linkedin with keyboard background

Lead generation is essential to businesses, especially in B2B. Marketers are under more pressure to deliver results and contribute to the Sales pipeline. 

Many have turned to the most effective place, Linkedin, to solve their lead generation challenges.

As this report says, 80% all of all B2B social media leads comes from Linkedin. Marketers also say that Linkedin has generated them two times more leads than the next highest social media platform.

But how do you build a winning Linkedin lead generation campaign? 

In this guide, we will show you step-by-step how to generate more quality leads with Linkedin Ads. 

Table of content: 

      1. What is Lead Generation
      2. What is the biggest challenge in Lead Generation
      3. Why is Linkedin the best place for lead generation
      4. Why content marketing is important in lead generation
      5. The key type of content for lead generation 
      6. How to align your sales and marketing team 
      7. Choosing the right metrics to measure 
      8. Selecting the right objectives for lead generation
      9. Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #1: Target prospects with an active interest
      10. Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #2: Targeting priority accounts
      11. Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #3: Leverage Linkedin’s profile data
      12. Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #4: Use Linkedin’s Lead Gen Forms & Website Autofills
      13. Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #5: Integrating Sales Navigator with your Campaign Manager
      14. Optimisation Strategies #1: How to Optimise Lead Quality
      15. Optimisation Strategies #2: How to Optimise Your Targeting
      16. Optimisation Strategies #3: How to Optimise Your Creatives
      17. Optimisation Strategies #4: How to Optimise Your Lead Gen Forms
      18. Optimisation Strategies #5: How to Optimise Using Conversion Tracking
      19. Lead Scoring: How To Do Successful Lead Scoring
      20. Summary

    What is lead generation

    According to Optimizely, Lead generation is a process of capturing a prospect’s interest in your product or service. The eventual goal is to turn these interested prospects into closed-won sales.

    In most B2B lead generation campaigns, prospects would need to exchange their personal information for an offer. Some examples of offers would be an eBook, Whitepaper, Webinar, Event.

    Lead generation plays an important role in an increasingly self-guided buyer’s journey. Before a B2B prospect decides to buy, they will conduct their own research.

    They would read thought leadership articles, check product specs, compare brands, visit a provider’s website and discover what their peers are saying on a B2B social media like Linkedin.

    The buyer’s journey is not linear and complicated. This is where lead generation fits in. Throughout this journey, there are plenty of opportunities to capture their interest.

    Delivering the right content, at the right time on the right platform will dramatically increase your lead generation performance.

    What is the biggest challenge in lead generation

    B2B technology community did a survey across 800 B2B marketers and found the biggest challenge in lead generation is getting quality leads.

    It’s no surprise this came out as the largest challenge. Why? Because most B2B companies would have tried Facebook first when they’re starting out. Facebook is cheaper and has a larger audience compared to Linkedin.

    The issue here is that cheaper leads doesn’t mean better leads.

    Getting the right quality of leads is just as important. Not just the quantity. 

    Think about it: Would you rather have 1,000 leads with 0 conversions into an actual sale? Or would you rather have 10 leads with 2 converting at a $100,000 closed-won deal each? 

    This is why many B2B marketers are turning to Linkedin to find better quality leads.

    Why Linkedin is the best place to generate quality leads

    A survey done across global B2B marketers showed that the most successful B2B marketers rely on Linkedin to generate demand for their business. 


    Linkedin is the home to over 675 million professionals in the world. With the largest set of B2B data points, Linkedin offers every possible targeting a B2B marketer needs. 

    No other platform comes close to the accurate and scalable targeting of professionals. 

    targeting options on linkedin

    Marketers can select from targeting options like company name, job functions, job titles, member skills and more. 

    Check out this 12-min video by Linkedin ad veteran, AJ Wilcox, about advance targeting on Linkedin. 

    Linkedin has been rated as the #1 trusted platform compared against other social media giants.

    Based on Business Insider’s Digital trust report, Linkedin ranked highly on ad relevance, user experience, community, legitimacy and security. 

    Linkedin Trust Report

    This means that the environment in Linkedin is premium.

    Audiences are more open to engaging with ads and least likely to find it annoying. 

    If you want quality leads, choose the right environment to advertise in. In the case of B2B, Linkedin is your number 1 choice. 

    Going after cheaper clicks in platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram will not solve your demand generation struggles. 

    In fact, the opposite will happen. You’ll have tons of leads that no Sales team wants. Then you’ll probably struggle with a weak pipeline. Answering to your Management about this would be hard. 

    Why Content Marketing is important for lead generation? 

    In every successful lead generation strategy, there will always be content. 

    Different stages of the customer’s journey require different content. 

    Linkedin recommends you to split your budget by 60:30:10 (Reach: Nurture: Acquire). 

    why is content marketing important

    However, this split is just a guideline and might not be suitable for all businesses. 

    If you’re just starting out on Linkedin, your budget split should look like 70:30 (Reach: Nurture). The acquire stage is very costly. Putting all your budget here to cold traffic will not work.  

    You need to build your brand with thought leadership content. Once you’ve gained the mindshare and trust, then you can set aside a budget for acquire. 

    Blogs, infographics, trends and educational content works well if for awareness and reach. This is great for engaging your target audience. 

    Once you’ve built enough awareness, your target audience will start transitioning into the next phase which is looking for solutions. 

    Using client testimonials, ebooks, case studies and whitepapers would help in this stage. This builds brand credibility and keeps your company top of their minds. 

    Here’s the truth: Decision-makers are always-on and searching for ideas/solutions – Even on weekends! 

    89% of LinkedIn members said they researched anonymously during the first 6 months of the buying process. 

    If your company can be part of their research phase, you’ll win. 

    Help them with useful guides, thought leadership and content. Supporting them with blogs, in-depth guides and trends will open doors for your sales team. 

    The Key Type Of Content For Lead Generation

    Thought leadership. 

    Thought leadership wins business opportunities. If you have limited resources and time, then focus on thought leadership. It’ll transform your lead generation results for the better. 

    Here’s a 3-min video about what Thought leadership is. 

    Based on research by Edelman x Linkedin, thought leadership has led decision-makers to award businesses to an organisation. 

    That’s no surprise really. If you’ve established yourself as a thought leader, it means you are the go-to brand/person when prospects have problems or need new solutions. It means your brand is the first thing that comes to mind to your prospects. 

    Even though this sounds like common sense, Edelman’s research showed that only 26% of sellers believe that thought leadership will help – Shocking!

    Buyers/Prospects want more thought leadership content. 

    But sellers and marketers are not producing it. 

    So if you want to sell, stand-out from the competition and win more, the easiest formulae is to build your brand as a thought leader, with thought leadership content. 

    Statistics on thought leadership

    Is your brand a thought leader? 

    Identify where your brand stands as a thought leader with these questions: 

    • Is your brand considered the “gurus” and go-to people in your field? 
    • Is your content thorough and have a unique point of view? 
    • When your audiences read your content, do they say “I’ve never thought about it this way”? 
    • Is your brand actively writing, speaking and socialising in your areas of expertise? 
    • Do you feel like your brand is leading the conversation in your industry? 
    • Are mainstream publications approaching your brand to get your opinions? Are you keynoting at industry-respected conferences? 
    • Are you able to make complicated content uncomplicated? 

    Linkedin presented an ideal thought leadership funnel in their live Content Marketing Workshop: 

    Content Journey

    In this example, Fidelity investments launched content that is relevant at various stages of the prospect’s journey. 

    • Awareness stage: Fidelity used an informative blog post to help prospects confront common financial fears. This is a good way to introduce your brand by giving helpful advice through un-gated content. Audiences at this stage are likely just realising about their financial worries.
    • Interest stage: For prospects who are starting to think about financial planning, Fidelity provided data-proven ways to plan.
    • Consideration stage: Audiences here are likely aware of their problem and searching for solutions. This is a great stage to build credibility. Fidelity used customer stories to build trust.
    • Decision stage: When audiences want to make decisions, they need more information about the services/products. Fidelity addresses that with an infographic ad about why people choose them – Mainly features and benefits
    • Action stage: Audiences are hot here and ready to buy but Fidelity doesn’t slow down. They continue to be helpful by providing an ROI calculator for prospects. 

    Many companies mess these sequences up. I often see the majority of ad budgets placed in the decision and action stage. 

    Timing is off. Audiences are not ready to make a decision. That’s why your ROI calculators are not working well! Your audiences are just not ready. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to move budget away from decision and action stages. 

    Instead, spread them out wisely according to where your business is at. 

    If your marketing team is just starting out, then 80-90% of your efforts could be generating awareness and consideration. If you’ve already had a matured awareness/consideration campaign, then you could focus on decision/action stages. 

    After working on hundreds of Linkedin campaigns, the majority of companies are not doing their awareness/consideration stage well. 

    Different Content fits at different stages

    Every offer (content) you put out should always address the concerns in your prospect’s mind. 

    You can’t have one generic offer for all stages of the buyer’s journey. 

    Giving prospects a “Free Demo” isn’t useful when the prospect doesn’t even know they have a problem. Throwing an ROI calculator for everyone at every stage is not a great idea either. 

    Have a balance of content that addresses audiences at different stages of their buying journey. 

    How to align your sales and marketing team

    The biggest mistake most marketers make is launching their campaigns without getting feedback from Sales teams. 

    Since a marketer’s job is to generate demand for Sales, you’ll need to grasp what your sales teams need. 

    Bring them out for coffee. Talk to them. 

    Find out the following: 

    • Do they have enough leads to work with? 
    • Are they currently swamped with low-quality leads? 
    • Are they having difficulty closing their deals? 
    • What’s the current Sales narrative? 
    • Who’s their target audience? Be specific
    • Who is in the buying committee? Who do they need to influence to get the sale across? 
    • What are the job functions, titles and seniority of the buying committee? 
    • How does the sales team define a “sales conversion”? Is it an opportunity creation? Is it an event registration? Is it a demo sign-up? 
    • How long is the sales cycle? 
    • What does a “quality lead” mean to the sales team? 
    • Is marketing automation needed to further qualify the leads before sending them to sales? Is more nurturing needed before passing the leads to sales? 
    • What is the sales team’s response time to the leads? If it’s slow, find out why

    Questions for Sales

    If your sales team is frustrated with spending too much time following up on bad leads, then you should look at enhancing lead quality. 

    Use marketing automation and lead nurturing to move these leads down sales funnel. Pass to sales only when they have crossed certain “qualified” criteria that’s agreed with sales teams. 

    In some cases, Sales teams do not have enough leads to work with. That’s when you focus on getting a bigger volume of leads. 

    Consider retargeting too if the Sales team says that they are having difficulty closing deals faster. 

    Being crystal clear with your Sales team’s struggles is a big step forward. 

    This helps you build more trust with the Sales team. You’ll be seen as a revenue-driven marketer with the Sales team backing you. 


    Pro tip: Try acting as a “mystery Shopper”. Submit yourself as a lead and observe how fast your sales team reaches out. Hear how they pitch and see if it aligns with your marketing direction. 

    Choosing the right metrics to measure

    There are 4 main metrics you can use to measure the success of your lead generation. They might be called differently in different businesses but they usually fall in one of these categories. 

    • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) – This measures the quality of the leads. A lead is scored based on certain criteria (such as Job title, job function, seniority, company size). Companies with more advance Martech can also measure the lead’s behaviour. For example, a score is given based on their online engagement with your brand (Website visits, email opens, Content downloads etc). Once the score passes a defined threshold, they become MQLs.
    • Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) – These are leads with characteristics and behaviors that make it a relevant opportunity for sales, with the potential to turn into a deal. Most companies qualify a SAL based on the lead’s budget, authority, need and timeline (BANT). Some companies have their own method of calculating SALs.
    • Conversions – Looking at the number of leads that led to a closed deal. This might be difficult in large enterprise businesses. The lead might not be the final decision maker although he/she was key in opening the opportunity to the deal. Proper data input in CRM is needed by the Sales team which is highly unlikely. Thus, some companies are measuring by account engagement that led to the conversion.
    • ROI – It measures the dollar value of revenue that your leads helped to generate. 

