This post originally appeared in PR Newswire.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with nearly a hundred companies so far on advertising and marketing initiatives. My client base ranges from Fortune 500 to cool new startups ready to take on the world. While marketing and advertising for these companies I’ve started to notice many common questions and actions that have had negative effects on the bottom line.
When we are evaluating whether or not our services are the right fit for our clients, here are the questions that we ask to make sure that we can deliver, and are on the same page when campaigns go live.
1. Not Knowing Your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) Rate
Often I’m asked how much money a certain marketing method will make for a client. The best way to answer this is to know their current CPA, and back into how many “acquisitions” seem appropriate for a certain campaign.
Often early stage companies haven’t had the opportunity to test different methods of acquiring customers or users, so they are not sure. Until you are sure, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Use small test budgets and test many different tactics (but still large enough to have an accurate sample size) until you find what works for you.
2. Not Knowing Your Conversion Rate
This is another question that you need to be able to answer. If I can bring you X amount of qualified site visits, how should that convert for you? If your conversion rate is currently low, is it because of the quality of traffic you are receiving, your product, or your web design?
You can narrow down if it’s the quality of traffic you are receiving by looking at conversion rates by site or advertisement. Are your retargeting ads receiving higher conversions than your amplification? Or are your Facebook advertisements receiving fewer conversions than influencer marketing? (see #5 for web design).
3. Undecided on Funnel Approach
A top funnel approach is sending new people to your site. You want to invest in top funnel approaches (such as PR and influencer marketing) once you know that your product sells and you know what your conversion rate is. Top funnel approaches are best for those who have already optimized the bottom of the funnel (getting people to become customers or users).
Investing in a bottom of the funnel approach would be trying to increase your renewal rate or repeat customers. There are very different tactics for bottom of the funnel and top of the funnel, so before you invest your money in a certain area make sure that they can address your needs appropriately. Once your bottom funnel is optimized (people are buying!) you know that you can scale out your top of the funnel approach and start hitting your goals.
4. Not Pricing The Value of Long Term Advertisements Correctly
Everyone is used to display advertisements. You pay X amount, you get X impressions, and from there, you know how many conversions you receive. It’s cut and dry. The ad goes up. The ad goes down.
Other marketing methods, such as PR and influencer marketing are not cut and dry. Its not an ad that is served for a couple seconds and disappears forever. PR and influencer marketing (as well as other content strategies such as blogging) are long-term advertisements. You can’t price long-term advertisements and short-term advertisements the same way.
Long-term advertisements have additional value besides the initial impression (that you receive with display ads), with a few examples being:
- Social shares (to Twitter, Facebook, g+….)
- Forever accessible
- Increased brand recognition (reading is a much higher level of engagement than an ad that may or may not have been viewed)
When you are pricing out whether or not a long-term marketing or advertising method is a good value, you can’t look solely at impressions. Calculating total media value is a much better way of determining if your budget will go to good use. To do this, put a price tag on each piece of media or action, such as a Facebook share being valued at $5, and an organic site visit through the SEO of that content as $10.
5. Not A/B Testing
Perhaps one of the most simple, yet often overlooked is A/B testing. If you are investing in any top of the funnel approach (like PR, influencer marketing, or even behavioral display buys) A/B testing the page you are directing visitors to will help you optimize the layout for future initiatives.
Make slight changes in the page, such as language, colors and pictures and see which one yields the best conversion rate. If you invest in top of the funnel without A/B testing you are missing out on valuable data that will help your business GROW.
6. Not Retargeting Site Visitors and Email Readers
If you aren’t retargeting, you are missing another opportunity to optimize your mid and bottom funnel (remember, top of the funnel is for new visitors, mid to bottom are for those who are already familiar with your brand).
Place retargeting pixels on your web page and even in an image in your email signature to retarget those who open emails from you. When retargeting works well for you, it’s a great sign that people are interested in your product and that you’ll be able to run successful abandoned shopping cart campaigns as well.
When our clients have success with retargeting and we run sponsored content campaigns, we make sure to retarget the readers of the sponsored content with display ads. We see double the average CTR on these advertisements proving the power of retargeting.
7. Not Blogging
This is especially important if you are a new business, or an established business launching a new product. You don’t need a large index of blog posts, but before you invest in off-site advertising and marketing, make sure you have a couple blog posts on your site for visitors to access. Blogs add value to site visitors and establish trust and is a good base to have before engaging in other marketing efforts.
Hint: If you aren’t planning on updating regularly, take the timestamps off so they don’t seem dated.
8. Messy Goals
Everyone has different budgets. Some have more room for experimentation, whereas others need every dollar to count. Before engaging with a vendor, make sure you have clear goals that are communicated.
Without clear goals, you can’t determine which vendor fits you best and there is a much higher chance that you’ll feel disappointed with the results you receive. Some examples of goals to communicate are:
- Receiving a certain number of site visitors
- Receiving a certain conversion rate
- Receiving a certain amount of social followers or shares
- Receiving a certain amount of event attendee’s
- Receiving a certain amount of email addresses
- Receiving a certain number of downloads
- Receiving a certain number of ads served
- Receiving a certain number of impressions
If you have a secondary goal, make sure that the primary is noted. Sometimes one effort can cannibalize the other, so make sure that the primary is clearly documented so that your vendor can make the right choices for your needs.
9. Be Attentive on Social Media During Marketing Campaigns
Being in the business of running social advertising campaigns, we see a lot of brands forgetting to answer questions on social media. Before engaging in any sort of social campaign, make sure that you have someone ready to answer questions online.
If you’d rather answer the question offline, it’s better to answer them publicly and ask them to email you.
Besides questions, make sure to be active when social campaigns are running in general! Did a press release get picked up? If someone shares it on social media, engage with it in some way. Not responding or engaging socially are lost opportunities to convert questions and compliments into customers.