Just a few years ago there was a definitive distinction between a ‘digital’ and ‘traditional’ consumer, and marketers approached each with different advertising strategies. We now recognize the ‘always on’ plugged in consumer, thanks to the multitude of connected devices used in the path to purchase journey. As a result, consumers expect a higher standard of consistency across their digital experiences and touchpoints, illuminating just how imperative a unified advertising strategy is.
Marketing teams and agencies can no longer rely on orthodox approaches used for tracking online activity, targeting audiences and optimizing campaigns. Instead, advertisers are challenged with measuring and responding to consumers in real time across all channels in order to influence conversions. As such, this requires advertisers and marketers to prioritize developing advanced strategies for data collection, data analysis, measurement and campaign optimization as disciplines that underscore all marketing initiatives.
While your marketing team might have a foundational strategy in place, chances are your campaigns might not be generating optimal results. Below, I have outlined five important strategies and processes that your advertising team or media buying agency should be doing in order to get the most out of your digital media campaigns.
1. Have a concrete first party data strategy in place.
Marketers have access to a myriad of data sources and can choose from first party, second party, third party, online, offline, transactional and operational data for ad targeting. While there is a buffet of options to choose from, first party data has proven to be the reigning source for reaching consumers across channels in the most efficient, accurate and effective way.
- Marketers aren’t taking full advantage of first party data. Marketers recognize and leverage the value of first party data for retargeting campaigns, understanding that this is the most relevant information that an organization can collect on a user’s’ intent. Yet, with the immense possibilities offered by first party data integration, the majority of marketers don’t fully capitalize on its value for the entire scope of marketing initiatives.
- Properly assign attribution. Other than retargeting, marketers can use their proprietary first party data to connect offline and online data for attribution to assign conversions to the right touch points. For example, if a consumer saw an ad on a mobile device, a laptop, and a smart TV, then an advertiser could evenly distribute credit for the conversion across all devices.
- Eliminate wasted ad impressions. When leveraging first party data, modern marketers orient their campaigns to be accountable for increasing sales and conversions. However, first party data can additionally provide support to eliminate wasted ad impressions in a digital campaign.
- Consider the following example: An airline offers a frequent-flyer promotion to its customers, in which they can sign up online or in-person at a customer service desk. The airline sought to run a digital campaign to increase subscriptions for their frequent flyer program, but they didn’t want existing customers to see their ads. In order to only reach non-existing customers, the airline onboarded the completed online and offline subscriptions. Next, they created one audience segment that included their existing members and a second segment that accounted for users who visited their website and booked online. Upon launching a display campaign, the airline can now exclude the existing customer audience segment from seeing their ads.
- Top tips for establishing a first party data strategy: A recent study conducted by eConsultancy and Signal concluded that data-driven campaigns that leveraged first party data saw the highest returns. In order to get started, marketers should engage in a comprehensive data audit of their company, classifying and cataloging all relevant data sources and how they’re being used for their digital marketing and paid media initiatives. It’s also extremely important to clearly define objectives, getting beyond the overarching goal and breaking it down to actionable objectives. Furthermore, it’s important to understand which data points are available in order to identify any gaps. Once gaps have been identified, marketers can work with third-party vendors to fill the void.Establishing a first party data strategy requires a concerted effort from advertising and digital media teams, but this type of data-driven activation will improve financial return across all multichannel marketing efforts.
2. Advance your retargeting to the next level.
Retargeting lets advertisers selectively serve ads to consumers who have previously visited your site with a message that’s specific to their area of interest. By attaching a fragment of code (known as a pixel) to your website HTML, marketers can collect non-personal data about a user’s behavior, including which pages they visited, the date and time of their visit and their estimated geographic location based on IP address.
There are three types of retargeting: web retargeting, Facebook and Twitter retargeting, and mobile retargeting. According to AdRoll, nearly 95% of marketers have web retargeting in place, but retargeting on social media and mobile will significantly expand reach. Consider the following advanced retargeting optimizations:
- Customized Creative
- In order to ensure you’re reaching your campaign goals, we recommend investing in customized messaging and creative. In general, simple ads with bold designs and clear actionable messages perform the best. Banner fatigue often plagues retargeting campaigns with boring, repetitive ads, so it’s important to refresh visuals every few weeks so your audience has something new to interact with.
- Time Cohorts and Cadence Modification
- While retargeting’s sole purpose is to keep your brand top of mind, you don’t want to bombard users with your ads. Setting caps for how often ads are served to a single visitor is a proven tactic to limit overexposure, maximize ad impressions and protect your brand from coming across as a spammer. Ideally, we recommend setting a cap of no more than 10 impressions per consumer per day, although the exact cap is contingent upon your campaign.
- In lieu of time cohorts (frequency capping), advanced marketers can employ cadence modification. Essentially, this means that a bidding algorithm automatically bids less on each subsequent impression (NOTE: frequency is calculated uniquely on each platform). Therefore, if marketers choose to approach retargeting this way, it’s best to inquire internally about how the platform determines frequency. Since frequency caps and cadence modification can be used simultaneously, this optimization can take retargeting to the next level!
