Commentary

The 10 Things Performance Marketers Should Do -- But Don't

Dear Performance Marketer: The economic forecast for 2009 looks a lot like what we've already seen in the second half of 2008: pain. Thus, creating marketing initiatives that are both effective and accountable has never been more challenging, yet essential. With this in mind, buckle up and take a look at these 10 guidelines to help improve conversion rates while also strengthening your brand in the new year.

1.    Take optimization into your own hands. Don't pay a premium for someone else's optimization that isn't transparent to you. Ad networks have optimization technology, but it's a black box -- you can't see how your ad dollars are moved around, or how keywords are being optimized. Demand transparency. Make sure you're getting value in return for the optimization premium paid.

2.    Use your data to target and speak to your ideal costumer. Find a partner that can append your data to theirs and personalize your media plan. Pinpointing and targeting your ideal customer allows you to eliminate media waste. Most ad networks and agencies have their own data points and don't append advertising data to the system because they'd have to customize every single media buy.

3.    Know your addressable market. Are your goals realistic given your addressable market? How big is your current market opportunity? How can you expand it? A Hawaiian airline just flying in and out of certain California locations shouldn't market across the Internet -- they'll hit their addressable market too many times. Know where the tipping point is in terms of diminishing returns.

4.    Analyze your attribution method in relation to frequency and exposures. In display, where the last impression/last click always wins, it's easy for media aggregators to steal attribution, especially via cookies. What's your optimal frequency across the whole media plan?  If you don't know because you're buying from too many aggregators, consolidate your budget. If you can't track frequency and exposures across the entire media plan, you can't assign attribution equitably.

5.    Establish metrics based on cross-channel market opportunity. Too often I hear one ad delivery method is outperforming another, but they're not all created equal. You can't evaluate display the same as search since they are unique; instead your goals should be different. You need cross-channel attribution analysis in order to establishing metrics that allow you to effectively budget different channels.

6.    Invest in good creative. Is there a clear call to action in the ad? What do you want the viewer to do? Is your message concise? Don't try to say too much - you have about two seconds to grab someone's attention. Is your logo visible? If you can't see it on a skyscraper ad without scrolling down, it's wasted.

7.    Know where your ads are running. If you don't have control over where your ads appear, it won't matter how compelling they are. You need to know if the content on the placement sites is helping or hurting your brand. A children's advertiser doesn't want its ads alongside a review of 50 Cent; over time, it hurts brand association/interaction and people will start to think, "They're not that family-oriented."

8.    Give your Web site the same amount of attention as your media. If all your attention is focused on driving traffic to your site, but you don't know how to dynamically personalize it through content management, your conversion rate will suffer. If someone's profile says  Champagne, don't offer them domestic beer. A personalization conversion funnel can provide a minimum 20% lift, and it's not that expensive.

9.    Challenge your ad agency. Why are they buying what they're buying?  What are they doing that's innovative? Also, educate yourself. If you don't know the difference between a Tacoda and a Revenue Science, do your homework. Don't say to the agency, "Just do it all for me." Ask why they're doing what they're doing, so dollars are spent as they should be. You don't want them to push media at you because of their vendor relationships.

10.     Clearly define your objectives. Clients often don't have clear objectives, such as firm CPA goals. Or they may have conflicting primary and secondary objectives, such as driving traffic and conversion. Just because someone is intrigued by your site doesn't mean they'll convert. If your goal is to drive traffic, don't piggyback a goal of conversion on top of it.

Do these steps appear daunting? Well, take heart -- I know of no Fortune 500 firm that is implementing all of them. However, a few to watch that are a bit ahead of the curve include AT&T Wireless, Capital One, Discover and Verizon.

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5 comments about "The 10 Things Performance Marketers Should Do -- But Don't ".
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  1. Adam Broitman from Kiip, January 22, 2009 at 3:24 p.m.

    Oh-in a perfect world the stars would align; client and agency would work together and all of this would be possible **sigh** :)

    Great post :)

  2. Michael Mcmahon from ROI Factory / Quick Ops, January 22, 2009 at 6:08 p.m.

    Perhaps we'll see analysis and optimization outsourced to stand-alone consultants, rather than be the neglected step-child of most branding agencies. Most of the work you describe is just not in the skill set of most agencies, nor do most agencies really care about it. Agencies are still led by their creative departments, not the analysts.

  3. Tsafrir Peles from DSNR media group, January 23, 2009 at 6:58 a.m.

    eventually you wrote it, clause 10, define your objective... Firm cpa goals... you should have started there. Then frequency and overlapping are not so important anymore, as long as your objectives are met. then the very very difficult task to know it and measure it all can be left to those who don't have very well defined goals ...

  4. Leslie Hammann from Geary Interactive, January 27, 2009 at 6:38 p.m.

    I think you're correct in your assertion that accountability and effectiveness are going to be crucial in the coming years. Every component of a marketing campaign will need additional consideration and optimization. Neglect or inattentiveness is not an option.

  5. Michelle Thomas from TBD, February 1, 2009 at 1:10 a.m.

    this is a great read. i'm particularly interested in any suggestions for how to analyze cross-channel attribution. we are seeing more and more marketing efforts being coined as brand response where the objectives are being blurred across the channels. it's getting messy, but does it have to be? :o)

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