Step Up Your Online Planning

Has your online planning gotten a little stale? Have you gotten comfortable doing the same things that have always worked, over and over? Are you satisfied with where things are, or are you wondering if there are things you could or should be doing to improve campaign performance?

It’s easy to get into a rut with clients you’ve been working with for some time. But we should be testing new, interesting things, pushing the envelope of our online advertising. We owe it to our clients.

It’s not that hard to step up the game. The other day, I came up with a list of things to consider to improve performance. By no means is this list comprehensive, just a few things to get you excited about online advertising again:

  • More frequent campaign optimization. If you’re optimizing placements on a monthly basis, start optimizing twice a month. If you’re optimizing biweekly, start optimizing weekly. Of course, you have to determine the right optimization cycle for each client. But if you can improve metrics by a few percentage points by optimizing more frequently, test it. Try it for a couple of months to see if it produces significant results.

  • View-based conversions. Many online advertisers are reluctant to attribute conversion activity to online advertising unless the conversion’s generated through a click. Several studies explore the amount of additional conversion activity that results from people who have been exposed to your online advertising, don’t click, but convert later. According to the studies, the percentage of additional conversions varies widely, from 10 to 80 percent.

    Explore what effect this can have on your campaigns. Ask, “How long after the view should I still attribute conversions?” The answer will vary depending on your product buying cycle and customer behavior. However, if you can possibly take credit for an extra 10 to 80 percent of conversions, it’s worth looking into. Talk to your ad-serving partner and customers to figure out what makes sense for you.

  • More sophisticated creative optimization. There are degrees of creative optimization. You’re probably performing the simpler forms of it. Explore the more sophisticated creative optimization practices. Consider dynamically serving variations of display ads to different audience segments. The variations in ad units can include color, offers, images, and calls to action. With the help of a partner such as Poindexter Systems, you can optimize creative based on message, audience segment, geography, and a host of other factors.
  • Landing page optimization. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about multivariate testing on landing pages, testing not just a couple of static landing pages but content variations as well. Much like I described in the optimization of creative units, multivariate testing can help you make landing pages and user sessions more effective, increasing conversion.
  • More rich media. Have you started using video in your online campaigns? When my agency first started using video in campaigns, we expected it to perform from a branding standpoint. We were skeptical that it could drive the direct response some of our clients need. We learned if done correctly, video can dramatically improve click-through and conversion rates.

    I’m not talking about just running TV spots online. I’m talking about creating interactive units enhanced by video. Use video to draw people into the brand experience and interactivity to engage them. We’ve done this successfully with transaction-based creative that allowed viewers to book travel or build their own automobile.

Online advertising is still a very exciting space. We’re in the trenches, so we may not see it, but our medium still undergoes evolution daily. I’m just scratching the surface of ways to bring freshness to campaigns. I know many of you could add to this list. If you’re doing something interesting to keep your campaigns fresh and innovative, let me know. How do you avoid burning out and keep things fresh for yourself and your clients?

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