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Digital Ads for Music Stores: Where & Why

Digital Ads for Music Stores: Where & Why

Running the right ads in the right places for the right reasons

We are in an exciting time for music retailers. Never have there been so many tools for you to reach your target customers affordably. In many cases, the biggest challenge is too many options and understanding which to use and when. Understanding the key ad platforms and how they can best be utilized for marketing your store is a key to success with a limited budget and time. In this article we give you insights and actionable tactics specifically related to running effective digital ads for music stores. 

There are four ad media options that are currently working best for music retailers. Those are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google AdWords. Let’s dig in and give you the information needed to succeed with each. 

Key Points:

  1. The best way to use Facebook ads
  2. Using Instagram ads
  3. When to YouTube
  4. How about using Google AdWords?

The Best Way to Use Facebook Ads

Facebook ads allow you to tightly target customers based on their interests, location, and other attributes. Your ads show up in the user’s feed alongside posts from their friends and family.

How to use Facebook ads: Use Facebook ads to reach people that are likely to be potential customers of yours based on their interests. This is ideal to get in front of customers who are not currently your customers and show them why they want to get to know your store.

Targeting tips: Facebook offers a number of options to tightly target the customers you want to reach. Be sure to start with geographic targeting. If you are looking to increase your music store’s walk-in traffic, then target customers near your store. We like to start with a 5-mile radius, which is likely your very best prospects. After you define your audience based on proximity, start to work on interests, which Facebook calls Detailed Targeting. You will find some very general interests like “guitar,” “electric guitar,” and “saxophone” are a great way to find musicians in general. There are other terms, however, that can expand your reach or be used to find customers that are more gear-oriented. We often target musicians on Facebook by focusing more on gear brands. A guitarist that follows Fender, Marshall, Peavey, and Line 6 is showing an interest in his or her guitar gear and might be more likely to see the value of what you are showing in your ads. You can also include in your audience targeting terms related to the top gear publications and even your competitor music stores.

Marketing hack: Create ads that look more like a typical post on Facebook. When users see a post with a bunch of text they just scroll past it. If you, however, create an ad that matches your target customers’ passion for the instruments that you sell and show them something that they are interested in, they are more likely to slow down, read your copy, and click your link.

Instagram Ads – Am I Ready for My Close Up? 

As a feed-based social media network, most of the insights related to Facebook also apply here. Instagram started as a mobile-centric photo-sharing platform, and that DNA still influences users’ expectations. Posts and ads should include an attractive image or video to fit the community. 

How to use Instagram ads: We typically find that Instagram is a little less effective than Facebook at driving clicks to an external website, but is potentially more powerful in making a strong impression for a music store. Showcase your coolest products, your large selection in a specific category, and your customers. 

Targeting tips: Targeting on Instagram is essentially the same as Facebook since it is part of the Facebook network, so all of the notes above apply here. We suggest using Facebook Business (link) to manage your Instagram and Facebook ads. This offers additional powerful tools that can help you succeed. Test many audiences and target people based on each individual ad.

Marketing hack: Video is the hottest form of content right now on Instagram (and Facebook). Because video is more engaging to users, Instagram prefers to show video ads and therefore shows favoritism towards video ads. With video you also benefit from the fact that Instagram users are more likely to take the time to view your message in video format and you have a better opportunity to tell them why they want to buy from you instead of your local or online competition.


Video is the hottest form of content right now on Instagram and Facebook. Because video is more engaging to users, Instagram shows favoritism towards video ads.

When to YouTube

Very few music retailers have leveraged the amazing potential of YouTube, including their ad platform. Recent data shows that more than 55% of people say they search for a product on Google and then learn more by going to YouTube before they buy it. That means YouTube is perfectly located between your customer’s initial research and closer to their decision on what to buy. This is a great place for you to insert yourself and let consumers know that your store is the best place to buy the product that they ultimately select. 

