It’s easy to point a finger at publishing partners when the results of a behavioral targeting campaign don’t meet expectations. It’s harder to look at the numerous factors that influence campaign results to ascertain where the true problems lie. Just as a behavioral targeting campaign must be reviewed and analyzed on a consistent basis, so too do all the other variables that can make or break a campaign. This review should spur optimization efforts across a host of variables to drive the continuous improvement cycles for which online marketing is uniquely enabled.
Behavioral targeting is a powerful media tactic designed to identify and deliver a relevant audience. If this were the only important factor in campaign success, or if it stood alone as a critical factor, life would be a lot simpler. Sure, creative and messaging play a vital role in performance, as do publishers’ placements, sites, and targeting technology. Skill level and publishers’ attentiveness in crafting and managing a behavioral targeting buy can also have a tremendous impact on results.
Influential factors extend beyond a media buy’s basic elements, and control of these elements often lies with the agency or client. Ultimately, all parties are responsible for ensuring each piece of the mix is optimized to produce the best possible results.
Media Don’t Stand Alone
Consider the broad range of potential contributing factors to an online media campaign’s results, including:
- User experience:
- How is the Web site functioning?
- Are landing pages loading properly?
- Is the search function prominently placed?
- Has the site conversion rate increased or decreased?
- What can you do to affect conversion rate?
- Organic search results: have you invested properly in SEO (define) to ensure search listing visibility to drive increased site traffic and create additional retargeting impressions?
- Buying habits:
- Has there been a shift in consumer buying habits or spending power that might impact the amount of revenue generated?
- Does seasonality have an effect?
- Competitive landscape:
- Could any new competitors be contributing to the loss of sales?
- Could exiting competitors be contributing to an increase in sales?
- Customer perception:
- What are your client’s customers saying about the brand that may be affecting sales? Have you reviewed and considered hurdles you need to overcome or improvements you can make in customer perception?
- Check into delivery and fulfillment status. Is the front-to-back customer experience a positive one?
- Is there appropriate CRM (define) in place to drive repeat customers?
- Paid search:
- Has your paid search campaign been optimized lately?
- Is the PPC (define) copy in sync with the media creative?
- Consistent messaging:
- Does every customer touch point (online and off-) contribute to a seamless, unified message?
- Do the media creative offers complement the site offers?
- Product lines: Do new product lines on your site require a separate behavioral targeting campaign?
- Offline campaigns: Has anything shifted with print, TV, or radio campaigns that would influence consumer response to the behavioral targeting campaign?
- Data: Do the analytics provide an accurate, actionable picture from which to base your forward movement?
Other Factors Are No Scapegoat for Poor Media Optimization
Campaign assessment must be redefined to include a broader range of variables, but those variables are no excuse for less-than-acceptable buy maintenance and optimization. Behavioral targeting campaigns should be actively managed by agency and publisher alike, and be held to the highest standards. Goals should be stated and measured, and explicit optimization plans established. Of course, campaigns perform better when properly supported by a killer Web site that receives tons of traffic from other efforts, such as organic search listings and a broad PPC program. The more good work that goes into a campaign, the more good things come out of it. It takes a team effort to produce the best results.
Meet Robin at Search Engine Strategies April 10-13 at the Hilton New York in New York City.
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