Continuous advertising is when your ads are “always on,” week after week, during slow seasons as well as busy seasons. Long ago, this was a strategy used primarily by large corporations with deep pockets. With large advertising budgets and the deep discounts from buying in bulk, they would run their ads in newspapers, magazines, and on national television, getting the messages out day and night from coast to coast.
Small businesses couldn’t compete with this and would instead use a “flight” strategy, running their ads for specific periods of time and then running no ads at all. As the cost of digital advertising has increased over the past several years, many businesses have adopted a “flight” strategy, or one of its variations, in an attempt to reduce their costs and overcome high conversion costs. If you’ve tried this and found that it doesn’t work very well, there’s a reason for that.
Why Continuous Advertising Works Best
Digital marketing simply isn’t designed to work well in an on-and-off approach. If you’ve started a new business or launched a new product, you’ll likely notice that sales can take some time. Not only does your target audience need time to become aware of your brand and get educated about your products or services, the technology displaying your ads on Facebook, Google, Snapchat and other platforms needs time to determine who within your audience is most likely to click on your ads and convert on your website.
When you take a flight approach to digital marketing, you’re constantly repeating the same cold start…like turning a car engine on, letting it run for a few minutes and turning it off again before it can warm up and run effectively.
Don’t Step Behind Your Competitors
If you’re not buying ads for your brand’s best keywords, your competitors will be front and center whenever your target audience goes online. Their products may not be as good as yours and their pricing may be higher, but they will soon be a familiar and trusted face in the crowd and your audience will start buying from them.
Be Ready When Your Customers Are
No amount of advertising will make someone buy from you before they are ready. If someone has been sitting on the fence for a few days, continuous advertising following a customer lifecycle strategy provides them with a gentle, consistent tap on the shoulder, increasing the likelihood that today may be the day. On the other hand, if that day is six months from now, your consistent messaging makes it more likely they will come to you instead of going to someone else.
Rely on Continuous Sales Cycles
Sporadic advertising leads to sporadic sales cycles. One quarter is a boom, while the next is a bust. Unless you’re running a part-time business on your own, this makes it very difficult to budget for fixed costs, like employee salaries and overhead.
By using a continuous advertising strategy, you can build on your successes, escalate sales, invest more in marketing, and escalate sales even more. Even seasonal products, with the possible exception of snow shovels, can have sales in off months, as a large percentage of customers will want to plan ahead.
Harness the Power of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is most effective when you run your ads consistently over time. Cookies and tools like Facebook Pixels automatically retarget people who are most inclined to make a purchase.
Suppose, for example, someone goes to your website, browses your products and makes all the indications that they’re interested in a purchase, but then leaves before doing so. Letting Facebook and Google automatically retarget that person via pixels especially with dynamic product ads is much more likely to lead to a conversion than targeting someone cold. If you’ve turned off your ads for the month, that sale will likely go to someone else instead.
Keep Your Ads Fresh
Continuous advertising does not mean running the same ad nonstop. You need to mix it up and always be optimizing in real-time. Ads efficiency can fluctuate based on timing, content type, copy usage, and numerous other factors. Running the same ad to the same audience too often will also cause ad fatigue which is why it is important to pay attention to frequency.
The result of ad fatigue is that your ads are no longer noticeable or engaging. Or, worse, they are annoying. None of these are good for your brand, but if your audience begins taking the time to hide your ad, understand that your once-fresh mechanism is now long past its expiration date. Not only will your ads start costing more, but the platform will also likely reduce its run in favor of other companies with fresher, more engaging and relevant ad sets.
Another danger of running the same ad too long is that, if it’s popular, you’ll find other brands mimicking it and yours will no longer stand out from the crowd. The solution to both of these problems is to change your ads and test new layouts, copy, images, and colors regularly to ensure your ads are not only as cost-effective as possible but are also having the desired impact.
Monitor Your Frequencies
Ad images and font colors aren’t the only things you should be testing in your social media ads. Ad durations should be tested as well. Running an ad campaign in Facebook Ads Manager for one week compared to two weeks, for example, will often result in completely different results, even when the total budget is the same.
As an example, when an ad ran for one week with a $25 budget, it resulted in a reach of approximately 2,700 people and 900 clicks. Its frequency (the number of times it was shown) was about 1.2 times per person. There was no negative feedback.
