Your marketing team is working with limited resources. On a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, they are tasked with allocating these resources effectively to build your marketing system and drive a return on investment. But many are falling behind. They lack trustworthy data on their audience, and spend prolonged periods without gaining insights. Some also fail to track the most valuable and actionable metrics, leading to wasted time and money on fruitless campaigns. Despite these challenges, the data is available and the path to marketing ROI is clear.
In this eBook, our experts present their guide to achieving marketing results. We’ll focus on clear steps your organization can take to support its marketing team and on how to recalibrate the marketing process by retraining your focus on those most valuable data sets. Let’s delve right in.
- Enable data-driven insight generation & storytelling
- Improve the productivity of your media spend
- Make strategic decisions based on marketing performance
- Fuel creative collaboration between brand and partners
3 MARKETING ROI KILLERS AND HOW TO FIGHT THEM
Beware the Ad Fraud
In March DMN reported that $12 billion worth of ad spend may have been wasted on fraud in 2016. That’s about 20% of global digital advertising. Two months later the Association of National Advertisers and bot detector White Ops predicted that things would get better: In a joint study, they estimated a 10% reduction in fraud-related financial losses for 2017, from $7.2 billion last year to $6.5 billion this year. Still, eMarketer’s report US Ad Fraud 2017: Buyers and Sellers Fall Prey to More Sophisticated Forms warns that despite advertisers’ inventing and adopting new ways to tackle fraud, fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated.
Aside from investing in anti-fraud technology and staying informed on the evolving threat, your best defense is to become familiar with indicators in your performance data that may allude to a problem. Here are a couple things you can do:
Watch for inconsistencies and outliers in traffic data.
If a traffic source provides high traffic with no conversions, you may be inclined to think your creative or messaging is the problem. Then again, this may be a classic case of invalid traffic generated by bots. Checking for unusually high bounce rates from one source compared to your average is another way to detect fraud. It’s a good idea to do a weekly check for fraud indicators and develop enough familiarity with your data to know when something looks kooky.
With the increasing availability of AI-powered tools, regular monitoring is easier and more convenient than before. An AI-powered marketing intelligence platform helps by serving up automated visualizations that can easily highlight which trends are being affected by outliers or irregular data. You can then use that information to adjust your spending right away, or set up tests to determine the authenticity of a suspicious traffic source.
Get your media partners and agencies on the same page with a data sharing arrangement.
Publishers and agencies can just as easily fall prey to ad fraud as advertisers. To better combat ad fraud, all parties in the media supply chain should work together. Data sharing can be a sensitive issue, but all parties have a stake in marketing performance data and should be able to see the same numbers in order to better coordinate strategic decisions.
If you are using the Velocidi customer data platform, it’s easy to share a single view of your performance data with permissioned access to specific tools within the solution. All relevant parties can see the data that is most relevant to their workflow, without having to wrangle spreadsheets and PowerPoints on email.
By committing to data sharing, all parties can then ensure the viability of the data moving forward. This is an essential component in driving campaign ROI. Achieving a foundation of clean, tangible data means companies can then begin to investigate how to channel their marketing funds and target prospects more effectively.
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 each 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 AI 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 AI. If you are using an AI-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 you’re 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. And the value these insights provide reduces with each passing day.
Time-to-insights is an important consideration when determining the ROI of your marketing campaign. A recent study shared by eMarketer measured how long it takes users of analytic tools to gain insights from data. Less than a third obtain insights in less than a day, while 37% wait 1 to 5 days for insights and 36% report anywhere from 6 to more than 30 days. While this study was not limited to marketing analytics users, we can probably assume that with the added messiness of siloed, mismatched, multi-channel campaign data, there aren’t a lot of marketers in the “less than one day” segment.
When we talk about insights, we’re talking about the learnings you get from diving deep into the data—the type of insights that reveal new opportunities and new performance drivers. These insights bring greater sophistication to your marketing strategy and increase your overall ROI. They can take a lot of digging to uncover and often aren’t uncovered fast enough to have an effect on your current campaign spending. If a campaign performs poorly, there’s nothing to be done but apply your learnings to future campaigns and hope for a better result. What you need is to be able to surface these insights before you’ve spent all your campaign budget.
Using analytics software should theoretically speed up this process and make it less laborious, but the reality is not so rosy. The same Interana study that produced the data in the above chart found that many users of analytics software experience difficulty using them in a valuable way. Some tools are not flexible enough for deep analysis; others are complicated to use or require too much coding.
As a result, many marketers’ data practices are limited to doing a by-the-numbers post-mortem of each campaign, rather than making data part of their everyday decision-making. In order to make data a more powerful driver of ROI, marketers need to be equipped to detect changes and opportunities in their performance data and respond in a more timely manner.
The solution? It’s partly about choosing the right tools, but it is equally important for marketers to develop their ability to ask intelligent questions of their data, and balance scientific data analysis with creative exploration of the dimensions and performance drivers in each campaign.
Surfacing buried insights is a ripe opportunity for marketers to implement AI into their analytics solutions. AI-powered marketing intelligence turns the process of data analysis on its head, surfacing important insights instantly in the form of daily alerts, and then providing the pathway for you to work backwards to verify and probe those insights further using dynamic visualizations. It’s impossible for you to create rules for every audience segment or campaign parameter you want to track, but AI can do it for you and tell you immediately which ones are important.
The best part is that over time the program learns what matters to you by the insights you act on, and the automatic insights that are delivered to you get smarter and more relevant. Meanwhile, the experience of interacting with highly actionable and revelatory insights makes you a better strategist. You learn to ask more intelligent questions, set up test campaigns to deliver highly valuable learnings, look at your performance data from new angles, and run the most ROI-positive campaigns in the history of marketing.
By implementing campaigns based on the latest shared insights from your marketing intelligence platform, and learning by testing alongside your AI-based platform, you can become a stronger, more results-focused marketer. Over time, you’ll eliminate costly targeting mistakes and build a tangible connection with your most valuable customers. It’s an ongoing, incremental process that will separate the growing brands of today with tomorrow’s industry leaders.
About the Author
Heidi Hokanson is a digital marketing professional and content marketing writer with a degree in public communication from American University. In her current role as the Social Media Manager at Velocidi, Heidi has built a reputation for her astute analysis, and her ability to distill complex esoteric theories into engaging content crafted for marketers at every organizational level.