Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical part of your marketing activities — but it’s only one part. Nowadays, you have a whole host of different options to choose from. However, so do your competitors.

So, how do you get ahead and make sure that it’s your products that your audience is engaging with? Through innovation. You need to get creative when advertising products and connect with your leads and prospects in new and exciting ways.

Take a look at our list of 13 innovative strategies for advertising products online and gain a real advantage over the other key players in your market.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for ad targeting and personalization

It’s difficult to ensure your online ads reach the right leads. Discovering more about your prospects can help, giving you the understanding you need to segment your audience into like-minded groups ready to be targeted. However, this is not easy to achieve simply because there is so much data to manage and process.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can make this process far more straightforward. 

AI- and ML-based tools process large amounts of data and then target your online ads accordingly. This means you can reach potential customers among the most qualified groups while reducing the time, effort, and money you need to invest in targeting.

You can also set AI and ML to work on your ads’ performance data. 

Tools like Facebook Ads Manager analyze key performance indicators when you run Facebook ads, while Google Ads Performance Planner achieves the same for your Google search engine ads. Feeding this data into tools such as Facebook’s Automated Rules or Google’s Smart Bidding optimizes your ads performance across critical targeted metrics.

Adopting AI and ML in this way ensures your ads reach your target audience and perform optimally. It also serves as a key labor saver for you and your teams.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) advertising

Augmented reality and virtual reality are changing the way leads interact with advertisements. 

By incorporating elements of AR and VR, advertisers craft highly engaging experiences for their audience members, providing a unique perspective that sets the brand apart from competitors in the industry.

With an augmented reality approach, advertisers place products or ad materials into a real-world situation using the power of the lead’s device. The lead might view a landscape through their smartphone camera and encounter a three-dimensional element within that space — perhaps a representation of the product itself or simply an advertisement for that product.

Virtual reality works in a similar way, but advertisers create their own projected reality instead. 

As increasing numbers of consumers use VR headsets to engage in online gaming and other aspects of digital life, companies are finding ample opportunities for promotion. 

The technology already exists for users in search of an immersive experience, so companies can achieve far better connections with their target customers. These connections are much stronger than a traditional static ad or a video ad could ever provide.

There is great potential for this technology in online advertising. One example is online product demonstrations — if leads are not physically present for a traditional product demonstration, they can engage with it online via a VR or AR demo.

Voice search optimization and advertising

Convenience is going to be key for your consumers going forward. 

Today’s customers are using powerful devices to search for products — devices with a wealth of different features and capabilities, including voice search. You need to make sure that when leads use this voice search capability, it’s your products they find.

How do you do this? Think about how your customers speak. They will use conversational language and ask questions to the voice search app using long-tail keywords. Bear this in mind when you conduct keyword research for your content strategy and when you create your online content.

It’s also important to think about what your customers are using voice search for. They might be on the move, using their device hands-free to find products from local businesses. When you advertise online, use keywords related to the local area to optimize for local search. This will make it easier for new customers to find you when they search for products nearby.

The device is another key consideration. While many modern devices now have built-in voice recognition features, smartphones are still the leaders in this area. 

A lead is likely to complete a voice search on their mobile phone and then open the landing pages and product pages they find in their mobile browser. Make sure all your content marketing pieces are fully optimized for smartphone and mobile display.

Influencer marketing and collaborations

Influencer marketing is a hot topic these days — and sometimes a controversial one. 

Despite mixed opinions on this industry, true influencers offer immense value to your digital marketing strategy and marketing efforts in general. Remember, these are people with vast social media and online followings, and they have the power to start trends and influence or encourage customers to make key purchasing decisions.

While influencer marketing is one of the more innovative strategies for advertising products online, you’ll need to adopt a careful approach as you select the right partner for your brand. 

First of all, the influencer you partner with will need to be relevant to your brand and products. 

The partner should have a loyal following that fits within your own specific target audience. They will need to be in a position of trust in your industry so you can gain some of this trust when you market your own products.

Working with a sincere influencer — i.e., one who markets products they actually like rather than simply accepting an offer from the highest bidder — is crucial. 

This feeds into the trust aspect of influencer marketing. Online audiences will see through anyone simply out to make a quick buck and will only put their trust in influencers they feel are sincere.

What the influencer is offering and the value of this offering are also important to consider. You are entering partnerships with these influencers — creating brand collaborations between the influencer and yourself — so you need to make sure that the returns justify the amount you are investing.

