Online dating site HowAboutWe's geo- and interest-targeting on Twitter has been shown to improve results, while a great offer doesn't hurt, either.
Twitter is on a roll when it comes to advertising. In the past year, it's shown it's serious about offering marketers the options and analytics they need - even if it means becoming more like Facebook. HowAboutWe says the changes are paying off.
HowAboutWe operates an online dating service for singles, as well as a date-planning service for couples. A customer acquisition campaign in the fourth quarter of 2013 used Twitter's geo- and interest-targeting to reach couples in five markets. Promoted tweets offered $50 off dating experiences booked through the service.
Using its internal analytics, the company found that leads coming from the Twitter promotion were 20 percent more likely to convert to paying subscribers than other channels where the promotion was offered, including the website and emails. It also found that Twitter leads are 20 percent more likely to convert to paying subscribers than the rest of the brand's traffic.
HowAboutWe also found that the Twitter campaign offering the $50 discount improved its cost per acquisition by 800 percent over other Twitter campaigns that didn't offer a discount. Moreover, 30 percent of its total traffic now comes from Twitter.
Although four-year-old HowAboutWe has advertised on Twitter since 2012, results were not always as strong, according to chief executive (CEO) Brian Schechter. "In the early days, our experience was lackluster both from the standpoint of our ability to target and of our ability to have transparency into what was happing with specific campaigns," he says. "All the basic things you'd expect from an ad platform were not there."
In July of 2013, Twitter began testing Tailored Audience Advertising, a produce similar to Facebook Custom Audiences, that lets brands create custom audience segments and then find those people on Twitter. The offering became generally available in December 2013.
"Twitter has definitely reached a level of maturity where we can rely on it," Schechter says.
However, there's still room for improvement, adds Aaron Stein, HowAboutWe's director of user acquisition. "We wish it was a platform like Google AdWords where you can do things like make bulk edits to bids and campaign budgets, or update a lot of different tweets to test a bunch of stuff at once. There is still a lot of manual stuff that's necessary."
Even with the availability of third-party campaign management tools that promise to let marketers optimize and analyze campaigns across social media, Stein and Schechter have found it's better to use the individual services' platforms.
"I wouldn't say it's impossible, but what we care about is that each platform is highly efficient, rather than the dream of everything bundled into one platform. We have experimented in the past, but it never comes close to efficiency you find using the actual ad platform," Schechter says.
Twitter is reportedly preparing some 15 new ad products to roll out this year.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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