7 Advanced Areas CMOs Must Focus On For 2016
Looking to take your marketing strategy up a notch next year? Columnist Scott Rayden outlines key areas you should zero in on to get ahead in 2016.
No matter how good (or poor) your numbers are looking as we prepare to put a bow on 2015, you’ve undoubtedly got some big goals for next year. Maybe you’ve been challenged to “think outside the box” or find some initiatives that will really “move the needle.”
Now let’s say you’re ranking high on a bunch of good keywords, and your team is running some solid, tight campaigns in AdWords, Facebook, maybe Twitter and Bing. You can always optimize, but turning those dials won’t get you the eye-popping results you’re shooting for. Oh, and your mobile site looks much better than it did a year ago.
So where to turn next?
Well, you may be excelling at some of these, but any one of them represents a huge opportunity if you haven’t fully explored it yet. Here, without further ado, are seven areas you must focus on over the next 12 months (and beyond).
User Experience (UX)
Are your ads reflective of the experience your user can expect on your site or app? Are your landing pages fulfilling user needs and expectations? Is the path to conversion clear and intuitive?
Most of us know that these (and other) questions are critical to your marketing campaigns, but establishing the right tracking and analytics is the only way to get the answers that will help you move the needle.
Google Analytics is a great (and free) start here; you can see how users engage with your site, where they leave, which campaigns drive more effective traffic and so on.
But GA can be a bit of a sprawl, so make sure that at the very least, you have the analytics resources to interpret the endless streams of data.
Speaking of user experience, I’m always stunned with I come across big brands that clearly haven’t reflected the mindset of the mobile user on their mobile site. Don’t believe me?
The above site, believe it or not, is “mobile-friendly,” which is a designation that keeps you out of trouble with Google’s infamous new algorithm. So there’s mobile-friendly, and then there’s mobile-oriented, which is a focus on the mobile mentality that helps ensure that users who click on your mobile site will find something useful to do once they get there.
Some things you have to remember when optimizing your site for mobile: Mobile users don’t have time to spare; they want your page to tell them what to do; they don’t want to fill out long forms; and they really don’t want to spend time figuring out what’s a button, what’s clickable, and so on.
Make things clear, fast and obvious. If you need something more from the user, tie the experience to your desktop site with things like coupons and newsletters. And if you’d like some technical tips for mobile usability best practices, this post is a great start.
Let’s say that in 2014, you built an app, and in 2015, you nailed tracking for app installs. You know which channels send traffic most likely to download your app, and you’ve allocated spend accordingly.
The good news: You’re ahead of the curve!
The bad news: There’s a long way to go.
What you really need to know about your app is how engaged the users are with it. Do they download your app, try it once and forget about it? Do they come back to it and get stuck in the same spot and give up on it?
Which users, among those who have downloaded the app, are the most engaged, and how can you replicate that across different segments of your audience?
In cost-per-click channels, we tell our clients that sending expensive traffic to poor landing pages is a losing proposition. We would tell our mobile clients something similar for expensive CPIs (cost per installs) for apps that don’t get used.
But you need the data to be set up to get this kind of insight. Work with your SDK (software development kit) — more on that later — to make sure your tracking is set up so you can react to the KPIs (key performance indicators) that matter.
We’ve been running A/B tests for our clients for many years; this isn’t what we’d call an advanced practice as we head into 2016.
But multivariate testing? Multiple-page testing? Structuring your campaigns to isolate certain targeting demographics? Devoting portions of your budget to testing and development for new channels and audience insights? Now you’re talking.
We partner with Optimizely for creative optimization; the real-time insights provided by that platform or similar platforms, such as Google Website Optimizer and Visual Website Optimizer, are tremendously effective in refining all kinds of design, whether landing pages or banner ads.
Campaign structure and test budgets are more dependent on internal philosophies and conversations with clients, but they are no less important for developing a steady stream of opportunities to optimize your ad spend.
Attribution, boiled down, is being able to assess the value of each marketing touch point, across channels and devices. I wrote an entire post on it, if you’re interested… but I can sum it up for you like this:
- You’re probably already doing some basic attribution, most likely in Google Analytics.
- You can get way over your head if you’re shooting for perfect, to-the-last-degree attribution and juggling between models like U-Shaped, Econometric and Time Delay.
- If you’re settling for last-touch attribution, you’re likely overvaluing bottom-funnel channels (SEM), under-valuing awareness and discovery channels and not getting a very clear picture of how mobile users move through the funnel.
There are some home-grown methods you can put in place, but if you’ve got the budget, I’d recommend testing out an attribution platform or two (we use Convertro) to gauge whether the investment can help you make more efficient use of your ad spend.
SDK, DSP, MMP… You may know what all of those acronyms mean, but are you working with a provider in each category? Better still, do you know how those providers are performing?
As channels and devices proliferate and media buying and tracking get more and more complex, choosing the right tech partners and holding them accountable is one of the most important functions for a mature marketing team.
Note: If you’re part of an agency and trying to piece together the right mix for your clients, know that the right stack for one may be completely wrong for another… and that while some clients may be loyal to Kenshoo (for instance), others may swear by Marin.
Social Beyond Facebook
If your team is killing it on Facebook in Q4, you’re in good company. Whether you’re e-commerce, lead gen or something else, chances are that you can speak to Facebook’s incredible strides as a performance marketing channel.
Ideally, you’ve done so well on Facebook, in fact, that you can carve out a little extra money to test other social channels — Twitter, yes, but also emerging platforms like Pinterest and Instagram (which offers advertisers much of the same targeting as Facebook, naturally).
These channels are by no means fully formed, of course, but early adopters — especially those with a library of good creative — have a great chance to take advantage of costs that will be suppressed until competitors start flocking.
If your head is spinning after all of this, take a deep breath. Each of these areas has micro-steps you can plan to get more sophisticated in your marketing. In many cases, it’s as simple (and crucial) as finding the right partner and setting the right expectations.
Good luck… and happy holidays!