When a similar ad was extended to two weeks with the same $25 budget, the result was a reach of only 1,800 people, with 350 clicks and a frequency of 1.5 times shown per person. With far fewer people being shown the same ad more often, this ad campaign also resulted in two people hiding the ad.
Always-On Channels for Always-On Marketing
Content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media posts should always be part of a continuous advertising strategy. But the number of brands that can rely on these channels exclusively are few and far between. Even companies that post content regularly as their main product, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, rely on paid advertising to keep their brands visible beyond the newsfeed.
Fewer people subscribe to RSS feeds anymore and it can be hard to get substantial traction on organic social posts unless they’re supplemented with a paid boost. SEO is great for brand awareness, but ranking on the first page for products is always difficult. If you do make it to the top five listings, you can be certain that a high-volume competitor will invest their resources into bumping you off as soon as possible.
The exception to this rule is email marketing, which can yield high conversions through consistent, continuous email campaigns. Of course, to get more subscribers you will have to supplement your email marketing campaign with campaigns on other channels too.
Selecting the Right Ads and Channels
Every market is different, so the channels you choose should be based on your specific requirements. If you rely on impulse purchases or promote gift ideas for your Shopify store, you’ll likely do better on Instagram or TikTok. If you’re selling high-ticket items through Amazon, then Amazon Paid Media, like Sponsored ad campaigns and Amazon Editorial Recommendations will probably perform best.
Social Media Ads
If you’re using Facebook or Instagram, consider using dynamic product ads, which will automatically swap out the images each time the ad runs based on the users’ preferences. This can be supplemented with video ads as well. To keep production costs low, divide your target audience into smaller segments (based on age or region, for example), then rotate your ads from one segment to another. Know which platforms your audience is on and utilize that information to your advantage. Targeting younger consumers on Facebook may not provide the ROI you’re looking for, but a well-executed TikTok ad may do the trick!
Google Ads and Paid Media
The bidding system used on Google Ads and other platforms like Amazon can destroy a budget if they’re not well researched. You certainly don’t want to be paying $5 per click in an evergreen brand awareness campaign when you can get better results from less coveted keywords. Don’t bid on broad match keywords or generalized categories. Instead, bid on several hyper-focused keywords. When one begins to perform well, you can scale up your bid amounts or your daily limit.
Amazon Editorial Recommendations
Editorial Recommendations are a great way to improve front-page visibility on Amazon and should be used after you’ve already developed your paid media strategy and are ranking well on a few keywords. They operate differently than PPC in that no bidding is required, the ad is recommended from an external source like Clean Eating, for example, and pricing is based on directly attributable commissions from an agency that can provide you recommendation access like HBW. Once your product is in an Amazon Editorial Recommendation, you can redirect your paid media towards the keywords that the recommendation is rendering on – improving PPC efficiencies, reducing ACOS, and increasing page visibility which drives conversions.
Case Study of Continuous Advertising with Keywords
Before Petnet partnered with Hawke Media, they were using a flight approach to all of their advertising. Creators of the SmartFeeder automatic home pet feeder, Petnet used Amazon ads to bid on broad keywords like “pets” and “electronics” for only a few weeks at a time. Not surprisingly, their costs were high and their conversions were low.
When they switched over to a continuous advertising strategy, they modified their keyword bids to a series of high-intent branded, competitor and non-branded keywords for sponsored products and headline search campaigns. After just two months, ad impressions increased by 98.6%, CPC dropped by 11.3% and ROAS (return on ad spend) tripled from 65% to 192%.
Petnet is just one of the hundreds of successful companies that have partnered with Hawke Media for their digital marketing needs. If you think a change in your marketing is overdue, or if you suspect your return on ad spend could be better, talk to a Hawke marketing consultant. Your first consultation is free.
AgoraPulse: How Long Should You Let Your Facebook Ads Run?
Opportunity Marketing: 5 Reasons Why Marketing Needs To Be Continuous
Amazon: Grow Your Business on Amazon
Hawke Media: Full-Service Amazon Marketing and Ads
Hawke Media: Case Study: Petnet
Hawke Media: Free Consultation
As the Senior Vice President of Partnerships at Hawke Media, Ashley oversees the agency's partner program. With over a dozen years of experience in both traditional and digital marketing, Ashley is a performance marketing leader that specializes in paid social advertising, focusing on ecommerce brands and B2B SaaS companies.