In 2018, CMOs spent more than 21% of their marketing budget on advertising with 66% of that going to paid social media digital channels. That’s a lot of capital.
Marketing budgets have been decreasing since 2016 and although CMOs are expecting a budget increase in 2019, there’s also an increased expectancy to prove ROI and justify their spend.
The benefits of paid social media campaigns are well-known: increased reach, engagement, fan growth, and lots more. But what about paid social media advertising strategy?
What about capturing the right data, getting vital insights and using them to make your paid social media more powerful and effective than ever? Done well, it can be a lead-generating machine that saves brands time and reduces wasted budget.
Unfortunately, in 2018, marketers wasted around 25% of their budget on poor strategy decisions or by using the wrong channels to communicate with their audience.
So, how should brands run a successful paid advertising strategy?
It’s about getting transparency into your ad data, being able to overview it all with clarity, joining up the dots, and getting the insights you need to have a truly robust and agile strategy that will serve you well into the future.
So what’s the first step?
Define Your Paid Social Media Objectives and Core KPIs
Define your key business objectives first so you know what you want to achieve.
Is it to increase brand awareness and start conversations? To spend budget with more efficiency and drive fans to your website? To increase purchases that can be directly attributed to your social efforts?
You have to know.
Once you’ve set your objectives, start defining your core KPIs: the KPIs you’ll refer to when measuring how successful your efforts to achieve your objectives are.
Now, we’re talking about paid social media, so let’s say one of your objectives is to increase ROI from your paid advertising and save budget. So a key KPI to track would then be Cost-per-Click, which you would try to lower by designing ads that are personalized to your audience, and then targeting those ads more precisely.
You can see in the graph below that CPC has been on the rise, while Click-through rates have been falling. Ideally, it should be totally the opposite way. For more crucial information on what's really impacting your social media success, take a look at Socialbakers full social media trends report here.
Of course you’ll be A/B testing ad designs and copy, targeting, the time of day you serve the ad, etc, trying to find the sweet spot where the cost comes down and the clicks go up.
And how do you know when you’ve hit the sweet spot? You look at your KPIs and see them heading in the right direction. If you’re doing something right, your KPI results will signpost it for you: “Keep Going This Way”.
You’ll tweak strategy along the way, but hey, that’s what data analysis is for.
Be clear on what your data sources are going to be, and how to measure the data they provide with real connectedness and transparency.
Too many businesses still struggle with connecting their ad data and seeing the bigger picture. And the bigger, connected picture is always where the brightest, most insightful insights are found.
Connect All Your Owned Ad Accounts in One Place
Stop analyzing data in a silo. See your ad accounts all in one place rather than flicking between native tools and trying to make sense of their isolated data sets. That’s an annoying and unnecessary task, and it increases the potential for error.
Marketers spent a sizable 21% of their entire budget on advertising in 2018, so its no surprise that 61% of marketers also ranked improving the ability to measure and analyze marketing impact as a priority.
One of the core challenges facing marketers is proving marketing ROI, and to do that, they need to connect their multi-channel data in one place, then track, measure, and analyze it all together.
In this way, brands can have strategy conversations based on data truths.
Managing analysis of ads across multiple channels, manually, and on an individual basis, is a tiring and error-prone undertaking. Some brands have hundreds of ad accounts spread over multiple channels, making it a real challenge to stay on top of them all.
Therefore, it’s vital to have a system in place that allows you to overview accounts together so you can connect the dots and see the full advertising picture before budget is unnecessarily wasted.
Paid advertising is expected to grow from 97.34 billion in 2018 to 122.61 billion dollars by 2021 which is a whole pile of bones or clams or whatever you call them. Serious money. It shows that paid advertising is getting bigger and bigger yet some brands are still not tracking and measuring ad performance or driving ad strategy with the same seriousness.
Businesses are missing huge numbers of insights which could make all the different to their advertising strategy and spending.
Do you know how much your company spent on paid social media last year? Honestly, how much do you think was wasted?
And do you think a more streamlined approach to team collaboration would increase smoother sharing of insights, decrease mistakes, and impact your bottom line in a positive way? The short answer is: yes, it will. Read on.
Align Teams on One Hub For Effective Collaboration
It’s tough to keep local, regional, and international teams aligned on spending when ad budgets are spread across different branches, locations, departments, etc. Communication is difficult and there’s no agility or consistent insight sharing.
Hours and hours are wasted on 1-1 and conference calls, which can drain the life force out of anybody or any project. There are more efficient ways to spend your time.
And even worse, stakeholders in different locations are working with myriad currencies which confuses matters even more. If teams aren’t working from a single point there’s huge potential for error, bottlenecks, lack of clarity around meeting takeaways, and projects can be too easily put on the back burner.
What a waste of time, energy and money!
But if teams analyze and oversee ad accounts in the same place, and have their cost-related data in one currency only, then they can also collaborate smoothly and be totally aligned on spending and actionable insights provided by the connected ad data.
It’s easy to customize analysis too, and break the data down from a variety of perspectives and make comparisons.
Data is instantly visualized for clarity and speedy analysis, which offers lots of fresh strategic insights. For example, audience demographics can be broken down to see which gender or age group is reacting well to your ads.
