Digital Marketing Silver Bullets Do Not Exist




  • — October 25, 2017

    Digital Marketing Silver Bullets Do Not Exist

    Goumbik / Pixabay

    I hear on a regular basis from marketers who want to know what the “magic sauce” or silver bullet is when it comes to improving their ad campaigns quickly.

    What that silver bullet is aimed at varies, but I often get asked, “How can I increase my CTRs by 2x?” or “What can I do right now to double my conversion rate?”

    It’s as though they think you can just shuffle the ads and pull out one quick thing that will just crush their conversion rate.

    And as much as I would love to respond with, “Oh, well why didn’t you ask before? You wanted the 2x card? Here you go.” That’s not reality and never will be.

    It’s not that I don’t think you can double or even triple your conversion rates; I’ve done this for multiple clients and know it can happen. But there’s a process and a methodology that goes into it. Instead of a magic silver bullet, we know it takes patience, testing, and incremental wins to reach the ultimate goal of increased conversion rates.

    Perhaps, The Only Silver Bullet That Does Exist

    A quick caveat on this issue: there MIGHT be a silver bullet, but ONLY if you’re not following best practices for your digital advertising.

    Best practices can be super vague, but if you’re not following them according to your industry, sub-vertical, or your niche in the market, then of course that’s where the one silver bullet can be hidden.

    For example, say you’re an e-commerce brand bidding for clicks. If we run your ads and roll out oCPM on purchase or some lower-funnel form of bidding, we can almost certainly 2x your conversion rate.

    Or say you’re only doing super broad targeting, and you know via Audience Insights that a large majority of your users are from NYC and therefore you only target audiences in NYC. We could come along and take your high LTV users or your most valuable users, and upload those as a seed list. By creating and targeting a 1% Lookalike, that too would likely 2x your conversion rate compared to your overly broad targeting.

    So yes, if you aren’t following best practices for the platform, for Facebook, for social, or for your industry, we could likely get that quick silver bullet to improve performance.

    But if you’re following within the realm of best practices – you’re leveraging the correct bid type, you’re doing well in your creative cadence, and you’re selecting the right audiences – then there really isn’t anything you can change to 2x your conversions overnight.

    I do believe that a 2x (or more) increase in conversions can be achieved, just don’t expect to find an ace up my sleeve!

    Anyone looking to improve their performance needs to realize two things:

    1. You have to be ready to fail
    2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint

    Being Ok With Failure

    While this sounds like the beginning of a self-help book, it also applies to running your digital ads.

    Every brand that truly wants to get to a solid place of sustainable increases in conversions has to be willing to take a few losses, and you have to be willing to fail.

    Any agency worth its salt will prepare you for this ahead of time. If you have an agency that tells you, “We’re the best, we’re going to double your conversion rates and 2x all your CTRs and we’re going to do it quickly!” is full of shit.

    To build to that sustainable rate of increased conversions, you have to test – and testing sometimes means failing.

    Sometimes this will mean that right out of the gate, new ad campaigns might do slightly worse or only as good as the ads that a brand has been running.

    We always try to educate clients and tell them that first and foremost, they need to have patience and give us the leeway to fail a few times before we get there. Because to get to that increased rate of conversions, it comes down to having a methodology around how you push and how you test. Being diligent, consistent and thorough is the only thing that will ultimately get you to that 2x in conversions much sooner and more efficiently.

    Understanding all of the different avenues you can take to promote your brand or product will allow for a more nuanced plan of attack when working to increase your conversions.

    Another important aspect too before you get there is being smart about all of these different permutations, and being disciplined in what you test first.

    For example, say you’re a jewelry e-commerce business. There are a variety of ways for you to approach handling your ad campaigns. You can start with types of jewelry, such as earrings, bracelets, necklaces. Or you could start with style: contemporary, classic, minimalist, etc. You could also try different landing pages: homepage vs about page, category page versus a product page.

    Instead of taking all of these different variables and putting together all of these different permutations, and pushing thousands of ads, you want to be much more methodical about your approach. We do this by working with the client and having them teach us more about their business and what drives buyers across all of the products and categories. This is how we narrow down what the best plan of action should be for launching campaigns.

    You’re Running A Marathon, Not A Sprint

    So how do we eventually get to those increased conversion rates?

    The way we get to there is to methodically test different variables to find incremental wins that will get you to the 2x in your conversion rates.

    Using M. Gemi as an example (though not an actual campaign), let’s walk through that methodical approach.

    Imagine that you’re M. Gemi and you’ve been running ads on your best selling shoe. You know that this shoe’s ads always crush your KPI goals, so you want to keep running them because they are your bread and butter.

    In such a situation, that would be the time for you to think, “What are some other products we can potentially test and push out there?”

    You should keep the best performer as the control group, but it’s imperative that you’re always testing additional variables to reach your goal of increased conversions.

    Now say you’ve tested a few different products, perhaps a sneaker, an ankle boot, a knee-high boot, and the original best selling shoe. From this, you’ve found that the sneaker is now performing best. Your next step is to take that information and make the sneaker work harder to push your conversions up.

    Look at what you’re doing from a creative perspective. Has it been strictly high quality photo shoot stuff? Could we maybe do just product shots? What about doing rotating product shots? Could we do a completely new execution and try something like stop motion video? Can we play around with different color backgrounds for different genders?

    The simple answer is – you keep honing that information. Now that you found a product outside of the best-selling shoe that converts a little bit better, you may want to try different creative executions against that to see how you can make it even better and earn more small wins.

    After you’ve found a product win and a creative win, you look at the next variable – what about landing pages? Is it better to send the customer to a category page or directly to the product page?

    The way to really get to a 2x conversion rate is to find incremental wins and continue to find ways to make your ads work harder and do more than they currently are. Constantly iterating off your wins will be what increases your conversion rate.

    Parting Thoughts

    I really, truly do not believe that there is anything (outside of my caveat earlier) that any agency can do to 2x your conversions overnight.

    Any agencies that promise that are sketchy.

    A good agency will push back on that and say, “We will attempt to get you there if you’re willing to be patient with us on this journey. We’ll put together a methodical testing plan that we hope will get us there. And we will leverage your internal data and that knowledge to better inform that testing plan so that we’re testing smart instead of just throwing things against the wall.”

    You can get there. And once you do, you want to keep iterating and testing to make sure you’re honing in on the best for your brand. And that’s how you’ll get sustainable increased conversions.

    Again, it’s small wins that will find you another small win, and then another small win, that will eventually snowball into getting you to your goal.

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