Online ads don’t work. Here’s what to do instead

Image by s__grafik from Pixabay

By Henry Brown

If you think that online ads are going to grab customers’ attention, think again.

While PPC (pay-per-click) might seem like a cheap way to get your business off the ground, most consumers just ignore it. In fact, according to digital marketing professional Joey Armstrong, 80 percent of internet users now pass over all banner and PPC ads they see online.

So if ads don’t work, what does?

Reputation marketing

Have you ever noticed that the products on Amazon and eBay with tens of thousands of sales are also those with the most reviews?

That’s because these products are the most trusted. Or, put more precisely, they have the best reputation.

Reputation marketing is the process of getting customers to write favorable reviews of your business online. The more you can generate, the more trusted you will be.

You also get into a positive feedback loop. Once you get a handful of positive reviews, that encourages more people to buy from you. When they do, they too leave good reviews and so on. Eventually, you wind up in a situation where you have thousands of reviews and become the market leader.

Influencer marketing

Another popular channel is influencer marketing which, by some estimates, offers a 600 percent return on investment, regardless of your industry. You’re not looking to get the influencer to advertise your product directly. Instead, you want them to review it, provide their audience with feedback, and make your brand more trusted.

Remember, consumers trust influencers more than companies, as a general rule. Hence, if you are struggling with low trust, leveraging influencers can be a way to build it.

YouTube ads

While conventional banner ads are losing their effectiveness, video ads still work.

The world’s biggest video platform is YouTube, so that’s the first one you should consider. With nearly 1.3 billion viewers, it offers almost universal reach and is popular among the very kind of people likely to buy your goods and services.

YouTube ads are actually surprisingly inexpensive. You could be looking at bills of less than $10 per day for some products.

Use lead generation services

Going into digital marketing alone is full of risks. Most firms fail to gain any traction and simply give up. It’s not that these tools are ineffective. It’s just that many companies don’t know how to use them.

That’s where lead generation agencies can really come in handy. They know where to look for leads and deploy numerous tactics to fill your pipeline. Then, all you need to do is pay them a commission for their services. It’s that simple.

Email marketing

Lastly, you might want to try one of the oldest marketing kids on the block: email marketing. Sending mail to people’s inboxes can be extremely powerful, particularly if you are reaching out for the first time. Studies suggest that returns to email marketing are 42:1. That is, for every $1 you invest, you get $42 back.

Building your email list is tricky, but you can get agencies to do this for you, too. Once you have one in place, you can drive revenue and boost transactions.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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