Acquire Customers Online - be more targeted than looking for a needle in a haystack

Online advertising is a massive market, and getting larger every year. Undoubtedly, the number of emails in your Inbox that stress how to best acquire customers online via advertising is also increasing.

I recently got an email that had some of the following information:

With so much competition for attention online, the average click-through-rate for ads is only 0.06% on a good day. And how do you know your ads are getting viewed by the right people? We want to help you compete with the big companies out there that are using their million-dollar advertising budgets to acquire customers online. We will teach you how you can win at the Google AdWords game, and drive high-conversion traffic that will generate customers. This is your chance to learn the secret strategies to making Google AdWords work for you.

As I read this, several questions went through my mind:

  1. We normally use 0.5% as the average click through rate for online ads. 0.06% is nearly 10 times worse than that! I’m curious if that is a typo. If not, I’d be very interested where they got that statistic from. If it’s true, I’m not sure why anybody would want to pay for online ads! Only 6 people out of 10,000 are going to click on my ad? And there’s no guarantee that the people that click will engage. The actual number of people that will respond to my ad is much less than these 6, as they indicate.
  2. The ad indicates they can help me (a small business) compete against big companies with million dollar advertising budgets. But I have to assume that those big companies do more than just online advertising? Somehow, I’m going to get better CTR than my larger competitor, and that’s going to be all I need to do online? That seems dubious.
  3. Is Google AdWords a game that you can “win”? Most of the people who I speak with that use AdWords indicate that they have to change their strategy on a regular basis. That things that worked last month suddenly stop working this month. And that the best small business marketers use multiple avenues to potential customers.

What I would love to see is an email that looks more like this:

The competition for attention online is huge. Everybody does online ads, so you should too. But ads are disruptive to the reader’s experience and have ridiculously low click through rates. Even if we make you twice as effective as your competition, your CTR will still be barely better than 0.1%. How about trying something that will have a much smaller initial audience, but gives you much higher percentage of converting?

Nobody talks like this. We all seem to succumb to the “law of large numbers”. If a site has a lot of daily visitors, or it’s Google/Facebook where the numbers are just enormous, there’s this sense of confidence that getting a handful of leads would be next to impossible given the large number of people you’re starting with.

But it happens with increasingly frequency. Because the attention from those large numbers is going down. Your best bet is to find a less voluminous site that offers you the ability to more intimately engage with their readers. Smaller population, but a much higher potential conversion rate. Would you rather look for a single needle in a haystack, or a couple of needles in your sewing room?