    Marketers are under pressure to deliver a high volume of leads. However, the ultimate value is when these are quality leads as well. 

    B2B sales cycles are long. So it is challenging to prove effectiveness by just measuring the volume of leads. 

    MQL and SAL numbers need to be the main metrics to show in real-time the contributions of marketing. Ultimately, review the ROI figures on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis depending on your business. 

    Relate back and demonstrate how the quality of leads are driving value for the business. 

    Here are other important terms you need to take note of: 

    • CPL (Cost Per Lead). It refers to the cost (In dollar value) it takes to generate one lead. 
    • CRM (Customer Relationship Management). This is a software technology that helps manage and analyse interactions and data throughout the lifecycle. 
    • Lead Scoring – Marketers use this methodology to identify MQLs. 
    • Marketing Automation System – A technology that helps to nurture leads and prospects by automating marketing actions. 

    Selecting the right objectives for lead generation

    One of the important decisions you’ll need to make is the objective selection of your campaign. 

    Lead Generation Objectives on Linkedin

    If you’re running a lead generation campaign, choose either “Lead Generation” or “Website Conversions” objectives. 

    This helps Linkedin to show your ads more towards audiences who will perform your chosen actions. 

    When to use Lead generation objective: If you want to use Linkedin’s Lead Gen Forms, then this is the selection you need (More on that later). 

    When to use Website Conversions objective: If you want to drive traffic to your landing page and get the conversion on your site, then this is the selection to make (A useful addition would be adding a Linkedin Website Auto-fill button here. More on this later). 

    Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #1: Target prospects with an active interest

    Start with the easy wins by targeting prospects who already showed interest in your brand. People who have an existing relationship with your brand are the easiest to convert into a lead. 

    You can do this through 2 ways: 

    • Website retargeting
    • Contact list upload

    In website retargeting, you’ll need the Linkedin insight tag installed on your website. 

    The Linkedin insight tag is a light-weight javascript tag that powers website retargeting, conversion tracking and web analytics. 

    It’s free to install and you really should get to it if you have not. 

    You can access your insights tag through your campaign manager interface, where you run your Linkedin ads. 

    Linkedin Insight Tag Location

    Click on “Install My Insight Tag” and follow the installation steps. 

    Linkedin’s help desk provides more instructions on how you can add the Linkedin insights tag

    Once your Linkedin insight tag is active, you can create your website retargeting audience through these steps. 

    1. Open your campaign manager dashboard
    2. Click on “Account Assets”
    3. Select “Matched Audiences”
    4. Choose “Website” under the “Create Audience” tab

    matched audiences for website retargeting

    1. Name your Website audience
    2. To target all your website visitors, select “Start with this URL” and key in your home page address. 


    Another common use is to retarget web visitors of your resources or blog. 

    Include URLs that contain a specified text

    Select “Have URLs that contain the specific text”. Then choose the common text(s) in your blog or resource URLs. 

    This set-up also depends on how your website is structured. For most websites, there should be a standardized URL text the blog and resource pages use. 

    Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #2: Targeting priority accounts

    Next up, you could target businesses by account targeting. These are businesses that you’ve identified to have a relevant need for your business. They might not be showing interest in your company yet but they should be. 

    Work with sales for an Account-Based Account Marketing (ABM) strategy. You can upload up to 300,000 companies to target. 

    Segment your lists into three ways – Strategic ABM, ABM Lite & Programmatic ABM. 


    For the strategic ABM, Identify the 1,000 top high-value accounts and upload a matched audience for them. These will make up your top-tier strategic accounts. 

    Build your next 5,000-10,000 company target list. These would make up your ABM lite lists. 

    Any other accounts beyond the 10,000 mark will be bucketed into a Programmatic ABM list. 

    Follow these steps to upload your lists: 

    1. Open your campaign manager dashboard
    2. Click on “Account Assets”
    3. Select “Matched Audiences”
    4. Choose “List Upload” under the “Create Audience” tab


    1. Download list templates for accounts. Follow the format and upload it


    During your campaign set-up, you can add these matched audiences under the “Matched Audiences” selection. 



    The ideal audience size is 120,000 and above for good delivery and pacing.

    If your audience list is too small, I recommend not adding any filters. Instead, target to influence the entire companies. This happens a lot when you have less than 1,000 account names on your list. 

    You may use look-alike modeling to expand your audience too. Linkedin algorithms will find similar people to those you’ve defined in your targeting. Simply click on “Audience Expansion” in your targeting. 

    Pro Tip: 

    Aim for a match rate of about 85% and above for your account list. When filling in the account list template, ensure that the “company name” and the URL fields match those that are on Linkedin. Some companies have a different naming convention for their Linkedin company page which causes a mismatch. Any match rate below 50% is worrying and needs a redo. 

    Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #3: Leverage Linkedin’s profile data

    Once you’ve set-up the above campaign to capture the low hanging fruits, you’ll need to target a larger group of prospects who you don’t know about yet – and the prospects who don’t know enough about you. 

    Avoid hyper-targeting. You want to target a large group of potential buyers that you don’t have detailed information about. 

    Don’t use your gut-feeling on excluding audiences. If you do, you risk missing out on audiences who might be interested. Hyper-targeting will make your CPL increase too. Start broader then narrow after. 

    Choose a relevant but broad targeting option. 

    My recommendation is to try the following: 

    • Job function and seniority
    • Job function and member skills

    Don’t use job titles for a start. There’s a high chance you’ll be missing out on audiences. 

    Some prospects might have Job titles that are different from the ones you might expect. So if you hyper-target with job titles, they are going to be missed although they might be a fitting lead. 

    The only scenario I’ll use job titles is when I’m targeting a large region. If I can still get above 120,000 audience size with Job titles, then I might use it. Job titles are also the most expensive targeting because most marketers use job titles when they’re starting out on LinkedIn.

    Always keep testing different targeting as your campaign moves along. This will let you uncover different audiences and cover your total addressable market

    digital advertising targeting recommendations

    Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #4: Use Linkedin’s Lead Gen Forms & Website Autofills

    To generate a lead, a company needs to convince their prospects to share personal contact details. 

    A barrier to this action is the effort it takes for prospects to complete the online forms manually.

    Busy decision-makers are looking for intuitive, easy-to-complete form experiences.

    Enter: Linkedin Lead Gen Forms (LGF)

    LGFs removes barriers by pre-populating the form with Linkedin profile data. When a Linkedin member clicks on a CTA on an ad with an LGF form attached, a native form is automatically filled with prospect’s LinkedIn profile information. 

    All prospects need to do is click submit and a lead is generated for you. 

    In just a few clicks, busy decision-makers are able to engage with your brand. 

    Compared to manually filling in forms on your website, Linkedin lead gen form creates a seamless experience for your prospects. 

    You even have the option to add custom fields if needed. 

    I recommend using Linkedin lead gen forms in your campaigns. 


    Linkedin showed in different case studies that lead gen forms can get up to 3x better conversion rates. More amazing results and case studies of lead gen forms here

    If you’re doing lead generation on Linkedin, you have to test lead gen form. 

    To get the lead generation form option, you’ll need to select “Lead Generation” under the objectives. 

    Lead Generation Objectives on Linkedin

    These are the available ad formats for lead gen form campaigns. 


    If you’re just starting out, I recommend using Single Image ad. Have at least 4-5 ad creatives on rotation and a/b testing. 

    Launching multi-formats will also help your conversion rates. If your marketing budget is about USD $8,000/month, you could use $6,000 for Single Image Ad and another $2,000 for Message ad. 

    This strategy will ensure your lead gen offer surrounds your audience – Across their Linkedin newsfeed and personal Linkedin inbox. 

    Once you’ve created your campaign structure(s), you’ll need to create your lead gen form. 


    Here’s the assets you need to begin: 

    • Offer headline: 60 Characters
    • Offer detail: 160 Characters
    • Privacy policy URL
    • Privacy Policy text: I usually just put “Privacy Policy”. Not unless you have company-specific policy. Try to keep this as short as possible. 

    Next, select the fields that you require for your leads. Choose those that are essential only. 


    Less is more. 3-4 fields are good best practices. If you put too many fields, prospects might feel like that’s too much personal information to give. 

    It depends on your content/offer. For example, if it’s a highly sought after original research/trend, then asking for more fields makes sense. But if your offer is a generic eBook (Like your competitors’), then use lesser fields. 

    Try not to include fields requiring manual input as well. That adds friction to the process and increases your cost-per-lead. 

    A big ask for B2B businesses would be “Work Email”. Linkedin can’t guarantee a work email. Members still have the option to input their personal emails. 

    But what you can do, is to include a free-form custom question. This requires members to manually type their email in. They still have the option to fill in with their personal email but at least it forces them to consider giving work email instead. 

    Once your campaigns are live, you can download your lead via the lead gen form download page. 


    Once you’ve downloaded, you can manually upload them into your marketing automation system. 

    A more efficient way is to integrate your marketing automation tool directly with the lead gen form. These are all the automation tools that Linkedin supports. Review the instructions on the relevant platform on how to integrate. 

    If you are one of those businesses that won’t be able to use Linkedin Lead Gen form, you can add the Linkedin website auto-filled function on your website forms instead. Here’s a set-up guide for Linkedin website auto-fill. 


    This helps your visitors to fill out your form automatically by clicking on the “auto-fill with Linkedin”. 

    Linkedin Lead Generation Strategy #5: Integrating Sales Navigator with your Campaign Manager

    Are your sales teams using Sales Navigator? 

    Linkedin has a limited release that lets marketers target the saved leads in the Sales rep’s sales navigators. 

    This creates a highly relevant audience, where marketing is lock and step with sales. If you’re running an ABM strategy, this would be a fantastic opportunity. 

    While this might seem like the ultimate marketing tool, there are a few cons to it. 

    1. Sales reps need to save the leads diligently and cleanly. Most sales reps do not keep the saved leads in their sales navigator updated. Dirty data in, dirty data out. Marketing’s targeting will not be accurate if sales reps do not use their sales navigators properly. 
    2. Sales reps tend to only save the decision-makers and not the entire buying committee. This would mean that your marketing campaign would be hyper-targeted. You will face delivery issues. 

    The way to succeed with this is to work closely with your Sales operations team. You’ll need to design a strict playbook for your sales teams on using the Sales navigator. 

    Linkedin has made this a limited release because many companies can’t get their sales to follow this process. It is not in a sales person’s interest to keep their prospect data in sales navigator updated. 

    You’ll need to meet these criteria to qualify: 

    • Company has sales navigator enterprise edition
    • Sales navigators must have at least 2,500 – 3,000 saved leads at the minimum
    • The marketing team must already be spending above USD $5,000 in Linkedin marketing

    This was from 2018. So speak to your Linkedin rep for the latest updates if this is something that you want to explore. If you’re spending above USD $5,000/month, you’ll likely already be in contact with your rep already. 

    As the audience size is likely small, the best use case for this is to launch specific messaging for this group. You don’t need a lot of budgets here. The bulk of your budget should go into the wide targeting where more budget is needed to scale. 

    Optimisation Strategies #1: How to optimise lead quality

    When it comes to lead generation, what’s important is the quality of the leads. 

    Get feedback on the lead quality from your sales team. Once your sales team has contacted the leads, obtain their feedback. 

    Request for the most relevant feedback data such as number of appointments booked, number of leads who are not interested, what demographics are not relevant, how leads many converted to a sale. 

    Tie this back to your Lead generation offer. If your content was an eBook, whitepaper or report, then it’s highly likely most are not ready for a sales conversation. In this case, focus on getting feedback about the demographics of the leads. 

    If your offer was a Free Demo, then the key feedback you need is the conversion rate from lead submission to a demo. 


    optimisation question for lead quality from sales team

    If you have multiple campaigns with different audiences, you may start to redistribute budgets. Move budgets to the higher-performing campaigns and stop lower-performing ones. 


    Optimisation Question on trageting to generate quality leads

    For companies with a shorter sales cycle, you can identify if leads from your campaign have led to sales conversions. Calculate the total value of the deal to measure ROI. 

