Digital advertising is a lucrative business, and where there’s big profit potential there’s sometimes sideliners looking to cash in in a less than honest fashion. Such is the case with digital rebates, sometimes referred to as kickbacks. Media companies in the U.S. deny their existence, but recent developments are shedding light on the shady practice. So, what exactly are digital rebates, and why have they got everyone’s skin crawling?
When consumers pull up a search engine, they’re starting a conversation. They spit their thought directly into the search bar, and they expect to be listened to. If you don’t understand the language they speak, or aren’t around to hear it spoken, you’ll miss the opportunity to open up a dialogue and in turn to take a newfound loyalty to the checkout. You might be thinking, isn’t that like asking us to read user’s minds? Finding a search pattern is similar to that, but paid search campaigns make it possible to do without requiring ESP or superpowers. How? While understanding the customer journey can feel complicated, there are a few places to get started to make sure your campaigns are taking search patterns into account.
When it comes to digital advertising, transparency is king. Without it, your campaigns aren’t going to rule and your budget won’t exactly be playing by any either. Folding impressions and costs under blanket fees and impressions, as is often done in the case of programmatic ad buying, clouds transparency. And you’d better believe too many clouds are going to lead to rain on your conversion parade. Let’s look at the three most frequent riders of the CPM model struggle bus, and why it is they just can’t seem to signal the driver and get off.
Programmatic advertising has been the buzzword of the month for many moons now. If you’ve somehow tuned the buzzing in your ear out like that of an annoying mosquito, the simplest way to sum up programmatic is this: an ad buy that gets purchased through machines. Now, machine learning has come a long way and technology is great for helping advertisers, as it is any industry, get work done. But if you’ve ever watched a sci-fi movie, or even updated your iPhone when the new iOS came out, you know that there are risks to adapting technology before the kinks are worked out. Let’s take a look at some of the current programmatic pitfalls.
While the world goes the way of automation, Statwax is taking a different approach. We’re all for harnessing the tools of technology, but believe in the power of the human element of marketing. To put in plainly, we market to people, not to bots.
What exactly is the difference between an agency run by people and one run by bots? Elbow grease. You know, that little bit of extra hard work that goes a long way for campaign performance, creativity, and return on investment. We like to work with technology not for it, to have our humans interpret data and build custom algorithms that follow an audience’s line of best fit. Beyond that, we believe in constantly generating new ideas, keeping up with the latest tactics, and continual optimization to get the best results for the lowest cost.
Here’s a look at how the philosophy of human touch in the digital world has the biggest impact – for our clients, their customers, and in the digital realm.
When it comes to the depth of digital data on the success and costs of your campaigns, there’s a Mariana Trench full – but you might not feel that way when you dive into your campaign reports. Between the acronyms, charts, graphs, and bullet points, it can be hard to determine what’s actually relevant – seeing the return you got on the investment you made. So how can you ensure that you’re getting the highest quality digital report with the clearest picture of your campaigns? Ask yourself these five questions to see if your latest digital report has key data that is critical to campaign success.
Does the report include relevant performance metrics that speak to my campaign goals?
Performance metrics are critical to understanding whether your campaigns are doing well or not. There are a slew of metrics that measure performance – so which are the best? Well that depends on the goals of your campaign. Establishing your goals with the team before campaigns start will help make any data about performance more focused and relevant. Want to see how many conversions your ad spend produced? Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a key metric. Interested in what ad copy did best in a split test? Click through rate (CTR) could be just what you’re looking for. By ensuring that performance metrics are always presented with a tie to your goals, you’ll know that you’re getting the data you need to execute the correct strategy to drive business growth.
Does the report include the targeting that was used for each ad campaign?
Targeting for your campaigns is not a one and done discussion. With the proliferation of digital channels and marketing messages accessed on a minute by minute basis, customer journeys are ever evolving. It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle if your targeting isn’t spot on, responsive to your current and potential customers, and based on data. To ensure you’re on track, your digital reports should always highlight what audiences, behaviors and/or interests your campaigns are targeting. By having information on performance amongst these groups, you can get insights into the personas you’ve already established respond to your messaging or potentially discover entirely new groups of prospects. This data is critical to ensure your ad budget is not only being spent efficiently, but effectively.
