Automating Workflows for Digital Marketers

The economy is still reeling from the effects of Covid-19. 73% of employers report difficulty hiring talent in 2022. These days, the average top talent spends just 10 days searching for a new position.

Whether or not talent is scarce at your organization, automation can be a saving grace. Not every marketing task needs manual attention. The many digital marketing automation tools, shortcuts, and resources on the market reduce the risk of human error and free up time for more complex tasks. This inevitably leads to better business outcomes. 

According to Marketo, “marketing automation [is] streamlining, automating, and measuring marketing tasks and workflows, to increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”

Data shows 75% of brands see ROI in less than 12 months, and 78% of brands report increases in overall revenue

In this article, you’ll learn how to implement automation that takes your marketing workflows to the next level by: 

  • Identifying gaps in your marketing operations workflow
  • Saving time with the right automation tools
  • Creating efficiencies in paid media management through optimizing, automating, and analyzing

How to Identify Gaps in Your Marketing Workflow

Pouring energy into a marketing workflow with gaps is like trying to fill a colander with water. Try your hardest, and you still won’t get far. To optimize your workflows, you must first identify these pesky gaps.

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Common gaps to look out for include:

  • Ownership gaps: A lack of governance issue can occur if you allow the process to go forward without mapping out a strategy and determining who should step in for each step of that strategy. Each step needs to have an assigned “owner” (an employee responsible for overseeing or carrying out the step). 

Knowledge-based gaps

  • Inaccessible knowledge: A centralized knowledge management resource can help all teams immensely with the proper framework. A resource hub ensures knowledge is transferred from stakeholders to other teams and is available to anyone needing to revisit the knowledge in the future. This is especially important for established processes and recurring campaigns. Employees work more efficiently when they can access knowledge from prior campaign iterations.  
  • Lack of feedback loops: Challenging the status quo through feedback helps improve processes & teams. When feedback loops are lacking, processes remain stagnant. This gap prevents growth within the organization.
  • Failure to measure performance: Meaning you don’t see what is going wrong but also what is going well and needs to be done more. Measuring performance is crucial. Turn a blind eye, and you miss the trends that reveal what areas are going well and what areas need improvement. 

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Gaps in personal performance

  • Low employee engagement: Employee engagement breeds better performance and better outcomes for the organization. If your workforce engagement is low, prioritize addressing each employee’s needs, improve recognition, and use employee feedback to optimize communication, work environment, etc. 

Workflow-related gaps 

  • Overly complicated workflows: Complicated workflows drag out processes, wasting time, energy, and resources on low-yield steps. Optimizing and simplifying workflows creates more time for creative, strategic thinking that leaves a stronger impact on your goals. 
  • Repeating tasks manually: again using time that could be assigned to more creative/strategic items. Spending valuable time and resources on repetitive tasks that can be automated hampers efficiency. Those billable hours could be devoted to strategic thinking that directly impacts ROI. 
  • Taking the wrong shortcuts: Trying to save time by cutting corners will often cause more harm than good, and many overworked teams with limited resources find themselves needing to cut corners. Automation avoids the risks of unintended consequences by freeing up time without sacrificing performance.

Using process mapping to perform your workflow analysis & start making improvements

Teams can fill workflow gaps by implementing a process mapping strategy. With process mapping you can clearly see how the work will flow and identify problem areas. One of the main benefits of drawing a process map is that it clarifies what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and who will do it.

According to Konrad Treter from AdaptivOps, "Process Mapping refers to activities involved in defining what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a business process should be completed, and how the success of a business process can be determined." 

Business processes are made of interrelated tasks that occur as the result of an event and produce a specific result. Process mapping will streamline your tasks and improve their quality. It does this by analyzing and optimizing the organization’s workflow design, sequence, and role clarity. If you’ve never used process mapping before, these steps are a great place to start:

  1. Identify the problem: What workflow/process are you analyzing? What is the desired result?
  2. Brainstorm relevant tasks: Write down all the steps necessary to complete the process, who completes which step, and when each step is completed. 
  3. Define boundaries: Define a clear, measurable starting and ending point for the process. 
  4. Sequence the steps: Describe each step (starting with a verb), then outline the general order they will follow. The sequence can be a general flow or a detailed description of every action and decision related to the process. The level of detail necessary depends on the process. 
  5. Implement “start, stop, continue”: Once you have all the steps described in front of you, categorize them using the “start, stop, continue” method. Mark missing steps (your gaps) in the “start” column, unnecessary, redundant tasks in the “stop column”, and steps that are working well in the “continue” column. Next, mark all steps that could potentially be automatized. 
  6. Map out your flow chart: Map out your workflow using flowchart symbols (ovals for the beginning or stopping of a process, rectangles for a task that needs completing, arrows for direction, diamonds to indicate decisions to be made, and parallelograms to indicate inputs and outputs, etc.).
  7. Review and trim the fat: Finalize the flow chart with all team members to ensure everyone is on the same page, all steps are included without being redundant, and the process is easy to follow. In most cases, simple workflows are more effective than complicated ones. Use this final review stage to trim away any unnecessary steps and delegate as many low-yield tasks to automation as possible.

Following these steps reveals any workflow gaps hindering your team’s progress. From there, you can start identifying what type of automation software your company can use to fill those operational gaps.

Save time by implementing the right automation tools

At this point, you should have an outline of your workflow in its most efficient form. Everyone knows what they are responsible for and when they need to have it done. All that’s left is the how. It’s time to start finding the right tools to fill the gaps and streamline your marketing operations.

Start by asking these questions:

  • What are your gaps?
  • What can be easily automated?

While the list of marketing tasks that can be automated is likely endless, we’ve compiled a list of the most common use cases: 

  • Organic Social Posts & Updates
  • Content Amplification
  • Paid Media Optimization
  • Appointments, Demos, Service Bookings
  • Email Automation for Lifecycle Marketing
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Loyalty & Referral Programs

You’ll notice these tasks have something in common. AI can do them better than we can. You just have to prioritize what needs automating & where you need help in the process.

