represent 3 distinct stages in the customer buying journey. These stages are much like a sales funnel.

At the top of the funnel, you’ll be targeting people that do not yet know who you are (i.e., cold traffic). Objectives at this stage can include brand awareness or reach. 

You’re unlikely to make any sales at this stage so your ads should focus on introducing your brand, building a relationship and providing value.

At the second stage of a sales funnel however, you’re advertising efforts may be retargeting or communicating with a warmed up audience that is in a consideration stage.

And finally, if your objective is to make conversions (i.e., sales or some level of commitment from a prospect), your closer to the bottom of a funnel and meeting this objective will likely require ad retargeting. 

This can include ad campaign targeting your email subscribers, website visitors or people who previously engaged with your posts or video ads.

And Facebook and Instagram are fantastic platforms for creating relatively simple ad retargeting campaigns.

$$ Tip Jar 

Retargeting your website visitors is a very effective marketing strategy. 

But you’ll need to have the necessary data first. 

To gather data, you need to install the Facebook pixel onto your website or landing page.

Once you have enough data, you can start retargeting these people with customized campaigns. 

Learn More About Making A Retargeting Campaign Here!

Your Offer

Consider someone visiting Facebook. They’re most likely on it to view photos and videos and to connect with friends and family. 

They’re looking to be entertained and they’re looking for interesting, engaging content that could be easily shared.

So if were you to advertise on Facebook to cold traffic, creating an offer that would spark engagement and inherent interest (such as a lifestyle-based quiz or calculator style ad) would be one viable option.

Especially if the result of such a quiz or calculator style post revealed some interesting point about a person. In this way, that type of advertisement would be easily shared, potentially creating an organic viral effect.

Now if we were to place that advertisement on LinkedIn, of course the results would likely be less impressive since users on this platform are probably not in the mood for any casual lifestyle post that they could share with close friends and family.

Furthermore, LinkedIn is a platform with a strong professional networking and business-minded audience. So advertising outside of this state of mind would prove difficult.

User's State of Mind

When deciding where to advertise (or trying to decide where the best place to advertise online is), we really need to consider the prospect’s state of mind and how it changes from place to place online.

In this way, perhaps the best place to advertise is where the person is in a buyer state of mind. 

Since social media advertising is essentially interrupting users from their main social objective (that is, they’re not actively searching to buy something or to have questions answered), effective marketing requires fine-tuned targeting, testing and effective retargeting.

So what if we could simply skip this step and target only prospects that are in a buyer state of mind, thus increasing conversions and the likelihood of making sales. 

Well this is in essence the main draw to search engine marketing.

Search engine marketing (for example, Google or Bing ads) allows you to bid to secure a top spot in the search results for specific inquiries that potential buyers are searching for.

3. Paid Advertising

When we think about the best places to advertise online, we’re most likely thinking about paid ads first. 

The opportunities business of any size to run profitable paid ads to any specific target market at a relatively low cost is one of the great digital innovations in the internet.

Both social media and search engine marketing are powerful solutions for businesses to capture new audiences while retargeting and strengthening existing relationships.

As such, this section will introduce some popular places to start paid advertising. 

Since this post does not include full tutorials for each of the paid (or free) strategies, I recommend you research the strategy most suitable for your business. 

But as an introduction, the following information should suffice.

  • Social Media Advertising
    • Powerful targeting and retargeting functionality for all budgets and expertise
    • Impressive amount of ad strategies to use for growing any business or selling any product/service
    • Requires some technical know-how and strategic awareness
    • If you can, focus on remarketing campaigns and running ads to existing customers (with new offers) and hot traffic first
      • These can be website visitors, people who’ve engaged with your content, people in any existing sales funnels that haven’t completed a desired action or people that haven’t completed purchases (i.e., cart abandoners)
      • These people have the highest conversion rates
    • Once you get a positive ROI with these retargeting type of ads, you can start reinvesting in other marketing campaigns by building lookalike audiences and targeting new, cold traffic prospects
    • To learn more, check out this super helpful video on how to best spend your ad budget (with Facebook ads)
  • Search Engine Marketing
    • This is advertising that targets prospects based on search keywords
    • This is buyer-intent marketing and can have higher conversions since users are actively searching for solutions and answers
    • You’re capturing customers when they are actively searching for specific keywords, solutions and answers with a highly relevant ad
      • Social media ads on the other hand will require more retargeting and funnel methods since users are not actively searching for solutions or answers
  • Google Display Ads
    • Google display ad network connects your business and advertisement to ad-supported sites across the internet
    • These would appear as typical ads you’d see while visiting a webpage
    • Millions of sites participate in Google’s display ad network and you’ll be able to show you ad to them as they browse
    • People are not actively searching for your business however, so it’s likely to convert at a lower rate compared to remarketing campaigns or search engine marketing
    • Here’s a helpful video that shows you the basics and some advantages and disadvantages of using Google display ads
  • YouTube Ads
    • Video and banner ads that can be hyper-relevant for users
    • As with any video ad, you’ll want to try to captivate the audience quickly within the first few seconds
  • Influencer Marketing
    • Piggyback off of an influencer’s existing audience and trust
    • Can be done cheaply, especially for micro-influencers
    • Be sure to check the influencers socials and look for high engagement and that they’re responding to comments and have an active following (i.e., not paid-for followers)
    • Make sure you’re only using influencers that have followers relevant to your business, product and offer
  • Amazon
    • Can be great if you’re selling products on Amazon and involved in eCommerce and interested in Amazon’s marketplace for selling

