Humanizing Optimization: The Need For Us To Get Involved

Optimization. It’s a word marketers have become all too familiar with. Optimized spend, optimized creative, optimized landing page, optimized CTA, optimized everything. The proliferation of marketing automation platforms and tools has made optimization extremely easy. Today, we simply push a button, or play with some settings, and we can optimize infinite marketing elements. 

Access to all of these optimization possibilities may be a double-edged sword, though. As optimization opportunities stack up, it’s easy to lose sight of the “forest through the trees.” There are so many individual pieces and moving parts that it’s easy to lose track of them. To make matters worse, the context is further lost when different individuals, agencies or departments are trying to optimize their channels in silos. 

Therefore, we must think strategically about how each one of these elements is working to achieve a larger marketing objective. Certainly it’s important to commit to improving every individual piece — banner ad, CTA, landing page — along the way, but we have to do so without losing sight of the bigger picture. And that requires a human touch. It’s work that marketers need to get involved with and understand in order to ensure success.



This doesn’t mean we need to throw out our optimization technology or platforms. Rather, we need to balance the process of optimizing individual channels and elements (something that optimization technology does very well) with the discipline of striving for an optimized journey. Here are a few actionable tips as to how to achieve this balance:

  • Optimize elements in context of the objective. Optimizing the click-through rate of a banner ad may help get more visitors to a site, but if they convert less at the next step— say it’s been optimized solely for CTR — you’ve lost sight of the entire consumer journey. Make sure to look at both short-term benefits and long-term gains.
  • Strive to optimize every step of the way. Optimizing throughout the consumer journey is exponentially better than making a single improvement in only one phase or channel. For example, if you have two pages in a checkout or conversion process, optimizing the conversion on only the first page by 10% will result in a 10% benefit overall. However, if you optimize the conversion on each of the two pages by 5% you’ve achieved a 25% benefit overall.
  • Work to understand why certain optimization is or isn’t working. Too often, the automation of optimization allows marketers to “move on” and take the optimization for granted. Asking, “Why did the change work?” shifts the focus towards understanding the reasons certain changes are effective. This learning enables us to be smarter for future optimization. So try to develop optimization principles that provide greater long-term value. 

Indeed, optimization is a wonderful thing and today’s technology has provided us with lots of great tools for simplifying it and speeding things up. That said, it’s also provided us with a “set it and forget it” mentality that can lead to optimization not being fully optimized, and that’s why the human touch is so important for marketers. We need to leverage the technology effectively, but we need a “hands-on” approach to really understand why consumers are responding positively or negatively to changes we make in our marketing mix.  

1 comment about "Humanizing Optimization: The Need For Us To Get Involved ".
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  1. George John from Rocket Fuel Inc, June 9, 2015 at 9:59 p.m.

    These are great points!  Increasingly, technology can handle the basics of optimizing a campaign within a channel or specific objective.  But it's not so much "set it and forget it" as "manage it!" Oversee the machine optimizations, be sure it's set up with clear constraints and objectives, and help design those objectives so they flow with other program objectives to achieve the bigger picture goals for the company.   As one example, at Rocket Fuel we're proud of our tech but also our analysts who look for opportunities and synergies, recently finding 30% to 3x better results by targeting people and measuring responses through multiple devices.   It's an exciting time for advertisers and marketers where machines can not just the A/B test but millions of experiments, letting us focus on the customer journey.

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