Why Your Digital Ads Aren’t Working and How You Can Easily Fix Them


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Ah, advertising! A love-hate relationship for startups and established businesses alike.

Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t.

This is even more prevalent in digital advertising. But why don’t they work?

Print media required a slow process of research, copywriting, creative direction, typesetting, editing, proofing and then finally production.

There’s no doubt that going digital has expedited this process. But it has also led ambitious entrepreneurs to think that creating an advertisement is easy.

It’s far from it.

I can think of at least 7 reasons why they don’t work.

It’s All About You

Remember your last social gathering? Remember Tom? He wouldn’t stop talking about his new business. So annoying!

If your ads sound anything like that, how do you think your customers feel about your product or service?

Yes, the role of an ad is to inform people about your product. To invoke a desire to want your product. To eventually buy your product.

But good God will you please stop talking about yourself?

Nobody wants to be sold to. People simply DO NOT care about your product.

All they care about is their needs. Their problems. Their family. Their dreams and desires.

All your ad has to do is to pander to their needs.

They want to save time – give them instant noodles. They want to feel important – give them an engraved pen with their name on it. They want to feel secure – promise them that you’ll deliver.

Promise me your next ad will be about them!

The Headline Doesn’t Grab Attention

If you asked Joe Sugarman, one of the greatest copywriters of our time, he’d say the only purpose of a headline is to get the sub-headline read.

And the sub-headline gets the first sentence read and so on …

The headline is the hook. It’s what grabs your reader’s attention. Just look at the headline of this article. You started reading it because you were going to get a fix for your ads.

The average person is bombarded with 5000 messages from stimuli in a day. Your headline is the gateway to their mind.

According to Ogilvy, the headline is 80% of your ad.

Get their attention with the headline.

The Creative Fails to Inspire

AirBnB saw bookings rise with better photos.

The best brands spend a tonne of money on getting the creative right. The right creative strikes a chord with your customer.

It helps them imagine their ideal self. A story where they are the hero and your product is just the means to get there.

Great creative invokes deep and repressed desires to want what they see.

Getting a creative right is challenging. It’s why agencies still have creative directors.

Our information consumption is increasingly visual. Videos and images, when used correctly can be more powerful than words.

Spend time on the creative to invoke a desire.

You Never Asked for any Action

Humans are not great at putting one and one two together when they’re not focusing on a specific activity.

So even if your ad does catch their attention and invoke a desire, they’ll go on with their day.

Why didn’t they take any action? Simply because the ad never asked.

This happens even in work meetings. Issues are aired, insights and findings presented and then …. nothing! Why? Because no one asked for what comes next.

Once you have their attention, tell them what you want from them.

Message & Platform Match

You don’t scream at a cathedral. You also wouldn’t whisper at a footy game. Your tone matches the environment you’re in.

When you’re around work colleagues you speak a little differently to when you’re around your best friends. It’s because of your familiarity and level of comfort.

Now let’s say you want to research something. You want answers. You go to Google. Right?

But then when you’re on tik tok, you’re just taking a break. You want to be entertained.

See how different these platforms are?

How would you communicate if your ad showed up on google?

Imagine if I started showing you something funny when you want serious answers. You’d think I’m crazy!

Use the right messaging for the platform you’re advertising on.

Post Click Experience

If you’ve done everything right, and your ads still don’t deliver results you might want to take a look at what happens after the ad.

If your ad got clicked on, its likely it generated some interest in the viewer.

But if what you show them after the click is unrelated, unfamiliar or downright scammy or difficult to use, you’re going to lose them.

Imagine your ad promises a free trial but then customer finds out that they need to pay $50 to get in. Or you promise one price on the ad and another on the website.

Also, pay attention to the ad scent. Ad scent is how familiar the page after the ad fees. Use the same headlines, CTA, promise and creative as the ad to create strong ad scent.

Audience Targeting

You must understand the customers you are advertising to. Get your targeting wrong and nothing can save your ad.

This also refers to what you say to your customers depending on where they are in the buying journey.

For instance, if they’ve never bought from you then you must court them and impress them before they warm up to your product.

If they’ve purchased from you before, a member special offer might be enticing.

Ads can strongly influence decisions depending on what is communicated to whom. Just look at what Cambridge Analytica was able to accomplish for the last US elections.

Target the appropriate people with the right message to influence them.

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