My last column emphasized the importance of routinely assessing your online marketing program. Through this lens, I began exploring questions that can be answered through the use of marketing automation technology. As the web evolves and customers increasingly leverage it to make purchase decisions, the need for marketing automation only intensifies. As you audit your current programs, you must also consider these three questions.
How can we reduce waste on outdated landing pages and technical glitches?
Agencies and internal teams can use automated tools to manage a campaign’s landing pages and ensure all active ads direct traffic to effective destination URLs without too many redirects. Teams that do not leverage this type of technology run the risks of damaging a brand’s quality score with search engines and repetitively wasting ad spend. Failing to keep tabs on campaign landing pages can lead to “page not found” 404 errors.
Retailer websites in particular require ongoing updates and maintenance and as a result are most vulnerable to these types of pitfalls. Campaign optimization can also suffer; since broken links can lead to a particular advertisement or keyword being deemed less effective than it may actually be. Of course, the most obvious drawback is wasted spend. When brands pay for clicks, their teams should do everything they can to ensure those ads work as they ought to. When they don’t, click costs are simply wasted, often over and over again.
Is success for a transaction being attributed beyond the last click?
Although many top brands still struggle with this concept, new technologies make it easier than ever to take a more holistic approach to results attribution. In other words, automation technologies are helping marketers better understand and account for the path to conversion that their customers follow. A consumer in search of a pair of new jeans might, for example, start with a search for designer jeans, take her findings to her social circles to solicit input from friends and conduct additional searches before making a purchase. Smart marketers are adjusting their results tracking and attribution efforts to account for this somewhat complex path to conversion. Internal teams and agencies ought to at least be considering the potential value add of incorporating technologies like these to improve data collection and campaign optimization.
How often are results reviewed and campaigns optimized?
The best data in the world is useless if teams fail to act on it. Consistent optimization is a must in any performance-based campaign. With effective results tracking and attribution in place, ongoing optimization efforts ensure campaigns constantly improve. At the most basic level, teams ought to be using automated tools to reduce budget allocation for poor performing ads, increase budget allocation for top performing ads, and tweak other variables like bids and creative to ensure ads have a fighting chance to be successful. Teams that fail to optimize campaigns pay for underperforming ad buys over and over again while missing out on the chance to spend more on their most effective ads.
Whether you’re a novice digital marketer or a pro, taking the time to audit both the strategic direction and execution behind your programs is a must. The one constant in this space is change. However, the more things change, the more important it becomes to get back to the basics.
My next column will cover recommended best practices for choosing and implementing automated marketing solutions.