Thank you to Valley Business FRONT for featuring our Director of Digital Marketing, Carrie Cousins, in their January 2024 issue.

Do you like personalized ads?

I bet you said “no” almost immediately. Fueling that response is an understanding that personalized ads mean you are giving up an element of information to big companies such as Meta (Facebook) or Google.

But what happens when you disrupt the algorithm? What if everything you are seeing today, mostly posts about things you enjoy and like, shifts to something else altogether?

Recently, I conducted a little experiment in the offices at LeadPoint Digital. I was trying to find a specific type of advertiser for a product I don’t need or see ads for, in this case a new roof. 

  • Hypothesis: You can change the algorithm so that you start seeing different content in your social media feed. 
  • Step 1: Enter search queries for the topic (roofing, new roof, replace roof) in the Facebook search bar. 
  • Step 2: Talk about roofing openly among a group.

At this point you are probably feeling pretty skeptical about this little game. 

But within minutes, I started getting ads for roofers. So many that my entire Facebook feed is packed with contractors, homes with beautiful new shingles, and even companies trying to sell roofing franchises!

Changing the algorithm destroyed my ideal social media browsing experience filled with shoes, clothing, and puppies and replaced it with roofers.

So back to the question: Do you like personalized ads?

For most of us, even if it is hard to admit, the answer is yes. We generally like seeing things that appeal to us and are in alignment with our activities, interests, and daily lives. 

From a business perspective, more personalized (targeted) advertising experiences help us control budgets and engage with people who are most interested in the product or service at hand. 

Good targeting will generate better results for your business from both a brand awareness perspective and when it comes to sales and generating leads. This is why – you are in front of the right people at the right time. 

Did I mention that I actually missed a sale from a brand I love during the roofing ads experiment because that advertiser was actually pushed out of my feed? In turn, that business lost a sale. 

The good news is the algorithms are smart and will normalize to showing ads that are just for me, mostly in part because I will resume normal browsing behavior. 

But there’s an important lesson for all of us: Targeted advertising and personalization works. It impacts consumer behavior and drives sales. And when you don’t have it, online scrolling isn’t near as fun! 

Carrie Cousins is the Director of Digital Marketing at LeadPoint Digital in Roanoke. For 15+ years, she has helped businesses tell their stories and get better results online with practical digital marketing strategies. She also an active leader in AAF, serving on the local and district boards, and is an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. 

Your visual brand is a critical piece of your overall marketing strategy. It includes all the visual elements that make your organization recognizable and memorable, ensuring consistency in everything from storefronts to digital marketing. 

Visual branding includes five key elements: A logo, a color palette, typefaces, image style and graphic elements. No matter a brand’s overall aesthetic — traditional or modern, professional or whimsical — all these elements need to work together to communicate the personality and purpose of your brand.

The Logo

Your visual brand begins with your logo. It is the unique identifier for your brand and you will use it everywhere. Because it uses both typefaces and color, your logo is the foundation of your visual brand.

Color Palette

Your brand’s palette should include the colors from your logo as well as a small set of complementary colors. These colors will be used across all platforms, such as advertising, websites, and signage. Most times, moderation is important when choosing a palette. It’s easy to go overboard. 


Typography includes both the fonts as well as the attributes of those fonts, such as size and boldness. Choose two or three fonts that express your brand’s personality. For example, a thin and condensed sans serif font feels sleek and modern while a heavy serif font is more traditional. Most importantly, make sure your fonts are functional and easy to read.


Set guidelines for photography and videography that communicate your brand strategy. What types of images best represent the personality of your organization? Will images be in color or black and white? Heavily filtered or natural? Whatever style you choose, use it consistently.

Graphic Elements

Graphic elements such as patterns, textures or icons add extra flair where you need it, such as in website and social media backgrounds or designs on packaging materials. They’re a small touch that can pull your whole visual identity together.

Each of these elements contribute to a visual language for your brand. The goal is clear and consistent communication that makes your brand instantly recognizable.

Need to know how to create a visual brand? Roanoke’s digital marketing company is ready to help. LeadPoint’s creative team helps organizations take their visual branding to the next level — growing their name recognition and their bottom line. Drop us a line for a free consultation with one of our digital marketing experts.