    For longer sales cycles, you may calculate the next closest “sales conversion” to get a sense of the ROI. For example, you can calculate how many sales meetings were generated from the leads. 

    linkedin ads sales conversion optimisation question

    For most companies, you’ll likely have marketing activity running on other channels.

    Check the lead quality from those channels as well. Though costs may be higher on Linkedin compared to other platforms, the higher quality leads on Linkedin may lead to larger deal sizes and better ROI. 

    Optimisation Question on lead quality from other channels

    Optimisation Strategies #2: How to optimise your targeting

    1. Do not hyper-target. This will exclude people who could turn into leads and eventually customers. Test targeting against a larger audience and narrow from there based on CPL and lead quality feedback.
    2. Set up different campaigns that have different targeting. Track the effectiveness of lead generation and redistribute the budget to campaigns delivering low CPL and high lead quality. 
    3. Use Matched Audiences. As mentioned in earlier chapters, you can look at subscribers to your blog, existing customers and lead who have shown interest in the past. These prospects are familiar with your brand and are more likely to become a lead. 
    4. Turn off “Audience Expansion” for the start of your campaigns. You want to keep your targeting tight before you expand. Have at least 100k audience size when you first start off. If you’re starting with small audience size, then leverage the lookalike audience to reach a larger number of people with similar characteristics as your buyers. 
    5. Use your website Demographics to view the demographics of visitors to your site. You’ll be able to view the professional demographics of your website visitors. Change your targeting to reflect the same demographics you see on your site. Or, if your website demographics are not showing relevant data, add them as an exclusion. 

    Optimisation Strategies #3: How to optimise your creatives

    1. When targeting is broader, it will include audiences who are unfamiliar with you. Your creatives need to keep this in mind. Position your creatives to generate demand – Not only leads. Avoid using industry jargon. Keep it high level and understandable. Adding a logo or brand-related element to your creative help.
    2. Make your creative compelling and clear. Call-out your audiences in your creatives. You can use their profession, seniority or even geography in your creatives. For example: “Hear how HR Leaders in Australia are …..”
    3. Make sure your headlines tell people what they’re signing up for. The last thing you need is someone clicking in without understanding what your offer is. That’s wasting your ad budget. Be clear on the offer and why they should click in. If you’d like them to “Download” an eBook, state it in the CTA button. You may even include it in the creative itself. Make use of your intro text to tell your audience the offer too. For example: “Download our 2020 research on…”
    4. Namedrop whenever possible. If your whitepaper or eBook contains certain big names, put them in your intro text. For example: “See how top brands like Microsoft, Amazon, Uber win….” A more advance step is to contextualise the namedropping to your audience’s industry. You can also namedrop by individuals. For example: “We interviewed top CMOs like Satya Nadella, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma about…. Hear what they have to say – Download the full interview”. Namedropping can also be using logos on your creative itself. Social proof works on social media platforms, especially on Linkedin. 
    5. Keep your copy short, but sweet. Cut down unnecessary words and phrases. Ensure your intro text is below 150 characters to avoid truncation on the mobile version.
    6. A/B test your creatives. Always have 4-5 creatives active at any one time. Turn off, duplicate and replace under-performing creatives with new ones. The more nets you cast, the more you’ll catch.
    7. Write for one audience/customer. If you write for everyone, it will appeal to no one. Be relevant to your buyer persona and address their specific pain-points.
    8. Use numbers and statistics in your creatives. Figures and numbers attract attention. For example: “97% of CEOs say that …. Download the whitepaper now”. 
    9. Linkedin does not have a text overlay limit like Facebook. Make use of this. Test of an all-text creative. It might work when everyone else are adopting images. 

    Optimisation Strategies #4: How to optimise your Lead Gen Forms

    1. Run awareness ads alongside (or before) your lead gen form campaigns. This helps create familiarity with your brand and products.
    2. Have a strong nurture strategy in place. This could be aligning your Sales rep’s outreach message to the lead gen form message. Or it could be ensuring a 7-8 step email follow-up cadence to your leads.
    3. Lead gen forms do not take prospects to your landing page. So you have to be clear in your ad copy what your offer is. Entice them with enough information so they submit their details.
    4. Ensure that the lead gen form copy reiterates the offer. Remind them how awesome your offer is. Make it irresistible because this is the final step before you get their details. 
    5. Create multiple lead gen forms for different target audiences. This lets you a/b test which angles will produce more quality leads.
    6. Include a custom question on the form if needed to ensure leads meet specific criteria. The most common use case is for work emails. You can also include “Preferred time to be contacted”.

    Important Note: This will impact your CPLs and cause it to skyrocket. But your lead quality will improve. Weigh the pros and cons before you decide.

    In the Thank You section of your lead gen form, make the next steps clear. For example, state that once the member submits their details, the whitepaper will be sent to their email. Members will know exactly what to expect. If the offer was a free demo or call, indicate when you will be reaching out to them. 

    Optimisation Strategies #5: How to optimise using conversion tracking

    1. Ensure that the customer journey on the landing page is smooth. Since your objective is a form fill, the form should be easily accessible. Members shouldn’t need to make additional clicks or scroll too much to find your landing page form.
    2. Check that the landing page includes sufficient information. Arrange the information in an organised format.
    3. Reduce the number of form fields on your landing page if possible. Use only the essential must-have fields. Having too many fields will cause more friction for a lead submission. 
    4. If you must have a long-form, then use a multi-step form.
    5. 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes 3 seconds to load. Check that your pages load quickly.
    6. Use the insight tag to evaluate which segments of audiences are performing well. Refocus your budget on campaigns that are promising. 

    Lead Scoring: How To Do Successful Lead Scoring

    Lead scoring is a method used for ranking leads based on their sales-readiness. 

    A lead scoring system enables you to determine the prospect’s level of interest in your company. This information is useful to find out whether they are ready to be handed over to sales teams. 

    1. As mentioned in the introduction, you’ll need to determine your ideal buyer persona. 
    2. Keep your sales and marketing teams aligned on the criteria of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). If your sales teams want senior marketing professionals, then a lead that has “VP” and “Digital Marketing” in their title would be an MQL. 
    3. Set-up integration with your marketing automation system (MAS). This allows your leads to flow into your automation system for scoring. Sales teams can easily access the leads for outreach and nurture. 

    There are 2 options to design a lead scoring model. You may combine both together as well.  

    1. You can score leads by the behaviour they exhibit. For example, if a lead has request to be contacted by sales or has signed up for a free trial, these activities could be consider high-scoring. 
    2. The other common way is by demographics. Once you have a clear buyer persona, leads can be evaluated by demographics such as job title, seniority, job function, location, industry or company size. 

    Assign a lead score between 1 to 100 based on fit, engagement with your company and propensity to buy. Rotate across different ad formats, features, creatives and targeting. Keep testing and improving the quality of leads. 

    Quick Recap: 

    This has been an extremely long article. So here’s a highlight on what was discussed: 

    • Align with your sales teams on the buyer persona, content and go-to market strategy
    • Measure the right metrics. It’s not about the quantity of leads, it’s about the quality of it
    • Linkedin is the best place for lead generation at the moment. 
    • Use thought leadership as your content. 
    • Set-up your lead gen campaigns by choosing either website conversion or lead gen objectives
    • 5 lead generation strategies that includes matched audiences, retargeting and lead gen forms. 
    • 5 optimisation strategies that cover lead quality, targeting and creatives. 
    • Tying it all together with a proper lead scoring model. 

    Have you ever tried some of these strategies? If yes, we’d love to hear about your experiences with them! Leave a comment below. 

    If you are still unsure about LinkedIn ads, you can sign up for our LinkedIn Sales and Marketing course for a comprehensive 2-day workshop on LinkedIn marketing. However, Digital Marketing encompasses many other important components apart from LinkedIn Ads. At Equinet Academy, we address that by incorporating the core modules of :

    and an optional Capstone Practicum Project to be a Certified Digital Marketing Strategist (CDMS). This will arm you with the appropriate knowledge with actionable strategies for your next Digital Marketing campaign.

How much does it cost to advertise on facebook header image

The fundamentals of Facebook advertising is based on an “Auction Model”. What this means is that you are essentially competing with other people that are advertising on Facebook (also known as “Advertisers”), and the highest bid wins.

On average, what we have seen is that the CPC (cost per click) cost for Facebook advertising ranges from $0.23 SGD to $5.15 SGD per click. Similarly, the CPM (cost per 1000 impression) cost for Facebook advertising ranges from $2.07 SGD to $59.72 SGD per CPM.

So the short answer is that the cost of advertising on Facebook really depends on many different factors. There’s no single fixed cost figure that you can accurately benchmark with.

Generally, Facebook charges its ads on a CPM basis (cost per 1000 impressions). Let’s take a $4 CPM as an example. What this is saying is that you are paying Facebook $4 to reach out to 1000 people.

Cost VS Spend

The important distinction to be made here is the difference between the cost VS spend of Facebook advertising.

Cost: The amount that you are getting charged for the ads (cost per 1000 impressions). This is determined by Facebook.

CPM Example

Spend: The amount that you are willing to pay for the ads (daily spend). This is determined by you in the ads manager.

Budgeting Example

Let’s take for example that you have $5 per day to buy Apples. This is your spend, which is the total amount that you are willing to fork out to buy apples.

Example 1: On Monday, there are many people buying apples. Because of this, the fruit store charges you $1 per apple. Therefore with $5, you are only able to buy 5 apples.

Example 2: On Tuesday, there are lesser people buying apples. Because of this, the fruit store charges you $0.5 per apple. Therefore with $5, you are able to buy 10 apples.

Let’s translate the example of the apple back to Facebook advertising. You are able to set your spend per day ($5) and Facebook will deliver to you the cost ($0.5 per apple) based on the competition of ads on that day.

So with $5 per day of spend, your ads delivered to a certain amount of people based on the competition on that day.

You are definitely able to set your cost on Facebook (let’s say that you are only willing to pay $0.2 per apple). Facebook will take your cost and put that figure into its Auction Model.

If your selected cost is too low (hence losing out on the auction), then Facebook will not deliver your ads on its platform at all.

Losing Auction Example

When you are first starting out on Facebook marketing, it’s highly recommended to let Facebook determine your cost automatically, while you set a strict daily budget on your marketing spend.

Are Facebook Ads Free?

Sadly, Facebook ads are not free. To run ads on Facebook, you need to spend money on the ads to reach out to users on the Facebook platform.

The good news is that you are able to start Facebook marketing with just $1 SGD per day! That’s the minimum that Facebook requires to run ads if your chosen currency is SGD.

For other countries currencies, the minimum is $0.5 per day.

Minimum Spend Example

In short, you have to pay for Facebook ads.

How Much Is A Sponsored Post On Facebook?

A sponsored post on Facebook is a Facebook ad. How much you wish to spend on that sponsored post is entirely up to you. You can spend $10, $50 or even $5000 per day.

But do take note that the minimum that you need to spend for a sponsored post is $1 per day (on a CPM basis).

Do Facebook Sponsored Ads Work?

There must be a reason why so many people are marketing on Facebook.

Take a look at all of the brands and businesses that are doing Facebook advertising:

You can even put in your competitor’s Facebook page and Facebook will show you a list of ads that they are currently running.

Here’s the list of Facebook ads that Equinet Academy is using to acquire customers on Facebook.

Equinet Academy Ads Example

What Factors Influence Facebook Advertising Costs?

There are quite a few factors that will influence your Facebook advertising costs. Here are the most common factors:

  • Placement of Ads (where your ads will be shown)
  • Objective of Ads
  • Age
  • Geographical Location
  • Interest & Behaviour
  • Time Period
  • Relevancy

1.   Placement of Ads

From the Facebook advertising platform, you are able to select where you want your ads to be shown. There are 4 main channels which you can choose:

  • Facebook
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Instagram
  • WhatsApp

If we compare the 2 most popular channels (Facebook & Instagram), the costs of advertising will be different.

FB VS IG Placements Examples

According to an industry report published by Adstage, the average CPMs for Facebook & Instagram channels for Q1 2019 are:

So you can see that it’s cheaper to run ads on Instagram as compared to Facebook.

