By Mike James, MD Adconion UK
After years of steady growth, the UK economy is currently experiencing what many expect to be a prolonged period of recession. However, the news is not all doom and gloom. While online advertising will not see the meteoric growth it has enjoyed over the past few years, it is still expected to show marginal growth, as marketers seeking improved ROI and greater accountability shift or extend their budgets online.
Running a successful online campaign can, nevertheless, be a tough proposition, with a number of areas that need focusing on – from defining your proposition to creating a sales path (often your website) to cut-through to creative execution. And without careful forethought, planning and investment in these fundamental areas, your campaign runs the risk of failing at the very first hurdle.
Here are twelve steps to help ensure that your online campaign meets its objectives:
This is the very first step. There’s no point in promoting an offer that isn’t suitable for your audience. Before investing in an online campaign, compare your offer with similar offers – is it competitive, do you offer a USP that others don’t?
Your creative should always be produced with your audience in mind. Ask yourself if potential customers will want to interact with your creative. Click-through and conversion rates can vary widely, not only between different offers, but also creatives in the same campaign. As such, you should aim at having a good ‘pool’ of creative offers from which the campaign performance can be measured.
It’s all very well having great creative, but if users are unable to navigate through your site and purchase with ease, then ultimately your campaign and your business will suffer. Make sure your site takes into account sound usability rules and that it doesn’t lead users away from the shopping cart. Also bear in mind that every additional step in the purchase flow can cost you potential customers.
Once you’ve done everything possible to ensure that your offer, creative and website are tip top, consider the audience you’ll be targeting. There’s no point in wasting your advertising budget on targeting unnecessary user groups if you’re purchasing a ‘category buy’. Similarly, it may be more cost-effective to seek out users from a ‘network approach’ that will allow you to find the appropriate subset of users interested in purchasing your product. The various types of targeting available include data such as geographical – often down to town level, browser, line speed, ISP and time of day – demographic (by age and/or gender ), search and creative.
Once you start to drill down, you’ll notice that some users didn’t reach the ‘thank you for your purchase’ page. Why not take another shot at targeting them, perhaps with a different offer? Or if they successfully performed the desired action, why not up-sell them into a different product? Similarly, if certain users visit your homepage, why not retarget them and tempt them into taking a more detailed browse through your site? Retargeting will help you hit all these various groups of users and drastically improve your conversion rates.
How far does your supplier’s network reach into the total online population? The more users you have at your disposal, the more chance you will have of finding more suitable customers. If buying on a network, it’s essential to use those networks with better reach, as you’ll be putting your creative in front of a lot more users.
7. Measurement and tracking
As a bare minimum, you should ensure that you are able to track the number of clicks on your creative, as well as how many of these resulted in a conversion. This involves putting a 1x1 pixel gif onto your ‘thank you’ page. Many media owners may also supply you with these pixels and track the conversions for you. However, because their pixels will be a ‘third party’ to your website, you should ensure that you partner with a trusted supplier.
Choose your supplier carefully. If dealing with ad networks, ensure they are IASH accredited. This ensures that your network has passed a stringent vetting process and respects a standardised system of auditing sites. You can go to www.iash.org.uk for more detail. You should also look for potential suppliers who offer a range of targeting opportunities, as well as a choice of platforms on which to advertise. Ask yourself if the sales person is able to speak authoritatively about their network and offer you confidence that you’re buying the right solution.
Remember, you get what you pay for – so the cheapest option is often not the best, even in tough economic times. Some networks have their own internal bidding system, which means that unless you’re paying an appropriate rate, your campaign won’t get shown. Sometimes cheaper rates can also mean lower valued inventory on which your ad will be placed – this could undermine your offer and ultimately damage your brand.
Once your campaign has been launched, check to see what kind of optimisation your supplier offers and check to see whether this will be in real-time. The beauty of online is that it eliminates waste – so make sure your supplier is doing this for you.
As a matter of course, your supplier should send you a campaign report once the campaign is over. This should give you data to analyse the success of your spend.
Finally, once you have your results, you should have a basis on which to re-launch your online advertising campaign, making sure that you’ve learnt from the experience and refined everything necessary accordingly.
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