Many businesses today embrace digital advertising as an integral part of their marketing strategy. For some companies, however, digital is still uncharted — and sometimes unwelcome — territory. When digital advertising plays a key role in your sales success, it’s important to know why some customers have objections to digital advertising and what you can do about it.

Objection #1: I don’t know how it works (and don’t have the time or desire to learn). 

A reluctance to pursue digital advertising often stems from the very human tendency to distrust things we don’t know or understand. This is one of the easiest objections to handle because it simply requires education. Empathize that digital advertising is new and can be confusing, and then offer to help your customer understand it better. Ways to do this include: 

  • Walk them through the basics, from site lists to creative to demographics. 
  • Use simple language and avoid jargon. 
  • Demonstrate how digital can complement their current advertising techniques by reaching prospects in various stages of their purchase decisions.
  • Emphasize its advantages, like tracking and reporting.
  • Share some successes from other clients. 

Your goal is to make something technical seem as approachable and effective as the radio ads (or print, or TV, etc.) that they’ve used in the past. Once they understand digital advertising, they will be much more likely to consider it. 


Objection #2: My customers don’t use the web, or if they do, they don’t click on ads. 

This objection is more common than you would think. Many small business owners feel that their client base (of a certain age in particular) isn’t particularly web-savvy. They may not use the web much themselves and assume that their customers don’t either. Similarly, prospective buyers of all ages may protest that while they and their customers do go online, they never click on ads — ergo, digital advertising is useless. 

To handle this objection, start with competitors. See if your client’s competition has modern websites and if they’re using digital advertising. They probably are — and if they’re not, even better. Explain to your client that they now have an excellent opportunity to get ahead of the pack. 

Statistics can be powerful to counter the “no one clicks on ads” objection. For instance, according to Hubspot: 

  • 63% of people say that they would click on a Google ad. 
  • Paid ads result in an 11.38% click-through rate on Google.
  • 49% of people say they click on text ads.
  • 60% of consumers click on mobile ads at least weekly. 
  • Two-thirds of consumers can recall a specific brand they have seen advertised on mobile in the last week.


Objection #3: I’m doing just fine without it. 

This objection to digital advertising may be the most common. If business is good, and other forms of advertising seem to be working, why invest in something new? 

We usually hear two flavors of this argument. Some prospective buyers are perfectly happy with their current mix. They get it, they understand it, business has been steady or even increasing, so they’re happy. To them, your first questions should be: 

  • How are they tracking their results? 
  • Do they have a vanity URL specific to their radio spots or a trackable phone number in their TV ads? 
  • Have they tested and reported on different versions of their ads to see what is most effective with their target audience? 
  • Do they really know that it’s working, and if so, how well and why? 

Digital advertising affords the ability to understand through data if tactics really are working, how well they are working and in what ways. Show your prospective buyer campaign results from another client (made anonymous, of course) to demonstrate how precisely orders can be tracked. Those results should also make it clear how successful digital advertising can be, so even if your client does measure their current tactics, you can prove that there is always room to grow. 

The second version of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” response typically comes from folks who believe strongly, right or wrong, that their most effective marketing is word of mouth. These people have likely spent years building relationships with their customers and community and feel that those relationships power current and future business. This is another moment to empathize and even agree with them. Word of mouth is certainly a powerful thing, but it can also be unpredictable. Ask your client some gentle questions to illuminate why word of mouth should not be their only strategy: 

  • What if something happens outside your control that results in a less-than-ideal customer experience? 
  • What if a current customer misrepresents what you do or offer, so their friends don’t even consider you — or worse, their referral walks away disappointed or even writes a bad review? 
  • What if your client base simply doesn’t talk much, or your service is fine, but not extraordinary enough to actively recommend? 

Word-of-mouth marketing is wonderful when it happens organically and is positive, but it can also turn the other way. It’s important to control your own marketing message: where, when, how and what you say about your business. 


Objection #4: I tried it, and it didn’t work. 

This objection to digital advertising can shut down the conversation fast, and here again, empathy is your best friend. 

Start by acknowledging their frustration and disappointment, and then ask for more details: “Sorry to hear that. Tell me more about what happened.” It’s important to understand what went wrong with their previous foray into digital marketing so that you can (hopefully) offer a better alternative. Questions you could ask include: 

  • What were your objectives and expectations? 
  • What was your level of digital knowledge? 
  • What partners did you work with, and what did they provide? 
  • How did you run your campaigns? 
  • Where did you run your campaigns? (site list) 
  • What did reporting look like? 
  • How did you define and measure success? 
  • How many campaigns/how long did you run them before deciding that it didn’t work? 

Make sure to keep the conversation friendly; failures, especially those that cost money, aren’t usually fun to talk about. Simply listen to the background, sympathize with what happened, and explain how you would do it differently — with much better results.  


Objection #5: It’s too expensive. 

Ahh, the all-too-familiar words to salespeople everywhere: “We just can’t afford it.” Maybe sales are down, or they’ve allocated their budget elsewhere. Maybe they tried digital in the past (see #4) and didn’t see an ROI. Sometimes potential buyers really don’t have the money, and that’s OK; you can still demonstrate the value of digital advertising. This is another great place to play up the reporting advantages of digital: 

  • Explain that with digital advertising, you can quickly see what’s working and what’s not. 
  • Point out how it’s easy to start small and adjust up or down as your budget changes and/or you begin to see which campaigns are successful and why. 
  • Underscore that digital isn’t meant to replace any or all of their existing advertising strategies; it’s a complement to other tactics that can be added to the mix relatively easily and inexpensively. 

As always, showing is better than telling. If you have reports that demonstrate ROI on other clients’ campaigns, show your potential buyers how it worked. Reassure them that you’re on their side and that you would never recommend something you didn’t believe would benefit their business. Gently remind them that sometimes you have to spend money to make money and that digital advertising can be a very effective way to do exactly that.