Marketing Minute: Where Should I Spend First? On My Site? Or on My Ads?

On my site? Or on my ads?

From our sponsor: The answer probably depends on whether you are selling to businesses or to consumders.

It’s something we get asked all the time: Where should you put your digital marketing dollars to get the most value for your business and generate the best ROI for your budget? This is also the hardest question to answer. Because, really, it depends.

Another way to frame this question—and one we’re starting to hear more often—is, should you spend money on advertising, or should you put more into updating your website?

Again, it depends. Let’s assume  you have a limited budget, which is almost always the case, and need to make a choice to begin driving new opportunities. Let’s also assume that your website could use some work, which again is often the case.

If I may, your best route is likely determined by whether you are in the business-to-consumer space or the business-to-business space.

B2C and the user experience

If you’re in the consumer space, pretty much everything you do should be about improving the user experience and making sure your customers have a great time and an easy time dealing with your brand. That’s because the way consumers buy things for themselves is best suited to a marketing budget based on user experience.

When customers want a product, they Google it. They land on a website, and they buy the thing that matches what they want. Chances are, if they know your brand sells what they want, they just come straight to your website. But the one thing that will ruin your chances of making a sale is a bad user experience.

Consumers aren’t going to spend hours trying to figure out how your website works to find a pair of shorts. It’s like putting something in the middle of a maze and expecting people to go look for it. They’re not interested in a scavenger hunt. They want to find what they want, and they want to find it quickly.

So if you’re in the consumer space, you’d be better off updating your site and improving that user experience as much as you can. Spend money improving your webpage load speed. Take time to design a simple site map that puts everything within a few clicks. Make sure a user is never more than three clicks from check-out and can easily get back to shopping or looking for additional items based on your recommendations.

Your website is your digital shop window and your best salesperson. You should invest money getting the most out of them that you can.

B2B and the value of education

When we come to B2B, things are slightly different. Yes, you still need a website. But your website is less about ease of use and encouraging impulse purchases with a fun idea than it is about providing education to leads.

This is because B2B is generally a more considered purchase that requires a longer lead time and more information to close a sale. No one is going to impulse buy a $100,000 per year piece of software, so a flashy website is less of an issue.

Here the goal is about education and information. You’ll need landing pages on your website that provide key information. Plus, you’ll want to spend more time and money getting yourself in front of prospects at the earliest opportunity—before they’ve even noticed they have a problem you can solve. And this comes down to advertising.

In B2B many of your leads are using social platforms like LinkedIn. They’re engaging in groups, asking questions and having conversations about business problems and how to solve them. So this is where you need to be.

B2B buyers are doing much of their own research before they ever land on a website with the intent to buy. By spending money on advertising that draws users to a landing page, which itself provides information on a particular problem they might be having and offering a solution, you’ll be more likely to make a sale. This is very different than a consumer purchase where the idea is to get them from a homepage to a product in a few clicks—which is not to say you can discount your website entirely. A poor website will always drive leads away, and you will always need landing pages. 

But you have to put more effort into convincing leads through advertising to come to that website in the first place.

Finding the balance and choosing your lane

Your website and your advertising are two important tools in your digital marketing arsenal. Like most things in marketing, where you spend your money comes down to your specific products, and services plus what you want to achieve. But as a general rule your website is a much more important tool if you’re in the consumer space and should be the priority. In B2B, most of your digital marketing will be about getting in front of your customers wherever they are. And that can be best achieved through advertising with effective landing pages.

Whichever way you go, keep your end goal in mind and focus on exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve.

Steve Krull is CEO of Be Found Online. If you have any questions or need digital marketing help, reach out on Twitter (@SteveKrull) or on LinkedIn.

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