How-To Guide

Online advertising: A beginner's guide to paid marketing channels

Find out how to use paid marketing channels to target your advertising based on audience demographics, keywords, search intent, and more.

    Part 1
    A beginner's guide to online advertising
    9 min read
    In this Article

    Are you having trouble generating consistent leads for your business?

    Maybe you’ve been utilizing every free marketing platform at your disposal but haven’t seen the increase you’d like.

    Organic content can only get you so far.

    As algorithms change to make room for more paid advertising opportunities, there’s no better time to start testing and experimenting with paid online advertising, (a.k.a. paid acquisitions).

    Why focus on paid marketing channels? Without these, you won’t have any leads to interact with your sales funnel. This would leave you with stunted growth because you don’t know how well your funnel is performing until you have people who will interact with it.

    Paid online advertising sales funnelInstead of relying on platforms to drive inconsistent free traffic, you can spend your time optimizing targeted ads to better convert visitors into customers through your sales funnel.

    Don’t worry. You can still use some of the same marketing channels you’re already using. But changing your overall strategy based on the introduction of paid ads is going to be just what you need to increase your conversion rate.

    But before you jump into paid acquisition, let’s talk about what it entails and why it might be a good fit your business.

    What is a paid online advertising strategy?

    Rather than rely on organic content to drive visitors to your landing page or website, paid marketing channels allow you to target your advertising based on audience demographics, keywords, search intent, and more.

    Paid online advertising helps you get in front of customers who are already searching for what you have to offer. Your paid marketing strategy will depend on:

    • What your current business goals are
    • How much profit you are looking to drive
    • What your current advertising budget is

    You don’t need $10,000 or more to get started with paid advertising. You don’t even need $1,000! For as little as a few dollars each day, you can utilize select marketing channels with paid ads. Others may require more of an upfront investment, but many others can be easily adopted into any ad budget.

    As you begin thinking about introducing paid marketing channels into your own business strategy, here are some other benefits to consider.
    What is paid online advertising

    Paid online advertising will show the effectiveness of your messaging

    Why spend a lot of time creating content that doesn’t resonate with your audience? You don’t want to spend time crafting something that doesn’t meet their needs, leading your audience to look elsewhere for information.Paid online advertising shows effectiveness of message

    With paid advertising, you’re able to get quick feedback on how effective your messaging is by keeping an eye on your analytics.

    The numbers don’t lie! These paid ads will help you understand what customers and clients want to hear. Everything is just noise.

    Free marketing channels are never really free

    Even if you aren’t traditionally paying for the organic content you are distributing through other marketing channels, you may be paying a freelancer to create it for you or reducing your own time to work on other things in your business.

    With paid ads, you can put in a one-time investment in creating ad copy and imagery before you run split tests. Once you put each version of your ad into action and test them to see which performs the best, you can continue to use the same ad with different segments of your target audience.

    Free channels can change at any time

    If Google wanted to completely change the way it ranks websites on its platform, many of us who have been optimizing our websites for SEO would find our results taking a down turn. The same is true for social media marketing channels like Facebook and Instagram.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t utilize these channels, but rather focus on having a holistic marketing strategy that doesn’t make you susceptible to changes.

    It’s another reason why we recommend investing in creating a website and starting your email list since those are channels you own. You’ll want to use both when diving into your paid marketing channel strategy.

    Where to start with paid online advertising?

    Once you have your paid advertising goals and base-level budget set, you can start brainstorming and researching what paid marketing channel may be your best fit. We’ll start by breaking down some of the most common types of paid advertising marketing channels that utilize paid acquisition while sharing insights into each.

    Google Ads

    Since Google is the most popular search engine and largest traffic driver on the internet, it probably isn’t surprising to see it at the top of our paid advertising list.

    Paid online advertising types- Google ads

    Google Ads,  formerly known as Google AdWords, aims to connect their users with the very best search results so they keep coming back. They do this with organic search rankings but also by offering pay-per-click (PPC) advertising opportunities for advertisers of all sizes.

    Offering a wealth of paid advertising options to advertisers of all sizes, Google Ads provides a well-populated marketplace to start testing your paid ads.

    Read more: Google Ads: What Helps You Rank Higher than Your Competitors?; AdWords Campaign: Everything You Need to Know to Run a Google Ads Campaign

    Social media paid advertising

    While you continue to produce consistent social media content that’s available for free, you may also want to think about monetizing your brand through social media paid ads.

