By Janelle Durham, MSW, LCCE
As we move into the new year, you may be considering starting your own independent childbirth education or birth related business. Maybe you already have such a business already established but are looking to take it to the next level. Today’s post is part of a new series: Building Your Birth Business.
Perhaps the organization you work for would like to grow their offerings geared toward families in the childbearing year. Janelle Durham, a birth and parent educator, working for several programs in the Pacific Northwest has put together this beginner’s guide for the options available to reach your target audience of expectant parents through online marketing. This resource can help you to get started in designing and placing ads and then tracking your success. – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager
This guide is designed for non-profit organizations or individuals that serve expectant parents or young families (though other programs may also find it useful). I know there are a lot of folks doing great work, but we all have limited advertising budgets, and it’s hard to get the word out sometimes. We try things like a print ad in the newspaper once a year for $250 and hope that gets us some people.(But ask today’s parents if they read the newspaper.. I’m guessing the answer will be no. Most of the people who see your newspaper ad will be past the age of child-rearing. They’re not your target audience.)
With today’s online marketing, there are much more effective ways to spend your ad dollars that allows you to put your ad in front of a very targeted audience of young parents in the places where they look everyday (Facebook, online search engines, and YouTube. To see statistics on who uses social media, click here.) Here’s an overview of your options, with links to more details. (And, of course, once you have the basic vocabulary and ideas I share here, you can do online searching to learn lots more about all these topics.)
71% of people who use the Internet use Facebook. 63% of Facebook users visit Facebook every day. (source) This is where parents’ eyes are looking!
Facebook ads allow you to place an ad right on the user’s “feed” – not off on a sidebar that they’ve learned to ignore. They can just read the ad, or they may choose to click on it. (You choose what happens when they click – they could click to like your Facebook page, or the click could link to your website.) You only pay if they click on your ad.
Facebook ads let you target your preferred customer or cient. For example, I can target my ad to people that Facebook has determined are: women, 24 – 44 years old, living in Bellevue, WA or within a ten mile radius (but excluding Seattle) who have purchased baby food, toys for young children, or clothes for young children. Facebook says that’s a possible audience of 5800. For $10, I put an ad in front of 995 of those parents, 23 clicked through to our website to learn more. That’s 43 cents for each person who came to our site to learn more – good bang for your buck! How to place ads on Facebook.
Facebook also allows you to “boost” a post. So, you write a regular post on your business page and all your page followers see it. Then you pay for a boost to put it on the feeds of people who don’t yet follow your page. For $10 I boosted a post about local classes to local parents. It displayed to 1745, and 36 clicked through. Cost 28 cents a click. How to Boost.
Your ability to target your demographic is more limited with boosts than with Facebook ads, so I prefer ads. I do like using boosts to promote a link to a video. (see below)
Google ads and Bing ads
The big picture is: you create a short ad. You choose whether it will display on search networks, display networks, or both. Then you define what kinds of people to show it to (geographic region, etc.). Then you define “keywords.”
For “search network advertising”: When someone in your region searches for those keywords, then the ad will display. For “display network” your ad will appear when people are looking at related content, even if they didn’t use your search terms to get there. When I ran ads on Bing, for $10, the ad would display to about 500 people, and about 25 would click through. On Google, $10 would display to about 1500 people, but only about 9 or 10 would click through. If you were just trying to get your name out there, Google may be a better bet, because there’s more “impressions” (times your ad is shown.) If you really want people to click to your site to learn more, Bing may be a better bet, because more will click through. Or, you may choose to run a low budget ad on both networks to reach the widest variety of users.
I personally prefer Facebook ads to search engine ads, because as a user, I find I read Facebook ads, and I totally ignore search engine ads. Also, Facebook allows me to target more specifically. However, if you think people will be actively searching out programs like yours and you have a really good sense of what keywords they would use, search engine ads are certainly worth doing. Learn how to place ads on Google and Yahoo Bing.
Promoting a video
You may choose to make a video to promote your program. If you do, then upload it to YouTube, then embed it somewhere on your website (check the help info in your website tool to learn how to do this.) Then promote it.
On Facebook, you can put a post with a link to the video, and then boost that post. (My $10 test ad displayed to 1700, and 62 clicked through.) On Google Ads, you can create a “video campaign” (learn how and learn more). Ads display on YouTube. (My test ad displayed to about 950 people, 24 clicked through.) Or you can set up your ad (“promote your video”) on YouTube directly. (Learn how.)
Check your web presence
When you spend money on internet advertising, most of those ads will take people directly to your website to learn more about your program. PLEASE make sure your website is the best it can be, free of grammar and spelling errors, graphically pleasant and contains all the essential info they would need! Learn more here.
Is it working?
When you spend money on an ad in traditional media (newspapers, mailings, radio ads), it can be hard to tell: how many people saw the ad? How many were your target demographic? Did they take any actions after seeing the ad?
It’s easier to get those answers for online advertising. All the services listed above will give you all sorts of statistics (analytics) on how many people saw the ad, how many clicked through, what portion of the video they watched, and so on. This helps you decide whether the ad was money well spent.
It’s even better if you can take this to the next level. Many websites allow you to see your statistics. So, for example, on a day you ran an ad, you can see not only how many people clicked in from your ad, but what they did once they got to your site. Did they click on links on the page? Did they look at other pages? How much time did they spend on your site? There are also some external tools that can track statistics, like Google Analytics.
It’s even better if you can do “conversion tracking” which shows more specifically what a user did on your site after clicking through from an ad. These articles might be helpful to you: How to Track Facebook Ad Conversions and Understanding Conversion Tracking.
Staying up to date
The world of internet advertising is always changing, so if you want to be effective, update your website and your marketing strategy on a regular basis.
In this overview, I’ve shared what I learned this summer about online marketing. I need to say that the online world changes very quickly, and the processes might not be the same and you might not get the same results in September 2015 as I got in September 2014.
Have you had any experience with online marketing for your childbirth education or other birth business? Please share your successes and learning moments with us in the comments section. – SM
About Janelle Durham
Janelle Durham, MSW, LCCE. Janelle has taught childbirth preparation, breastfeeding, and newborn care for 14 years. She trains childbirth educators for the Great Starts program at Parent Trust for Washington Children, and teaches young families through Bellevue College’s Parent Education program. She is a co-author of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn and writes blogs/websites on: pregnancy & birth; breastfeeding and newborn care; and parenting toddlers & preschoolers. Contact Janelle and learn more