This is how to get your ads teams actually working as one team - get them working together on one unified place, everyone pulling in the same direction towards having successful paid social media.
But what is success? Is success a standalone entity in business or is it relative to what other brands are achieving? Clue: it’s relative.
Use Competitive Benchmarking to See the Bigger Picture
All metrics are vanity metrics when seen in isolation. Nothing exists in a vacuum and that’s why businesses need to benchmark.
Being able to see and benchmark against your competitors is absolutely invaluable because while you may be hitting performance KPIs, which looks like success, you may be falling behind in the bigger picture.
If your performance isn’t up to par, that means your competitors are eating up your share of the industry pie. That goes double if you’re unaware that you’re falling behind.
With paid analytics you can benchmark your performance against your industry, region, or competitors.
This allows brands to set performance expectations, identify areas in need of improvement, and tweak strategy in a meaningful way.
When you benchmark, you can:
Get a multi-perspective overview of all your ad accounts and your spending
Get a more granular understanding of your performance against industry standards
Access invaluable insights about your competitors’ paid strategy and results
Identify the areas you need to improve in
Monitor your overall performance and drive strategy changes when needed
Foster a culture that embraces continuous improvement
Get a better grasp of what your customers want and expect
Gain a huge advantage to be able to benchmark against your competitors’ paid strategy
Lowering budget spend while increasing advertising ROI is imperative. Getting your paid advertising strategy on point is key to achieving high click-through-rates and low cost-per-click rates and, ultimately, the lowest cost-per-lead possible.
Overview your key metrics in full. How much do you spend? What’s your ROI? What’s your cost-per-click and click-through-rate?
Now compare to your competition. On which channels are they spending budget? How much? And how effective is their spending?
See what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, and use those insights to tweak your own spending priorities.
Now do the same by industry and region.
Key metrics like those above inform ad strategy, and brands need to evaluate whether they’re heading in the right direction or analyzing their spending in a bubble while being outrun by more savvy competitors.
But ads are not the only type of content you’ll be putting budget behind. You’ll be using budget to boost some of your best organic content too.
Optimize Paid Social Media With AI and Reduce Errors
Budget decisions cannot be made on hunches. Marketers know better than anyone that our intuition often fails us.
It’s always tricky to decide which of your organic posts to put budget behind in order to reach new audiences. There are so many factors involved and without a paid solution you’ll be relying on guesswork.
Today, with accurate AI prediction models, you can easily gauge where your budget will be best spent, and when you're running a large multi-platform, multi-regional strategy, it's really the only way to scale.
After that, it’s quite a simple matter to go ahead and promote the post with some budget behind it.
It’s a true challenge for brands to optimize the relationship between their paid and organic content. They can struggle to accurately gauge which organic posts will bring maximum ROI if they’re boosted.
If your audience loves an organic post it’s a good bet you’ll get new fan growth if you boost it, in addition to getting vastly increased reach and engagement.
Tracking and measuring all your paid social media performance is key, but so is reporting on your progress. What should you be reporting on to stakeholders?
Reporting Progress Accurately to Stakeholders
Getting everyone working from one ad dashboard, and visualizing your data for comparisons and clarity is also key to keeping everyone on the same page. It allows for really speedy analysis and comprehension by everyone across teams.
It’s also best to to customize your reporting and break results down into myriad perspectives that give you fresh insights and an advantage over your competition.
It’s vital to look at your ad data in a variety of ways, not only by performance KPIs but also filtering results by time period, audience gender split, age demographics, etc.
For the deepest insights you should be reporting at ad campaign level in addition to on an individual ad level and be able to compare ad performances all in the same place.
In this way, you get an aggregate overview of all your owned accounts, can compare individual ad performances, and even ad campaigns to a very granular level.
As with most things in the marketing world, a bit of structure goes a long way to starting brands on the right path and keeping them there.
The key things to strive towards with paid social media ads are transparency, clarity, and ease of control. You need to be able to understand your performance in the context of your objectives, overview it all clearly, and control strategy going forward.
If you can do all of the things on the list below, you’ll be ahead of most businesses. Which means you’ll be eating up their share of the pie as well as your own. Bon appetit!
Get an analytics solution that can track and measure the data that matters to you. There’s no point in defining ad strategy if you can’t measure performance or understand if you’re hitting your success KPIs.
Connect all your ad accounts in one place for clear overviews, clear collaboration, and multi-perspective insights. It’s very difficult to gather the insights you need from your ad data is analysis is fractured, platform-specific or done manually while flicking between screens.
Keep key stakeholders on the same page - it’s crucial for smooth and transparent collaboration. Don’t silo insights on ad successes and failures. Get teams working from one centralized point where insight sharing is the norm and everyone is working with, and from, the same data touchpoints.
Benchmark your ad buying strategy against competitors and your industry. See what they’re choosing to spend budget on and how efficient their strategy is. Spot weaknesses and take advantage. It’s key to understand if you’re falling behind your competitors or the industry average in terms of your advertising results and budget spend efficiency.
Understand which organic posts you should boost with budget. A post performance prediction tool removes guesswork, and uses extremely accurate and intelligent algorithms. A post performance predictor will tell you exactly which of your organic posts will perform well once boosted. It’s an extremely effective way to reach new audiences and get huge engagement.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.