- Segmenting Visitors Based on Their User Behavior
- Certain pages on your website undoubtedly provide more information than others, whether it’s a ‘thank you’ page or a content download page (which requires a lead form submission). Albeit, some information is lost on those visitors that don’t leave you with any indicators or data points. Advanced segmentation solves for this by letting marketers structure their retargeting campaigns around small intent signals. These type of indicators can be the number and type of products viewed, referral source or the last time your ad was shown, to name a few.
- Once these subtle signals are identified, they can then be correlated with different stages of the customer journey – awareness, consideration and purchase. For example, if a user lands on your website, they are exhibiting awareness. If they begin to fill out a lead form, they are most likely in the consideration phase. Lastly, if a user adds a product to a cart, they are demonstrating intent to purchase. While generalized retargeting will improve ROI, segmented retargeting will increase efficiency many times over.
3. Integrate machine learning into your campaign data analysis.
- Marketers who aren’t capitalizing on machine learning are losing valuable opportunities to discover new solutions to old problems. For the first time, machine learning enables marketers to leverage virtually unlimited amounts of granular data that can be used to optimize digital campaigns in real time.
- Machine learning has the stigma of being a convoluted concept that’s only understood by scientists, but in reality, it’s a self-employable discipline of analyzing data in an automated fashion. By using algorithms that iteratively learn from data, machine learning automatically discovers insights and patterns that are then processed to make forecasts about customer preferences, targeting, website friction, etc. Machine learning is tremendously valuable in segmenting audiences and learning their interests. Amazon, for example, leverages machine learning technology to recommend products based on their users’ unique browsing activity and purchasing behavior.
- Just as SEO and programmatic media buying have influenced the marketing industry, machine learning has revolutionized the entire marketing process of both day-to-day tasks and larger initiatives.
4. Maximize Facebook advertising.
Facebook is the social media advertising platform of choice for 55% of marketers, largely attributed to its following of more than one billion active users. When running a Facebook campaign, marketers commonly toy with demographic and interests, test different creative assets and even tweak ad copy – but some might not being seeing substantial ROI. At the end of the day, segmented targeting, proper measurement, and thorough ad testing will increase your Facebook campaign’s performance.
- Segmented Ad Targeting: In a recent blog, we thoroughly discussed the various targeting optimizations and opportunities that marketers can implement on Facebook. To give you an overview, we recommend the following:
- Target to prospects and users that already have brand familiarity, such as your brand’s email list, retargeting or fans
- Expand audience reach by creating targeting strategies for lookalike audiences, which can be done with client lookalikes, lead lookalikes and fan lookalikes
- Overlay lookalike targeting with interest targeting to further refine the quality of your leads
- Define your detailed targeting and add supplemental layers of interests and behaviors. This reduces the chance that your ad will be served to unqualified prospects.
- Leverage behavior and life-events targeting, such as purchasing behavior, device usage or life events (such as an upcoming anniversary)
- Proper Measurement: While clicks and engagement are important, they’re vanity metrics that don’t provide the most accurate insight. Alternatively, consider aligning your metrics with your campaign’s goals, taking into account the cost per conversion, conversion rates and return on ad spend. Sure, shares and clicks are contributing to overall brand awareness, but if you aren’t getting sales, then something is wrong. Perhaps you’re targeting the wrong audience or your ad messaging isn’t resonating; regardless of the case, it’s extremely important to properly track which ads are leading to revenue.
5. Make banner campaigns finally generate measurable results.
The average CTR of display ads across all formats and placements averages around 0.06%. However, just because this metric is relatively modest, doesn’t NOT mean you should disregard display entirely. In fact, display advertising is one of the best tactics for creating brand awareness and building trust and can even generate ROI on the last-click measurement method if executed properly.
In order to get in front of the audience you want, marketers should consider the following:
- Target the Right Audience
- Contextual targeting: also known as keyword targeting, ads are matched to sites on the Display Network using your selected keywords and topics
- Placement targeting: selectivity to advertise on specific publisher sites
- Retargeting: serving ads to users who have already clicked an ad and visited your website
- A/B Test Ads
- Once you’ve identified your targeting strategy, marketers MUST A/B test their ads for imagery, value proposition, call-to-actions and ad copy.
- Have the Right Landing Page
- Since customers interact with your site differently, having multiple audience segments is extremely important. As a result, customized landing pages are required in order to uniquely engage the user based on where they are in the customer journey.
- Track Ad Placement
- If an ad on a certain site is receiving impressions or clicks but no conversions, then this site can be excluded so that focus can be reallocated to better-performing placements.
- Target the Right Devices
- Mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right channel for your brand. Not all business and brands require a strong mobile presence. Contrary, if your brand historically has a mobile-prone audience, then a generous portion of your budget should be dispensed to mobile.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to get the most of your digital media campaigns, your advertising team or media buying agency must be equipped with the latest technologies and techniques to widen the scope of your current practices. If you’re working with a digital marketing partner, be inquisitive about their approach to the various channels your campaign is running on, paying close attention to how they optimize, target audiences and measure data. Employing these tips will immediately impact your campaign’s performance, but it’s important to be proactive in maintaining up-to-date on industry knowledge.