Paid media campaigns are a lot like houses. If you set them up right in the beginning, take care of them, and maintain them over time, you'll find that doing so is a great investment and will help you in the long run. By doing the opposite, you'll find yourself in a bad position. On the plus side, if you mismanage a paid media campaign you (probably) won't end up homeless.
Quite often we see paid media accounts that have been managed internally by DMOs or by agencies, so we have seen the full gamut of errors and mistakes that can been made. Thankfully, having worked alongside DMOs for many years, we've developed strategies to maximize digital marketing efforts in the paid media realm.
Below we've compiled a list of areas that, while appearing simple, can have a large impact if not handled properly. Are you guilty of one of these mistakes? That's ok! The reason we're compiling this list is to help you. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 media campaign mistakes:
#10: Default Location Targeting
This is an easy area to gloss over, but it can cause you to miss the mark on some of your marketing efforts. By simply using the default location targeting you'll target all of the US and Canada in Adwords and Bing or the entire U.S. on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The issue with this is that you may be displaying ads to areas that are not receptive to your content and wasting precious ad spend.
Instead, take a proactive approach. Target the entire United States and check back in 30 days to see what areas are responding well to your marketing efforts and exclude the areas that are not. Also using third party tools such as Destination Analysts can help give a leg up on where you should be targeting from the start.
#9: Poorly Designed Landing Pages
While not strictly a paid media issue, this is important due to the volume of traffic that paid media can provide these pages. Ensure that where your traffic is going helps accomplish your marketing goals. For example, sending mobile traffic to a non-mobile optimized page is not advantageous to accomplishing on-site performance. Additionally, sending traffic to pages with little or no CTAs (Calls to Action) most likely will not help the push towards desired conversions.
Check pages for clarity, relevance, friction, and distractions. By doing so, you'll maximize the on-page activity of the traffic you're sending these pages and work toward accomplishing your marketing goals.
#8: No CTAs in Ads
Real estate for text is scarce in digital ads, so it's imperative that you maximize what little space you have. By including a CTA (book here, sign-up here, etc.) in the ad copy, you will increase CTRs for your ads. Social platforms even offer a number of CTA buttons to use alongside your ads, so be sure to take advantage. Not only will you increase ad performance, but you'll give the users an idea of what their expected action is once they reach the landing page.
#7: Sending Bad Data to Google Analytics
No matter what platforms you use to analyze your data, having the right data is the most important first step. Within Google Analytics, make sure that your Adwords account is linked properly and that Bing Ads set up auto-tagging enabled--just check a box in your settings.
Social media tagging is a bit more complex so to properly send data to Google Analytics from paid campaigns, you will have to use UTM parameters. This is a syntax that Google uses to interpret where data is coming from and where to display in the Google Analytics interface. For more on UTM parameters check out this article from SproutSocial.
A note about Google Analytics and Adwords: If you have an agency managing your Adwords account, make sure it is also linked to your own Google Analytics account. If they refuse to do this they're essentially holding your data hostage. Then if you change agencies, you've lost all your historical data. If you're unsure if your Analytics account is linked to Adwords, ask your agency.
#6: No Testing Strategy
Paid media is not a set-it-and-forget-it form of advertising. It requires constant attention and optimization if you want to maximize your advertising return on investment (ROI). The easiest thing to do is test ad imagery and ad copy. CTR and CPC isn't everything when determining good ad performance. Look at other areas in Google Analytics for metrics such as time on page, bounce rate, and pages per session to give you a full view of how traffic is performing on your site from those ads.
Once you've found what is successful, create new versions of ads based off of what you've found to be working well. Remember that testing is about learning, so what your gut might tell you should work might not actually be the case. The only way to know for certain is to test it.
#5: Not Identifying Goals
By properly measuring the success of your campaigns, you can determine the value of paid media within your overall marketing efforts. This requires you to define your key performance indicators (KPIs) ahead of time, so you can see where success is coming from. Once you have your KPIs defined, build out the required tools in order to track the metrics that contribute to your KPIs. This might be as simple as looking at metrics on your social media platform's insights or building out tracking on your website that will be sending data to Google Analytics.
Be sure to measure the right metric depending on the goals you set. For example if your goal is site engagement you might want to look at metrics such as pages per visit or time on site. If your goal is brand awareness, the metrics you might want to look at are ad impressions or number of sessions.
#4: Not Using Remarketing
With a little bit of back-end work you can easily set up remarketing audiences of people who have interacted with your website. Displaying ads to these audiences have been found to increase CTRs and conversion rates. By adding remarketing pixels to your website, you are able to cookie website visitors and create unique audiences to show ads to.
Strangely enough with remarketing ads, conversion rates actually increase with the number of times a user has seen an ad. Additionally CTR fatigues at half the rate of generic display ads, meaning these aren't just creepy ads that follow you around the internet - they're actually effective!
#3: No Video Marketing
Video marketing has been proven to be one of the most engaging ways to reach and educate viewers about your destination. By not utilizing video marketing through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you are missing out on a tremendous market share. Additionally, you can utilize the great targeting of social media platforms to show your content only to those who you think will engage with it. Furthermore, the barrier to entry for video advertising online is much lower than traditional TV advertising, meaning you don't need a $10,000+ budget for a commercial.
#2: Not Maximizing Real Estate
As mentioned before, the amount of space for text in ads is limited, however you can use certain tools to make sure your ads stand out from the competition. Ad extensions on Bing Ads and Adwords will be your best friend as they add significant size to your ads as well as numerous features such as the ability to link to other sections of your website or add a call link for mobile devices.
The CTA buttons on social ads are another example of a free feature that can only help your advertising effectiveness. Additionally, adding imagery on Twitter Ads is a great way to stand out on a user's feed.
#1: Only Using One Platform
With so many advertising platforms out currently it is easy to be overwhelmed, but choosing to only focus your efforts on one platform can cause you to miss out tremendously. Each platform has specific nuances that can't be matched in others. For example, Twitter has topic targeting, Facebook has interest targeting, Google has search targeting, etc.
Try out different mediums (and track performance properly) to see where you are getting the best response.
Again, it's ok if you made one of these mistakes. As long as you can learn from them and fix whatever it might be, you're in a good position to continue improving your digital marketing efforts. Now get out there and start marketing with the knowledge of how to avoid these mistakes.