The number of different digital advertising tools that modern marketers have at their disposal is truly remarkable. There are so many, in fact, that it can be overwhelming for people new to the digital game, and getting started can seem difficult. Fortunately, some basic understanding of a few fundamental terms and concepts can lead you out of the darkness.

Why Buy Ads When These Platforms Offer Free Pages?

Let’s start with a fair question that most people ask when considering social, PPC, or paid search advertising. Aren’t these platforms free? Why should I pay? While it’s true that it costs you nothing to start a business Facebook page or appear in Google searches, the harsh reality is that it will take lots of effort and luck to get great exposure organically. Your business’s name would have to appear on hundreds of web pages to crack the first page of most search engines, and you would have to amass thousands of Facebook followers and post dozens of times a day to get to the top of their algorithms. Even if you are successful in doing that, these platforms may actually punish you for being so prominent without giving them advertising dollars and bury you.

How Can I Most Effectively Reach My Target Customers?

On the bright side, digital campaigns can be tailored to almost any sized budget and reach huge audiences. Pay-per-click (or PPC) ads appear at the top of search engine pages. As the name would suggest, you pay each time someone clicks through the ad. This paid search approach can get a business on these engines’ front pages quickly and yield great results. The trick for a successful PPC campaign? Strong, specific keywords. When you place your ad buy, you are asked to include words that people would search for if they were looking for you. If you sell umbrellas, for example, good keywords would be “rain, umbrella, and collapsible.” You should also include negative keywords, which will narrow the search by excluding words or phrases. If you sell discount umbrellas, you might list “luxury, designer, or expensive” as negative keywords.

How Will I Know if I’m Achieving Results?

Analytics is the cherry on the top of PPC, digital, and social advertising. All platforms can show you (almost immediately) how well your ad is performing, with click-through data, and information about where the people who interact with your ad come from, and where they go after seeing it. Use this to gauge your success and tweak your strategy if necessary.

Don’t be intimidated by digital advertising. Once you understand these key concepts and terms, you’ll be able to dive in.