Conversions, reduced CPL, and shorter sales cycles – that’s what marketers want, and it’s not too much to ask. We asked a few members from the Ai Media Group team to give us insights into how to get the best results.
Reap more conversions by taking a broader view of attribution, keywords, and timing says Andy Fenster, President and Founder of Ai Media Group.
In order to get more conversions, it’s essential for marketers to have full attribution throughout the customer journey, as opposed to focusing on last-click attribution. The customer’s journey is much longer and more winding than you think.
Take higher education marketing as an example: A lot of institutions think that people search by the name of the school, and that leads to conversions. But, the reality is that the journey doesn’t begin at the brand; the journey leads to the brand.
People more often start by looking for careers of interest. For example, they could be looking at criminal justice programs and along the way decide they’re interested in a computer science degree, or they start by looking at psychology and realize what they really want to study is nursing. This is why we emphasize looking at the entire customer journey.
It’s also why we tell clients not to spend all their money on branding their organization’s name, but to also invest in a broader set of keywords – “online degrees,” for example, or “business degrees” or “MBA programs.” Depending on the demographics you are targeting, you might buy keywords like “second career” or “continued education” or “night school.”
We also encourage clients to think through the timing of their consumer’s search. Again using education as an example, many marketers go dark or spend very little at certain times of the year, and then ramp up their efforts right before the prime enrollment period. In reality, prospective students start their search at least three or four months in advance. Higher education is a large investment and prospective students take their time finding the perfect fit. You need to understand where your target customers are beginning their journey and how much lead time is needed to reach them.
In addition to searching in expanded time frames on broader keywords, people are search on multiple networks, across different devices.
When looking at every touchpoint of the customer’s journey in one holistic system the path to purchase may surprise you. And, those surprises lead to better optimizations and more conversions.
Showing the right ads to the right people at the right time will make average conversion times significantly shorter, says Joel Citron, Vice President of Advertising Technologies at Ai Media Group.
To shorten the sales cycle, take a new look at your sales funnel. See where your customers are and have been, and give them what they want at the right time.
For example, at the top of the funnel is a person who fits your target demographic, but who doesn’t know he wants your product. This is where the journey begins. They are seeing your initial messaging and branding. This could be display, social media, or offline tactics like radio, print, billboards – anything that elicits top-of-mind awareness. When you can see the attribution of your top-of-funnel tactics, you can see what is catching their eye and what moves them further along the funnel.
In the middle of the funnel, you have active seekers. The trick is to get them to seek you. They’re looking for a pair of shoes. They search for “walking shoes” and there is your ad. Now that you know they have seen your ad and they are in an active search for walking shoes, you can sync and retarget along their digital journey. They can see you again on Facebook and then again on Google. Then they click the link to your site.
Now they’re at the bottom of the funnel. What drives conversion there? Is it showing them a few options, or offering a small discount for first-time customers, or engaging with a chatbot? Conversely, where are they falling off the site and failing to convert? Of course, few consumer journeys are as predictable as a funnel. It may be more useful to think of the journey as a fountain, with data flowing down, then getting pushed back toward the top, and then flowing down again.
You have to follow the journey, and the data, to see which tactics are working and which aren’t. You can only truly optimize a campaign once you’ve given the right value to each tactic and optimized accordingly. You need to see the entire sales cycle in order to know where it can be shortened.
It takes a combination of human intelligence and technology to achieve efficient spend, says Georgi Gogua, Director of Digital Marketing Operations
To get CPL costs down, marketers have to implement real-time optimization across their platforms. In order to better optimize performance, marketers must rely on more than cookies.
The problem with the cookie as the basis for targeting is that it can expire or be deleted. Further, data or information is often applied in a probabilistic, not deterministic way. Instead of knowing that someone with this cookie is within your target audience, vendors are grouping cookies into probabilistic demographics by online behavior. The result is a lot of waste in your media buys. An IP address, on the other hand, is a known entity. You can’t delete an IP address, and it allows you to identify your audience on an individual basis throughout their journey.
Using cookies and IP targeting in tandem allows you to look at all of the touchpoints that a customer made in their journey. They may have started off their search with a generic keyword on Google. And then, maybe they came back online and saw a Facebook ad and clicked on it. And finally, they converted a day or two later on that branded term. By aggregating all of that information, you can see what the optimal customer journey is, and then attribute that conversion to the correlating touchpoints and optimize your spend accordingly. You can learn where your customers are and show up there.
None of this is a set-it-and-forget-it system. Marketers need to ensure there is a human element overseeing campaigns. There will be certain times when a machine will keep doing the task it was programmed to do over and over again, even when it stops making sense. We advocate for an ongoing, expert review process to make sure campaigns are where they need to be.
Marketers want these things, but don’t have the proper tools to get efficient results. Without a holistic system attributing conversions to every touchpoint in the consumer journey from inception to sale, the campaign will never be optimizable for maximum efficiency.