6 ways marketers can avoid wasting digital budgets
We seem to see a different statistic on a daily basis declaring how marketers are wasting budgets in digital channels, whether that is due to spam bots skewing Click through rates (CTR) and driving up Cost per Click (CPC); or simply marketers being inefficient in the timing and targeting of campaigns. Research from Nielsen stated that 40% of display ads are not actually seen by target audiences and a study by Augusta Consulting found that only 1 in 5 ads are considered an efficient use of budget.
Unfortunately, spam or non-human interaction with campaigns is a problem that can’t be addressed quickly and easily, although the brightest brains in the major channels are working to decrease the impact of wasted inventory. What can be addressed quickly is how marketers can become more agile and use actionable insights and predictive marketing to work smarter.
The fact is, despite tales of woe on wasted budgets, €100 billion will be spent on digital channels in Europe in 2015, with revenue increasing by 6% year on year in Q4 2014. The trick is going to be outsmarting the competition and using technology to manage complex campaigns and drive revenue from the right channels and devices that work for each brand. Digital is absolutely not one-size-fits-all.
1. Set the right objectives and use technology to forecast outcomes
If we accept that some inventory is wasted on non-humans or the wrong audiences then perhaps we should be changing our objectives away from Cost per Mille (CPM), i.e. how many people see our ads, and focus on actions and revenue. Of course this can’t be done across all display inventory where most of the wastage occurs but certainly in search and social it is possible to set all manner of objectives including target CPC, Cost per Action (CPA), CTRs, Revenue and ROI, the latter two are strong indicators that campaigns are working. Predictive marketing technology allows marketers to forecast how campaigns will perform using various campaign objectives and even allows users to enter a required outcome and deploy amended campaigns (bids, pacing, keywords and ad groups) in a couple of clicks to meet these objectives.
2. Understand the customer’s complete path to conversion, not just the last click
Every customer journey is different and it is vital to understand how ALL channels assist in the final conversion. However, research by Forrester found that only one in nine marketers use advanced attribution methods, with 28% still relying on single-click attribution. There are multiple ways to implement more sophisticated forms of attribution that take into account every interaction with customers on their path to conversion.
3. Keywords are dead – Audiences are the future for digital marketing
Agile marketers now accept that keywords are simply a signal of intent, but we must engage with our highest value customers and prospects across all channels and develop campaigns that target these audiences at the right time in the right channel and on the right device. True cross channel marketing is using insights from one channel to drive performance across the other channels. Simply having a strategy or budget for each keyword or channel is not cross channel marketing. Intent-Driven Audiences allow marketers to track intent in search, follow the prospect into Facebook and find other customers just like them to automatically target with Facebook ads based on the original search.
4. Use signals from your website and Google Shopping Campaigns to drive ads into Facebook
Technology now exists that takes your top trending products on your eCommerce website and/or top performing Google Shopping Campaigns and automates the deployment of Facebook ads ensuring the most relevant and popular products are being marketed. Don’t bother creating Facebook ads for every single one of your products, just promote the ones with the highest demand and performance.
5. Stop wasting remarketing inventory
Marketers need to set-up their ad groups correctly when using remarketing. For example, it is wasted opportunity if a customer that has bought (and paid for) a new TV from your consumer electronics site, is then targeted by you later in the day with a generic ad. Alternatively promote additional products or accessories for the particular TV to increase revenues. A simple pixel or tracking code on the final page of the checkout process could have prevented this customer from being served the ad or even better, served a different ad campaign developed for converted customers.
6. Mobile First is not just for web designers
In the US, 68% of online shopping transactions now start on a smartphone and eMarketer believes that 2015 will see the majority of spend, organic traffic and paid clicks comes from smartphones and tablets, surpassing traditional desktop/laptop search activity. Ignoring localized search ads appropriate to where customers are actually standing at the time they search is a huge mistake, as is ignoring devices used for the search. Put simply, if a potential customer is searching for your product on a mobile device, why would you not send them to a mobile version of your site or your app? And why would you not take into account their location at the moment? Sending this traffic through a generic desktop experience is simply wasting money.
There is too much waste in digital advertising today. Marketing teams need to work together to deploy cross channel marketing focused on clear, unified goals. Programs must be developed with the consumer in mind and mobile at the forefront. And more sophisticated forms of attribution need to be deployed to make the best use of the latest technology. Campaigns and the competitive landscape will only ever become more complex but marketers who are agile and utilising predictive marketing software will succeed and outperform their peers.