Improve Your Ad Spend With Innovation

  |  October 16, 2008   |  Comments

When we work from a basis of fear, we stop being creative. It's time to buck up and innovate!

The following is an excerpt I recently received from a reader.

    The current economic situation has got our marketing department frozen. We need to be very conservative in our budget for next year, but we all realize we can't completely cut everything. What stays, and what goes? How can we make sure we're continuing to connect with our customers while making sure we remain stable? How do we keep our focus in such trying times?

This topic has been in constant discussion over the past few weeks. So much so, that's it's become a cliché. Consider what Svetlana Gladkova wrote in "Are We Sure About Pending Collapse of Ad-Supported Internet?" at Profy:

    The first thing to keep in mind is that people will not stop buying products that are essential to them. True, people will hardly buy luxury products when they need to make decisions on what is really important and what they could live without given limited resources. But that does not mean people will not buy anything at all -- it simply means the focus will change for them. So the first conclusion is that we will obviously see less luxury brands advertised. But it does not mean that manufacturers of those essential products will stop advertising as well. What's more, they will have to compete with each other for those scarce money people will have in their disposal...

    Forward-thinking companies will probably avoid cutting their advertising budgets. Instead, they will need to decide where advertising performs the best. I have a feeling that the internet has pretty strong chances of becoming the platform advertisers will turn to as an alternative to their current old media platforms looking for easier conversion rates.

Clearly, the overwhelming consensus is to keep putting ourselves out there and reaching our customers. Competition is likely to get tougher, and companies will focus more on holding their marketing departments and agencies accountable for that spend, just as they're being held more accountable. In that light, measurement looks even more critical.

This is great news! It's a time to take control of one's destiny and discover innovative ways to improve one's ad spend, based completely on data. What could be better?

In my last column, I interviewed Lester Wunderman, whose agency is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. One of the things he said resonated deeply with me: "Fear and imagination are opposite. When we work off a basis of fear, we stop being innovative."

But many of you want something more tangible to be innovative. For the next two columns, I'll focus on two specific recommendations. These recommendations will keep that constant state of actionable analytics. They will allow you to make changes in how your customers perceive your brand. How you make these changes is up to you. Innovate!

Landing Page Optimization

Pick one page, form, or promo that isn't performing well and look to improve that. You can start with a basic A/B test or use a multivariable test. Go through the steps, evaluate the impact, and make changes from there.

After the first successful optimization steps, all others come much easier. People start to understand the process and, more important, see the results of taking action.

Let's look at a quick example of a simple A/B test.

You test a single product page to increase sales conversion. You test five designs against the existing page to determine the best approach. Here's one way to figure the estimated impact of the optimization:

Estimated monthly visitors 88,164
Current monthly orders (existing design) 2,931
Estimated monthly orders (new design) 3,376
Increased monthly orders (new design) 445
Estimated revenue per order $311.88
Incremental monthly revenue $138,787
Incremental yearly revenue $1,665,439

Next time, we'll discuss behavioral targeting. Let's keep this simple, and take it one step at a time.

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Shane Atchison

In 1998, Shane co-founded ZAAZ to advocate a different approach to Web services — one that respects and delivers on the power of the individual and the promise of Web technologies. As CEO, Shane leads the company's long-term strategic vision of working with leading financial service organizations, consumer brands, startups, non-profits, and community-based organizations, helping each realize the potential of the Internet and its meaningful impact on their business.

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