Research indicates that no less than 87% of shoppers take to the internet to research purchases before buying. In today’s digital landscape, online advertising plays a crucial role in the success of businesses. It offers a powerful platform to reach a wider audience, promote products or services, and achieve business goals. One of the most effective online advertising tools is Google Ads. We will explore how Google Ads can help businesses advance their goals and drive success.

Targeted Advertising for Effective Reach

Getting the right product in front of the right person, or targeted advertising, is one of the hallmarks of effective advertising. Google Ads makes it easy for businesses to reach the right customer by providing advanced targeting options that reach specific demographics, interests, locations, and keywords. The benefits of this approach are numerous:

Reaching the Right Audience

Through Google Ads, businesses can display ads to users who are interested in purchasing a product or service you offer. This targeted approach ensures that the right message reaches the right people, leading to better engagement and higher conversion rates.

Generating Relevant Leads and Conversions:

Businesses can generate more relevant leads and drive conversions by targeting the specific audience that is most likely to convert. Google Ads’ targeting capabilities help optimize ad spend and maximize return on investment.

See How LeadPoint Can Help Your Business

Increased Visibility for Brand Exposure

Visibility is key to standing out in the competitive online landscape. Google Ads enables businesses to position their ads at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. The advantages of increased visibility include:

Higher Brand Exposure

By getting top ad placements, businesses can increase their brand exposure and raise awareness. This awareness goes a long way toward converting those customers searching for related products or services.

Enhanced Brand Awareness

The consistent visibility offered by Google Ads helps businesses build brand recognition and establish a strong online presence. This can lead to long-term benefits and customer loyalty.

Budget Control and Optimization

Google Ads provides businesses with flexibility in budget management, allowing them to set daily or monthly budgets aligned with their goals. This control over ad spend offers several advantages:

Effective Budget Allocation

Businesses can allocate their advertising budget strategically, ensuring optimal use of funds. This flexibility empowers businesses to focus their resources on campaigns that yield the best results.

Maximizing Return on Investment (ROI)

Google Ads’ budget control enables businesses to track ad performance and make data-driven decisions. By analyzing key metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions, businesses can optimize their campaigns to achieve the highest possible ROI.

Measurable Results for Data-Driven Decisions

Data is the backbone of successful marketing strategies. Google Ads provides businesses with extensive data on ad performance, allowing for informed decision-making:

Comprehensive Performance Tracking

Google Ads offers valuable insights into impressions, clicks, conversions, and various other key metrics. This data helps businesses evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns and make necessary adjustments.

Campaign Optimization

Armed with relevant data, businesses can optimize their Google Ads campaigns. By identifying underperforming ads, targeting opportunities, or areas for improvement, businesses can refine their strategies to drive better results and reach their goals.

Remarketing Opportunities for Customer Engagement

Remarketing is a powerful technique that enables businesses to re-engage with previous website visitors or interested users. Google Ads provides robust remarketing capabilities, offering several benefits:

Building Customer Connections

Remarketing allows businesses to reconnect with potential customers who have already shown interest in their offerings. By displaying targeted ads to these users as they browse other websites or platforms within the Google Display Network, businesses can acquire leads and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Converting Leads into Customers

Remarketing presents an opportunity to reinforce brand messaging, provide additional value, and ultimately convert leads into paying customers. By staying top-of-mind with potential customers, businesses can increase their chances of driving conversions and achieving their goals.

Enhanced Mobile Advertising for Reach

Mobile advertising has become increasingly important with the rise of smartphone usage. Google Ads offers specific features and options for mobile advertising, allowing businesses to tap into the growing mobile user base:

Mobile-Specific Advertising

Google Ads provides businesses with mobile-specific ad formats and targeting options. This ensures that ads are optimized for smartphones and tablets, providing a seamless and engaging experience for users on the go.

Access to a Wider Audience

By reaching users on their mobile devices, businesses can expand their reach and connect with a larger audience. This increased visibility among mobile users enhances the potential for engagement, conversions, and business growth.

Ad Extensions for Enhanced Visibility and Engagement

Ad extensions are a valuable tool within Google Ads that allows businesses to enhance their ads and improve user experience. Some key benefits of using ad extensions include:

Improved Click-Through Rates

Ad extensions provide additional information and functionality within ads, making them more appealing and relevant to users. This, in turn, can lead to higher click-through rates and increased traffic to businesses’ websites.

Driving Qualified Traffic

Ad extensions allow businesses to provide users with more specific details, such as site links, phone numbers, or additional landing pages. By offering more relevant information, businesses can attract more qualified traffic and improve the chances of conversions.

