This is the second of a three-part series on how marketers can detect problems in their performance data and find solutions that optimize their marketing ROI. Read Part I for tips on sniffing out ad fraud indicators. Read Part III for how delayed insights are causing wasted ad spend.
BlueVenn’s “Myths of Marketing Survey” last year asked marketers which data-related strategies they believed would offer the best ROI. Effective audience segmenting came second only to bridging data sources.
In order to drive ROI, marketers are challenged to serve their ads to people who are most likely to convert, with as narrow a margin of error as possible. To start, marketers usually build a number of buyer personas and target their ads accordingly. But if your targeting strategy ends here, you may be leaving money on the table.
A good rule of thumb is to allocate about 20% of marketing budget to testing and experimentation. We know as marketers that the customer journey is winding, complex, and sometimes in complete flux. It can feel more like the quantum asteroid field in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (spoiler alert!) than the traditional funnel. However, if you are able to embrace the dynamic nature of your campaign performance data, you’ll be in a better position to track your audience across that journey. The key is to constantly adjust and optimize your targeting to make sure you are using your media budget efficiently to have the greatest impact on ROI.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Think like a scientist when targeting audience personas
The complexity of marketing data sometimes makes it hard to learn valuable things about your audience. Multi-channel campaign data is separated into silos, there’s an endless variety of metrics to use for measurement and reporting, and the volume of data is almost always overwhelming. As a result, it’s important to be highly methodical when setting up your campaigns for effective analysis throughout its run, so your data is easily comparable and surfaces the KPIs you need.
Start by pulling out one thing in your performance data that you want to understand better. For example: What was the cause of that spike in your video performance last week? Is there a particular audience segment that caused it? Was it the time of day or the size of the video that drove higher results? Develop a hypothesis based on the trends you see, then set up an A/B test with a “control” campaign and “test” campaigns with one very clearly defined variable to test your hypothesis. Set a timeline to test. Once you’ve gathered enough data to draw a concise conclusion, formulate a new hypothesis and repeat.
This may sound like a laborious process, but remember we have the benefit of technology to help us. Marketing intelligence can help you easily analyze and visualize your test results by different dimensions, comparing data from disparate sources to get you deeper into the targeting opportunities so you can act on them faster.
Invest in tools that surface the right dimensions
Knowing which questions to ask of your data is largely predicated around understanding which dimensions may be impacting performance. A marketing intelligence platform like Velocidi that uses A.I. to highlight the dimensions that matter most is a useful tool when testing. For example, if you can separate audiences by website interaction or time lapsed since traffic occurred, your testing and targeting strategy will be that much more powerful. (Sana Ansari gives a great breakdown of ROI-positive methods for segmenting your audiences on Search Engine Watch.) When it comes to technology and tools, identifying the otherwise unseen dimensions that impact ROI is one of the most relevant and actionable applications of A.I. If you are using an A.I.-powered marketing intelligence platform in this way, your targeting strategies will continue to get smarter as the program learns with you over time.
Never stop testing
You now know exactly who your target audience is, but nevertheless are having trouble finding or engaging them through the targeting options provided by your ad server. Your next step? Keep testing. Even if you are seeing great engagement, if you are not continually testing, you are probably leaving money on the table. There’s always something new to learn about your audience and new opportunities that make an impact on ROI. But you won’t discover them if you aren’t looking for them.
Also in the ROI Killers series:
(Feature image by Martin Reisch)