How many times have you seen someone push you a magic trick, tactic or strategy that claims to fix all your advertising woes? They say how their formula for advertising on Facebook or Google is the best thing since the Chewbacca video.
I’m here to set the record straight. There is no magic formula to advertising online. Tactics are just that. Short term tricks that may work for a short period, or within a certain niche. In order to build a sustainable long term strategy that encourages business growth and profitability are goals. Having overarching goals like quarterly profit, or number of sales, or number of website visits visitors is important, but setting more granular campaign goals, product goals, location goals time based goals can be even more important.
What Advertising Goals Should You Set?
Before we dig into the outcome goals, let’s take a look at the inputs when it comes to advertising online.
In order to create a campaign or promotion, there are a number of things that need to happen:
Conceptualize the Campaign
The campaign itself must have a specific goal. It’s not enough to say that you want to sell 1000 units of a product, or that you want $20,000 worth of sales in the next 30 days. The goal has to outline, which revenue streams you would like those sales and revenue numbers to come from.
Set a target for the amount of money, traffic and time period in which you want to test and generate sales through the campaign.
Copy-written, Graphic and Video content
A key variable when building a campaign is to create the assets required for the ads. Key questions here include:
- Who will write the copy?
- How many pieces of content do we need to test?
- Do we shoot new video footage for this campaign or use existing content?
- What are the costs associated with creating these assets?
- Who is going to manage your campaigns to ensure that are setup and optimized through the duration of the campaign?
Decide on the appropriate assets and resources which are needed to test the campaign and allocate resources to creating them.
If your business has generated sales in the past, then you will already have an idea as to what your expected conversion rate is. If you have not run an advertising campaign, you may be tempted to assume that conversions from paid advertising will convert at a similar rate. My suggestion would be to shave a few points off your average conversion rate. If your current average conversion rate is 2.3%, then set a target of 1.8% conversion rate for paid advertising. Paid advertising will not generate as high a conversion rate as organic or email traffic.
Allocate an appropriate budget that would allow ad campaigns some breathing room to test various targeting options, ad formats, placements and styles. There are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to testing and optimizing ad campaigns, and the more money you have to test as many variations as possible, the better.
Paid advertising, in the beginning of any campaign, even for a business which advertises regularly, always needs room to test and experiment features, audiences and assets with its audience. There is no guarantee that what worked yesterday will work tomorrow.
Allocate money to the campaign, and then divide it into the high level tests which you feel is appropriate. If you plan to promote your products on multiple ad platforms, divide your budgets into each platform, then split those budgets per test.
ROI - Return of Investment
By now you have sales targets, and budgets for assets and advertising.
By comparing the two totals, you may make adjustments to target a 2X ROI. This may sound realistic, but if this is the first campaign for a new product, or your first attempt to advertising online, then I would suggest to break even.
The overall objective, is to gather data. To identify points of interest, engagement, creative direction and behavior indicators from the campaign. While profit is the main goal of the business, this experiment is necessary to identify opportunities and failures which need to be explored or minimized appropriately.
CPA - Cost Per Acquisition
Once you see traffic and sales as a result of your advertising efforts, identify which ad platforms, campaigns, target groups, ads and creative assets are generating sales at the right cost.
If you spent $300 on a particular ad and that ad generated 10 sales, then CPA is $30. Aim to lower CPA to as low as possible which also shows a conversion rate close to the one we defined above.
AOV - Average Order Value
ROI is also affected by the average order value. The average order value is determined by the selling price of the items bought from your store. If a customer buys a $20 and $30 item from you, then their order value is $50 for that particular order. AOV is the average of the total orders over a period of time.
You want to aim for an average order value which is higher than the average selling price of the items you sell. This is a good benchmark to use as it indicates how much people are willing to spend with you on average. The higher the better.
When using paid advertising to drive traffic to your store, getting an order will cost you a certain amount per order and if people are ordering more than one item, then you recoup advertising costs quickly.
New vs Returning Customers
In order to build a successful business, a healthy mix of new customers and return customers is needed. I recommend a 50/50 ratio.
The ratio of return customers is an indication that your customers come back to your store to buy something. The higher the percentage or return customers the better. Check on the conversion rate of return customers. If their conversion rate is lower than that of new customers, it indicates that customers who come back to your store are not finding products at a good enough value, or not seeing new products.
Attaining new customers can be challenging. There are a few ways to attract first time customers:
- Create urgency through limited deals, discounts and first order incentives
- Recognize new customers through email messaging and ad campaigns
- Offer gifts or personalized messages to new customers to show appreciation
- Offer second order discounts
I am not advocating that you treat new customers differently to repeat customers, just that you personalize the interaction through email, transactional documents and customer support. A little goes a long way. The goal should always be to collect the first order and encourage them to come back.
In most cases, your existing customers will cost less to attract for a number of reasons:
- they already know, like and trust you
- they have experienced doing business with you before
- they may remember your brand and level of service from past interactions
- they may already be in your email list, and audiences on paid advertising platforms
Lifetime Value of a Customer
Over time, you can determine how much return customers are likely to spend with you. This is known as Lifetime Customer Value. The higher this number the better. Customers may only return to your store a few a times per year, depending on your marketing, launches and promotional calendar, but what is important is that each time they visit, they buy something.
Offer your existing customers added discounts, first dibs on new product launches, trials of new products. Get their opinion on a change you have made to your website, messaging and process through a survey. These activities increase their lifetime value to you and also builds loyalty. They may even support and share your cause becoming true fans.
In any business, metrics and goals are the indicators that show you what is working and what is not in your business. Often times it may be difficult to ascertain the variables I have mentioned above, but implementing systems and processes to gather and track this information can help you rise above your competition and find creative ways to give your customers a reason to continue supporting your business.