When you research something online, you become a hot lead.

Small com­pa­nies now have two meth­ods of equi­ty crowd­fund­ing to raise mil­lions of dol­lars in cap­i­tal online from the gen­er­al pub­lic. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most peo­ple think that all a com­pa­ny needs to do is post a cool video, some fan­cy graph­ics and some engag­ing text, and the invest­ment mon­ey will start pour­ing in. Wrong.

As one of the fore­most experts on crowd­fund­ing, I have seen this time and again. When com­pa­nies ask me why their equi­ty crowd­fund­ing cam­paign failed, the answer is near­ly always the same — they did not mar­ket the offer­ing cor­rect­ly. Crowd­fund­ing is not the “field of dreams.” Just because you build it, does not mean investors will come. Com­pa­nies have to dri­ve investors to their equi­ty crowd­fund­ing cam­paign with effec­tive mar­ket­ing.

Ever won­der why you looked at that gad­get on Ama­zon, and for the next two weeks you are sud­den­ly bom­bard­ed by ads for that gad­get or sim­i­lar prod­ucts every time you are online? Wel­come to the won­ders of dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing. Some­one is pay­ing to serve you those ads, know­ing you are a high­ly like­ly buy­er based on hid­den bits of data called pix­els and cook­ies some com­pa­ny was kind enough to attach to your com­put­er while you browsed. By look­ing at any­thing online, you have become a hot lead to some­one try­ing to sell you some­thing.

The same log­ic works for equi­ty crowd­fund­ing. If your com­pa­ny is fund­ing a new prod­uct, for exam­ple, it’s easy and cost effec­tive to put ads in front of poten­tial investors, based on data of their pri­or online habits. A crowd­fund­ing mar­ket­ing plan involves many aspects, but these five tips relat­ed to dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing are essen­tial to equi­ty crowd­fund­ing suc­cess.

1. Use Facebook ads.

An effec­tive Face­book ad cam­paign allows a com­pa­ny to effec­tive­ly tar­get like­ly investors based on Face­book users’ loca­tion, demo­graph­ics and inter­ests. Stephanie Heinatz, CEO of The Conso­ci­ate Group, is not only a pub­lic rela­tions guru with a spe­cial exper­tise in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing space, but has also suc­cess­ful­ly mar­ket­ed sev­er­al equi­ty crowd­fund­ing cam­paigns. “Face­book is the num­ber one plat­form in social media mar­ket­ing where you can tar­get a cus­tomized audi­ence. No more wast­ing mon­ey on a mega­phone of mes­sag­ing to who-knows-who. Face­book is like pick­ing up the phone and sell­ing direct­ly to some­one.”

2. Use “lookalike” audiences.

If you have an email data­base of cus­tomers or investors, you can cre­ate a looka­like audi­ence and serve ads to them on Face­book. Del­ray Wan­nemach­er of First Look Equi­ties is a finan­cial indus­try vet­er­an whose suc­cess in dri­ving investors to equi­ty crowd­fund­ing offer­ings comes from deliv­er­ing ads to looka­like audi­ences cre­at­ed from his pro­pri­etary investor data­base. Wan­nemach­er exem­pli­fies this with a case study show­ing the impact that a well-designed, tar­get­ed audi­ence ad cam­paign can have on a crowd­fund­ing offer­ing. “One Face­book ad cam­paign we ran showed an improve­ment on the amount of invest­ments per day of 252 per­cent, with the aver­age invest­ment being three times high­er than before the cam­paign.”

3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

The most basic form of SEM involves pay­ing for cer­tain search terms and hav­ing Google dri­ve traf­fic to your crowd­fund­ing cam­paign based on what you paid for. Heinatz explains “With SEM, we know some­body is a poten­tial investor based on their search terms, so you are direct­ly reach­ing out to peo­ple who have already iden­ti­fied them­selves as some­one look­ing to make a pur­chase or an invest­ment.”

4. Twitter and LinkedIn ads.

With these two pop­u­lar social media sites, Heinatz empha­sizes con­text over con­tent. “Twit­ter is a fast mov­ing head­line source, but you can use Twit­ter adver­tis­ing to pro­mote and grow your com­mu­ni­ty. LinkedIn ads work best in a B2B con­text and can be used to dri­ve peo­ple to a lead gen­er­a­tion page for the right crowd­fund­ing offer­ings.”

5. Email marketing.

While email mar­ket­ing may not be as sexy as new­er mar­ket­ing tac­tics such as social media and video, it can still be a huge fac­tor in dri­ving a suc­cess­ful equi­ty crowd­fund­ing offer­ing. Rob Clarke and Andrew Eckard of Lin Dig­i­tal have spent almost a decade craft­ing suc­cess­ful dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strate­gies for local, region­al and nation­al busi­ness­es, and both agree that email is a cru­cial fac­tor in dri­ving con­ver­sions. Eckard explains, “There are plen­ty of dig­i­tal plat­forms avail­able to deliv­er your mes­sage, but good old fash­ioned email mar­ket­ing con­tin­ues to offer one of the best oppor­tu­ni­ties to build rela­tion­ships and dri­ve sales.” Clarke added, “Ear­ly momen­tum is cru­cial in any crowd­fund­ing cam­paign, and build­ing your email list to engage peo­ple in what you are doing before ask­ing them to invest or con­tribute will put you at a huge advan­tage on launch day.”

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is an essen­tial part of every equi­ty crowd­fund­ing offer­ing, just as it has been for rewards-based crowd­fund­ing. Work­ing with the right pro­fes­sion­als with the cor­rect strat­e­gy and know­ing who to tar­get is the key to suc­cess. One last tip from your favorite crowd­fund­ing expert: Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is a process that takes time. Most say it takes a poten­tial investor see­ing an aver­age of five ads before they make a deci­sion to invest. Con­vert­ing dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing is a process, so start ear­ly in the crowd­fund­ing cam­paign.