Does the report include a transparent look at costs and return on ad spend?
Speaking of budgets – a crucial component of any digital report is cost. We believe 100% transparency in the cost of campaigns is the only way to determine success. Meaning, you know your return on the spend you put in. You should know how much your clicks, leads, and acquisitions cost and the breakdown of your budget by digital platform and tactic. Knowing this information helps make informed decisions about where to spend budget – both within digital advertising channels and your overall marketing plan. As more digital channels and avenues to place advertising pop up, transparency in costs is critical to ensure your funds aren’t being spent fraudulently. If costs on digital reports aren’t shown or don’t look quite right, make sure to ask for a full, in-depth look about how, when, where your budget was spent.
Does your report include recommendations for performance improvement and new ideas?
Data is the lifeblood of any digital report – but what insights you glean from that data are just as important. We’ve all been given pages of charts and thought – well now what? A good digital report will not only present the facts, but also recommendations on how to improve your campaigns based on that data – both for campaigns going well and not so well. A second component of good recommendations are new ideas. New platforms and tactics to reach your audience are ever developing – and implementing them are critical to staying ahead of the competition.
Is your report custom to your campaign and do you receive regular updates?
Every campaign is different, and your reports should be created to meet those needs. Campaign performance reports should always be 100% custom – featuring the exact information you want to see in the format you want to see it. The benefit of custom reports is not only so that information is the most easily digestible for you, but also for any team members or board members with which you have to share the data. Frequency of reports is also critical – information should be shared proactively on a regular basis. Having to ask for reports, or not seeing data on performance for months raises questions about the quality of the campaign.
Want to discuss what you are seeing in your digital reports? Reach out to us and we’ll be happy to talk it over!
In the world of digital, or what we in 2017 simply refer to as the world, the customer is in control. With more ways to access content, services, and products than ever, consumers are paving their own path to purchase. Brands who interrupt a consumer’s desired direction are likely to be met with annoyance, agitation, and a beeline for the nearest competitor. On the other hand, those that make the trip shorter, more personal, and easier to follow are likely to be rewarded with a new relationship and a completed goal.
Your customers are unique. Your customers are complicated. The key to success isn’t asking them to understand you – it’s understanding their journey and how you fit into it. To do that, you have to map the path out. Find out not only where the points on the map are, but how they get from A to C. Attribution modeling can transform you into a conversion cartographer. By addressing where your customers are – whether they know you exist, they’re browsing competitors, if they have a problem your product solves, or they’re in your checkout – you can eliminate wasted conversions and spend. Let’s take a closer look at the key stops along the consumer experience route.
So you want to widen your base of potential customers. Looking at the data, you know your current reach is scattered across social media, paid and organic search, apps, affiliates, and the list goes on. It’s not enough to throw your ads at the digital wall and hope something sticks – you need to investigate behavior, demographics, and opportunities to avoid wasting ad budget and valuable connections. The goal isn’t to buy impressions, it’s to make them. To do that, even the first introduction needs to be strategic.
All ads are not created equal. Depending on your brand and your consumers, there are varying levels of distance and acceleration required to get to conversion. Scour your data and look for the number of touchpoints, the lead time, the time of day, the landing page, the messaging – all the influencing factors that actually lead to your checkout. Find the link among them and turn it into a strategy supporting their needs, rather than your perception of them.
It’s not enough to supply the information anymore. With the customer in control, and with mobile on the never-ending rise, it means an additional prompt is pertinent to closing the deal. Maybe your customer is ready to purchase, but the train pulled up to their stop as they were finishing up their price comparison on their smartphone. Maybe they weren’t expecting a shipping fee and it’s going to take a discount to move them the final step. In any case, it’s not enough to get your customers to consider converting, you have to prompt them with the action when the time is right. To keep consumers flowing through the funnel, allocate part of your ad strategy to leaving no conversion behind.