Setting up a Marketing Automation Infrastructure

Successful automation requires the right tech stack. There are thousands of tools out there– the tools you need to automate steps in your marketing workflow depend on the nuances of your organization and your goals. 

Find the gaps in your operations, determine which tasks are best suited to automation, then find the right tools to support that automation. Below are the automation tool categories marketing teams most commonly require support with:

  • Customer relationship management
  • Email automation
  • Account-based marketing (for B2B)
  • Social media management
  • Pricing automation (for Ecomm)
  • Loyalty program platform
  • Advertising optimization management
  • Leaders in Customer Relationship Management

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Customer relationship management

The right CRM strikes a careful balance between features, usability, and affordability. These three components are central to any good technology, but they are especially essential to software like CRM that enables the growth and success of your business without requiring extensive time and effort.

When choosing any software, simple is typically better. Start by identifying your needs, necessary integrations, and what features will make your employees’ lives easier.

MarinOne integrates with virtually any CRM tool, pending scoping by our professional services team. HubSpot is typically a good choice, due to its long list of features and integrations.

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Email automation

For email automation, you’ll want to look for the following features:

  • A/B testing: Send multiple versions of the same email to sections of your audience, then compare results and optimize your email marketing strategy accordingly.
  • HTML editing: The majority of email apps don't allow you to edit an email's HTML directly. Double-check for an HTML editor to ensure you can quickly edit your marketing emails’ HTML code.
  • Template variety: If you like to use pre-made templates for designing your email, prioritize finding an app with a rich template library. Easily customizable templates allow employees to quickly edit the look and layout of new emails without needing a strong design background.
  • Industry-specific features: Many of today’s email apps focus on a specific niche to provide specialized features. If there is email software designed for your industry on the market, take advantage.
  • Email volume: Some email software options shift the price according to your email volume. Consider how your email strategy will grow. Will you be able to afford the software as your contact list or email volume expands?
  • Customer service: Customer support options vary based on budget. You can find reviews and ratings for your software’s customer service on review sites like G2

B2B account-based marketing

You can find account-based marketing software at a variety of price points, each offering a unique set of features. The tool you choose depends on both budget and expectations. If you have a mature strategy, a tool like 6sense will let you improve your software and help optimize your account-based marketing.

If you’re new to account-based marketing or are looking to scale your strategy alongside your company's growth, then opt for tools like Bound and Triblio.

Social media management

When you manage social media accounts across multiple platforms, even something as simple as leaving a comment through the wrong account can result in an emergency meeting with crisis management. Needless to say, it gets complicated. Logging in and out and in and out of all the different social platforms is tedious– especially when you’re stuck using a personal device. 

Luckily, social media management tools let you bypass that struggle entirely. You can manage multiple accounts across multiple platforms within a single software application. Use these tools to create content, engage with your audience, and view analytics that are often more sophisticated than what the platform offers.

There are so many social media management tools on the market these days. Shop around for the one that best fits your budget and needs. Here are some features you’ll want to look for:

  • Content creation: A place to write captions, research hashtags, edit/resize images, and plan your grid. 
  • Scheduling and auto-posting: Set a time and date for when you want your content to go live, then let the software post it for you when the time comes. This is the definition of “set it and forget it”. Bonus points if the tool recommends the best time to post for your audience.
  • Social listening: Keep one ear open to what people are saying about your industry, brands, products, and services. Use the tool to participate in those conversations and find trends to inspire future content.
  • Analytics: Use sophisticated analytics dashboards to track KPIs, reveal trends for what is and isn’t working, and optimize your organic search strategy. The right all-in-one software simplifies performance monitoring by interpreting the data and generating recommendations for you.

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Leaders in pricing automation (for Ecommerce)

Considering the number of tasks constantly crowding your plate, manually updating the prices of your products to keep pace with the ever-shifting market is probably not your highest priority. 

Good news– pricing software is better at this than you could ever be. Pricing software examines pricing for similar products across the web and automatically adjusts pricing on your website to align with what your competitors are charging and your chosen parameters. It’s especially important for larger ecommerce sites that juggle hundreds or thousands of SKUs, as manually updating that quantity would be nearly impossible.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when choosing your pricing software:

  • Will it fulfill all your needs?
  • Is it compatible with your existing technology, and will it remain compatible as your tech stack updates? 
  • Will it grow with your organization? 
  • Should you work with a pricing software company or operate it independently? 

Referral management software

When it comes to choosing the right referral management software, pricing is the main deciding factor. Some subscriptions require a minimum time commitment, while others have contracts available for monthly plans.

Your target market will also come into play here. Some referral program tools may be better suited for your specific industry or business model. For example, you will likely find niche platforms that cater to small businesses, B2B, B2C, or enterprise-level, and even industry-specific platforms (ie. designed for SaaS or health sciences). 

Another important factor to consider: analytics. A good solution seamlessly optimizes your partner program by letting you collect, compile, and compare detailed reporting data to glean insights. 

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Tackling inefficiencies in paid media management

Now it’s time to cover our area of expertise. Our upgraded platform, MarinOne, makes automating paid media management simple yet effective. 

Marketers can use MarinOne to streamline, automate, and optimize almost every paid media management task on the docket. Instead of covering every single feature, we’re narrowing this explanation to cover the way MarinOne solves the three main problems marketers commonly face. These problems are:

  • Setting optimal bids, targets, and budgets
  • Avoiding wasted time on repetitive tasks
  • Limit time spent reporting
  1. How to optimize bids, targets, and budgets

Use MarinOne to automatically optimize bids, targets, and budgets with the following features: 

Respond to external signals with Custom Modifiers 

As a marketer, you’ve probably wondered how to account for external factors in the auction. Marin Customer Modifiers can incorporate external data into your auction for you. For example, inform your auction with data like weather signals, price competitiveness, stock level, or lead time. 

Using stock level data, you can set your bids to lower when you are almost out of a product, then raise when you have more stock available. MarinOne allows you to make these adjustments automatically based on whatever values you set (you can always adjust manually as well). 

The modifiers can be extremely specific, down to the keyword or product group level, or at the global campaign/group level— it all depends on your data.

