Running a marketing campaign is jargon-laden and chock-full of metrics. Are you genuinely confused? Do not worry. We will unpack the terms and put you at ease in this introductory document for running a simple ad campaign. The information is written generically that the principles contained here are applicable across all major ad networks. Additionally, we will also discuss social media posts and how to use them synchronously with ads.
Broadly speaking, there are four steps as shown in the graphic below (Figure 1):
Figure 1: Four-step process for running ad campaigns
Step 1: Objective Setting
Imagine you have a chunk of funds, say $2 million, from a family inheritance and you would like to retire early and utilize the funds to make a living. Firstly, you would have to figure out your expenses including your mortgage, etc, and then back work to compute how much financial return you would need on the funds to live within your means.
Setting a campaign objective is something similar but performed in a marketing context. The goal or objective is typically chosen from a marketing funnel that best encapsulates the journey the customer traverses through the marketing lifecycle. Let’s understand this further by reviewing the next graphic (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Marketing Funnel
There are 3 stages of the funnel and each item represents the relationship between the consumer and the brand. As an example, people the world over are familiar with the brand Coco-Cola despite its provincial origins in America. Thanks largely to a deep awareness of the brand created due to over a hundred years of advertising.
So, if you are a new firm introducing your product or an existing firm with no digital presence or an existing firm introducing a new and innovative product, start with an awareness campaign. Proceed from the top of the funnel and resist the temptation to instantly aspire for leads and/or customers.
Large brands are constantly running awareness campaigns for brand recall and keeping them at the top of our minds. However, SMBs and mid-market firms with cost constraints should aim for at least 3 to 4 weeks of paid awareness campaign before they proceed down the funnel. Maximizing the number of people who become familiar with your product/service should be your only goal in this round.
Nowadays, awareness can be created through paid advertising such as on Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc, or through free and interesting posts on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Free posts and paid ads should be timed in such a way that they feed on each other to reinforce the messaging.
Key metrics for awareness is listed in the table below:
Figure 3: Key metrics for awareness campaign:
|Impressions||Literally means how many times the ad/post has been viewed. May contain duplicates.||Google and all social media|
|Reach||Widely used across both digital and non-digital media. Measures how many unique visitors viewed the ad.||Google and all social media|
|likes||Out of the total people reached, how many of them liked the free post||Social media|
|Comments||Number of comments about the post. May contain duplicates||Social media|
Once the consumer is familiar with the brand and/or product, they are ready to soak in for more information about the service/product by either visiting your website or Facebook page to learn more about the offering. In a “brick and mortar” setting, this would be called “football” or “store traffic”.
In a consumer or B2C context, typical websites such as eCommerce portals provide excellent gateways in terms of product display, so the visitor gains a decent understanding of the offering. Conversely, B2B firms engage their web visitors by showcasing case studies, white papers, and other in-depth material so the visitor can give the firm’s product informed consideration. Many B2B firms collect the visitor’s name, valid email, and/or phone number before parting with such valuable information. Once this happens, the marketer has a valid lead to pursue and close the deal. Table 4 provides key metrics for the consideration campaign.
Figure 4: Key metrics for consideration campaign:
|Unique web visitors||A gauge of how many people is broadly interested||Google and all social media|
|Clicks||Number of people that clicked the ad||Google and all social media|
|Bounce rate||A measure of the number of people that left the website as soon as they landed. The website must have low latency to have low bounce rates.||Google and all social media|
|Leads||Typically leads will be monitored carefully while selling to other businesses (B2B). A lead is a visitor that engaged with the website content by downloading proprietary material by submitting critical information to reach them later.||Google and all social media|
|Unique Traffic||In a B2C setting, this could be consumers that clicked on “Add to cart” or these could be folks that traversed through many links and spent above a minimum expected time threshold. Good candidates for retargeting later.||Google and all social media|
|Cart Abandonment rate||Used exclusively in an eCommerce setting. This is a percent metric that computes the ratio of the total number of people that added to the cart and abandoned to the number of people that added to the cart (Includes purchases/abandoned). Good candidates for retargeting later.||Google and all social media|
The last stage in the marketing funnel is reached once the customer is impressed with the brand and he/she has gained a good understanding of the product and/or service. Critically, in some cases, a savvy consumer has had a chance to compare and contrast with other competing products. Finally, the customer has decided to purchase your product and/or service.
Before you get too excited, remember consumers are fickle-minded and they can jump ship anytime due to a variety of reasons. The customer experience you provide at the digital checkout counter is critical for closing the sale. It is recommended that you perform conversion campaigns only after you have gained considerable traction in the first two stages.
With B2C companies, conversion tracking (discussed in-depth later) is typically linked to a “Thank you for purchasing the following items” page. We will describe the various levels of conversion tracking in later articles. With B2B firms that are in the SaaS (Software as a Service) business a process similar to B2C can be availed. However, for larger ticket sizes in B2B, customer conversion is typically tracked and monitored in a separate CRM system since the purchase is typically not made on the website
Step 2: Audience Targeting
As a marketer, figuring out who to target is an important step in attaining your goals set in step 1 (objective setting) described earlier. Customers have heterogeneous wants, desires, tastes, and interests. How does one go about systematically segmenting such a diverse market? We have outlined a good segmenting strategy below:
Please stay tuned for advanced audience targeting in later articles.
Step 3: Creative Design
Given the diverse audience that you have selected, your job now is to figure out the right messaging strategy for each of the different segments to maximize your resonance with the chosen audience.
Firstly, let us understand the root word more deeply. Merriam-Webster defines the word creative in the following way:
Building on that definition, creativity is also associated with novelty, newness, innovativeness, or anything that does not exist. So, your job is to create cool images, graphics, catchy and zany words, phrases, and puns. In short, to produce an interesting creative, you must couple cool graphics/images with snappy messaging. More specialized topics such as testing multiple creative variants (A-B testing) are discussed in a more advanced section.
Step 4: Define financial envelope
Lastly and importantly, three critical financial parameters define the boundaries of the campaign, and they are listed below:
- Overall budget for the campaign amongst all ad networks
- type that is either based on impressions, clicks or conversion depending on the objective chosen in Step 1.
- Maximum permissible bid amount for a single action taken.
This concludes the introductory 101 guide for digital marketing. Stay tuned for further installments.