Thinking about launching a digital advertising campaign?

That’s probably a good idea, but let’s make sure. Here are seven questions you should ask yourself before getting started.

Why are you doing this?

What is the overall goal of your digital advertising campaign? Lead generation and new business? Brand awareness? Clicks and website traffic? Engagement and conversions? E-commerce sales? Launching a digital campaign without clear, measurable goals is a waste of time and money. So before you get started, be sure to define the “Why” of your campaign.

Who’s your target audience?

Do you want to reach teenagers or the C-suite? Is your audience located in southern California or the Midwest? If you aren’t sure who your target audience is, or where they’re located, you can start by checking your Google Analytics geographic data to get an idea of where the bulk of your web traffic is coming from, or where your most engaged web traffic is coming from. You can also use the demographic data to see the age and gender breakdown—or even to learn more about their interests. Of course, the people who visit your website may not be your target audience for a digital campaign. You may want to reach new audiences—in which case you’ll have to conduct some research and work on personas.

What do you want your audience to do?

What action do you want them to take after they click on your ad? For example, if your goal is lead generation, you want them to call your office or fill out a contact form. In any case, a clear call-to-action is a must for a successful digital campaign.

Where are you sending traffic?

The destination of your campaign traffic largely depends on the overall goal. If you want visitors to complete an action or buy something, it’s wise to have a highly-targeted campaign landing page that’s built to support conversion. It’s usually unwise to just send campaign traffic to the homepage of your website—unless it’s optimized for your campaign goal.

What’s your budget?

Do you have a large advertising budget or are you working with more limited resources? Or maybe you don’t know what your budget should be. Budgets vary based on campaign goals, how much a lead is worth, and—most important—how much you stand to make from a new business contract, closed deal, or conversion. If you only make an average of $50 or so from a conversion, spending hundreds of dollars to generate a lead is unwise.

Have you done this before?

If you’ve run previous digital ad campaigns, this is a great time to take a look at the analytics and see how your ads performed. Did you generate quality leads? What was your conversion rate? Was the campaign profitable? If you haven’t run campaigns before, that’s OK. Just keep a close eye on your analytics this time around to be more prepared next time.

Finally, which platform should you choose?

paid search

Search network. Pay-per-click campaigns through Google’s search network are a great way to capture audiences in the moment when they’re looking for a solution and ready to take action. Success in the search network depends on many factors, including keywords, current competition, your budget, and your landing page.

Display ads. Google’s display network allows you to place ads on websites that are relevant to your audience. These ads offer a wide reach, and there’s a lot of flexibility as far as style and format are concerned. But the click-through rate for display campaigns is notoriously low (we’re talking under 1% CTR). Success in the display network depends on your goals, messaging, images, budget, and ad management settings.

  • Bonus: Remarketing. Within AdWords, you can create remarketing lists for users who visit your website or campaign landing page, but didn’t take a converting action.

Social Media

YouTube. YouTube ads are a great way to get your ads seen and heard by large audiences. There are six types of ads to choose from, and the performance benchmarks vary for each. One caveat: Overall, the effectiveness of YouTube ads can be hard to measure.

Facebook and Instagram. Advertising on Facebook and Instagram is a good way to engage targeted audiences with videos and/or content. This traffic is pretty easy to measure in Google Analytics, and the average click-through rate is around 0.90%.

Twitter. Promoted tweets allow you to buy space on timelines, search result, and trend result pages within Twitter. Twitter reports that these tweets average a click-through rate of 1-3%, with mobile engagement rates known to be even higher.

LinkedIn. With sponsored posts on LinkedIn, you can target based on location, industry, company size, company connections, and much more. On average, LinkedIn ads are driving a 6% conversion rate, and cost about $5 per click.

When planning your campaign, remember that no two ad campaigns are alike, and all the factors mentioned above will vary based on the nature of your campaign, your business, and your specific needs. Additionally, industry benchmarks and average click-through rates should be taken with a grain of salt, as each campaign’s success ultimately depends largely on the ad—and the conversion rate depends on your landing page experience.