Marketing departments no longer get a free pass; they need to deliver measurable results.
New technology, new business models, and new expectations have given rise to the discipline of performance marketing, and for each dollar they spend marketers must now show corresponding results.
Performance marketing demands objective ways to evaluate what's working and what's not in relation to vendors, channels, media, and creative. Marketers need granular metrics like CTR, CPC, and CPA, as well as high-level indicators like ROAS (return on ad spend), that demonstrate how particular strategies and tactics affect the bottom line, profit margins, and cost efficiency.
Today, that means omnichannel measurement. Tracking how one channel functions in isolation no longer works. Marketers not only need to understand how channels work together but also to drill down into the nuances that provide actionable insight.
A successful performance marketing program marries the detailed metrics with the business KPIs, using the former to drive the latter.
With that in mind, here are nine advanced optimization techniques that can help you cut the fat from your performance marketing programs.
1. Identify low-contribution channels
Cross-channel measurement programs typically look at which channels led to an eventual conversion. That's great, but not all touchpoints are created equal. It's critical to learn which channels actually contributed to the action, not only which ones were somehow involved.
For example, a prospect may have seen your ad on TV, visited your website via mobile, viewed a display ad, and finally made a purchase via desktop browser. You need to know whether that display ad, for instance, affected the final conversion or just cost money.
Identifying the low-contributing channels allows you to cut the tactics that don't carry their share of the weight.
2. Optimize for touchpoint frequency
Two channels deliver the same number of conversions, but one requires two touchpoints while the other requires 20. Are they of equal value? Analyze the amount of budget and resources that go into creating a conversion per channel to ensure optimal bang for your buck.
3. Analyze the long tail
Some channels take longer to convert. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you're spending significant money retargeting prospects from those channels along the way. Make sure you're hitting the right targets by analyzing your long tail channels by audience, identifying highly qualified leads and lookalikes so that your time and money can go to the right place.
4. Measure the saturation point
There are diminishing returns if you spray-and-pray for more conversions. At some point, your customer is convinced: She is going to convert (or not), it's just a matter of when and where. Dig into the data to discover that saturation point, then curb programs accordingly. Pinpointing your saturation points both saves money and builds brand equity by limiting the consumer annoyance factor.
5. Account for sequencing
You have three different promotions in market: free shipping, 10% off, and BOGO (buy one, get one free). What sequence over what period of time delivers the best results? Use sequencing information to determine how to hook your prospects, then up the ante, retarget, and drive eventual conversion using the most efficient combination of tactics.
6. Retarget strategically
You know someone is interested, so it's time to turn on the retargeting machine. For many organizations, that means display ads. But is that where and how your target market converts? Are there other channels that cost less, but work better? Email, for example, is free.
Map your user paths to your retargeting strategies to ensure that you're not wasting money reminding people in the wrong places.
7. Scrutinize your keywords
Paid search engine marketing is at the top of the list for wasted marketing dollars. Examine which keywords drive deeper funnel activity, and which are being used for research. If you're filling the top of the funnel, but your competitor gets the conversion, it's time for a change. Focus your efforts on which pricy non-brand terms lead to your desired action, and cut the ones that don't.
8. Build a baseline
Every brand has a baseline: organic recall and pull for certain consumers that drive conversions and sales without any marketing efforts. Performance marketers need to understand that baseline to measure how their programs operate against it.
A defined baseline clarifies which digital marketing tactics are actually moving the needle, so brands can optimize media spend and avoid miscalculations based on assumptions and misinterpreted data.
9. Operate holistically
With your baseline in place, evaluate all of your channels against it and each other. Identify top and bottom performers by which touchpoints meet or exceed your average aCPA (attribution cost per action). This holistic view into your complete performance marketing portfolio provides clear direction on how to allocate your funds and resources most effectively. To truly optimize your omnichannel program, you need to know how each channel performs overall, not how each works in a silo.
* * *
Like many business endeavors, performance marketing programs succeed when they do more with less—and prove it. Use your data to create specific, actionable metrics, then turn that information into a fully optimized omnichannel strategy.
Tracy Kemmer is director of client services at Conversion Logic. http://www.conversionlogic.com/ She has worked in the marketing attribution field since its infancy, helping organizations thread together user paths and algorithmic data to find actionable business insights.