You’ll find a great case study of a client that used custom modifiers to increase bids on keywords with a longer lead time.

https://www.marinsoftware.com/case-studies/mountain-warehouse

Maximize your ad dollar with Budget Pacing and Allocation

Automated budget pacing helps you get the most out of your budget. It prevents over or underspending through trends that show where you are in reference to your monthly spending goal. These trends provide a holistic view of your budget status, as they account for spending across all publishers and channels. That way, you can track your total budget as well as your platform-specific budgets. 

Marin Budget Allocation takes this capability to the next level. It intervenes whenever there is a discrepancy between your target spend and current spend trend, reallocating spend to better-performing campaigns while letting you set priorities. Max out spending on your brand’s terms and spend the rest of your budget on non-brand as efficiently as possible.

Callout: The client lowered time spent on budget management by 50%

https://www.marinsoftware.com/case-studies/reach

Leverage Social Rules

Marin Social Rules allow users to optimize their campaign settings using both Facebook and third-party data. Manual bids can be adjusted based on the performance of individual ads. Net new budget can be added or removed from campaigns based on historical performance.

  1. How to save time with automation

MarinOne has three main automation features: Dynamic Campaigns, Scheduled Actions, and Message Booster. Here’s how they work:

Utilize dynamic campaigns 

Dynamic campaigns allow you to automatically build and maintain campaigns, groups, keywords, and creatives for your entire product catalog without lifting a finger. Automating these actions saves a tremendous amount of time and effort.

This automation pairs well with the Custom Modifier previously discussed. If you have the stock level, price, or price competitiveness for products in your feed, Dynamic Campaigns will convert that data into MarinOne dimensions you can then leverage in Custom Modifiers. 

This automatically builds campaigns equipt with creatives and dynamic prices/stock levels, then adjusts your bids based on price competitiveness. 

Callout: Buy a Gift example:

https://www.marinsoftware.com/case-studies/buyagift-dynamic-ads-case-study 

Schedule actions ahead of time

Marin Scheduled Actions allow you to easily schedule the launching or pausing of your ads and campaigns ahead of time. When you clock out or take a vacation, your ads will remain on schedule.

If you have a weekend sale coming up, you can schedule your regular creative to be replaced by the sale creative at midnight, then return to normal right when the sale ends. 

Marin Scheduled Actions are uniquely powerful because they work across all publishers and platforms and let you schedule multiple actions simultaneously, creating a holistic schedule of future actions. 

Boost posts via automated rules

With Marin Message Booster, you can automate the paid amplification of organic page posts. It works by specifying the campaign’s duration, budget, and target audience ahead of time. The software uses the criteria as rules that trigger the amplification of an organic page post. 

Here’s an example: based on predetermined campaign settings, every page post with an engagement rate of more than 10% will automatically become sponsored. Automating organic post amplification like this frees time to spend on more tactical and lower-funnel social media tasks.

  1. Streamline reporting

MarinOne’s automation also streamlines reporting through the Dimensions, Web Query reporting, and Insights features.

How to evaluate multiple dimensions

Dimensions (aka Google Labels on steroids) allow you to monitor your account more thoroughly than traditional account structure allows. It works by auto-labeling your objects based on specific criteria like naming conventions or performance.

With Dimensions, you can tag objectives with multiple dimensions and apply tags to all subsequent levels (campaign, group, and keyword/creative).

Custom automation creates auto-tagging rules based on naming conventions or performance. Within the software, users can easily filter or roll-up Dimensions across all publisher accounts and pivot up to three dimensions in-app. You can also incorporate device segmentation which quickly illuminates where most of the account spend is, which sections work well, and which don’t.

Essentially, you can view Dimensions as a labeling system, with their tab being a massive pivot of all your data that helps you drill down to and understand all levels of your account’s performance. 

They don’t stop there, though. Dimensions are a multi-tool. In addition to reporting, use them for:

  • Bidding via Dynamic Actions and Custom Modifiers

AND

  • Tracking, which comes in handy if you want to add a campaign name to your tracking template and have that value pop up in your Google Analytics. A campaign name isn’t a value parameter, so you’d need to build it out as a custom parameter. While this may seem like a lot of work when done manually, MarinOne fully automates the process. 

How to systemize Web Query reports

Automating report creation and distribution on a schedule is a common way to push data from an app to your inbox. With MarinOne, you can also set up reports via Web query. For example, you can automate the creation of a full-year report that automatically adds data as date milestones are achieved.

Instead of creating a recurring report to be emailed as a CSV, web query reports generate a URL that recipients use to set up a spreadsheet (Excel or Google Sheets). The URL automatically updates the spreadsheet data in real time. This feature is instrumental in managing historical reports with long timeframes, as future dates are updated without the need to touch the report. This “set it and forget it” approach can save whatever unlucky member of your team responsible for data entry a lot of time and headaches.

You can also go one step further by using the web queries in the spreadsheet, then editing your accounts by sending bulk upload files to an email address/FTP location.

How to streamline performance insights

With all the data and sources Marin unites in one interface, we built our own performance insights. Marin Insights provide recommendations that help users quickly identify optimization opportunities. There are currently over 35 insights across multiple publishers and channels, with 13 built to be applied via a single click.

You can then use the Actionable Insight functionality to apply those recommendations automatically.

Sample insights include:

  • Keyword Expansion
  • Duplicate Keywords
  • Disapproved Ads
  • Bid Strategy Opportunities for Publishers from Google to LinkedIn & Apple Search Ads
  • Landing Page Errors
  • Top Performing Products

Wrapping up

Today’s marketers have a wealth of technology available at their fingertips. The last few years were tough, but marketers rose to the occasion and adapted new strategies to succeed, using tech to get there. 

Going forward, simply showing up won’t be enough. The marketers who will thrive in 2023 will fill their tech stack with the right technology and support their software with careful strategy and conscious first-party data collection.

Major shifts in the privacy eco-system mean collecting the data that fills impactful reports takes a lot more work. This makes automating advertising campaigns and other marketing pillars vital not only to save time and money but also to understand your audience. 

