Marketers: Learn to Love Your Online Ad Campaigns

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Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
We love to advertise,
And so will you!

(Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)

Now that we’re past the holidays and into the new year, the love-it-or-hate-it Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. One of the most common criticisms we all hear about this hyped up and commercialized event goes something like this: “You should do loving things all the time, not just on Valentine’s Day.”

It’s true! We all know couples who forget how to “love each other” throughout the rest of the year, and then suddenly scramble to do something special for Valentine’s Day to make up for lost time…

Stay with me—there’s a relevant marketing lesson here!

Interestingly, this pattern of behavior is actually how a lot of marketers treat their online advertising. They start by spending a lot of time up front planning their ad strategy and creating campaigns—It’s like a romantic connection they’re putting lots of time into, when people say “Oh, they’re still in their honeymoon phase.” But then sometime after the ads launch and the marketers “settle down” with their campaigns, they seem to stop checking in, analyzing, and optimizing those campaigns. And naturally, over time those initially successful ads begin to deliver poor ROI.

And then, “Valentine’s Day” creeps up on those marketers. Maybe they have to deliver a quarterly report on their advertising performance, or maybe they’re making the budget for next year and think, “I wonder how those ads I’m paying thousands of dollars for are doing?” So they log into their accounts to see what kind of shape their campaigns are in, and are disappointed with the results. Why does this happen?

Because they weren’t “demonstrating love” to their ad campaigns on a regular basis with best practices in testing, reporting, analysis, and optimization.

Just like trying to quick-fix a relationship with Valentine’s Day treatment once a year, you can’t reach all your online advertising goals in one day either. It takes time and dedication to optimize your campaigns—or have your account manager help you optimize them—in order to reach the profitability and ROI metrics you’re looking for. “Keeping the love strong” with your advertising means regularly checking in on how the campaigns are doing, making ad-optimizing adjustments based on historical data, and continually thinking about your long-term profitability and brand-building advertising goals.

So here are some of our favorite strategies to “keep the love strong” with your online advertising…

  • Set Realistic, Flexible Goals: Even if it was “love at first sight,” most romantic relationships don’t go without a hitch. The most secure and successful partnerships are built on the premise that it’s okay to fail, as long as you learn. Online advertising is just like this! You don’t always know what to expect with how your ads will fare initially, and they almost never give you the best results in the initial weeks. So if (and maybe when) you don’t immediately get the ROI you want, it’s important to re-evaluate your goals and look for the root causes of those non-optimal performance metrics. Maybe you’re bidding too much for certain keywords, using ineffective ad copy, or have a slightly irrelevant landing page. Whatever it is, find ways to improve those weaknesses and you’ll see better ad performance the next month.
  • Set a Day to Optimize: The same way that a regular “date night” can keep the love alive in long-term relationships, scheduling part of a day each week to optimize your campaigns will help you regularly improve their results. Don’t look for the same things every week. Sometimes, you’ll want to optimize based on keyword bids, while other times you’ll want to review different ad copy to see which performs better. Look to make at least one or two effective changes (informed by your data) whichever day you optimize, so that your online ads are always “moving forward”.
  • Schedule Timely Reports: Many relationship experts will agree that it’s helpful to reflect periodically on how you’ve done as a couple—whether formally or informally—but most couples seem forget or ignore this step. It’s also not surprising that most marketers don’t reflect this way in their own advertising campaigns. Scheduling a monthly ad report is a crucial step to consistently measure your advertising performance, particularly if you can automate the process and keep the timing consistent. Always look to your key metrics and stats (like Impressions, CTRs, CPCs, CPMs, or CPAs) that relate to your advertising goals. When you view these regular reports month-to-month or even week-to-week, you’ll begin to see trends that you can take advantage of to improve overall ad performance.
  • Communicate With Your Stakeholders: Great communication is an underlying theme in successful relationships, and it’s no different in online advertising. Whether you’re reporting campaign results to your superiors or to clients who you’re managing campaigns for, it’s important that they understand these things: what you’re measuring, how you’re optimizing, and what it means for ROI. This type of transparency will help you become more accountable as an advertising campaign manager while ultimately proving the value of your campaigns.
  • Get Creative: Sometimes, you need to think outside the box and try new ideas (like mixing up “romantic” dates with comedy, adventure, or other date ideas outside your routine). Take risks and try new types of ad campaigns, messaging strategies, or ad delivery technologies—even if they seem a little unusual to what you’re used to. Your out-of-the-box ideas might just strike gold. After all, if you think about some of the most memorable campaigns online or on TV that keep you talking for days, they are probably not cookie-cutter ads. Some marketer or agency took a risk and tried something new, and it paid off!

So, just like how there’s no “one-size-fits-all” strategy for a strong foundation in a romantic relationship, there is no single path to find long-term success with online advertising campaigns. But there are plenty of time-tested strategies that—when tailored to your needs—will help you achieve and sustain the ROI you’re ultimately looking for. When you take the extra time to implement good habits in campaign management, you won’t need to rush out and “buy chocolates and flowers” to make up for what would have been lackluster performance the rest of the year. You’ll already have the beautiful and loving advertising relationship you’ve always wanted.

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