How to use it: You will need to create video ads to leverage the potential reach of YouTube so let’s start there. Create simple video ads that showcase your selection, service, and other things that make your store special. Do you offer a great warranty? Training? Expertise in a specific area? Showcase those things and give musicians in your area a reason to visit your store. Do not get too hung up on the quality of your video. Spend some time on YouTube and you will see many ads that are just a business person on-screen telling his or her story. You can create a video ad that shows your target customers why they need to visit you and your store. 

Targeting tips: You place and manage your YouTube ads using Google’s AdWords platform and the targeting data being used is from Google’s rich insights into all of us. You can target by age, location, and interest similar to Facebook and Instagram, but you can also target your ads based on the user’s action. If you are trying to sell a Fender guitar it might be a good idea to deliver your ad to someone about to watch a product review on a Fender guitar. We often utilize this capability as our core targeting on YouTube and utilize Facebook and Instagram for our general interest ad efforts.

Marketing hack: Maximize the capability to run ads based on specific products by creating ads that exactly match what your potential buyer is in the market for. If you are great at sound reinforcement, create an ad that tells that story, run it only against searches that would indicate someone is in the market for P.A. gear, and clearly tell them how you can help them. Target only customers near your store and looking for stuff that you sell.

How About Using Google AdWords?

Google search ads allow you to reach customers directly when they are in the act of buying. The unique advantage of AdWords is that it is most closely tied to buyer intent. As a retailer, of course, this is exactly when you want to reach and win a customer.   

How to use it: Use Google search ads specifically to reach customers that are about to purchase. We would not recommend ads that are general information about your store. This is not the right spot for branding and awareness building – this is your chance to catch a customer that is in-market to buy. Create ads that are specific to products that you have in stock and include a message that tells the customer why they should look to you to purchase. If you are delivering the ad to local buyers, include info on the benefits you offer, like “try before you buy” and your local after-sale support. Know that the customer will see other link options next to yours so your copy needs to tell them why to select YOU!

Targeting tips: Targeting on AdWords is keyword based, so you need to determine which keyword or keyword phrase you will target. Increase your return-on-investment by focusing on more specific product keywords that match up with the goal of reaching a customer when they are close to making a purchase. Don’t buy a general keyword like “Gibson.” A customer who is only searching Gibson is likely not that close to buying since they are not focused on a specific model. Instead, invest in the more detailed keywords like the specific Gibson models that you have in stock. Bidding for a “Gibson 1957 Les Paul Custom Reissue” is more likely to be less competitive and therefore less expensive. Additionally, you know exactly what the customer is interested in, which means that you can improve the copy in your ad and on your landing page to further assure success.   

Marketing hack: The key to success with Google search ads is having your keyword selection (audience targeting) matched with your ad copy and then matched with the landing page that people will reach when they click on your ad. You want the headline and text in your ad to precisely match the keyword on which you are bidding. If the keyword relates to a specific Gibson Les Paul model, customize the ad to mention that model and that you have it in stock. The closer the copy in your ad is to what the shopper is searching for, the more likely they are to feel that it is the best fit out of their available options. When your target customer clicks on your ad, where will you send them? You have spent money to get this customer’s attention, so this next step is critical. We recommend a landing page with the specific model and info on what you have in stock and reinforcing your value proposition. Include a strong call-to-action to invite that user to the store to see and play the instrument. Don’t miss this last step on your Google Ads or the other ad types mentioned here.

Define Your Goals, Set a Budget, and GO!

Without a doubt, one of these advertising options can be utilized to grow your business. To get started with digital ads for your music store you need to decide what your goals are. If you want to generally grow traffic into your store and increase your customer base long-term, lean heavily on Facebook and Instagram. If you want to work to increase sales on specific in-stock products, try to get good at Google AdWords. Just be sure to start with a level of focus on what you want to accomplish and use the medium that best matches that goal.

Set a monthly budget for your new digital marketing effort. We suggest that you commit to a 3 to 4-month budget on your first effort. Start placing ads, watch their performance, and refine them. Don’t give up if things do not work well in month one. Digital ads work and WILL outperform any other paid media option available to you – you just need to find the right approach for you. After you have a goal and a budget, get started! Every music retailer needs the benefits available from digital ads like these in this competitive market. It might not start fast or perfect, but if you get going you will find your path to digital ad success!

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