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    November 17, 2011 // 9:00 AM

    3 Ways to Waste Money on Online Advertising

    Written by Magdalena Georgieva | @

    nytimes adsWhen executed properly, leveraging paid marketing opportunities to a limited degree can help to complement a business' inbound marketing efforts. Display ads, for instance, can be a great way to promote your content and drive visitors to your website for conversion.

    Advertising on The New York Times, for example, is pretty sexy. It tickles one's stature to know that their business is featured alongside top-notch articles. What is more, Times ads reach a demographic that is educated and wealthy—a great audience to market to. Unless you're doing it wrong.

    It turns out that a lot of companies are doing it wrong and wasting their money on advertising in such online publications. We took a look at some of the ads featured on The Times' website and saw many of the same patterns, all of which lead to ineffective marketing. Three of the most frequent scenarios we encountered are represented in the presentation below:

    If you're considering experimenting with online advertising in your business' internet marketing efforts, avoid the following three mistakes, as illustrated in the presentation above.

    Mistake #1: No Guidance

    Advertisers don't give enough direction to readers who click through on their ads. Once an ad and its call-to-action grab someone's attention, companies need to retain that attention. The reader should be guided through what to do next. If they see no clear value on the page that they land on after clicking on the ad, they will naturally flee. Be sure that you're sending visitors to a dedicated landing page with clear instructions for the action you want them to take, whether it's completing a form to download an ebook, or signing up for a free product trial.

    Mistake #2: Not Delivering on Expectations

    Another common mistake advertisers make is that they don't deliver on the expectations they set. If your ad promises a whitepaper, you need to deliver a whitepaper. If it is designed to convey a fun and light-hearted message, that is also what the offer should be. You shouldn't feature a call-to-action with a cartoon character and then take the reader to a scary looking pricing page.

    Mistake #3: Providing Too Many Options

    Oftentimes, advertisers offer too many options to readers who click through on ads. Once someone has decided that they are interested in your offer, try to keep their focus on that offer. Don't distract them unecessarily. Remove calls-to-action, sidebar navigation, and links to other resources from the landing page that is tied to the ad.

    So, if you are going to advertise on The New York Times (or any other website for that matter), make sure you avoid these mistakes and improve the performance of your calls-to-action.

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    Topics: Calls-to-Action

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