MarinOne is an all-in-one tool for automating advertising campaigns. The tool integrates seamlessly with other marketing automation tools in your tech stack, and custom automation can be set up based on your company’s needs when necessary. 

Now is the time to put your advertising strategy on autopilot. Schedule a personalized demo to find out how automating with the tools and strategic support from MarinOne can boost your conversion rate and drop your cost-per-metric.

Amazon 2H 2022 Playbook

2022 Amazon Holiday Landscape & Predictions

It seems like this year’s holiday shoppers are starting to create plans for celebrations and festive moments that are even more extensive than in previous years, largely as a cultural response to many global and economic problems. Historically, in times of financial hardship, war, or political unrest, consumers tend to focus on more frequent, small pleasures within seasonal celebrations versus large or extravagant gifts. This year is no different as inflation, and other factors are putting additional strain on the average buyer. 

80% of holiday shoppers plan to have more “mini moments” throughout the holiday season. While this may not be great news for brands with higher price points per item, such as luxury goods, electronics, and furniture…the consumer zeitgeist in 2022 could be great for brands selling multiple products at an average lower price point per item like food, decor, beauty, toys, apparel, and more. If you have many products in your inventory, bundling several items together, focusing on percentage off promotions, or adding gifts with purchases could be great tactics this holiday season versus focusing on average order value. 

In 2021, there were many more high-spending e-commerce days in November than in 2020. E-commerce sales see no sign of slowing for Holidays 2022; however, many consumers indicate a desire to shop in person again, so ensure your brick-and-mortar locations and e-commerce teams are ready to offer a great customer experience to create brand consistency online and offline. 

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Consumer behavior for holiday season 2022

Purchasing early

To avoid price hikes as much as possible, many shoppers are purchasing early to save some money. More shoppers are buying holiday items earlier out of concern that they may not be able to find what they need come December or may not get a reasonable price. This year, the primary motivating factor for spending earlier is inflation.

New research by Salesforce has found that a staggering 42% of shoppers worldwide and 37% in the US will start buying gifts earlier than ever this year. This is the top behavioral change to avoid higher prices as pandemic-related supply chain issues continue to plague the global market.

Opt for eco-friendly product options

Studies show that shoppers prioritize purchasing sustainable items and eco-friendly products. Over 80% of shoppers will seek out sustainable brands, and 42% of those polled said they would consider paying more for sustainable shipping options or would be satisfied with a longer delivery window if they knew it would have a positive environmental impact.

Customers and employees will be looking at where their money's going before investing in a product. Consumers are placing more importance on sustainability and an emphasis on investing in organizations focusing on racial or economic justice as part of their charitable giving initiatives.

Closely evaluating prices

It's no surprise that pricing and discounting will be crucial in the lead-up to Christmas in 2022. Research has revealed that 17% of people globally and 15% of US shoppers are unsure if they'll buy any gifts this year, opting instead for experiences or simply being unable to afford the luxury of gift giving in its entirety due to other economic issues. Pricing could also be prohibitive when it comes to your existing customers' decision-making. It's estimated that 2.5 billion shoppers worldwide could opt for a lower-priced competitor this Q4 over a brand they have shown loyalty to in the past.

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Now that we have a view of the retail landscape and predictions for consumer behavior this year, let’s take a look at what you need to be focusing on over the next few months to prepare for the holiday selling season. 

Inventory Planning

While we're on the heels of Amazon's best Prime day in history, it's no secret that Amazon needs to be a core component of your holistic omnichannel marketing strategy. Ensure you're tackling the following checklist.

  • Analyze existing inventory
  • Choose your product lineup
  • Solidify your shipping process
  • Consider temporary business loans to fill Q4 demand
  • Identify new-to-Amazon products that may qualify for waived fees`

Analyze existing inventory

Inventory is so dynamic for many businesses that one day (or even one hour) to the next can be the difference between making a sale or not. Be mindful of your inventory and stock, and use that to your advantage when it comes to being more or less aggressive with your advertising efforts.

Amazon offers a wide range of tools for businesses that go beyond just managing inventory and help you to analyze the performance of your products and business. Ecommerce businesses that use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), for example, have access to tools and reports that will inform you of your product's progress in the Amazon warehouses. You can quickly check this through Seller Central.

Amazon also offers a service to help e-commerce sellers manage their inventory. With the excess inventory alert feature, you can check the demand for the product, response to price changes, and the right amount of stock to keep in storage with Amazon at any one time.

Generally, you want to increase the number of items customers buy, reduce storage costs, and generate a positive return on investment by managing your sell-thru rate. To that end, it is worth noting that Amazon defines product excess as:

  • Having over 90 days of supply
  • At least 1 unit aged over 90 days
  • A better ROI opportunity (such as reducing the price to increase sales)
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Here are a few simple tips on how to make managing inventory а lot easier:

1. Get reasonable prices from suppliers by building and maintaining a positive relationship with them - treat them like another branch of your business because in many ways, they are.

2. Keep your inventory stocked with the right products that are in popular demand.

3. Promote products that are in demand as a way to reduce your inventory that is now not selling very well.

4. Monitor margins carefully and plan promotions around your products with the best profit margin.

5. Lastly, ensure you have at least four weeks' worth of inventory on hand.

Choose your product lineup

Analyze your product performance throughout this year and look back on the last few holiday sales cycles. The right products to put front and center will reveal themselves as you evaluate: your company's objectives for Q4 2022, what your target market bought the most in previous years, and what items have been performing the least this current year. Considering that buyers will most likely make conservative purchase decisions this holiday season, aim to feature your best sellers that fall at a medium price point. Read on to get a few other factors that may affect your decision when identifying the "most valuable players" this holiday season:

  • Weight and size should be a consideration…statistically, items on Amazon that fall on the lighter and smaller end of the spectrum sell the best. 
  • Products with limited sizes or colors may perform worse than if they had a complete assortment. Be sure to adjust your budgets and targets accordingly.
  • Don't advertise if you have low inventory and you’re confident you’ll sell through that product organically.
  • If you have an inventory surplus and need to clear the shelves, advertising with Amazon can be a great way to drive supplemental sales.
  • Hit the ground running as soon as a low-stock product replenishes.