From the first click to the last, your customers are telling you what they want, where, and when. To take advantage, a conversion funnel is paramount. Build a multi-channel approach as unique as your brand and your audience. Focus your strategic touchpoints not on simply being present at each stage, but on serving the purpose of keeping the funnel flowing. It’s the only way to prevent waste, in the form of potential conversions and your ad budget.
Need help understanding your customers? We can help. Contact us and let’s get to know your customers together.
We’re as excited as this guy that we’re less then one month from our Statwax Academy Winter session kicking off! We’ll be bringing you the newest and most important information to help with the Google certification process, starting February 15. And we’ll be doing so from a new location. We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be holding our Google AdWords and Analytics Academy courses at Launch Fishers!
Launch Fishers is an amazing co-working space for entrepreneurs, and is a hub of tech-focused activity in the Indianapolis area. We couldn’t be happier to partner with this great facility to share our knowledge with all Academy attendees.
Interested in taking the Google certification exams to further your career? Check out how our FREE certification prep class can help!
The New Year is here and with it, our predictions for the big boosts and blunders in digital advertising. We passed a crystal ball around the office, and here’s what the team saw when they looked inside.
- Programmatic problems push on: Bot scams and metric misreporting are going to leave companies disappointed in their ROI. Transparency issues in programmatic ad placement will be clearer than the fingers pointing at it.
- Ad tech takes off: 360-degree experiences will take ad immersion and personalization to the next level. You can expect to hear more about virtual reality, augmented reality too… there are no ifs, ands, or bots about it. Okay, well some bots.
- Cross device catch up: 2017 will make strides in answering the billion dollar question of tracking users across different devices, increasing the value of digital conversion funnels.
- AI becomes a smart move: As artificial intelligence becomes more common in home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, a world of new opportunity will open to companies with a local service focus.
- Beacons find the light: Digital billboards have gotten smarter in targeting and tracking users, and the tech improvements will get even smarter this year.
- Attention spans will… ooh shiny object!: As users are inundated with more and more video, and ads on more devices and platforms, impactful and succinct messaging will become an even bigger necessity.
- Twitter troubles: The struggling ad platform will continue to pop up in acquisition rumors as companies eye its data pool. The industry will chirp about it, but the platform will stay quietly unchanged.
The digital advertising industry is constantly and rapidly evolving. From one day to the next, trends, tech, and resources can skyrocket or take a hard left turn. We’ve got our finger on the pulse, and we can’t wait to see what the year brings.
Want to keep an eye on the future of digital advertising? Stay tuned to The Elbow Room for updates
In the ever cluttered space of digital marketing, it’s more critical than ever to know your customer’s path to conversion. Whether you measure sales, emails gathered, webinars attended or whitepapers downloaded, establishing and confirming the steps that your consumers take can make the difference between marketing success and failure. But tracking this path can be difficult and many marketers don’t know where to start mapping the digital conversion funnel – so what’s the best way to get started without getting lost? Our own Jeff Gasior recently talked to the Search Talk Live podcast about the four questions that can help any business kick off building a digital conversion funnel.
How are people finding their way to my website and into my preferred conversion process?
The answer to this question will be found in taking a look at your product and your industry space. If you’re a type of business or service that hasn’t been on the market before or are in a little known market space, you’ll mostly likely have to spend a lot of time building awareness with your potential consumers before they’ll feel like they have enough information to visit your website – generally the first step in a conversion funnel. Consumers starting at the top of the funnel often move through 3-5 more stages before converting, which you’ll need to know to anticipate conversion time and messaging to keep users flowing through the funnel.
If you’re in a more recognizable industry or have a product with familiar components, your conversion path could look vastly different. You may not need to invest as much in the awareness stage, as it’s easier to inform a new entrant into an already known space than it is to educate on something entirely unknown/new. Consumers may feel comfortable enough with their knowledge of your market space to already be in other stages of the digital funnel, such as considering an actual product for purchase (vs. the pure research phase of awareness) or skipping right to the conversion step.
