Make Your Marketing Data Actionable

Marketing campaigns are stronger when you can collect data on the performance of the campaigns and use that data to make your campaigns better. Big data is how large enterprises, like Facebook, Amazon, and Google, are able to refine their offers to the point where it seems like the companies are spying on you.

Data on the performance of your campaign can be used to make actionable decisions that bring in more leads and sales.

The difference between great marketing campaigns and “not-so-great” campaigns is how you use the data to make the campaigns better. Obviously, as a marketer, you use your best judgement to find the ideal audience, formulate your messaging, and picking your distribution channel. But only real data can tell us what’s working and what’s not working. You can use this data to pivot your campaigns and increase the actual effect it has on your business.

Not sure how to use data to optimize campaigns?

How to Use Data to Optimize Campaigns

Optimizing ad campaigns, whether you’re working on social media ads, Google ads, or even email marketing, requires you to use these four key tactics.

1. Measure the Right Things

There is nearly limitless data you can see when running a digital campaign, but not all of it is going to be useful for you. And far too often, you’re not even measuring the data that’s most important.

What is your ad campaign’s main goal? Campaigns can be used to:

  • Drive online sales
  • Collect leads with forms
  • Entice digital downloads
  • Push content and web visits
  • Drive phone calls
  • etc.

Identify the actual actions that you’re trying to drive from your campaigns and figure out how to measure that event. Google Tag Manager can be a great tool for event tracking. Website sessions are usually not enough to fully understand what’s happening on your campaign and can be misleading to the impact your campaign is having.

As a simplified example, let’s assume that you want to drive downloads of your new eBook. You should make sure that you set up tracking for when people complete that action and report on it. You could be driving a lot of website sessions to your eBook page, but if no one is downloading it, you know something is off with your campaign.

Let’s assume that you have 1,000 sessions and one download for the eBook. Why?

  • Is your ad copy misleading?
  • Are you targeting the wrong audience?
  • Does the landing page push users to convert?
  • Maybe it’s something else?

When you measure results based on conversions, you’ll start seeing the true performance of your marketing campaign.

2. Use Multiple Attribution Models

Attribution models are how you compare which marketing channel gets the credit for your performance. Every user’s path to converting is going to be different and it’s almost never linear. Meaning that it’s unlikely someone is going to see an ad, click on the ad, and convert on the very first visit to your website. This is very obvious if you think about your own purchasing behavior.

A lot of marketers only view the last-click-attribution, which means that they only give credit to the very last channel the user came from before converting. This is very limited insight into your campaign’s success because it doesn’t show the full story.

You could run a Facebook ad that drove a user to your website. They browsed around and left. Later, they remember they wanted to buy something and look up your brand name on Google. Only looking at the “last click” means that Google Search got the credit for the sale. However, the Facebook Ad was the actual campaign that drove the initial awareness for that user.

comparing attribution models

Because of all the different possible variations users actually convert, looking at one attribution model is not going to provide you with enough insight into your marketing campaign performance. 

You can see performance looking at different attribution models right inside Google Analytics. The top attribution models typically used are:

  • First interaction
  • Last interaction
  • Last-click-attribution
  • Time-decay
  • Position-based

Google Analytics will provide you with more information to understand your customer’s journey through your site. If you’re not looking at all touchpoints in your customer journey, you’re missing out on rich data that can help strengthen your ad campaigns.

3. Define the Right Goals for Each Channel

One of the key ways to optimize social media ad campaigns or Google ads is to make sure that you’re measuring the right goals for each channel. Every inbound channel needs to have its own unique goals and KPIs.

Why? Because different inbound channels are in different areas of your sales funnel. Therefore you can’t treat them all the same. Each channel or campaign should be measured using the metrics that make sense for the purpose of the campaign.

For example…

Social media campaigns are typically designed for higher-in-the-funnel purposes. They are there to drive awareness.

On the contrary, Google Search Ads are typically focused on users that are lower in the funnel. Here, you’re capturing people that are already actively looking for something.

marketing channels for different places in the funnel

So it’s not exactly an “Apples to Apples” comparison. You’re likely going to see higher conversion rates on your Google campaigns because those people are lower in the funnel already. Whereas the social campaigns will probably see lower conversion rates because those users are higher in the funnel. 

When you build out a campaign and want to analyze the performance, consider the goals for that campaign and how it’s playing a role in the entire customer journey.

4. Test, Pivot, Scale

Now that you’re tracking the right data and analyzing it properly, it’s time to optimize. The biggest way to optimize is to test everything. This is done primarily through A/B testing.

An A/B test is when you run two different variations of a campaign to determine which one is better and drives the best result. When running an A/B test, you want to have an original version (A) and then an alternative version (B) and run them against each other. As you run them, you’ll be able to look at the important data (like conversions) and figure out which versions are driving the better result.

There are limitless things you can test in your campaigns:

  • Audience targeting
  • Ad copy
  • Visuals (photos / videos)
  • Landing page layout
  • Calls-to-action
a-b testing

Really anything that you can change in your campaigns is something that you’re able to test.

By pressure testing your campaigns, you can identify the variations that make your performance better. Small changes, such as where you place your call-to-action to color, font and text changes can be made. When you make small, measurable changes, you’ll be able to learn what works for your audience and what doesn’t.

  • Which audiences have the better conversion rates
  • Which ad visuals drive the most clicks
  • Which landing page layouts keep people on the site longer.
  • Etc.

Over time, you’ll be able to test your own hypotheses to see what’s working and not working so you can optimize accordingly. Google Optimize or Optimizely are great tools for running A/B tests. Tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg can help you run heatmaps and record website sessions so you can see how users are actually behaving on your site when they come in from your campaigns.

After your campaigns are dialed in is when you can start to scale. Ramp up spend to increase the volume using the most fine-tuned variations that have yielded the best results. 

5. Ongoing Campaign Maintenance

Accurate data is invaluable for your ad campaigns because it empowers you to move performance in the direction that helps your business the most. It’s important to continue monitoring, testing, and seeing what still works overtime. These are never “set it and forget it” activities. It’s not uncommon for an ad campaign to work well initially and slowly start to die off with fatigue or changes in user behavior.

You’ll need to continue testing and pivoting your campaign to match current user behavior. Continue monitoring your campaign performance, continue to analyze, and continue to test new initiatives with your marketing.

Want help with your marketing?

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