Ever since the moment advertising met the Internet, the galaxy of paid promotion possibilities has been expanding. This is a wonderful thing for small business, and digital advertising tends to be much more affordable than traditional print media. But because things evolve so quickly in the space, it can be a little daunting when you’re first starting out. That’s why today we are offering up a Paid Promotion Checklist to walk you through the process and keep you on track.

If you’re totally new to paid promotion, you may want to check out this handy glossary of terms before proceeding with the list below.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals
It will be hard to gauge the success of your paid promotion if you don’t first determine your goals for the campaign. Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Get more likes on Facebook? Increase awareness of your brand? Make a note before you get started.

Step 2: Identify Your Audience
This is an off-shoot of something you probably have already done for your business – identifying the ideal customer for you and thinking about how you speak to them. The audience you choose for your paid promotions may be the same general audience, or perhaps a subset of that audience. For example, instead of women with college degrees in the Washington, DC area, your campaign might target women with college degrees in the Washington, DC area who are between the ages of 25 and 35.

Step 3: Choose Your Media
This is the part where you decide how you’ll best read the audience you identified above. Should you try Facebook advertising? Maybe display ads on specific websites they might visit? Or perhaps search engine marketing (SEM) is the best vehicle for your message. The answer depends on the answers to ‘what’ and ‘whom’ that you determined above.

Step 4: Set Your Budget
The cost and pricing structures vary across digital promotion types, and you’ll often have options for how you’d like to pay within one medium. For example, you can choose today pay per click, or pay per impression (or 1,000 impressions, technically). So depending on the money you have set aside for this, and the goal of your promotion, you’ll need to choose the one that fits you best.

Step 5: Prepare Your Assets
Whether you choose display advertising on websites, Facebook advertising, or search engine marketing, there are certain creative assets you’ll need. Prepare the images you might use, logos, coupon or offer codes, and the copy (text) in this step so you have easily access it as you’re creating your promotions.

Step 6: Pick A Landing Page
One of the things that your ads will include is a link to…something. It’s up to you to decide what it is. Again, this will be determined by the goal of your campaign, but choices include your website’s home page, a certain product in your web store, your Facebook page, or a dedicated landing page you create on your website just for this purpose.

Step 7: Choose A Provider
Depending on the type of ad you want to run, you have some options for providers. These include Google for SEM, Facebook for, well, Facebook, and BuySellAds.com for display advertising on websites. There are lots of options out there though, so a little research and pick the one that’s best for your purposes, goals, and budget.

Step 8: Monitor Your Progress
Once you start your campaign, most providers will offer some kind of insights tool to help you track the success of your campaign. Many will also allow you to make tweaks to the message, creative, or audience as you go along so you can optimize your results if you see something that’s not working.

Step 9: Analyze The Results
Using an analytics tool like Google Analytics or Stats (if you have a Webs website), you can easily see the effect your paid promotion had on your website. If you ran a promotion solely for social media, you can check your metrics with Facebook Insights, but hopefully you’ll also see some more referrals from Facebook back to your website if traffic on social media increased significantly. Did you get more traffic to your homepage? To specific page on your site? Did anyone redeem offer codes? Did you sell more of a certain product?

Step 10: Take Notes, Make Plans
Once you’ve collected your insights and analytics, it’s time to assess the overall success of your campaign and decide if it’s a tactic you should include in your small business’s marketing plan going forward. Measuring the success of paid promotions depends on several factors, including your goals, your budget, the lifetime value of new customers, and the cost to acquire each one. You can learn more about the formulas involved in these calculations in the article link above.

If you’ve tried paid promotions of any kind for your small business, we’d love to hear your insights! Leave us a note in the comments below.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Pagemodo. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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