Solidify your shipping process

The aim is to combine various fulfillment methods to suit your business needs. If you sell online in Amazon stores, you may want to use FBA for some or all of your products. FBA Small and Light can help you cost-effectively ship lightweight items, and FBA Export also provides international shipping solutions.

3rd party fulfillment outside of FBA could also be a good option if you are distributing at scale and need multiple options for cost and efficiency considerations. The right fulfillment partner can help you grow safely and more confidently, as many fulfillment companies have more flexibility than FBA. This flexibility for many Amazon sellers means improved customer service and lower storage and overhead costs while maintaining excellent visibility on inventory. Ultimately, the right mix of fulfillment options depends on the type of products and goals for your business.

The first thing you need to do before sending inventory to Amazon is to create a shipping plan. This plan specifies what products, quantity, locations, which carrier should be used, and whether you’d like to label your products in-house or have Amazon do that.

While One-Day Delivery is an option for many Amazon sellers, not every product can qualify for it. You have to meet a set of requirements before offering your products with One-Day Delivery.

  • You should have sold on Amazon for an accumulated total of at least 90 days before.
  • Have an on-time delivery rate of at least 95%
  • Have an on-time shipment rate of at least 99%
  • Fulfill a handful of other delivery score requirements, like providing valid tracking rates, having a cancellation rate of less than 1.5%, and maintaining a minimum order threshold of at least ten orders on all shipping options.
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Product & Feed Optimization

Take the last few weeks you have before launching a new campaign to ensure your entire Amazon infrastructure is healthy and well-oiled. Take this time to finalize listings and optimize the customer experience with your brand on Amazon.

FBA best practices

Inventory performance dashboard

For those businesses using FBA, Amazon’s Inventory Performance dashboard is another helpful tool that helps you identify opportunities to grow sales, create cost efficiencies, and track key performance indicators. Check up on it regularly to keep your IPI score healthy, multiple factors influence your IPI score. However, the most important ones are your actions:

  • Maintain a balanced inventory level between sold and available inventory and avoid excess and aged stock.
  • Avoid long-term storage fees.
  • Resolve any problems or issues with your listings.
  • Keep your most popular products in stock at the proper levels, when possible, to meet demand and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.

Inventory performance index

Amazon takes a quarterly approach to your IPI score: at the end of each three month period and six weeks before the next quarter, your score will be re-evaluated. Amazon can notify you that you still have time to improve your score before imposing inventory limits, but remember, they also may not remind you. So it's imperative to keep track of IPI review dates and deadlines on your own to keep your score as high as possible. For this upcoming season, we recommend you spend the remainder of Q3 2022 prepping your inventory to get your score as high as possible before Q4.

Product listing management

Update your product descriptions, product names, title, and photos for all products in your Amazon inventory. Pay special attention to those items you’ve already identified as your holiday frontrunners. 

You may find it beneficial to automate your pricing, in order to always be among Amazon's bestsellers. Use Amazon's pricing algorithm to set your prices, even if just for a short test—this feature will give you an idea of what prices you should use, based on the competition, and whether you ought to change any prices significantly. Keep in mind that pricing is a significant factor in being eligible for the "Buy Box" on Amazon product pages. While not required, utilizing Amazon’s free automated pricing tool can improve your chances of becoming the Featured Offer on Amazon product detail pages. 

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Product reviews

Ratings and reviews are a big driver of how well your products will perform. If a product has strong reviews in terms of count and rating, that’s great! Push it more aggressively with advertising. These are the products for which you want to maximize sales velocity. 

If you have a product that seems to suffer in the customer reviews arena for whatever reason, it may be a good idea to pull that item from Amazon inventory temporarily and push it harder through other sales channels or take action to address the product feedback before restocking it. Be sure to improve customer satisfaction (ie make retail-ready) before accelerating with advertising.

Regardless of the current review status of your Amazon products, it should be an ongoing initiative to collect ratings and reviews. Do everything possible to keep customers happy and make those reviews as positive as possible through great service and responsive product design. The reviews for each item on Amazon are tethered to the ASIN, so keep that in mind if you are often changing your ASIN number or refreshing inventory.

Consider strategies to push high volume to emergent products which have not yet established their places in the market segment. You may expect a higher cost of sale for products which are new to product because people may be less prone to buying a product without ratings and reviews -- however, think of this investment in the long run. As those ratings and reviews accrue, the investment will pay off and the sales velocity will grow.

Promotional Planning & Marketing Preparations

Once your product and feed optimizations are in place, now is the time to start launching test campaigns, run various audience segments, and get the early data you need to be full steam ahead during the highest volume time period. For 2022, November is most likely to be the peak of holiday sales traffic, so plan your promotions and primary messaging accordingly. 

Perfect Launch

"Perfect Launch" is the term Amazon uses to describe a trade and promotion strategy that capitalizes on five selling programs: Brand Registry, A+ content, automated pricing and advertising, Fulfillment By Amazon, and Prime. Successful sellers take these 5 steps within a 90-day timeframe, generating sales more quickly. To fulfill Amazon’s requirements, complete the following:

  • Enroll your brand in Brand Registry
  • Enhance your product detail pages with the best content possible.
  • Get set up with FBA
  • Automate pricing on your core products
  • Incorporate Sponsored Product campaigns, Coupons, and Deals into your campaign strategy

Brand Registry

Brand Registry is for brands that are already registered trademarks. However, if a seller is "authorized," the seller can also apply for a Brand Registry under the brand owners’ name.

Amazon now offers incentives to become a Registered Brand, including 5% back on your first $1M in sales, credit to try CPC advertising or promote your product reviews, and discounts on Fulfillment By Amazon.

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Preparing for Peak Performance Dates

The calendar and seasonality can have major impacts on your business. Optimize products far in advance of your expected high volume periods so that when the traffic comes, you’re ready and in the right position.