Influencer marketing and collaborations

Dynamic product ads (DPA) and remarketing

Dynamic product ads, or DPAs, are changing the online advertising landscape. With such a diverse array of devices, operating systems, browsers, apps, and other digital features, customers might approach your ad from a number of different directions. 

And then there is the customer journey to think about. A cold lead with no background knowledge of what you offer will interact differently with your ad than a hot lead or repeat customer might.

The DPA considers all this, drawing upon customer data to display the ad content that best suits them. This is a game-changer for your digital marketing strategies, as you won’t need to spend so much time A/B testing and assessing which digital content is most suitable for a specific ad. 

The ad platform will do much of this for you. The automation is efficient and smart, delivering the right ads to the right users most of the time.

Where does retargeting fit into this? Retargeting means reaching leads, including existing customers, who have already visited your ad or your page. Тhis form of marketing deals with specific audience profiles. The DPA can detect this previous visitor or existing customer and automatically display the retargeting content when this user views an ad.

Programmatic advertising and real-time bidding (RTB)

Programmatic advertising relies on automated ad technology to display relevant online ads to users as they browse online in search engines or use social media sites. 

Basically, the advertiser defines a range of parameters and then launches their ad. The programmatic advertising tool then follows an automated process, comparing the parameters and bid levels of the different ad candidates and deciding which content to publish for the user. 

All this automated decision-making takes place at an ultra-quick speed, so the ad is displayed when the page or app loads.

Real-time bidding, or RTB, is essentially one type of programmatic advertising. 

When a lead visits an online store, website or application, there may be a number of advertisers with ad content relevant to this lead. To decide which content is displayed, an auction takes place in real-time. The auction winner — i.e., the advertiser who bid the most — gets to display their ad.

Achieving success with programmatic and RTB advertising campaigns is all about balance. 

You need to understand how much each impression or click is worth to your online business, and you’ll need to set your bidding parameters according to your marketing goals. Overestimate this worth, and you’ll end up paying too much for each user action. Underestimate it, and leads won’t even see your ads.

Chatbots and conversational marketing

The way you communicate with your leads and prospects shapes the relationships you form with these users. This is where conversational marketing can make a huge difference. 

Conversational marketing means engaging with users in the same way you would engage someone face-to-face in a physical store. In other words, you chat with each other, have a discussion, and reach a mutually acceptable outcome — the customer finds the product they need, and you make a sale.

But how is this done within the world of online marketing? It’s basically impossible to reach out and converse with all your users across all your top marketing channels, so you need an automated solution that can do this instead. 

Not only does this solution need to be automatic and independent, but it also needs to be smart enough to guide your leads through the process and gently prompt users to convert.

Fortunately, modern chatbot technology is smart enough to achieve these outcomes. 

By using machine learning and following a set pattern of interactions, chatbots deliver the support your customers need quickly, efficiently, and conveniently. It also reduces the workload for the human personnel in your support teams. 

These teams are still on hand to offer assistance for more complex inquiries. However, the chatbot provides 24/7 assistance, supporting users and guiding them toward existing content if necessary.

Geofencing and location-based advertising

The internet is huge, and customers from all over the world can connect with your marketing campaigns. Great, but what if you need your leads to take a specific action in a specific place? This is where geofencing comes in. 

It utilizes near-field technology, RFID tags, scannable QR codes, and other digital tech applied in the real world. You can deliver marketing messages, deals, and other important content directly to customers close to your physical store or service area.

This can also be a great way to encourage rewards program signups and general customer loyalty

If you run a coffee shop, for example, a scannable QR code could land someone a free gift, like a latte or cupholder, and land your business a new customer. You’re bringing in more leads and converting these leads more easily.

You can also use a local SEO strategy to generate sales from organic traffic in your area. By structuring your data and registering a Google Business Profile, you can ensure you appear in Google Maps results and Search Engine Results Pages for local searches so customers can find you easily. 

Localizing your paid Google ads or pay-per-click (PPC) ads can also make your campaigns more cost-effective by avoiding unwanted clicks from customers outside your region.

Interactive video ads and shoppable content

Once upon a time, video content was simply an accompaniment to an online advertising strategy. A lead might view a video and then hopefully click a link or take another action afterward. 

Interactive video ads are changing this, allowing leads to buy products, complete signups, or make other connections during video playback. Anything that reduces the time between that first customer contact and a customer action is a good thing. 

If the customer has to finish the video before they can take action or click elsewhere outside the video player to convert, this is an extra delay in the process. The lead might head elsewhere. 

Placing interactive elements within the video itself — creating directly shoppable content — offers a more direct route to conversion.