2.   Objective of Ads

There are 11 different objectives when you are running Facebook ads. These objectives are:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App Installs
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation
  • Messages
  • Conversions
  • Catalogue Sales
  • Store Visits

FB Ads Objective Examples

The objectives that you chose will impact the cost of Facebook ads. Why? Because the audiences in some objectives are more valuable as compared to audiences in other objectives.

What Facebook has done is that they have segregated their users into distinct groups. They know which group of people are most likely to engage on an ad (liking, sharing, commenting) VS which group of people are most likely to buy an item online.

Let’s take the Engagement objective VS Catalogue Sales objective.

  • Engagement Objective: Asking users to engage with your ad (like, share or comment)
  • Catalogue Sales Objective: Asking users to buy after seeing your ad (make a purchase from your e-commerce store)

Naturally, the Catalogue Sales objective is a more valuable action as compared to an Engagement Objective. As you are asking the users to make a purchase on your website.

Advertisers will spend more to reach out to the valuable audience (catalogue sales objectives), hence increasing the cost of Facebook ads to reach out to this group of people.

3.   Geographical Location

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but different countries will have different Facebook advertising costs.

Geographical Locations Example

Generally, countries such as USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore (and even more) have historically high CPMs as compared to other countries such as India, Pakistan, Egypt etc.

The reason? Supply and demand. Facebook advertising works on an auction model. So the more advertisers you have competing for inventory, the higher your Facebook advertising costs will be. Likewise, the fewer advertisers a country has, the lower the competition and hence the Facebook advertising costs will be cheaper.

But before you are thinking of running ads to take advantage of the lower cost in the cheaper countries, take a step back and consider if it makes sense for your business to advertise to these countries. For example, if you are a plumbing contractor based in Singapore, you can only service clients within Singapore. Hence, advertising to other countries (apart from Singapore) is not something that you should be doing.

4.   Time Period

The time in which you run your ads also affects the cost of Facebook advertising. Historically, Q4 of the year is usually the most expensive period to be running ads. This is because users are in a “holiday mood” and hence they are more willing to spend. Competition increases dramatically during Q4 and this results in higher advertising costs.

Likewise, seasonality affects the cost of Facebook advertising too. We have seen costs rising 3-4 weeks before major events such as:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Christmas Day
  • 11:11 Singles Day
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday

Remember that the cost to advertise on Facebook is always based on competition. The more advertisers you have, the more expensive the costs will be.

5.   Relevancy

The relevancy of the ads also matters. As an example, if you are running an ad targeting people that has an interest in Yoga, and your ads are also promoting Yoga, this means that your ad is highly relevant.

The inverse could happen whereby if you are running an ad targeting people that like Yoga, but your ad is about rock climbing. This implies that your ad is not relevant to the audience that you are trying to reach.

Here’s the official statement by Facebook on Ad Relevancy: “Put simply, the higher an ad’s relevance score is, the less it will cost to be delivered. This is because our ad delivery system is designed to show the right content to the right people, and a high relevance score is seen by the system as a positive signal.

To check on your ad relevancy, you have to serve the ads a minimum of 500 impressions. Facebook will then let you know your ad relevancy from a scale of 1 to 10. (10 being the most relevant, 1 being the least relevant).

If you are still unsure about Facebook ads, you can sign up for our Facebook Ads course for a comprehensive 2-day workshop on Facebook marketing. However, Digital Marketing encompasses many other important components apart from Facebook Ads. At Equinet Academy, we address that by incorporating the core modules of :

and an optional Capstone Practicum Project to be a Certified Digital Marketing Strategist (CDMS). This will arm you with the appropriate knowledge with actionable strategies for your next Digital Marketing campaign.

Sneaky ways to spy on your competitor's facebook ads feature image

Always wanted to find out what are your competition is doing on Facebook?

Now you can.

With these 4 tips, you can potentially uncover a treasure trove of information that you can potentially use to optimize your ads.

Method 1: Info & Ads Section Of Your Competitor’s Facebook Page

Because of the not too recent Cambridge Analytica controversy, of which 87 million users data were mined and used for political ads, Facebook opted for a more transparent approach with their users.

Launched back in June 2018, Facebook has now made available for any user to view the ads that are currently running (doesn’t include historical ads) on any Facebook page.

To view this on the desktop, go your competitor’s Facebook page and click on the “See More” section at the bottom right hand portion under Page Transparency.


You would see the ads that your competitors are currently running. To do that, click on Go to Ad Library on the bottom right.

Take Equinet Academy as an example. They are currently running FB ads to get signups for their a few of their digital marketing (SkillsFuture approved) courses. Take a look at their ad copy and image creative. Are these information that you can potentially take reference and improve on for your own business?

It’s also worth while to notice if your competitor is directing their paid traffic to a specific landing page that is created just for their Facebook ads.


Method 2: Reverse Engineer Their Targeting

An important component of Facebook marketing is that of detailed targeting. Targeting allows you to show your ads to highly relevant people, and this will usually lead to better conversions. That’s the beauty of Facebook as compared to the other ad platforms out there.

Let’s assume that you are selling dog related products such as dog food and puppy treats.,

With Facebook ad platform, you can choose “Dogs” as an interest targeting. This show your ads to people who have an interest in dogs in particular. Finding these interest are usually a trial and error method, but there’s actually a simpler solution.

To reverse engineer your competitor’s ads targeting with a few quick steps. Just a caveat, the information provided is actually quite limited.

Step 1) Navigate to your competitors’ ads. Click on the 3 buttons at the top right hand corner of the ad. In this example, I chose to examine Castlery.


Step 2) Click on “Why Am I Seeing This?” button

Castlery 2

Step 3) Check out what targeting are they using to target you (or your potential customers).

Castlery 3

In this case, Castlery is targeting me because I have visited their website before. It’s a remarketing strategy that Castlery is using. You are able to create such custom audiences for your ads within Facebook’s Business Manager -> Audiences section.

Try it out for different ads. You will see different targeting parameters such as”Furniture”, “Interior Design”, “Audience Similar To Their Customers” and many more.

This will give you an indication of what kind of targeting that your competitors are currently using for their Facebook ads.

Method 3: Be Served With More of Their Ads

What better way to spy on your competitors than to be served with more of their ads.

There’s method of doing this.

The trick is to let Facebook know that you have interested in their type of ads and would want to see more of them. And the way to configure this is to manage your ads preferences directly from your Facebook account.

Step 1) After clicking “Why am I seeing this”, go to “Manage Your Ad Preferences”

Manage Ad Preference FB

You will be able to see your different interests that Facebook has categorized of you. This is based on their machine learning algorithm, along with your historical interaction of Facebook ads.

Step 2) Navigate to the interest that most closely aligns with your competitor

Fb interests

Taking Castlery as an example, the most relevant interest will be that of “Furniture”.

Step 3) Click on the “Furniture” interest


There will be a popup box which will prompt you with more information on “Furniture” as an interest. You will be able to see examples of ads that are currently serving to this particular interest.

This is a good opportunity to spy on more of your competitors’ ads too.

Step 4) Click on the “Smiley” icon



Now Facebook knows that you have a keen interest in the “Furniture” cateogry and they should be serving you more furniture related ads in the future.

This will help you to view more of your competitor ads.

Method 4: “+” Hack links are a great way to mask those long URLs into a nice & short variant. Also, they are an effective marketing tool to track your links effectively.

However, did you know that your stats are available to anyone?

This can be achieved by:

  • Taking the shortened link
  • Adding a “+” symbol at the end of the link
  • Visiting that link with that “+” symbol on any web browser

Let’s take WhizComms (a virtual broadband provider based in Singapore) for example.


Did you see that they are running ads to a landing page? And the landing page is shortened with link.
Copy the shortened link, add a “+” symbol to it and paste it on your web browser. You will be directed to the analytics page.

There are a few interesting insights that you can get from this.

  1. How long has this ad been running? The longer the ad has been running, naturally it means that the ad is effective. I have seen ads that are running for more than 2 years.
  2. The number of clicks that has been generated. This gives an indication of the amount that your competitor is paying on a daily basis.
  3. Are they doing selective optimization of the ads? For example, is the ad running more aggressively on the weekdays VS the weekends?

The same will work for any shortened link in general (, etc). Give it a go and see what interesting insights that you can find.


Similar to other digital marketing channels, running ads on Facebook costs money. With these 4 hacks to quickly spy on your competitor’s Facebook ads, you can reduce your learning curve and the amount of money that you spend learning on this advertising channel.

If you’re looking to dive into the Facebook Ads platform, check out our hands-on 2-day Facebook Advertising Core Competencies course. Get face to face training and real time consultation with an industry expert, peer to peer learning and interaction, and hands-on practical learning sessions that enable you to take away actionable strategies you can implement right after training.

Apart from Facebook Advertisement, we also cater to the other aspects of Digital Marketing under the core modules of :

Coupled with the optional Capstone Practicum Project that has the learner applying actionable strategies for the digital campaigns, this holistic Digital Marketing programme will lead up to a Certified Digital Marketing Strategist (CDMS).

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is intent-based advertising that can help advertisers gain high quality traffic to their websites.

Unlike Search Engine Optimisation which focuses on increasing your organic search rankings on search engines like Google and Bing, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), on the other hand, requires you to pay to play on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This is why SEM is also commonly referred to as Paid Search.

Organic vs paid search results

Pay to play?

Paid Search relies on an auction model to decide which advertisers stand a chance to show their ads on SERPs, and also the ranking order in which their ads appear. To participate in the auction, advertisers key in a Cost-Per-Click bid, an amount they are willing to part with when searchers click on their ads. This is also the reason why you would’ve also heard terms such as “buying keywords”, “bidding for keywords”, or “Pay Per Click (PPC)” being thrown around when discussing about SEM campaigns in general.

In order for ads to show on the SERPs, advertisers must enter the following into a Paid Search platform such as Google Ads (formerly also known as Google AdWords):
1) Keywords
2) Ad Copy
3) Landing Page
4) Maximum Cost-Per-Click Bid

Infographic to show relationship between advertisers and consumers

The SEM auction

The two main components that most major Paid Search platforms take into consideration at the time of the ad auction are your Maximum Cost-Per-Click (CPC) Bid, and a Quality Score factor. (more on what Quality Score is in just a bit) In the following scenarios, we’ll examine what happens in the absence of a Quality Score factor, and how a Paid Search platform such as Google Ads takes these two components will be multiplied to form an equation called Ad Rank :

1) Scenario #1: Paid Search auctions are based purely on Max CPC Bids advertisers are willing to pay, WITHOUT taking the Quality Score into consideration.

keyword bidding process illustration

Result: Advertisers will be purely ranked on the SERP according to who can pay the highest dollar.

Possible Outcomes:
i) Advertisers with the most financial muscle can manipulate and dominate ALL search queries, whether relevant or irrelevant to their business
ii) Searchers will be frustrated as the SERPs will turn into a “spam”- like environment where results are not closely related to their search intent

2) Scenario #2: Paid Search auctions are based on Ad Rank, taking both Max CPC Bids and Quality Score into account.

Infographic on auction taking into account of quality score as well, reshuffling the order of the advertisers

Result: Ad Rank ensures that the auction creates a fair and optimised experience for searchers through the use of a Quality Score factor as a multiplier. (We’re leading up to what makes up a Quality Score in just a bit, bear with me!)

Outcome: While advertisers who have deep pockets will still have an upside against advertisers by keying in higher Max CPC bids, with Quality Score coming into play, smart advertisers can still stand a fighting chance by maximising their Quality Score to achieve a higher Ad Rank and ad position.