Effectiveness and Worth of Google Ads

Google Ads advertising has proven to be highly effective in driving business results. Some key reasons why it is worth investing in include:

Targeted Reach

With its advanced targeting capabilities, Google Ads ensures that businesses reach the most relevant audience, increasing the likelihood of conversions and maximizing ad spend efficiency.

Measurable Performance

Google Ads provides extensive data and analytics to track the performance of ad campaigns. This allows businesses to evaluate their results, make data-driven decisions, and continuously optimize their strategies for better outcomes.

Flexibility and Scalability

Google Ads accommodates businesses of all sizes and budgets. Whether you’re a small local business or a global enterprise, Google Ads offers the flexibility to scale your campaigns and align them with your business goals.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Google Ads

Google Ads comes with several advantages for businesses, such as:

Precise Targeting

Google Ads allows businesses to reach specific demographics, interests, locations, and keywords, ensuring their ads are seen by the right audience.

Enhanced Visibility

Google Ads positions ads prominently on SERPs, giving businesses increased visibility and exposure to potential customers actively searching for related products or services.

However, there are potential disadvantages or challenges to consider, such as:

Increased Competition

As Google Ads becomes more popular, competition for top ad placements intensifies, potentially driving up costs and making it more challenging to stand out.

Ad Fatigue

Displaying the same ads repeatedly to the same audience may lead to ad fatigue, where users become less responsive or uninterested in the messaging.

Benefits of Online Advertising

Online advertising, including Google Ads, offers several benefits for businesses:

Wider Reach

Online advertising allows businesses to extend their reach beyond geographical limitations, tapping into a global audience.


Compared to traditional marketing channels, online advertising often provides a more cost-effective way to promote products or services and reach a targeted audience.

Real-Time Analytics

Online advertising platforms like Google Ads offer real-time analytics, enabling businesses to monitor campaign performance, make data-driven decisions, and adjust strategies on the fly.

Complementing Traditional Marketing Efforts

Online advertising can work hand-in-hand with traditional marketing efforts, creating a holistic marketing approach that maximizes visibility and impact.

Impact on Views and Reach

Yes, Google Ads can increase views by positioning ads prominently on SERPs and other websites within the Google Display Network. By utilizing Google Ads, businesses can benefit from:

Enhanced Visibility

Google Ads enables businesses to secure top ad placements on search engine results pages, increasing their visibility and exposure to a larger audience.

Expanded Reach

Google Ads extends businesses’ reach beyond their organic search rankings, ensuring that their ads are seen by users who may not have discovered them otherwise.

Grow Your Business with Google Ads

Google Ads provides businesses with a powerful platform to advance their goals and drive success in the online advertising realm. With targeted advertising, increased visibility, budget control, and measurable results, businesses can optimize their campaigns for better outcomes. Remarketing opportunities, enhanced mobile advertising, and ad extensions further enhance engagement and reach.

While Google Ads offers many advantages, it is important to consider potential challenges and ensure effective campaign management. Online advertising, including Google Ads, offers numerous benefits that complement traditional marketing efforts and provide businesses with valuable opportunities for growth. By leveraging the capabilities of Google Ads strategically, businesses can maximize their visibility, engagement, and conversions. This ultimately advances their business goals and helps to achieve long-term success.

Want help building a successful Google Ad campaign for your business but don’t know where to start? LeadPoint Digital can help! We specialize in search engine optimization and advertising, content marketing, and website design. Our deep understanding of online behavior allows us to develop and execute practical inbound strategies that drive results. Drop us a line for a free consultation with one of our digital marketing experts!

Cousins Speaks on Her Career – And Marketing

Carrie Cousins, the senior digital strategist for LeadPoint Digital, was recently featured for her design and leadership expertise in an interview with 20i, an innovative British web hosting company.

In the interview, Cousins spoke of her longtime interest in design and writing — both dating back to her childhood. In addition to her design and digital marketing work for LeadPoint Digital, Cousins writes extensively about design — especially user experience design — for websites like WebDesignerDepot, Design Shack, and Fast Company.

Though she didn’t get a degree in graphic design, she sought out extensive training once she got involved in design during her days in newspapers. “I wanted to ensure that my visual ‘gut’ instinct aligned with some of the practical theory and technical skills to ensure that I was designing and not just decorating,” she said.