    If you want to drive more traffic to your website or launch offer and have already been investing in building your social media presence, social media paid advertising could be a great place to start. Here are a few social media marketing channels we recommend looking into.

    • Facebook Advertising: With 2 billion (yes, billion) active users, it’s no wonder that Facebook has become a paid advertising giant. It’s hard to scroll through your newsfeed without seeing a few sponsored ads pop up. But with so many paid ads being shown, how do you make yours stand out? We talk more about how to utilize Facebook in this article.
    • Instagram Advertising: Now that Instagram has rolled out Instagram Live and Instagram Stories, video-based ads are sure to increase on this highly visual social media platform. With its unique features and highly dedicated audience, Instagram paid advertising is still in its youth with lots of room to grow. Start testing your paid acquisition strategy with Instagram today.

    Other paid advertising platforms that may be worth researching are Twitter (for text-based messaging), Snapchat (Gen Z and Millennial favorite), Reddit (one of the top ten websites on the web), Pinterest, and even LinkedIn (for B2B and B2C professionals alike).
    Social media paid advertising

    YouTube sponsorships

    If your offer is best told through video, investing in YouTube paid ads could be a great way to advertise to your target audience. is the second largest search engine in the world, making it a no brainer for advertisers of all sizes.

    You will use the Google Ads platform to create your YouTube ad campaign and decide what advertising type you want to test. We have more information in our YouTube paid advertising article in this Tradecraft issue.

    Podcast sponsorships

    One of the major benefits of partnering with podcasters is that they already have a loyal audience behind them. Instead of having to build trust from ground zero, you’re able to tap into an audience that’s already built and earn the podcaster’s recommendation.

    Types of paid online advertising- podcast sponsorshipsYou also get to be hands-off with the delivery of content since the podcaster will advertise your brand for you. Each podcaster will set a different price for their sponsorships based on their audience size, number of downloads, and a variety of other factors.

    To choose your podcast sponsorship wisely, read our article on podcast sponsorships so you find the right collaborator the first time around.

    Best practices when creating your paid digital marketing strategy

    Now that you have a paid marketing channel in mind (or even multiple), we want to leave you with a few best practices that can be used with any channel. These universal truths will help you wisely spend your advertising dollars and keep your goals top-of-mind.

    online advertising best practices- be will to testAlways be willing to experiment

    You don’t need to put pressure on yourself to get your paid ad right the first time. Of course you want to go into your advertisement creation with strategy and intention, but there are some things you won’t know until you test and tweak your offer.

    The best way to optimize your ad is by testing it with a hyper targeted audience. You can do this by choosing a paid marketing channel of your choice and tracking the analytics to see how each audience segment reacts to your offer.

    online advertising best practices- retargetingUse retargeting methods

    When you see the same pair of sunglasses you were browsing for last week reappear in your Facebook newsfeed, it’s not a “sign” that you should buy them. It’s a sign that the sunglasses company is doing a great job with retargeting their ads after capturing your attention on their website.

    Smart companies, especially those in ecommerce, will use retargeting techniques to remind interested consumers of what they were previously searching for. If they already have interest, companies have an easier time converting that visitor than someone who has never heard of the company before.

    Most paid advertising channels have a wide array of retargeting capabilities (like Facebook with its Facebook Pixel), so we recommend looking into all of these options before you publish your paid ad campaign.

    online advertising best practices-funnel your audienceNiche your audience

    As you set up your first paid ad campaign, you might find that choosing your target audience is difficult. You aren’t alone! Many brands have multiple ideal customer profiles that fit their overall brand direction.

    Review your offer and see if it aligns more with one segment of your audience than another. If you are teaching an online course on how to make money online from side hustling, you may find that your messaging might connect better with stay-at-home moms who want to provide extra income for their families than someone who just graduated college, even if both of these audience types are in your current community.

    Try each niche and spend time targeting your ad copy for each subtype of your audience. Who were you creating the offer originally? Who seems to be resonating with it best? These questions will help you easily niche down your audience.

    Start your paid online advertising strategy

    For more information, we’ve put together this curated collection of articles in our latest Tradecraft issue to walk you through the basics of utilizing paid online advertising methods for your business.

    Connect with your audience

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    Kayla Hollatz

    Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and content creator for creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert. Few things make her happier than ghostwriting for clients in her studio, aka her four-season porch with a lake view. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.