Components of the Quality Score

We all want to be that smart advertiser that pays less but ranks on a higher position. To do that, it is important to understand what makes up the Quality Score to make your advertising dollars work harder for you.

i) Landing Page Experience

Does your landing page content resonate with the searcher’s query, and the ad copy that was shown to them?

is the landing page relevant to the search query?

ii) Ad Relevance

Does your ad copy resonate with the searcher’s query? Have you included a Call-to-Action (Sign up, Learn more, Download now. etc) in your ad copy to encourage clickthroughs?

example of a call to action shown in an serp

iii) Expected Clickthrough Rate

Google Ads takes into account how well your keyword has performed in the past, based on your ad’s position. Note that this is a prediction based on what Google sees in your account and across all advertisers so you do not have much control over this, but rather, take this as a signal to help you assess whether your keywords lack relevancy or specificity.

example of clickthrough rate

Keyword Research and Targeting

Last but not least, similar to SEO, keyword research is a key determinant of your success with SEM campaigns. Your ads will have limited visibility if you are too conservative with your keyword targeting. Conversely, you could start racking up high advertising costs without seeing any tangible results if you’re too liberal with the keywords you bid for.

The most important thing when you decide if a keyword is worth bidding for on Paid Search is intent.

Intent is when someone is searching for midnight food options when they’re up watching the World Cup, or when someone has car troubles and needs a reliable workshop to have a look. Intents are business opportunities.

Getting Started with SEM

If you’ve reached this part of the article, you would have attained a basic understanding of how SEM works. To gain an overview of what else you need to take note of for SEM, Google has produced a series of bite-sized videos for your viewing.

If you’re not sure where to start on researching and building your keywords list, here are some keyword research and analysis tips from the pros. We understand that self-learning is not for everyone – if you’d prefer a guided and structured method of learning, do check out our 2-Day instructor-led Google AdWords Fundamentals Certification Course *. Not only do we help prepare you for the Fundamentals Certificate Examination*, our instructors also impart real-world best practices, tips, and share stories of their own experiences.

*To become AdWords certified, you need to pass the AdWords Fundamentals assessment and one of the additional advertising assessments that are available through Academy for Ads. The additional assessments are Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising, and Shopping Advertising. For more information, visit here.

If you’re new to digital advertising, you may have heard about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and a variety of buzz words related to internet marketing or digital marketing being thrown around. As a beginner, the unfamiliarity of the terms can be somewhat overwhelming. Fret not – by the end of this article you’ll have a better handle on what PPC is, and what it can do for your business.

Let’s start with a quick overview.

PPC – Pay only when someone clicks

In traditional advertising, you pay a fixed fee for an ad space on a magazine or newspaper. These ad spaces normally don’t come cheap, so you often have to invest a significant chunk of moolah without knowing for sure that anyone is even going to see your ad.

Cost estimate of a traditional newspaper advertisement

For reference, the cost of a full colour display style advertisement on The Straits Times in the smallest available size on a Monday costs an estimated $10k. That’s a lot of cash to cough up for a small business!

PPC advertising is a digital advertising model where you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. Google AdWords is one of the most popular platforms for this, but Bing and Facebook (and many others) also use this advertising model.

The Advantages of PPC

PPC offers several advantages over traditional advertising. It does away with the price-entry barrier in two ways:

  1. There is no minimum amount to get started. You can make a small one time top up of $10 to get your feet wet experimenting with running some ads, or you can jump in with $1000. You decide how much you can spend, based on whatever budget you have to work with.
  2. You only pay if someone clicks on your ad. The amount you pay each time someone clicks on your ad is called your cost-per-click (CPC). Sounds like a good deal right?

It’s a great advantage to be able to pay as much or as little as you want. For small business owners, this means you can start with a small budget to see how your ads perform.

Herein lies a third advantage to digital over traditional advertising – data. With traditional advertising, it is often a massive guessing game. Fire away at a few platforms. If you have a sudden influx of customers, there is no way to know if they came because of an ad you invested in, or whether it was because an influential but random somebody decided to recommend your business to all their friends.

Many platforms such as Google AdWords are able to track clicks and conversions. A conversion is defined as the visitor completing an action that’s valuable to you, the marketer. After the initial set-up, Google AdWords is able to tell you if a click resulted in the visitor accomplishing your intended goals. Quick example – let’s say after running your ad for a week, 100 people click on your ad for basketball shoes. Google AdWords will be able tell you that 10 people bought shoes from your website (10 conversions) after clicking your ad, for a conversion rate of 10% (a little high, but this is just for illustrative purposes).

By now you should be starting to see the power of digital marketing. If they perform well, scale them up. If not, refine. Let’s take the example further. Deciding that your ad can do better than that, you roll your sleeves up and flex your creative muscle. After running your ad for another week, you have another 100 clicks. This time, 20 people have bought your shoes (20 conversions). Your conversion rate has jumped to 20%! You then pop a bottle of champagne and congratulate yourself on a job well done.



Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Just as ad spaces charge differing amounts based on readership, so too can your costs go up or down depending on competitors. It is possible to get clicks for as low as 10 cents, and though rare it is also not unheard of for CPCs to go above $100 per click. For a more detailed overview of digital advertising strategy, check out this digital marketing strategy guide. However, if you are interested to find out more about Digital Marketing, you can consider in enrolling and completing the Certified Digital Marketing Strategist (CDMS) programme that includes all 6 core Digital Marketing modules and an optional Capstone Practicum Project offered by Equinet Academy. The modules include :


Digital Advertising Strategy Flowchart

What is Digital Advertising?

Digital Advertising is a medium of digital marketing that uses any form of digital ads to deliver marketing messages including, but not limited to display and video adverts, paid search, mobile, and social ads to a brand’s target audience.

In a 2017 survey done by KPMG, the online global ecommerce area is now valued at USD$1.9trillion. The average number of online transaction per person, per year in Asia is 22.1. To stand out in such a saturated market, digital advertising is one of the most efficient techniques. There are many efficient techniques to drive traffic and generate leads. However, without careful planning and evaluation, it may not be cost-effective. Without a strategy to manage KPI and optimise deliverables, falling short of business objectives is inevitable.

This guide developed by Equinet Academy will take you through our 5-step process for developing a digital advertising strategy. Applying a framework can provide you with a more concise vision of the outcomes and a more structured approach when developing and executing digital advertising campaigns.

5-Step Digital Advertising Framework

5-Step Digital Advertising Framework

Note: The above framework does not have to be executed in running order.

  1. Analyse and define: Define digital advertising campaign objectives and customer profiles, perform clickstream analysis, and benchmark against competitors.
  2. Determine digital advertising channels and tactics: Select appropriate digital marketing channels and tactics based on the parameters defined in phase one.
  3. Campaign setup and implementation: Create and launch digital advertising campaigns via Google AdWords, Facebook Adverts, etc.
  4. Gather data: Go through digital advertising campaign reports and analyse metrics such as conversions, conversion rates, click-through-rates, and ad scheduling.
  5. Optimise: Develop an optimisation plan including A/B split testing, reselecting digital advertising channels, and targeting different audiences.

How it all connects together.

Digital Advertising Strategy Flowchart

Digital Advertising Strategy Flowchart

1. Analyse & Define

In this phase, the key objectives are to ensure that there is alignment between the customer needs/wants and business goals where, lacking this alignment, one may end up developing digital advertising campaigns that result in low returns.

These are some areas we want to focus on in this phase:

  • Customer Decision Journey
  • Customer Persona
  • Clickstream Data
  • Competitive Research
  • Digital Advertising Campaign Objectives

Understanding the Consumer Decision Process

In order to create alignment, we first need to understand the consumer decision process or customer buying journey. This will influence which digital advertising channels we will target, what type of ad creatives to create, how we design our landing pages, etc, etc.

Customer Decision Process

Customer Decision Process

The 5-Step Customer Decision Process:

  1. Needs recognition: The customer journey begins with the consumer recognising the need for a solution to a problem. The marketing team can make known of the problem/solution and prompt the consumer to initiate action through digital advertising initiatives.
  2. Information search: After recognising a need, the consumer may look for relevant information through search engines, friends and family, sales consultants, directories, and the mass media. Should the consumer be able to obtain relevant information, he or she may proceed on to the next few phases of the customer decision process.
  3. Evaluation of alternatives: During this phase, the consumer may consider various factors such as features, price, and time. Marketers should take extra effort to ensure marketing collaterals highlight benefits that are unique to the competition during this consumer touchpoint.
  4. Purchase: By this time, the consumer has evaluated various alternatives, recognised the value of the product/service, and is more or less ready to make a decision here – whether to purchase or not. It is imperative that any friction (e.g. difficult checkout process in an e-store) should be greatly reduced or eliminated here.
  5. Post-purchase: Depending on the brand experience, the consumer may retain, repurchase, or spread positive word about the product or service. Marketers can take steps to reduce post-purchase dissonance and enhance brand perception by adding value to existing products and services (e.g. provide after-sales support, deliver valuable content, offer special promotions to existing customers, and more.)

Analysing Target Audience Demographics and Psychographics to Develop Customer Personas

It is important to identify and develop customer personas for any marketing campaign, as campaign message building and delivery tactics are highly influenced by its target audiences.

We can analyse audience demographics (e.g. Age, gender, location, education, language) using tools such as Facebook Audience Insights, conducting market survey or purchasing data from third party sources, and extracting internal data by enabling Demographics and Interest reports in Google Analytics.

As for psychographics (e.g. goals, challenges, fears, common objections), we can conduct online surveys, run focus group studies, analyse online enquiry form submissions, and interview salespersons within the organisation.

Sample customer persona of Equinet Academy, a digital marketing training organisation

Name: John Lim


  • Age 32
  • Male
  • Marketing Manager
  • Lives in Singapore
  • Bi-lingual (English & Mandarin)
  • Computer-literate


  • Browses business and marketing websites
  • Spends time on Facebook and during office hours
  • Wants to maximise marketing budget and get a promotion and pay raise
  • Needs to know how to manage digital marketing agencies and what they are doing behind the scenes
  • Looking for short marketing courses to take away actionable strategies and insights

Description summary of customer persona

Constantly looking for new marketing strategies and ideas to increase their companies’ profits. They Google for marketing tips, hang out on Facebook, digest content on business-related websites like, and read emails on a daily basis. What’s most important to them is whether they can take away actionable digital marketing strategies and techniques that they can implement immediately after attending a course. Curriculum and courseware must be comprehensive and the course must meet the learning objectives.

Define Digital Advertising Campaign Objectives

A digital advertising objective is a goal, benchmarked against one or a set of performance indicators. Digital Advertising goals should be SMART:

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

Before you define the digital advertising objectives, you should be aware of the corporate and digital strategy of the organisation. What are the business and marketing objectives in the digital strategy? Let’s look at case study 1 – How Linda Mandarin defined its digital advertising campaign objectives based on the digital strategy.

Case study 1

Summary of Digital Strategy

Linda Mandarin is a school offering mandarin lessons to employees from corporate companies, expats, individuals, and parents who want their kids to learn mandarin. However, their main target audiences are expats who come to Singapore for work.

Their classes range from beginner, intermediate, to advanced levels. To encourage signups, Linda Mandarin offers free trial classes to prospective customers. Based on past results, for every 5 free trial signups, 3 will go on to sign up for a beginner class.

In order to hit their target of 100 new students a year from free trial signups, Linda Mandarin would need to drive 167 free trial signups in a year. The signups are done through the website, with a form collecting the participant’s details and preferred trial class date.

Using a range of digital marketing tactics such as Digital Advertising, Search Engine Optimisation, and Email Marketing, Linda Mandarin has been able to consistently hit the minimum class size needed to run a class.

Challenges include:

  • Targeting the right type of customers that are more likely to convert into students
  • Cross-selling courses and getting students to progress towards higher level courses
  • Filling up classes i.e. hitting the maximum number of pax per class
  • Reducing the amount of phone/email enquiries while increasing the number of direct signups (through email and walk-ins)
  • Increasing brand awareness and brand confidence in order to gain a higher market share of their competition, who are also highly visible on search engines and have a strong presence on digital advertising channels such as Facebook and Google AdWords

Campaign delivery tactics planned for achieving the set objectives include:

  • Market segmentation and multi-channel targeting – Identifying customer profiles, where they regularly hang out, and targeting relevant ads via the relevant channels e.g. Facebook, News Sites, Lifestyle Portals
  • Positioning and differentiation – Showcasing benefits that aren’t offered by competitors on website and ad creatives. E.g. Class video recording and uploading video to the cloud for easy accessibility
  • Online communications mix – Ensuring course information is clear and concise on the website and registration is easy. Targeting website content, language, design, and tone to primary customer personas to engage and convert them.

