Follow us on this personal lesson in what not to do, and you can save a great deal of money.
A while back, we wanted to support our local newspaper by running banner ads for ScanMyPhotos.com. The newspaper industry is dying, and this was our attempt to help support it, but this wasn't expected to be charity. Certainly, we needed to minimally recoup our investment.
The experience went from bad to worse real quickly, because the new analytic software tracks each visit and conversion from a visit to a sale. From the hundreds of thousands of impressions, which represents each time a visitor to the Orange County Register views a page with our ad, we received only a few hundred clicks. In most cases, the click to the site was for less than 5-seconds, meaning that the person erroneously pressed the mouse button in error. From our billed $6300 investment, the result was literally zero trackable orders.
Now, the Orange County Register is spinning a tale that these banner ads are designed for "branding." That might be fine for a multi-national conglomerate, but emerging small businesses survive on sales, not branding. As for search traffic to the ScanMyPhotos.com site, we receive orders from around the globe and are ranked in the top spots in our category by Google because we are the pioneers of this new technology and regularly score raves from the media and bloggers. That is why our traffic is so high, and by monitoring each visit, we know that it was not related to the banner ads, which ended up costing about $12 per click. We can buy Google Adwords targeted directly to those searching for "photo scanning" for under $2, and for most keywords about $0.50.
We are learning that most orders are from reviews and word-of-mouth happy customers, rather than from erroneous newspaper banner ads.
We will keep this dialogue going so other entrepreneurs learn from our mistake. For us, banner ads in the local paper were is fiasco. How about with you and any experiences you might have encountered so we can all learn from this episode?
From an earlier email by the Orange County Register's Interactive Sales Manager:
Yes, industry average click through rate for banners is around .02%. Generally
if you target sections or target customers the click through higher, closer .19%. The point of banners really is to brand your business, drive more people to search for you.
The best way to view the performance of you banners is not to just look at the Clicks but to see if during the times your banner ran did your search traffic go up? Did your website traffic go up? That is really a good indicator if your banners were effective. If you think about it, someone won’t search for your brand specifically if they haven’t seen your name somewhere.