Advancements in online advertising have revolutionized sales and marketing – due to the data that can rapidly be generated. Tracking and reporting online from Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and other Pay-Per-Click (PPC) channels give advertisers the tools they need to build and manage campaigns with precision, reacting nimbly to A/B testing and improving conversion. Yet, so many businesses do not invest in the foundation necessary to embrace the opportunity for growth. And, as the technology evolves at lightning speed, those who do not participate may be left behind. I often find that companies are daunted by the complexity and possible expense associated with establishing the necessary investment, when they really should be focused on the potential being offered.
There are B2B and B2C best-in-class companies whose digital marketing efforts have acted as trailblazing examples for others to follow, emulate and surpass. Once you have an understanding of the key metrics, you will understand how the language of online advertising can add depth to your brand and P&L reports.
Is Your Advertising Finance-Driven?
Online advertising is rich with benefits as it is driven by data and managed experiments. Key to this science is the introduction of conversion tracking tools and methodologies. For years, marketers have struggled with presenting the effectiveness of various media. Billboards, TV commercials, radio and print ads have generated brand impressions and sales conversions, but the exact numbers have remained a mystery. Online advertising allows every dollar of online ad spend to be matched with every dollar of online revenue – and even to specific telephone lines. The data collected can demonstrate what people were looking for – particularly keyword search – where queries result in ad impressions, clicks and conversions.
What’s Your Campaign Process?
When I start a digital campaign, I like to define a set of preliminary criteria against which ongoing benchmarks can be delivered. First, there is industry and competitive research to determine the taxonomy specific to the industry and potential prospects. From there, keywords are selected and metrics are established – what behaviors are indicative of interest and/or conversion. Preliminary testing is conducted to verify decisions, followed by optimization and finally advertising.
What’s Your Priority?
Like many marketers, I adjust keywords and investments based on audience responsiveness, and I expect to work only with agencies and teams who are versed in the language of digital media and the delivery of core metrics. The team has to be aware that all traffic and conversions are not equal, and be experienced in weighting for optimization. This is one of the more exciting parts of analysis for me, as my CPA and CMO interests are entwined in the conversion tracking to collect consistent data across diverse channels. While many a software supplier would like you to believe that their tool is the ultimate solution for tracking and measurement, I like to spot-check from a different perspective as afforded by a different means or algorithm. While impressions, clicks and conversions are industry-standard, a marketer really “digs in” to attempt to discern the reasons for bounce rates on landing pages and the reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Those lost conversions can add a great deal to revenue that was literally being “lost”.
Have You Invested Time for Costs and Goals?
Many marketers shy away from the hard facts of finance in marketing. Costs and revenue goals have to be assigned at each stage of the sales funnel. Knowing what each click costs and what each click generates in revenue can help distill data into meaningful reports. While a certain amount of automation is available, my expectations are for continuous evaluation and improvement. Obviously, competitors will be trying to steal leads by adjusting their language, offer and ad spend, my team must be poised to be one step ahead!
While I work with an average Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) metric, I do, on occasion, vary that figure to see if it impacts conversion. Set too high, CPA interferes with margins, and too low it can depress traffic and revenue. Some industries, however, have such severe seasonal fluctuations, that CPA has to be adjusted accordingly; making it more difficult to track the year-over-year average.
Is Your Digital Advertising On Track?
Digital advertising is a science, and the creative that drives real sales conversion may actually be in direct conflict with your brand values. For example, the search phrase “low cost material” may be in conflict with your stated brand mission of “high quality material”. This conflicting positioning can be seen having impact on things like luxury cruises or hotels where the competitive routine is fraught with discounting. Managing the brand position requires visual and experiential creative to bolster the brand message, and potentially keyword purchases that make certain the offer is actually found during search. Once a marketer is faced with the challenges that arise from these potential conflicts, the science and art are really engaged!