Make sure you have sufficient inventory and are not limited by budget constraints during peak sales periods. The worst-case scenario is to run out of product or budget and miss out on sales during a make or break time of the year.

Best Practices for Amazon Creative

Imagery

What is the goal of your ad? Does your product speak for itself in terms of use case, or does it require some understanding from the user? If your goal is to increase consideration, you might want to include an image of the product, with bullets or copy on the image highlighting unique features. Showcasing a lifestyle image on the other hand is a great way to generate awareness for your brand and product by helping the user understand applications for your product.

Uncluttered and simple ads perform the best. Research performed by Amazon Ads found that ads had a 2.4x higher CTR on average when there were only 1-4 objects on the ad. So less is more!

Brand logo

Put a clear logo on your ad creative to help increase brand coverage, establish trust for customers, and make an easy connection between you and your product.

Use contrast and size variation

When you are designing your composition, use high contrast between the foreground and background so the product is easy to identify. Test multiple variances in the size of your objects. Another interesting insight from Amazon’s internal research was that on average the CTR was 1.6x higher when an ad's primary object was 4x bigger than the next biggest object featured. Amazon also observed that 70% of categories on Amazon experienced greater CTRs when important items had a bigger font size.

Headline

Use a headline that is impactful and communicates your message clearly. Use plain language for the widest possible potential audience. Consider posing a question, solving a problem, incorporating humor, or conveying empathy. Creatively worded headlines for your product should start with an action verb. Well-written headlines remind the customer that by purchasing your product, they will achieve or accomplish something specific. 

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Keep messages concise

Use a concise message to explain the value proposition of your product. Clear, specific wording will generate more click-throughs and increase your purchase rates. Line breaks of different widths also  make text easier to digest. In Amazon’s internal research, they found line variations enhanced CTRs on 74% of content.

Saving time - ad scheduling

Creating variants of the same ads for each sub-segment of the season is a great way to decrease time spent on each campaign, while still running relevant content for singular points in time

Paid Media Execution and Campaign Management

Now that we’ve covered a few techniques around setting up the right Amazon infrastructure, let’s discuss some of the things to be mindful of weeks and months after launching your holiday campaigns. 

As you know, advertising is not a “set it and forget it” activity. There are many factors to consider outside of the campaign purview that impact performance just as much as a bid change or negative keyword might. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Automatic campaigns

One of the really cool features of Amazon ads is that it'll automatically target keywords for you. This makes your ad more relevant and saves time. Amazon saves time and energy by targeting advertisements to shoppers browsing with similar interests to the products in your store. Automatic targeting helps you create an ad campaign quickly and easily.

Bid strategy: depending on your goals with the exploratory campaign, you could use any of the dynamic bid models. If it’s a very fixed amount of budget you’re allocating towards exploratory expansion, consider a fixed or down-only approach. If you’re leaning in on a more growth-focused target, use the up or down option.

Automatic campaigns can be incredibly useful for exploratory and prospecting purposes. Keep at least one on at all times with sufficient budget to surface new opportunities!

  • Use Automatic campaigns to surface new search queries.
  • Set thresholds that determine when a query should be built as a keyword.
  • Similarly, be deliberate about when queries should be negatively matched.

Build multiple campaigns

To make it so that multiple products of yours may show for a single query, build multiple campaigns -- each with the same keyword -- and allocate different products to each campaign. Tier the bids intently so that the desired product (with the highest associated bid) might show at the top, and the second, next best product has the second highest bid, etc.

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Audit your product listings regularly

Regularly audit your campaigns’ ASIN selection to make sure you have the right products in place. Add variations of color, size, and count to maximize coverage for your best-selling products. Consider adding multiple instances of a single product across a few different campaigns. 

Make an analysis and monitor your products holistically - with a properly configured analysis dashboard you can see a product’s operational status (price point, availability, review counts, and rating) as well as its advertising performance (metrics like cost, sales, clicks, and impressions). This helps reduce complexity and presents a single, comprehensive view of product performance, as well as the factors which influence performance on a day-to-day basis.

Test Google keywords on Amazon (and vice versa)

You’re probably selling things on other channels as well as Amazon. You can get ideas for which keywords are working on Google and make sure those keywords are covered on Amazon. This also works the other way, you may find new keywords on Amazon that you can consider using on Google.

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Use multiple bidding techniques

Using the Amazon dynamic bidding tools is effective, but to get the most out of your efforts, layer a tool and algorithmic bidding on top of that in a complementary fashion. Marin’s approach to bidding utilizes folders and dynamic clustering to group keywords and product attribute targeting together based on their goals. For example, a brand collective of keywords likely has a different business goal than low-margin products or non-brand terms. Think of these as swim lanes for your Amazon keywords which allow you to operate outside the constraints of campaign structure to achieve desired returns.

Benefits of using a an algorithmic bidding strategy:

  • Plan budgets effectively (daily and monthly).
  • Redistribute resources by channel more seamlessly when needed.
  • Plan ahead for seasonal volume shifts.
  • Allocate budgets across campaign strategies and pivot quickly.

Make Amazon ads an integral part of your omnichannel marketing strategy and have the best holiday season yet in 2022. With over 300 million active global customers, Amazon has a deep understanding of how shoppers engage with products and brands. They have a detailed knowledge of how and when people are shopping online; and when Amazon advertising is combined with sophisticated campaign management and bidding tools like MarinOne, you’ll be able to see and utilize multi-channel insights that make all your publisher campaigns more effective across the board. Contact our advertising experts for a free consultation on how to get started and make your Amazon ads more successful today

Effective Omnichannel Marketing: A Playbook for Better ROI

Learn how to get better results by creating a seamless customer experience across all of today’s most popular marketing channels. From store, online marketplace, and website visits to social media and paid search, a unified approach gives your customers a consistent experience and offers better insight into campaign performance.

Introduction

Tracking customer journeys across channels isn’t always straightforward. But in doing so, you can collect rich data that can help you understand those customers better and ultimately increase conversions and revenue. By viewing each channel as a touchpoint that interacts with other channels, you can see how far-reaching the impact of a single asset is beyond the clicks it garners.

