Digital marketing is a powerful tool. When used correctly, it can lead to a level of positive ROI considered unthinkable only a few years ago. But many companies, marketing managers and platforms alike still need to adopt a critical view of online advertising, and peel back its complex layers, to ensure effectiveness.
Too many people in the digital marketing industry have a mindset grounded in traditional advertising. Many websites are still geared towards selling space as set units, like print media. These platforms make it difficult or impossible to adjust advertising during campaigns. Not withstanding the all too common ‘buy now, report later’ approach advertisers apply to campaigns.
Senior Brand Manager for Elucent Skin Care, Chris Mitropolous sees it differently, “We used to look at online advertising in a similar way to traditional; impressions, awareness and post campaign analysis.
“With exposure to new digital tools and measurement capabilities we’ve added adaptive platforms and stronger indicators, including conversion goals to our own website,” she says.
“With these new control points, we make frequent refinements throughout a campaign, which combines to dramatically increase performance.”
Change is always tough. And the rate of change within the digital sphere alone has increased dramatically. Perhaps the initial reluctance to connect with these new digital capabilities stems from a mixture of traditional thinking and a presumption it will require additional management. And how can we possibly draw any better value out of the data? These are all reasonable barriers to entry to consider. However, the benefits can mean the difference between big success and a big flop.
“We noticed some initial issues with our ad links and campaign performance,” she explains.
“Projecting out results from the first few days showed a shaky start that would result in a lackluster campaign.
“Making some quick, easy adjustments to our digital advertising and on-site functionality ensured we significantly improved performance.”
It’s expected there will be a reasonable gap between money spent on a campaign, and the return. We know this from traditional advertising, measuring the impact of a campaign back to the bottom line.
A global study conducted by Nielsen found the impact of all marketing activity on short-term sales over a 3-month period is just 9 cents for every dollar spent – a tiny 9 per cent average return.
Many media, including Television Advertising, Newspapers, Outdoor Billboards and In-store Programs had negative short-term returns, meaning the benefits of advertising were outweighed by the costs.
Should you expect similar results from digital? Hardly.
According to the Nielsen report, your business should expect a return of $2.18 for every $1 you spend online. That’s an incredible return of 118 per cent! The really troubling thing to note is the overall result of 9 per cent also included the online average.
While there’s more to marketing than short-term results, risk-taking has shrunk dramatically in recent years. Long-term results, including brand awareness should be considered within the domain of closed loop marketing and creative strategy, and independent of any short-term goals.
One important challenge we need to address is ensuring short-term results not only improve upon past campaigns, but also exceed global ROI benchmarks. Long-term results and brand awareness should be considered the icing on the cake.
Choosing marketing tactics that deliver the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ is now connected to better advertising choices and the ability to quickly adapt and refine part or all of your campaign on the go.
Here are my 5 top tips to ensure you get the most out of your online marketing:
Choosing advertising platforms that allow multiple changes means you can adjust your spending to individual ads or groups. Platforms like Google and Facebook allow outstanding targeting and segmentation. They have become the new benchmark of agility among online marketing systems. Be skeptical of advertisers who sell on huge monthly traffic statistics, number of social media ‘likes’ or email members. These numbers mean very little unless tested as real conversions for your business.
One of the primary objectives of digital advertising is to spend money more efficiently. This means buying fewer clicks. You want to connect with the people already looking for your product. So target a smaller population that will have higher engagement and be more likely to ‘buy in’. To do this, you’ll first need to buy clicks over impressions.
Once you are buying clicks, it becomes far easier to refine your individual ads. For example, if you are selling red shoes in Sydney, the Ad shouldn’t be as generic as “Great shoes for sale in Sydney, Click Here”. Instead, add filters within your ad eg. “Buy red women’s high heels in Sydney from $79.95”. See the difference?
. Add conversion goals to your website and see who is actually buying or inquiring about your products. There are many options but they should all relate back to an individual ad or group. If your goals are weak, such as “how many visitors did my site get?” you won’t be able to make informed choices regarding which ads are performing and which ones require modification or deactivation. Instead, apply real world goals, such as “who bought a product?” or secondary goals like “who filled in an inquiry form?”
Your interface should also be flexible – in addition to the ad platform. If you want to get the most out of a campaign, be prepared to build into your website – landing pages, microsite or social mechanics – specific engagement points directly connected to the click-through. For instance, your landing page should include references to the original advertising text that alternate dynamically for each ad.
Online advertising revenue was $1.63 Billion in the first half of 2012, comprising about a quarter of Australian’s total ad spend. Leading the spending is free to air TV, with $1.65 billion. We can expect to see digital overtaking TV very soon, if it hasn’t already happened. So if you’re spending on online is less than a quarter of your total budget, consider looking at new methods to compare returns against traditional media.
Remember, you should be squeezing the most out of your digital spend. Aim for clear sales targets or try spending just a fraction of your budget to expand your own knowledge and goals before committing larger funds. Online has made it achievable to connect with the customers who are already looking for your products. Short-term ROI should be your focus. Brand awareness or long-term goals should be considered a bonus.