Define Digital Advertising campaign objectives based on the digital strategy

Based on the challenges and objectives defined in the digital strategy above, we can define the following SMART digital advertising campaign objectives:

  • Double the number of expat leads within the next 12 months – This can be achieved by targeting the right search engine queries and refining demographic targeting in Google AdWords and Facebook Ads
  • Increase the percentage of cross-sells by 20% within the next 12 months – This can be achieved by launching ads offering limited-time promotional discount coupon codes to students who have completed the beginner courses
  • Increase the number of conversion (i.e. signups) for beginner courses by 50% within the next 12 months – This can be achieved by increasing marketing budget to drive more targeted traffic to the corporate website and speeding up customer response time and improving customer service

Develop KPIs for Digital Advertising Campaign for Reporting

KPIs help you to keep track of your campaign’s progress towards a defined objective.

When developing your KPIs, you should keep in mind the following:

  • KPIs should be relevant to the defined objectives
  • KPIs should be SMART
  • Metrics should be relevant to the respective channels
  • Ensure the KPIs are relevant to the stakeholders who will be analysing the data and making business decisions

We can use the following table format when developing KPIs:

Channel Objectives KPIs
Google Search Ads Increase traffic by 30% by Q4 Increase ad click through rate to 12% by Q2
Google Search Ads Increase revenue by 100% by Q4 Increase conversion rate to 2% by Q2

Reduce cost per lead by 50% by Q2

Facebook Ads Increase subscriber base t0 5,000 by Q4 Achieve 1000 ebook downloads by Q4
Facebook Ads Increase brand awareness by at least 50% by Q2 Reach 1,000,000 Singaporeans with an ad frequency of once in 7 days by Q2

Table #1

Analysing the competitive landscape, customer profile, and defining business objectives and KPIs are important steps to set the right foundation for your digital advertising campaigns. Without clear marketing objectives and deep insights of your target market, determining appropriate digital advertising channels in the next phase will be more challenging.

2. Determine Digital Advertising Channels / Platforms and Tactics

Technological Trends Relating to the Digital Advertising Channels and Platforms

In the recent years, there have been many new digital advertising channels and platforms sprouting out. The year 2000 was the birth of Google AdWords, followed by Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, and Instagram in 2010.

Though these platforms gained vast popularity internationally, not every part of the world caught on to the trends of the respective platforms. In Korea for example, Naver has a higher market share of users than Google and Twitter hasn’t caught on well in Singapore compared to the U.S.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of well-known channels / platforms:

  • Facebook Ads
  • Google AdWords
  • Outbrain
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Bing
  • Youtube
  • Naver
  • Baidu
  • Yandex
  • 360sou
  • Media Buying
  • DoubleClick

Some amazing technological trends happening in the digital advertising scene in the recent years include:

  • Identity-based PPC marketing: Instead of using cookie-based targeting methods, marketers can now target based on identity. It is now possible to upload a list of phone numbers into a custom audience list in Facebooks Ads and target relevant ads to them.
  • Automation: Dynamic keyword insertion, automatic close variants keyword targeting, and Target CPA bidding are all examples of Google AdWords campaign automation.
  • Life Event Targeting: Identifying shoppers with high purchase intent based on their browsing behaviour and targeting relevant ads to them with Google AdWords.

Select Tools / Channels / Platform for Digital Advertising Campaign

It is not particularly common for a company to utilise their marketing budget on every available platform out there. More often than not, companies determine the appropriate digital advertising channels by taking into account the following variables:

  • Customer profile and reach: What platforms do majority of target prospects typically frequent?
  • Data analytics of consumer behaviour: Which channels/platforms are consumers mostly converting from?
  • Costs vs returns: How effective is each channel in terms of generating ROI?
  • Goals: Are your marketing objectives brand awareness, reach, leads, or sales?
  • Competitive research: What channels are your competitors spending on?

Customer profile and reach

In Singapore for instance, Google Search, Yahoo!, and Bing dominate the paid search landscape, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Whatsapp, and LinkedIn dominate paid social, and Google Display Network (GDN) and Outbrain dominate the content distribution network.

If the target customers are Singaporean working professionals, age 25 – 50 years old, it is possible to reach the bulk of them by focusing marketing dollars on Facebook Advert’s Core Audiences and LinkedIn Ad’s targeting options, as compared to using, a growing but relatively small social networking platform.

Data analytics of consumer behaviour

By measuring consumer activity with analytics software such as Google Analytics, we can track the number of conversions generated from each platform.

For example, if the marketing objective was brand awareness while measuring the KPI of click-through rate (CTR), and Youtube Ads generated 50% more clicks than Google Display Network (GDN) over 12 months, one would focus on developing more Youtube Ad campaigns.

Costs vs returns

Another consideration that may influence the selection of a digital advertising channel is costs vs returns.

For example, if a Google AdWords Search Advertising campaign generated 50 signups (conversions) at the cost of $100 per signup while a LinkedIn Ad campaign only generated 10 signups at $200 per signup, one would assign a higher advertising budget to the former.


Depending on the marketing goals set, the selection of digital advertising channels / platforms will vary.

For example, if the marketing objective is to generate downloads for a new ebook, Google Display Network and Facebook Adverts might be more effective channels than Bing Search Ads, as people are less likely to search for a newly released ebook until it has gained some exposure.

Conducting Competitive Research

Why is conducting competitor research so important? You’ve heard the saying – Know thy enemy.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In the context of digital advertising, competitive research can help you:

  • Discover new online advertising channels/platforms/tools to find new customers: You can test which ones work for you. For example, you may not have planned on advertising on LinkedIn. While observing a competitor actively implementing LinkedIn ads, you may be prompted to test out the response of that channel as well. Using tools such as Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner, you also can identify search engine queries that are trending and target them.
  • Develop a competitive edge by improving campaign message building and delivery tactics: Enabling you to make improvements to your product features/service offerings, create a different value proposition altogether (e.g. price vs features), make your ad creatives stand out, and influence the content and design of your landing pages.
  • Identify new entrants in the competitive landscape: Online tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush can also help you monitor your paid search engine results pages (SERPs) rankings and keep track of any new entrants in the competitive search marketing landscape.

Ways to conduct competitive research

There are numerous ways to conduct competitive research. These methods can be further segmented into offline and online, in-house and outsourced.

In this section, we will be discussing online methods of conducting competitive research within the context of Digital Advertising.


SimilarWeb is a competitive research tool that can provide data of your competitor’s websites such as their estimate traffic from various sources and countries, audience interests, and a list of websites that audiences of your competitors also visit.

SImilar Web Traffic Estimates Tool

Display accounts for only 1.44% of Samsung’s estimate traffic

It can also help you identify your competitors and similar sites to conduct further competitive research on.

Competitors and similar websites -

Competitors and similar websites –

2. Google Alerts

Google Alerts allows you to set up email alerts for any keyword or phrase that is being mentioned across the web. You can monitor competitor brand mentions, product names, and even what others are talking about your brand online.

3. Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner allows you to check the search volume, and competition (low, mid, high), and suggested bid price of keywords you want to target on Google paid search results.

This can give you a rough feel of the competitive landscape and whether your marketing budget allows for advertising in the paid search channel.

Keyword Planner data

Keyword Planner data

4. Google Trends

With Google Trends, you can key in multiple brand names (e.g. of your brand versus your competitors) and compare the popularity of various brand search terms, as well as the interest by region.

Google trends data

Google trends of popular smartphone brands and their influence by region


Alexa is a marketing software composed of SEO, Competitive Analysis, and Workspace tools. Some of the key features of its competitive analysis tool allow you to find competitor sites that share a similar audience, view your competitors’ site performance such as its traffic sources, audience demographics, reach, and even engagement metrics such as time on site, bounce rates, and pageviews/user.

Alexa Competitive Analysis tool features

3. Campaign Setup and Implementation

Campaign setup and implementation comes after the planning phases (Phase 1: Analyse & Define, Phase 2: Determine Digital Advertising Channels/Platforms), as the campaign message and delivery tactics are informed by the preceding phases.

In this chapter, we will be focusing on the campaign setup, message building, and delivery tactics within the context of Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Campaign Message Building and Delivery Tactics

What is campaign messaging?

The campaign message is what you communicate to your customers in the value your business provides – the pain points/problems your business can solve for them. Campaign messaging has tremendous impact on the success or failure of a digital advertising campaign. It can either positively or negatively influence your customers’ perception of your business.

We can develop the campaign message and delivery tactics based on the following:

  • Customer profile and consumer decision process
  • Digital Advertising campaign objectives

Customer Profile and Consumer Decision Process

By studying the profile of our customers (demographics and psychographics) and understanding their buying journey, we can strategically position our products and services in the minds of our prospects. We can then create emotional and empowering marketing messages that will win customers:

Apple knew their users loved to take great pictures and have consistently encouraged creativity in their line of products. They decided to launch a campaign where they select and feature high quality, creative photos taken with the iPhone on posters and billboards all over the world.

This stint caught on well with the consumer market and the campaign was covered on sites like Forbes and TechCrunch, breaking a new record for sales of the iPhone 6s.

“Sales for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have been phenomenal, blowing past any previous first weekend sales results in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

One obvious but often overlooked technique of building a strong campaign message is to think from the customer’s perspective.

A great example is asking customers what would solve their problems and feeding them back the exact same words in the marketing message.

Customer: “I need an all-in-one marketing software that can reach my customers across their entire buying journey.”

Campaign message by salesforce:

Campaign message example by salesforce

It is also important to take note of the stages of the consumer decision process when developing the campaign message.

To recap, there are five stages in the customer decision process:

  1. Needs recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase
  5. Post-purchase

Depending on which stage the customer is at, the campaign message will vary.

In the first stage (needs recognition), the customer may not be aware of the problem. The campaign objective would be to create awareness of the organisation’s products and services.

It is important to note that at this stage, the consumer is not yet ready to buy. The campaign message needs to be carefully crafted to build an ideal perception of the brand in the consumer’s mind.

Here’s an example of Grab’s landing page targeting potential drivers to join their fleet.

Grab landing page targeting Grabcar Drivers to sign up

Grab landing page targeting Grabcar Drivers

Upon clicking submit, the prospect is taken to a revenue calculator page.

Grab revenue calculator landing page

Grab revenue calculator landing page

If the potential payout is attractive, the prospect may wish to sign up, or conduct more research first to ensure he or she is getting the best deal.

The prospect may then proceed to do a search on Google, comparing driver benefits between Grab and Uber.

Google comparison search between grab and uber

Prospect using Google to conduct a comparison search between Grab and Uber

If the prospect is unable to decide on the spot, he or she may not take any action and continue with daily life.

Using advanced tracking tools such as Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics, Grab is able to detect whether the prospect has already converted into a full Grabcar driver or have yet to. If the prospect has yet to complete the driver application form, Grab can implement a retargeting campaign targeting Facebook Newsfeed and Google Display Network’s partner sites to push prospects to the last step (signup).

Grab signup page

Grab signup page

Tips on developing effective campaign messaging:

  • Ensure your campaign message is simple: People simply prefer simplicity. Given a choice, consumers would rather read a sentence than a paragraph when both mean the same thing. Simplicity also reduces chances of misperception and misinterpretation of a brand’s message.
  • Consistency is key: A consistent message will be more likely to stick in a consumer’s mind and resonate time and again even at different touch points of the consumer buying journey.
  • Brainstorm variations of campaign messages with your internal team and select the most effective one based on votes: Your sales and marketing reps have good ground knowledge of what’s going on in the field. They’ve interacted with customers, reviewed competitors’ products, and identified your competitive edge. They understand what customers want and what your business can offer that the competition can’t (differentiation).
  • Speak to your customers and analyse their feedback: You can do this through one-to-one interviews, online/offline survey forms, focus group studies. What do they think of your product? What challenges do they face and what problems are they looking to solve? If they are existing customers, ask them why they chose your products, what made them decide to go with your business?
  • Review competitors’ campaign messaging: You’d be amazed at the volume of insights you can gain by role playing as the customer and scrutinising your competitors’ advertising campaigns. Get ready to take lots of notes and apply the findings to your own campaigns.