“Omnichannel marketing has the customer at the center of a seamless, unified experience.”  

-Evaldus Mockus, Omnisend VP of Growth

The unified customer journey

Customers take increasingly fragmented journeys from the top of your sales funnel to the point of purchase. This can include:

  • Spotting display ads on other sites
  • Seeing your brick-and-mortar store promotions
  • Noticing your ad in their Instagram or Facebook feed on their mobile devices
  • Seeing your responsive search ads (RSAs) on Google or Bing searches on their computers
  • Interacting with promotional materials on your website itself

By considering each of these elements as part of the same journey, you can begin to tighten your messaging and fill in the gaps so that each touchpoint makes potential customers feel a step closer to solving whatever problem your product solves for them.

As marketing gets savvier, so too do customers. It’s not enough to be present on all the platforms your audience uses. Customers now expect more from brands, and they want to see fresh, relevant content. More than ever, consumers have less patience for repetitive messaging. While this requires a certain degree of tracking and personalization, new potential customers also expect to be able to trust the brands that they choose to follow and shop.

Today, new technologies are making it possible for customers to experience advertising in entirely new ways. In many cases, that means there are a whole host of opportunities for your brand to make an impression.

A cohesive brand identity is the first step to a smooth customer journey 

Work from a cohesive customer experience. Ensure that your brand vision is conveyed across all platforms. While it is true that building a recognizable brand identity does include elements such as colors, fonts, and logos, it goes much further. For example, the tone of voice can affect how users perceive your company.

All of your touchpoints should represent your brand and its ethos. Take some advice from the experts in your audience. Through market research or surveys, you can gather the data needed to then create a unified message across all your platforms. Whether your customers contact you by DM, email, or live chat, they should always expect to receive the same high level of customer service and attention. The same feelings should be evoked by all touchpoints, which is why it's essential to have a consistent brand vision. This will also increase customer satisfaction and build public trust in your company.

Personalize the online experience to each individual

Brands must use the real estate on their websites wisely so visitors can easily find what they're seeking. With extensive product catalogs, it leads to brands having to make tough choices and display only limited products that may or may not convert. Website personalization is excellent for engaging consumers with different content based on their interests, providing an improved shopping experience.

Brands can use predictive algorithms to automate personalized experience triggers on a customer's first visit. And the likelihood of return visits increases significantly when promotions or unique features are offered by the individuals’ unique interests, endowed with AI-gathered data on previous purchases or page views for each user. The technical side of setting this up varies by the CMS. Still, more and more content management systems are offering plugins or automation options built into the CMS infrastructure directly. Shopify, Magento, and WordPress, paired with a stout ecomm plug-in like WooCommerce, are leaders in these efforts to make the UX for each site visitor as unique as they are.

Create immersive experiences to make users interact with content on all platforms

Immersive content brings users into any content you're showcasing, and it uses elements such as exciting audio or moving visuals to give your audience a fully interactive experience. In a digital environment, immersive content tends to take over a screen the way interstitial ads do.

For example, video is one of the best types of content to create an immersive or interactive experience. This kind of media is one of the marketers’ best tools for driving engagement, as people tend to respond more readily when they feel they are part of the content. Interactive content has a higher probability of evoking an emotional response from the viewer as well, which is always a good thing when you’re looking to be set apart in a crowded market.

How to stand out from the crowd across all platforms

We’ve put together a list of customer pain points that arise from fragmented marketing and how you can avoid them, ultimately accelerating the customer journey to the end of the sale.

Mixed messages

Customers want to see messaging that is relevant to their buying stage. Try to ensure you are targeting your ads to the correct part of your sales funnel – new leads might respond better to simple solution-focused messages. At the same time, existing customers don’t want to see prospect-oriented wording.

Overexposure and repetition

The exact words and images seen on multiple channels become boring and heighten awareness that your brand is ‘following’ them across platforms. Try to use variations on a theme and don’t oversaturate any media at a given time.

Continuity

Customers increasingly want to be able to continue on one platform where they left off on another, and that includes their conversations with brands. By unifying their experience across platforms, you help them to stay connected with your brand across all touchpoints. This increases convenience and trust and encourages future engagement and sales.

There are also internal pain points that a joined-up strategy can help you to overcome.

Difficulty tracking attribution

When customers take a multi-channel journey, it can make it challenging to identify the asset that ultimately drove the conversion. This can mean that you either mistakenly attribute changes in conversion to the wrong assets or that you can’t make sense of the data at all. Properly implemented multichannel marketing gives you rich insights that help you identify that moment when a customer went from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘yes.’

Budget misallocation

Double counting conversions or using partial views of the customer journey can lead you to allocate your budget in the wrong places, reducing your ROI. With full-journey tracking in place, you can identify the root of each sale and properly allocate your budget to increase conversions while reducing your spending on ineffective assets.

Preparing for successful omnichannel marketing

So, you’re ready to join up your omnichannel marketing efforts – where do you start? Here are a few elements you need to get in place, followed by our top 10 approaches for unifying your customer experience.

Goal setting

Start out by setting goals using your existing data, but plan to review them once you have gathered additional insights from your new approach. You can set stretch goals to start with or more conservative ones and wait until you have those insights to help you allocate your budget more effectively to achieve stretch goals. A good general rule is to give your new approach two to three months to start generating enough meaningful data from which to work.

Preparing your digital infrastructure

Especially in today’s business world, technology plays a key role. In many industries, especially those in the digital space, tech is the single driving force behind progress.

At Marin, we focus on making it easier for companies to manage their digital advertising, improving operational efficiency, and making campaign management more streamlined in a multi-platform approach. Our tools also make budget automation more straightforward, which helps our clients become more financially stable while continuing to grow their business.

While Marin can help with marketing automation, we see many of our clients continue to struggle with their tech stack on the operations side. Doing a complete analysis of your end-to-end digital infrastructure is key for the company to function as smoothly as possible. Staying up-to-date with technology in all departments is an ongoing task that every company must prioritize.