Recommended Read: How to Use High-Converting, Video View Retargeting Ads

4. Free, Organic Traffic Strategies

Although paid advertising can be incredibly powerful and lucrative for businesses and entrepreneurs, there are some other organic, free traffic strategies worth considering. 

These tend to be more long-term methods that require content creation and SEO (search engine optimization) knowledge.

However, adopting these strategies are highly recommended because over time, they will give you a free, organic source of relevant traffic to your content.

To be effective, you should focusing on creating (or outsourcing) articles and videos that are value-adding and engaging. 

Depending on your target audience, industry/business and objectives, you can create educational content, documentary or case study style material or entertaining videos and posts.

Here is a quick list of some common free traffic platforms and strategies:

  • SEO
    • SEO stand for search engine optimization and includes researching relevant keywords that people are searching for in your niche and creating content around those keywords in the form of searchable blog posts and/or videos
    • Ideally, you’ll want to aim for low competition, high traffic keywords (i.e., keywords with high search volume but not a lot of competition or existing content targeting that particular keyword)
    • You can use a free keyword research tool like Neil Patel’s UberSuggest to find keywords to create content for
  • Pinterest SEO
    • Similar to Google, Pinterest is actually a giant search engine – the only difference is it’s a visual platform with a sharing, user engagement/control feature
    • Learning how to create pins that link to your product, offer or (ideally) your content involves making beautiful, clickable images, using Pinterest SEO best practices in your titles and descriptions and implementing Pinterest growth strategies
      • You can easily use pre-made templates and make beautiful graphics using a free tool like Canva
    • Unlike Google ranking (that can take many months), Pinterest SEO can yield short-term results quickly
    • Create and Go is a useful website that provides a lot of useful information for Pinterest (and blog monetization)
  • YouTube, Social Media & Content Marketing
    • Creating a YouTube channel can be a highly effective way to build an engaged audience over time
    • Using social media – such as Instagram – to build your brand and an engaged following is highly recommended, regardless of other advertising efforts
    • Creating high quality content (such as blog posts and/or YouTube videos) that is value-adding will build trust and authority and is a low-friction way to introduce your product, service or offer within the content
  • Influencer Marketing
    • Finding smaller, micro-influencers and negotiating a deal (such as providing a free product for them to review and use) can be a quick way to get your offer in front of a new audience
    • Again, be sure you’re choosing an influencer with a relevant audience for your business and one that has an authentic, active and engaged fiollowing

Recommended Read: How to Increase Your Web Traffic & Reach Your Customers

Conclusion

This post has provided a comprehensive overview for online advertising. But determining the best place to advertise online is a complicated question that depends on a number of factors.

I’ve presented some critical elements to review when deciding where to advertise, including how platforms can differ from each other and how a user’s state of mind can influence the performance of your ads.

Ultimately, understanding your target audience and where they spend their time will help to build an effective marketing strategy. 

Matching your objective, offer and content to your audience and the particular platform they’re on will help ensure you’re successful with online marketing.

Search engine marketing is a highly useful method since it targets users who are actively searching for specific keywords, solutions and answers. 

This is a high-converting opportunity for businesses to optimize their ad spend. 

Still, the flexibility and extensive targeting and retargeting opportunities on social media is something that should not be overlooked.

It has been recommended that if you have existing customers, email lists, website visitor data or people who’ve previously engaged with your posts, allocating your ad spend budget to these audiences (via retargeting) will give you the highest returns. 

From here, you can scale and reinvest by targeting new, cold traffic prospects.

Besides paid ads, implementing free, organic sources of traffic is a long-term growth strategy that every business should consider adopting. 

To be effective, you’ll want to decide on a content strategy and medium (i.e., blog posts, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) where you can start building an engaged following.

By creating high quality, value-adding content, you’ll be able to employ content marketing strategies to sell your product, service and offers to your readers in a less intrusive way (compared to traditional ads).

Regardless of the methods or platforms you choose to adopt, focusing on creating value for your customers and prospects is an overarching best practice that will yield positive ROI, trust and growth in the long term.

Thanks for reading and happy advertising!

Let me know in the comments: Which platform do you think is the best for businesses to be advertising in this day and age? Is Facebook advertising still effective?

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