Interactive video ads and shoppable content

Gamification and interactive advertising

We’re all more engaged when interacting with something actively rather than passively observing it. This is one of the key principles of gamification — the application of gaming elements and rewards to digital design. You can apply this to your online advertising strategy with highly effective results

For instance, offering rewards for certain customer actions — loyalty points for completing a survey, perhaps, or exclusive content for making a repeat purchase — can develop a sense of achievement and purpose in customers. This encourages them to take further action in the future.

It can also help make certain gamification aspects visible to all users. If your customers can sign up for an online account with a publicly visible username, you could then publish a weekly leaderboard of rewards points scores. 

This will give users a sense of community and competition without revealing any of their personal information. There is also a feeling of connection in this type of action, making it more engaging than passive observation or individual interaction.

Gamification and interactive advertising will be highly suitable for some sectors and business types; others may find it difficult to achieve the same level of engagement. However, most businesses can reap real benefits when they add an interactive element to their online advertising.

Social media advertising and targeting

The days of generalized social media marketing are over. 

Now, you need targeted social media marketing based on specific audiences. 

Consider the following as you craft your audience segment profiles: 

  • Which social media platforms are your target audience using? 
  • What are they using these platforms for? 
  • What content do they want to see? 
  • How are they using the products they engage with? 

All this will help you as you target your approach, delivering the right content to the right people in the right places.

But there is more to marketing than just creating a blog post and then creating social media posts about that blog. Social media advertising is also crucial here. Just like with search engine ads — and search engine marketing in general — you need to make sure that your social media advertisements are cost-effective.

Again, this means consulting your audience segment profiles and deciding which kinds of ads will be most effective. 

There’s no point in displaying your ads on the wrong social media channels, reaching those who are not looking to purchase your product. Plus, garnering clicks from the wrong audience will end up costing you money. Instead, target your paid ads to those who may be genuinely interested in converting.

Native advertising and branded content

Native advertising refers to promotional materials that look like ordinary organic content, blending in with their surroundings. 

You might see an advertorial on a newspaper or magazine website that looks just like a standard editorial but is tagged as “sponsored” or something similar — this is native advertising.

Branded content works in a similar way but is a little different. 

With branded content, you are displaying your core brand values within a piece of informative content. 

For example, let’s say you operate an auto repair business. You might produce branded content that offers genuinely useful information regarding vehicle maintenance and care while weaving in messaging that communicates your core brand identity and value proposition.

But it’s important to be transparent and fair to your audience. You still need to make sure that your native advertising and branded content both provide genuine value to them. You may also want to subtly indicate which content pieces have an advertorial slant and which pieces are purely informative.

Blending your marketing messaging with ordinary content in this way improves the experience for your audience and is more likely to be successful than exclusively using overt online ads. User-generated content, like reviews and testimonials, can also help you promote your products while remaining honest and open to your customers.

Customer data platforms (CDP) and data-driven advertising

A customer data platform, or CDP, is a useful tool to help you get to know your audience and then market to your audience segments effectively. 

The CDP brings together vast amounts of data relating to customer preferences, behaviors, characteristics, and other aspects and then makes this information available to your marketing team. It’s difficult to get a handle on data all by yourself, and this kind of digital tool makes high-level data insight accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Why is this data so important? 

In the digital age, you need to ensure that all your processes are backed with data insight — especially for your marketing strategies. Without a solid foundation of data, you do not know who you are targeting and how to reach your ideal customers. 

As you gather more data — with help from tools like CDPs — you build clearer definitions for each audience segment profile. Not only can you target these segments more effectively, but you can also create diverse strategies that hit each of your individual profiles separately for maximum impact.

Customer data platforms

Innovate and diversify when advertising your products

You are advertising your products, and your competitors are advertising their products too. You need to think a little differently to move ahead of these competitors. 

You need to innovate, using strategies that push the boundaries of what is possible from advertising. You also need to diversify, adding more initiatives to your comprehensive strategy and reaching more customers in the process. 

Hopefully, this list will inspire and help you achieve a real competitive advantage when advertising products online.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the best way to go about advertising products online?

Be diverse and innovative. Bring together lots of different strategies — from SEO content creation to direct advertising, local geofencing, and implementing an email marketing campaign — to build brand awareness.

How can I target the right customers when advertising products?

Conduct market research and use consumer data platforms to identify your key audience segments, then develop advertising strategies that match the needs of these segments.

Is SEO still important in digital marketing?

An SEO strategy is still very important to your digital marketing. Use organic SEO activities alongside paid advertising initiatives to bring in more leads and generate sales.