Start with figuring out your potential customer’s path to your website (and thereby into your digital conversion funnel) and you’ll be able to tailor your messaging and digital campaigns to your customers specifically, ensuring you have both effective and efficient marketing efforts.
What are the top referring sources to my website?
A digital conversion funnel isn’t only influenced by digital channels – it’s impacted by all marketing efforts you deploy. By examining the traffic sources to your website – whether they come from stories secured via public relations efforts, social media content that has been shared or digital advertising campaigns, you gain insight into the methods that potential customers are finding your brand. This gives you both the how consumers are finding you and the why they’re searching for what you’re offering.
There’s one critical component to ensure you can gather these insights – you must first establish that you are tracking all of your efforts, whether they’re through online or offline channels. Without the data you get from tracking, you won’t have enough information to determine top referring sources to your website. A great tool for tracking online efforts is through Google Analytics.
If you have Google Analytics tracking on your website, you should be able to click into referring website sources with, well… the click of a button. Based on what you find there, you may see that more people are coming to your website from places traditionally associated with brand awareness, like online articles or display ads. Or you may find that paid search efforts are bringing in a majority of site visitors, indicating customers are ready to purchase and you don’t need to invest as much in awareness efforts. The clues that are found in your top referring sites will help you further refine your marketing efforts, both confirming what is working and potentially alerting you to any anomalies or junk traffic coming to your site.
What is a customer’s path through your website?
What actions your potential customers take on your website are just as important as how they get to you in the first place. Just as consumers take a journey to your website, they also take one on the site itself – and how they feel about that path can ultimately determine if they want to take your desired conversion action.
This is another area where Google Analytics can provide invaluable insights. By showing you how metrics like how many pages are visited during a session, how long people were on each page and how much they bounced from each page, a path through your website can start to be uncovered. However, ensure you are looking at this information with a critical eye – a high bounce rate could mean you either aren’t driving the right audience to visit your website or you’re bringing in the right people and providing them with the ability to purchase/download quickly and they don’t need to read for further information. Conversely, a long time on site could either mean you’re providing a lot of great information that potential customers want to read through or that you aren’t providing them what they need to convert, and they’re looking around the site trying for more.
By determining how customers move through your website, you can establish how it impacts the possibility of conversion, as well as inform other areas of your strategy that may need tweaking to make the process go more smoothly, including website content, mobile experience, etc.
What’s the time lapse from awareness to conversion?
Different types of purchases take different lengths of time for different customers – and knowing this information is critical to marketing success. We all have assumptions – most people don’t buy a car on their first visit to a dealership and many don’t spend weeks shopping around for cellphone chargers. So while you may have some of your own thoughts about the time it takes for people to purchase your product, you’ll want to confirm this with your old friend – data. This includes both Google Analytics data and any transactional data you might have. By diving into your data, you will not only see how many days it takes from a first visit to your site until purchase, but how many touch points each potential customer had before they either purchased or left the site.
Both pieces are important: Knowing how many days it takes from visit to purchase will help you set better marketing goals as well as confirm what marketing efforts are or are not working. This, along with the touch points data, will also enable you to determine if remarketing is an effort to engage in – if you have a large group of people visiting your website but not making a purchase, is there another message you can send to push them towards conversion? From the touch points data, you can infer what marketing tactics you need to deploy for each stage of a customer journey. If it takes at least six touch points with your marketing messages before a conversion, you may need to change ad copy or utilize a landing page to make the process go faster.
By answering the above four questions, your initial digital conversion funnel will start to take shape. It’s crucial that as a marketer you don’t establish one conversion funnel and never revisit it. Digital behavior and customers change continuously, meaning that digital conversion funnels are more fluid than static. By regularly revisiting the whys and hows of your customer’s journey to conversion, you’ll be able to make smart adjustments to your marketing.
Want to learn more about digital conversion funnels? Check out Jeff’s full Search Talk Live podcast.