Digital Advertising Campaign Objectives

The Digital Advertising campaign objectives influence how we promote our products and services.

For example, if the objectives are to increase brand awareness with a KPI of a one hundred percent increase in brand search terms on Google (i.e. from 1000 brand searches per month to 2000 brand searches a month), the following delivery tactics can be implemented to achieve the objective of increasing brand awareness:

  • Organising a free event or conference and launching Facebook Sponsored News Feed ads targeting Lookalike Audiences
  • Participating in a trade show and getting featured in online publications prior to the main event
  • Creating free trial promotional video ads on Youtube (targeting In-Market Audiences) and Facebook Video Ads (with Facebook Interest targeting)
  • Developing educational content that creates desire for the product and distributing content through sponsored ads

Define Digital Advertising Campaign Budget

Companies typically spend around 30% of their marketing budget on digital marketing. i.e. if their marketing budget is set at $100,000 a year, $70,000 goes to print media, offline events, etc, while the remaining goes to digital marketing.

Out of the 30% ($30,000), a portion is set aside for other digital marketing channels such as Search Engine Optimisation, Social Media and Online PR, Video Marketing, Mobile Marketing, and others.

How much then should a company spend on Digital Advertising? There isn’t a full-proof blueprint for this. However, here are some factors that can influence your budgeting:

  • Objectives (KPIs)
  • Costs
  • Returns

Here are two examples of budget allocation.

Example 1 (Google AdWords):

First we set the objective.

Objective (lead generation) = 100 signups (KPI)

Then we look at past analytics data to find out the conversion rate. Based on the conversion rate, 10,000 clicks is needed to achieve the objective.

Click/conversion rate = 1% or 10,000 clicks = 100 signups (1% conversion rate)

If a click costs an average of $1, then a campaign budget of $10,000 is needed for 100 signups.

10,000 clicks x $1/click = $10,000

We can check out the estimate cost per click (CPC) or suggested bid using Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner Tool.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner Estimate Keyword Bids

Google AdWords Keyword Planner Estimate Keyword Bids

Note: It is impossible to be entirely accurate when tracking dollar for dollar value on conversions. A few factors may affect the conversion count, such as:

  • If the conversion happens outside of the conversion window period (e.g. the conversion happens on the 8th day where a 7-day conversion window is set)
  • If cross-device conversion happens (e.g. customer clicks on an ad on mobile and converts on desktop)
  • Multi-channel attribution modelling is set to Last Click (i.e. the conversion happens after a customer clicks on an email link, and Last Click attribution model credits 100% of the conversion to email and 0% credit to the digital advertising campaign

Example 2:

Again, we set the objective.

Objective (brand awareness) = Reach 3 million Singaporeans (KPI)

We can use Facebook’s Budget and Schedule tool to provide an estimated daily reach.

Facebook budget estimated daily reach

Facebook budget estimated daily reach

With $7,000 per week, we can reach an estimate of 130,000 – 830,000 Singaporeans daily.

To determine the percentage of budget allocation per channel, we need to look at attribution data in Phases 4 and 5.

4. Gather Data

Understanding and identifying key customer behavioural traits can help you make better marketing decisions, resulting in reduced costs and increased profits.

Clickstream Data

What is clickstream?

Clickstream is recorded data of a user’s online activity (i.e. clicks) while browsing the web. It answers questions such as, which digital channels brought in the best customers, what the most common path to conversion is, how long users take to purchase from the first website visit, and more.

Benefits of analysing clickstream data

Analysing clickstream data can help you:

  • Understand which channels your best visitors are coming from: This can provide you with valuable data and help you allocate your budget to the most effective digital channels.
  • Identify what content is being viewed and engaged with, and for how long: This can help you identify various types of engaging content, so you can create more of them. Which content do they spend only 10 seconds on and which do they spend more than 2 minutes on? This can help you make improvements to existing content that result in low engagement rates.
  • Identify touch points where they drop out on your website: Does a significant number of visitors drop out just before purchasing? How would you optimise your page so more visitors would proceed to the next step?
  • Find out what visitors search for on-site and off-site (e.g. search engines): Through analysing Google AdWords search terms reports and your website’s internal search engine, you can optimise for keywords that contributed to more conversions on your website.
  • Differentiate which ad creatives performed better: How many clicks versus impressions (click through rate) and conversions did Ad A get versus Ad B? Depending on your marketing objectives, you may stop running the Ad that resulted in low click through rates or conversions.
  • Understand which device is more effective: Some visitors may prefer to perform certain functions on a desktop rather than on mobile devices. For example, some visitors prefer to complete an application form on a desktop rather than on a smartphone. While majority of users prefer to use Facebook on a mobile device. If you are targeting ads on Facebook, you may want to ensure your landing pages are mobile-friendly.

Tools for recording clickstream data

Here are some tools to measure clickstream data:

  • Google Analytics
  • Crazy Egg
  • Optimizely
  • ClickTale
  • Adobe Analytics

Key Performance Indicators Per Channel and Estimation of Expected Return Per Channel

What are key performance indicators (KPIs) in digital marketing?

Key performance indicators are measurable metrics or numerical values used to determine the effectiveness of digital marketing activities and keep track of the progress of the campaign in achieving a defined objective.

Examples of KPIs and metrics in digital marketing

If the defined objective is to increase brand awareness, then the relevant KPIs include:

  • Increase brand mentions on social media and the web by 30%
  • Increase Facebook fans to 10,000 likes from 3,000 likes in 12 months
  • Increase in brand search terms on search engines by 100%

If the defined objective is to increase revenue by 100% within 12 months, then relevant KPIs include:

  • Increase enquiries to 30 a month
  • Increase newsletter subscribers to 20,000 over 12 months
  • Increase signups to 100 per month

How to estimate expected return per channel

Estimating the expected return per channel can help marketing teams allocate more realistic budgets to better performing channels. It can also be a sign that improvements can be made to the marketing channel to increase profitability.

If a certain channel is underperforming, ad expenditure should be reduced or marketing activities should be optimised, otherwise the company’s profit will be negatively impacted. On another note, if a certain channel is performing exceptionally well, more money should be invested for faster growth.

To make a good gauge on the return of investment of each channel, two variables need to be looked at:

  1. Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)
  2. Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Calculating the cost of customer acquisition is relatively straight forward. You can retrieve the figures just by looking at the data from the platform you’re advertising on.

Google AdWords Search Advertising

Google AdWords Search Conversion Report

Google AdWords Search Conversion Report

The cost per acquisition or cost/conversion is $62.15. (Take note that this conversion is recorded as last click attribution, which assigns all credit to the campaign or click the customer last interacted with.)

Assuming you’re only advertising on Google AdWords, you can calculate the ROI or ROAS as follows:

Say the profit margin/customer lifetime value (CLV) is $300.

ROAS/ROI = $300 – $62.15 = $237.85

The ROI ratio is around 4:1 ($237.85 : $62.15).

However, things can get complicated when you include a mix of marketing channels. Say you’re advertising the same product on Facebook, the same customer that converted on the Google AdWords paid search results could have clicked on your Facebook Ad prior to searching on Google.

If it wasn’t for the initial touch point on Facebook, the customer may never have heard of your product and searched for it on Google. In order to properly attribute ROAS to the proper channels, you need to apply multi-channel attribution model principles, which is outside the scope of this article.

Using the above scenario, if the total revenue was $100 we assigned 30% credit to Facebook for being the first interaction and 70% credit to Google AdWords for being the last interaction, then Facebook would be attributed $30 and Google AdWords $70 in revenue.

To simplify things here, we can use this attribution table from Bizible:

Advertising Channel Attributed Credit Revenue Attributed Revenue
Google AdWords Search 0.5 $5,000 $2,500
Google AdWords Display 0.2 $1,000 $200
Facebook Ads 0.2 $2,000 $400
LinkedIn Ads 0.1  $500 $50

Each channel reports its own revenue, but it is up to the business analysts to set the attribution credit values per channel, as deemed suitable based on deep understanding of the customer buying journey.

5. Optimise

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, your hard work will be paying off soon.

During this phase, we take all the data gathered in Phase 4 and develop an optimisation plan. This stage is crucial as it determines the continuity of your advertising campaigns. Whether you’ll be able to pump another $100k or $1k into a channel will depend on how well you optimise the following:

  • Audience targeting
  • Budget
  • Other variables specific to the respective digital advertising platforms (e.g. Ad placements, device targeting, ad scheduling, keywords)

Optimise audience targeting

If you’re unsure what changes to make at any point, A/B split testing could be a suitable option. A/B split tests can prove whether a hypothesis is true or false.

For example, if you’re targeting consumers from a wide age group e.g. 21 – 50 and you’re unsure which audience your ad would be most relevant to, you can split the audience into three separate campaigns (21 – 30, 31 – 41, 41 – 50) and display the same ad creatives to them. At the end of the experiment, you can track which age group garnered the most clicks.

Optimise budget per channel

Based on the attribution table in Phase 4, if Google AdWords (with an attribution credit value of 0.5) generated $2,500 in revenue and Facebook Ads (with an attribution credit value of 0.2) only generated $400 in revenue, your budget on Google AdWords would obviously be higher.

If the total digital advertising budget for the present year is $100,000 The allocation of budget per channel can be represented by a simple table.

Advertising Channel Attributed Credit Budget allocation
Google AdWords Search 0.5 $50,000
Google AdWords Display 0.2 $20,000
Facebook Ads 0.2 $20,000
LinkedIn Ads 0.1  $10,000

Other variables specific to each digital advertising channel

There are other variables you can analyse and optimise that are very specific to a particular digital channel. Take Facebook for example. If you’re wondering which device converts better, you can break down conversions by device type.

Facebook ad reporting break down by device type

Facebook ad reporting break down by device type

We can clearly see that iPhone users converted more than Desktop users, and at a lower cost per acquisition (CPA). If your budget is limited, you could focus more on targeting mobile users to maximise your ROI.

On Google AdWords, you can also break down reports by time: day of the week.

Google AdWords Day of the Week reports

Google AdWords Day of the Week reports

From the data, we can see that majority of conversions happened on weekdays. We can then optimise our campaign settings to automatically increase bids on weekdays.

Develop Schedule/Roadmap for Digital Advertising Campaign Within the Budget

Before we develop a roadmap for our digital advertising campaigns, let’s recall the customer decision journey:

  1. Needs recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase
  5. Post-purchase

Launching a brand awareness (needs recognition) campaign can enable your brand to reach many people, however the sales conversion rates are usually lower compared to targeting prospects who are almost ready to purchase (e.g. conducting a brand search on Google).

It is therefore more pragmatic to first focus your marketing activities on areas that can yield the highest returns, especially with a limited marketing budget. In this case it usually begins at the bottom of the funnel (purchase and post-purchase).

We can summarise the digital advertising strategy into the following table.

Digital Advertising Strategy Table

Digital Advertising Strategy Table

We can then take the campaign objectives and plot the marketing activities on the digital advertising schedule/roadmap in Gantt Chart format.

Digital Advertising Campaign Roadmap

Digital Advertising Campaign Roadmap


With a total budget of $20,000/year, we would be able to complete our marketing activities by Q4.

Summary of Key Learning Points

  • Digital Advertising is an efficient medium of digital marketing used by marketers to deliver marketing messages to consumers through online paid advertisements including, but not limited to display and video adverts, paid search and social ads, and sponsored articles.
  • We can develop a digital advertising strategy by applying a 5-step digital advertising process. Analyse & Define => Determine Digital Advertising Channels and Tactics => Campaign Setup and Implementation => Gather Data => Optimise
  • Understanding the consumer decision process and defining customer profiles are crucial in order to deliver the right marketing messages, at the right time, to the right consumers.
  • Conducting competitive research can help us discover new entrants in the competitive landscape, develop a competitive edge, and discover new digital advertising channels to find new customers.
  • Digital advertising objectives should be SMART and your KPIs should be relevant to keep track of your campaign’s progress toward a defined goal.
  • Factors you should consider when selecting your digital advertising channels are customer profile and reach, consumer behaviour, costs vs returns, and goals.
  • We can develop appropriate campaign messages and delivery tactics by referencing the customer profile and consumer decision process and digital advertising objectives.
  • The digital advertising budget per channel can be determined by calculating the revenue of each channel minus the cost of customer acquisition, yielding the ROI. The higher the returns, the higher the budget allocated to the particular channel.
  • When developing the schedule/roadmap for the digital advertising campaign, we should first focus on implementing campaigns that offer more promising returns.