“One of the hardest parts of design is keeping up with trends”, Cousins said. “Visual evolutions seem to be happening on fast cycles,” she said. “The challenge is that a design can begin to look dated fast. This makes it more important than ever to be agile and create with an element of urgency.”

20i also asked Cousins about her marketing expertise. “Every business – from a micro-business to a small location with a few employees – needs to connect marketing to actual business goals,” she said. “It’s not enough to do marketing because ‘you should.’ Marketing with a strategy rooted in goals and outcomes will generate the best potential results. It’s ok to start with small goals and grow them with your business.”

Cousins also recently delivered presentations at the AAF District 3 Conference in Raleigh, NC; and was on the RBTC WoTech Women in Technology panel during Game Changer Week in Blacksburg, VA.

If you are interested in working with recognized leaders in digital design and marketing, contact LeadPoint Digital.

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One of the most common dilemmas in search engine marketing is whether to advertise for your brand name or keywords your company is already ranking for at the top of the search engine ranking pages (SERPs).

Here are a few strategies we’ve used in the past that have proved successful.

Branded Search Engine Strategy

The branded search engine strategy revolves around generating as much top-of-page search share as possible. This strategy focuses on targeting keywords you’re already ranking in the top 5 listings.

Why? Depending on the search query, there could be as many as 4-5 paid advertisements above the first organic search listing. Even if your business is ranking within the top 3 listings, you still have potentially 5-7 competitors ranking above your listing. That’s approximately a 14% chance of someone clicking on your organic listing. If you have a paid ad, the chance of someone clicking on your listings jumps to 28%.

This strategy will displace your percentage of organic search traffic as paid traffic in Google Analytics. However, in most situations, combined visitors, user engagement, and conversions increase.

Teeter-Totter Search Engine Strategy

The teeter-totter search engine strategy is all about capitalizing on search queries that your business is missing out on today while you let your SEO strategy work. This strategy starts with a large advertising budget bidding on keywords you’re trying to rank organically through an aggressive SEO plan.

As your SEO plan starts ranking keywords in the top-5 listings, the advertising budget reduces, so you eventually only have an SEO expense. This strategy is ideal for businesses that don’t have organic visibility in the search engines but need to boost revenue fast while improving organic visibility.

Coverage Search Engine Strategy

The coverage search engine strategy generates as much search exposure as possible, both organically and paid. This strategy avoids targeting keywords that your website is already ranking for organically and focuses solely on keywords that your website will less likely rank for.

Often, the advertising budget never reduces and is a static part of a digital marketing plan.

This is an ideal strategy for businesses that have plateaued in SEO and still have opportunities with search queries that are a little outside of the website’s intent.

Here’s the Point …

These search engine strategies have a place in any digital marketing plan but aren’t made for every business. The ideal search engine strategy is a comprehensive strategy that mixes coverage and branded models. These two strategies combined ensure you are reaching your targeted audience and increasing SERP share.

Find out what search engine strategy is best for you by scheduling a free consultation with one of our experts.

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Working with What You Have

I’ve always enjoyed business signage that takes a risk of not generating tangible returns for the business. Recently I drove by a sign for a small farm that read “Bloom Where You Are Planted”.

At that moment, the message resonated with me because I have one tulip that blooms in the middle of my yard every year. The soil in my yard is infertile, covered in shade and my landscaping company even said: “…nothing will grow here”.

So I have this tulip in my yard that defies all odds and I have these questions that run through my mind every year. Was it planted there by a person? Did it get there naturally by storm water run-off? Does it get more nutrients because it’s the only living thing in my yard?

This flower was a living example of the statement on the farm sign.

Here’s the Point …

As marketers or business owners, it feels like we always have a small or less-than-ideal budget for marketing and business development.

Rather than finding excuses why marketing isn’t performing, or sales aren’t increasing we should make the most of what we’re given. Instead of spreading our budget thin, maybe we should put a majority or all of our budget where it will return the most.

Typically, digital marketing is the best place to optimize a small marketing/business development budget because it’s highly measurable. Start off by building an email list of all your contacts that include family, friends, clients, partners, vendors, and prospects that you’ve connected with. Depending on your target audience, you may also want to boost or start a search engine advertising program through Google AdWords, Microsoft Ad Center, Yelp, or other equivalents.

Let digital marketing help your budget bloom.

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