With the Visibility category on @utopian-io back to life, I am swamped with questions and requests for guidance in my Discord DMs. Since there's only one me, and many of you, I decided to write a quick guide to getting started in creating an online ad campaign.
This post was supposed to appear somewhere along my Open Source Marketing series, but it became obvious it's needed now. The steps explained can help Open Source project owners run their own campaigns by simply following them and referring plenty to external materials.
0. Use Google Search
This may sound obvious (which is why I don't consider it one of the five steps), but Google is an advertiser's best friend. Google has everything. From best practice guides for whatever channel you choose, to invaluable information about the product you're promoting and its competition.
1. Understand The Product
Trying to sell the proverbial cat in the bag is much harder and more time-consuming than making the effort to truly understand the product or service promoted. What does it do? When is it useful? What technical specification and demands does it have? What does the competition look like? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the product?Take the time to use the solution you are promoting, read the documentation and don't forget to learn from past campaigns by brand or its competitors.
While this may seem like an unnecessary step for OSS project owners who supposedly know their product better than anyone, it is often not the case. Developers tend to look at their prized creation from a very different perspective than the user, so planning an ad campaign is a great oportunity for them to take a step back to get a different view of their product.
But that's a topic for another post.
2. Understand The Audience
Mass advertising doesn't work. It is ineffective, wasteful and often has an opposite effect to the desired. For example, paying top dollar for a banner on the New York Times website to advertise Steemit will have lower impact than well coordinated and targeted advertising of the platform across social media channels.
Targeting is the key word. Imagine the "perfect" user for the solution you've understood fully in step one. Who are they? Where do they live? What devices do they use? What language do they speak? How old are they, and what are their interests?
There are thousands more questions you can ask in your quest to imagine the ideal consumer for the product you are promoting. One of the things you should be able to deduct from these variables is the channel for advertising - where these ideas users hang out.
3. Select a Channel
The stage on which you (pay to) present the product you're promoting is usually chosen according to the type of product and its target audience. For example, you won't have much luck finding users for privacy-oriented services on Facebook, or reaching out to an audience of seniors on Reddit.
Another thing to note is the convenience of the selected platform in said promotion. Facebook tends to be difficult in allowing for the promotion of mobile apps, while Google can be terribly confusing and complicated to set up when targeting very specific segments.
4. Create Your Message
Copywriting is an art that creates memorable ads that drive action. The goal of the words, graphics and even format of your ad should speak clearly and directly to the target audience you defined. Invite them to engage, click, download, install, register and do whatever it is your campaign goal is.
It's always good practice to avoid putting all your advertising eggs in one basket. This is why I prefer to use multiple ad copy options and A/B test the life out of them.
5. Optimize & Have Fun
If you think that once you click "publish" on you campaign your work is over, I have news for you. To ensure your campaign performs within budget and exceeds your goals, you need to constantly optimize and adjust. Not enough clicks? Raise the CPC a bit and check what happens. One of your ads is getting much lower CTRs than others? Kill it with fire and take note of what it might be about it that put people off from clicking.
Online advertising platforms are constantly evolving and changing, but the basic workflow of execution is still the same as it's been for close to a decade. Targeting may have become more granular and scalable, reporting is more insightful, and it's much easier to track, understand and customize the funnel. However, these simple steps remain the same, just include different tools and techniques in addition to good old trusty Google.
Thinking of contributing to Open Source? Read Contributing to Open Source - Getting Started and Finding Inspiration