To learn more on how to develop a digital advertising strategy for your business, sign up for our 2-day hands-on Digital Advertising course. You can also learn an array of Digital Marketing courses offered by Equinet Academy to help you to succeed in your next digital marketing project.

Creating an attention-grabbing, emotion-evoking ad creative can be one of the most daunting tasks a marketer can undertake.

Nevertheless, a powerful ad creative can be one of the best investments a business can make, skyrocketing click-through-rates, conversions, and profits.

Here are 21 best practices you can follow when creating your next text and display ad creatives.

Understand the Objectives of Your Target Audience

This should be the first thing you spend some time thinking about before picking up that palette and brush.

Nothing gets more ignored than seeing something we don’t care about. Think about what the user might be looking for when they’re Googling “cheap hotels”.

Would your ad stand out if you mentioned “luxury hotel” or “five star hotel” in your headline? What about the terms “budget hotel” or “from $30 a night”? You get what I mean.

Focus on How it Benefits Them

People don't get excited over how great your product is. They get excited how your product can make their lives great Click to Tweet

A great example by Uber on highlighting the potential benefits of driving with Uber:

Here’s a list of phrases that convey consumer benefits:

  • Free shipping
  • Free returns
  • Free trials
  • Time saving
  • Access from anywhere
  • Convenient
  • Easy to use
  • Hassle-free
  • Save more when you buy…

Speak to One Specific Target Audience

Ever heard the saying, “For you to succeed in business… You’ve got to be be able to solve a very specific problem for a very specific person.” Or the saying, “Try to appeal to everyone, and you’ll sell to no one”? It’s a little extreme, but the message here is to be specific.

Enter the mind of one specific customer you’ve served. Listen to the conversation that’s going on in her head, engage in a conversation with her, and be specific when talking about your offer.

If she uses words like “condo” instead of “condominium” or “car” instead of “auto-mobile”, speak in her lingo.

Have a Compelling Offer

We’ve all had a moment where we gave in to an offer we couldn’t resist. Consider these examples of compelling offers:

Ad 1

Ad 2

For Ad 1, 30% off everything without any * with terms and conditions apply sounds pretty transparent and attractive.

For Ad 2, free delivery and 30-day free returns sounds like a real bargain.

The key is to make your offer compelling and irresistible.

Make Your Offers Easy to Comprehend

Here’s a golden rule to follow when writing your ad copy – K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple. People are so busy about their lives, they’re often lazy to rethink an offer. Consider the following ad variations:

Ad Variation 1

Purchase any two phone cases at 25% discount and get a third one for free.

Ad Variation 2

All phone cases at $5 each with minimum purchase of 3 items.

Both ads basically offer phone cases at $5 per piece. Assuming $5 is below the market rate, it sounds attractive as it is.

When you see Ad 2 as a consumer, you don’t have to crack your brains to know you can get the best deal as long as you purchase at least 3 items.

Be Specific

I can’t stress this enough. Being specific clears the air of mystery. It conveys transparency and trust.

Talking about fast shipping? How about stating exactly how many days it takes?

Offering the best deal? How about going into specific details like DirectAsia? – No Agency Commission and 0% Monthly Instalments.

Being Specific

Consider the following variations. Which do you think is more specific and appealing?

Ad Variation 1

Attend a course for $0 for when you claim your $500 SkillsFuture credit from the government.

Ad Variation 2

Attend a course at ABC Hub Academy. All courses are SkillsFuture Claimable.

Include a Relevant Call to Action

A call to action or CTA is one of the most important elements of an ad creative. It gives your ad purpose, reinforces what you have to offer, and tells the prospect what to do. Without it, your ad loses its significance.

You should really take your time to think about this one and not rush with whatever comes to your mind. Your CTA message should be relevant to whatever your prospect is thinking of doing (intent) when she saw your ad.

Here’s a decent search ad that showed for the query “last minute hotel deals”.

Clear CTA

If you’re thinking of finding last minute hotel deals, what could be more relevant than a comparison engine that helps you “Find Cheap Last Minute Hotels by Comparing 100s of Sites at Once”?

Display Credibility and Reliability

While everyone’s offering roughly the same features and benefits as you, how do you stand out?

By displaying social proof, status, and reliability.

Social proof

Facebook sponsored newsfeed ads automatically do a great job at this.

Fiverr FB Ad

If you target your ad to the friends of your existing customers/page fans, your target audience will see that their friends have already liked the brand. Instantly, innate emotions such as FMO (fear of missing out) and being part of a group gets triggered, increasing the chances of them acquainting with your brand.


Check out this paid search ad by Intuit for their accounting software, Quickbooks. – The World’s #1 account software.

QuickBooks Paid Search Ad

People want to be associated with the best. And it takes boldness to proclaim that you’re the number one in the world. But heck if it works, who cares?


Check out Microsoft Office 365 – Always up-to-date with the latest features.

Microsoft Office Ad Creative

Be careful not to promise the sky and under deliver here though. You could lose more in the long run, if dissatisfied customers post bad reviews on your false claims all over the internet.

Here are a number of words in the English dictionary that convey reliability (Note: Use them with caution! Some of these terms are perceived as too-good-to-be-true):

  • Always/Forever (e.g. Facebook’s homepage – “It’s free and always will be”)
  • Guarantee (e.g. Money-back guarantee)
  • Warranty (e.g. 5-year warranty)
  • Trusted (e.g. Trusted by MNCs)
  • Award-Winning (e.g. Award-Winning agency of the year)

Use Words That Trigger Emotions

Emotional triggers. We all have them. They’re either positive or negative depending on the factors that trigger them. Here are some common examples:

  • Fun
  • Fear of missing out
  • Comfort and safety
  • Love
  • Anger
  • Pity
  • Excitement

Let’s look at an ad by PETA that triggers anger and pity.

PETA Display Ad

Check out this compelling ad by Harley Davidson – “A ride unlike anything you’ve ever felt before”.

Harley Davidson Display Ad

This copy challenges you and creates excitement. That’s a strong emotional trigger.

Compare this with Kawasaki’s ad, which basically tells you what you should do – Click Here to learn more about duh duh duh… Great if you’re well-acquainted with the brand. Not so good if you’ve never heard of or seen a Kawasaki on the roads.

Kawasaki Display Ad

Match Your Ad to Your Landing Page

Imagine seeing a promotional banner offering storewide 50% discount outside a retail shop, and going in only to find out the offer had already expired. It’s an extreme example of false advertising, but you get what I mean.

Speaking about that, what would you do if you encountered a misleading ad? You’d probably feel cheated and walk right out of the store pissed, and you’d probably never return.

If your ad mentions a free trial, make sure the first thing your prospect sees on your landing page when he clicks on your ad are the words “Free Trial” and a call to action leading to his promised free trial.

Check for Grammar and Spelling Mistakes

Give me a silent nod if you get irritated when you see repeatedly see grammar and spelling errors on a document. A few typos here and there are a common occurrence and may sometimes go unnoticed, but you’d still want to avoid any if you can.

Grammatical errors can hurt credibility and lead to fewer sales.

In July 2013 Disruptive Communications asked 1,003 UK consumers what was most likely to damage their opinion of a brand in social media.

Here are the results:

Survey Results

Image source

42.5% pointed to poor spelling or grammar as a factor that would damage that opinion of a brand on social media.

Proof read. Proof read. Proof read.

Design Your Ad For Multiple Devices

A display ad that looks great on desktop may not be readable on mobile.

Desktop (looks great):

Desktop Ad

Mobile (font is too small):

Mobile Ad

Ad targeting by device can also be specified in your ad platforms such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. More and more advertisers are creating at least 2 different ad versions for mobile and desktop devices.

Differentiate Your Ads From Your Competition

Use to check out your competitors’ display ads. Google your target keywords and check out your competitors’ text ads.

Take note of what you’re able to offer but they’re not, then highlight what makes you unique. Do your competitors offer free trial? Free shipping? Tax free? Competitive pricing?

What can you do stand out?

Create a Sense of Urgency

Have you created a sense of urgency? Does your offer motivate your prospect to take action before it’s too late?

According to a research paper by Shipra Gupta, Ph.D., University of Nebraska, studying the psychological effects of perceived scarcity on consumers’ buying behaviour, “scarcity communicated by the retailer threatens consumers’ freedom, thus triggering psychological reactance and encouraging them to take immediate actions like in–store hoarding and in–store hiding, to safeguard their behavioral freedom.

We’ve all been “victims” of perceived scarcity and we end up buying things on impulse that we later regret. That’s one of the main reasons group buying deal sites like Groupon thrive so well.

Sense of urgency

Suggested reading:

9 Ways To Use Urgency Psychology To Improve Conversions – Marketing Land

Include Your Brand Name or Logo

Including your brand name in your headline can boost brand awareness. The more often consumers see your text ad when searching for keywords within a particular category, the better the brand recall.

Brand Search Ads

Doing a search on “book hotels” brings you these 3 top contenders – Expedia, and Airbnb. These ads show up for all sorts of related terms relating to accommodations.

Therefore the next time a consumer is planning on going on a trip, he or she might recall anyone of these brands and do a brand name search instead (i.e. type in “Expedia” instead book hotels).

Expedia Display Ads

And don’t forgot to include your brand logo on your display ads!

Include Your Target Keywords (Text Ads)

As recommended by Google AdWords, include at least one of your target keywords in your ad copy.

This will help improve your quality score and also make your ad look more relevant to the searcher’s query.

For example, if you targeted the keyword “principal garden price”, make sure you include the keywords in your ad text.

Include Your Keywords in Your Ad

Limit Your Text (Display Ads)

Certain advertising platforms like Facebook Ads and Instagram (owned by Facebook) restrict the amount of words on your image. I.e. text can only make up 20% of your display ad.

Nevertheless, be conscious of the number of words you use on your display ad. Too many words can overwhelm viewers and distract them from the main message.

Use Relevant, High Quality Graphics/Images (Display Ads)

Using relevant images can garner more viewer attention to your ads. On the other hand, irrelevant images can confuse prospects and lose ad clicks.

Avoid overly complicated images that distract viewers from the main focus. Use images that have a clear focal point.

Check out this high quality ad by Nikon with its focal point on the bird’s eye, drawing viewer attention right the centre of the ad.

Nikon Ad

It’s also alright if you don’t include an image, as long as there’s a focal point in your ad that conveys your main message. Such as this ad by prompting viewers to sign in to unlock secret prices. Ad

Use Good Colour Contrasts (Display Ads)

Good contrasting colours can make important elements more outstanding and convey the main ad message to the viewer.

This ad by Universal Studios uses only 2 different colours (apart from its logo) – White and Blue.

Universal Studios Ad

Reading the white words on the blue background is rather soothing to the eyes.

A/B Test Your Ads

Last but not least, always be testing.

You might think you’ve just created the best thing since slice bread. But you’ll never know for sure which ad will get you more clicks and conversions till you run multiple versions and analyse the results.

Recommended reading:

The Practical Science of A/B Testing your AdWords [Beginners Guide] – Wishpond


I hope you found these 21 best practices useful when creating your next ad creative. And here’s a checklist for that too.

Google Search and Display Ads Best Practices Checklist

A last word of caution for next time when you launch an ad campaign. Beware of ad fatigue. Ad fatigue is when your viewers get tired of seeing your ad over and over again that they either ignore it completely or report it.

Be sure to change your ad from time to time (there isn’t a fixed period) if you start to notice signs of ad fatigue (e.g. drops in click-through-rates).