The Growth Series

Advertising online: How to get started

Getting your business noticed online can be tough, but if done properly, online advertising is the perfect tool to reaching your target audience and getting the attention your business needs to grow.

The strategy is a tried and tested way of ensuring you gain website traffic and delivering your marketing message to your future customers. It’s effective and unique in helping you define your audience, target the right users at the right time and monitor your campaign’s success.

Getting started with online advertising can be daunting. After all, the internet is huge, and it’s full of jargon. So we’ve broken the process down into simple steps…

What are you advertising?

The simpler the better: what is your message? What’s the product or service you’re advertising? What’s special about it? Why should people buy it? Is it a one-off deal? Or do you simply want to raise your brand’s profile? 

Once you’ve decided exactly what you want to say, you can then think about how you are going to say it. Whether that’s a banner ad, a rich media ad, a social media page, paid search, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads and so on.

Time and money

And the decisions don’t end there - you then need to decide when and for how long you want to run the ad. Timing is very important so it’s worth considering all the data you have available to make an informed decision.

How much are you willing to spend on the campaign? It can be tough to know how much budget to commit when you’re starting out with online advertising, so testing small, medium and larger budgets will give an idea of what works best for you. The more you test, the more data you’ll collect on how your audience interacts with your campaign - you can then learn from their behaviour and adapt your message over time. 

You don’t need to invest a huge amount of money, but be aware you’ll need a target return on investment (ROI) to keep up with the costs of running the ad, the cost of the time to setup and run the ad, and the cost of the tools you’re using to monitor the ad’s performance.

Read more: Online marketing may sound great - but how do you get the most out of it?

Measuring performance

Think back to your message and goal, whether that’s an increase in traffic to your website, an increase in sales or brand awareness and so on. Once you’ve picked your goal, you can then pick one of the following metrics to track and measure your campaign’s performance.

1- Increased website traffic

Use Google Analytics to set a benchmark before you launch your ad. Get at least two months’ worth of data (but ideally 12 months of data) to get a good idea of how your audience interacts with your website before the campaign launches. Once your ad goes live, simply keep an eye on site visits.

2- Sign ups

If you’re promoting a guide and need users to enter their email address to gain access to your content, you can track the success of the campaign by the number of new contacts. The benefit of building a list of new sign ups is you can then re-target them with future campaigns, thus increasing your ROI.

3- Time on page

When you first launched your website, you probably noticed you were getting traffic but people weren’t staying long before leaving and going elsewhere. The answer is they were probably not your target customer. A big benefit of online advertising is that it targets the right people for your business, so make sure you track ‘time on page’ in Google Analytics - it should improve.

4- Page views

As with the metrics above, tracking visits to your campaign landing page will give you a very good idea of how the campaign is performing.

5- Clicks

Most online ads use pay-per-click, or PPC. You should find out how many people clicked on the ad and the number of people who then converted - instead of leaving without completing an action. Google AdWords is one of the biggest PPC providers which allows you to track both clicks and conversion rates - it also lets you set a target spend to help you limit costs and stick to your budget.

6- Ad views

This metric tells you how often your ad was shown to web users. It’s a valuable tool in helping you decide which type of ad, and what message in the ad, is most successful.


Online advertising involves a lot of testing and a lot of monitoring. Some ads will fail, some will succeed. Over time you’ll learn what works and you’ll develop an understanding of your target audience’s online habits.

Start with a small budget, gather your benchmark and your target audience data, and ensure you have the right tracking set up. Over time, you’ll get more confident and grow your budget: eventually running a new campaign and seeing increased conversion rates will go hand in hand.

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