Prepare for your next steps

Create a strategy that addresses what to do if you do not meet your goals within the initial period. It’s rare to get things 100% perfect the first time.

Ten approaches to unify your prospect-customer experience

Budget allocation

Digital ad spend is expected to be 66.8% of all global advertising by 2023, according to Emarketer. Because digital advertising is taking a bigger and more significant portion of the marketing pie for most businesses, being strategic in how that budget is further divided by audience, platform, pillar, etc., is crucial to making the most of your investment. 

By giving our users plenty of customization options, you can have as close of a view of your campaigns as you need while still seeing all campaigns for all platforms in one place. This makes budget allocation a lot easier. Our expert solutions team can help you create the perfect view for your business by directly integrating platform features like Customer Match and Custom Audiences into your dashboard. You can take advantage of features like Google’s Customer Match while having clear visibility of how that customer segment is running against other channel segments. Marin makes your financial decision-making more accessible and clear. 

Once you have a clear view of where your budget may be performing or underperforming, MarinOne works behind the scenes to shift your budget automatically, ensuring you get the best possible ROI from every channel. 

Storytelling

Create a coherent message for all channels. Choose simple wording that is effective when read in a variety of orders. If there is vital information, make sure it can be seen on all channels, but try to avoid complete repetition. For example, an ad headline will work in search advertising, but an image or video could share the same information on social media. 

Consumers nowadays are asking for personalized storytelling from brands through every touchpoint. Marketers must tell a personal story with their brand narrative and provide opportunities for consumers to share the personal stories of their interactions with the brand. The best way to segment and rephrase the same message for several audiences is not to be presumptuous about your audience. Listen to audience responses both literally through comments and feedback, but also with key metrics like engagement or click-through rate. From there, you can continuously tailor your messaging to what will resonate with each segment.

Test and learn

The ultimate benefit of having richer, more accurate data is that it can be used for testing, which in turn drives consistent improvements in ROI – and a better customer experience. 

Incrementality is a lesser-known form of testing that evaluates whether or not your advertising investment is leading to a profitable return. It can be tough to measure as the lines between organic traffic, and paid conversion can sometimes be unclear. Some people might discover that they're paying for new users who already would have been converted regardless, and that's why incremental testing is so important. You'll be able to filter out the noise and find out the value of what marketing efforts bring you business.

Measuring incremental performance is more complicated than just bypassing your paid media activity for a week to see the effects. Incrementality testing involves a group that is exposed to the ads and a second group whose exposure is controlled. This will help you see just how much impact your marketing campaigns have. Let’s talk through an example.

Antoni’s Pizzeria launches a new Chicago-style crust pizza and wants to find out how successful its advertising campaign is. They hand out coupons to people passing by on the street for a month. To determine if the coupon had an effect, they measured whether or not people used it. The owner found that there are significantly more Chicago-style pizzas purchased with a coupon than without.

The difference in sales between the group of customers who purchased with a coupon versus those who did not have a coupon is the incremental lift. While this example explains incrementality very simply in a traditional advertising method, the same methodology can be applied to your digital paid media.

Advertising on e-commerce platforms 

Social commerce is becoming increasingly vital to successfully marketing on several social platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and a handful of others. Social media companies recognize that users are more likely to make purchases when they can do so without ever leaving the platform. In response to that user behavior, social storefronts, marketplaces, shoppable ads, and more are now an integral part of the marketing ecosystem. 

As a brand owner, you must think through what this means for your business and how this changes how your target demo interacts with your company. While the website may still be your primary focus in terms of sales, diversifying your customers’ checkout options will increase your income overall. The tradeoff you may face in operational changes is well worth the value leaning into social commerce will bring to your company.

Optimize with search intent data

Understanding search intent is critical when optimizing paid campaigns. How frustrated would you be if you wanted to learn how to cook, but all your search results tried to sell you pots and pans instead? That erratic experience is what you’re trying to prevent by adding user intent into your paid media strategy.

Give your audience (or potential audience) the best possible experience with your brand by: 

  • Targeting phrases that align with your business goals and the interests of your audience.
  • Creating content on topics that answer questions your potential customers might ask and ensure key information is near the top of the page.
  • Ensure your keywords align with search engines and users. This will help your page rank higher.

While they often overlap, most user search intent falls into four basic categories: 

  • Informational intent: Trying to learn more about a topic (e.g., “What’s a good way to cook beans?”)
  • Navigational intent: Trying to find a particular place (e.g., “Food Network website”)
  • Commercial intent: Trying to learn more before making a purchase decision (e.g., “what is the best pot for cooking beans”)
  • Transactional intent: Trying to fulfill a specific need or complete a particular action (e.g., “buy ceramic bean pot”)

Enhance social media engagement

Social media engagement refers to the number of comments, likes, and shares on your posts or pages. It also includes other content that you may have shared online. As a brand, of course, you want to increase your following as much as possible, but what matters more is that you have an engaged audience, not just a large one. Quality is important for any business, not just quantity.

Imagine you threw a party, and there were tons of people in attendance, but they were all just sitting silently. No small talk, no dancing, no conversations, nothing. Was the party a success? The RSVP list looks good, but are our guests happy and walked away wanting to come back?

Creating a good brand experience for customers requires that marketers intentionally use social platforms (such as LinkedIn or Facebook) to develop authentic and meaningful relationships with both current and future customers.

Some considerations that go into account optimization are:

  • Use consistent branding and creative visuals (logos, fonts, hashtags, taglines, and slogans) on your social media platforms.
  • Ensure you send the right visitors to your landing page with the appropriate link or call-to-action. It may be worth testing different variations to see which works best for you.
  • Marketing messages should be written to connect with your target audience. Having the language match the promotions at that time is crucial for maximizing the impact of your marketing.

Follow up strong

One of the most efficient ways to generate more revenue is by improving customer lifetime value. With customer lifetime value, you can look at the engagement metrics and form a long-term strategy to strengthen your relationship with customers.

One way of doing this is via post-purchase communication, setting up email sequences tailored to the customer. Post-purchase emails to customers ensure they receive quality service and want to do business with you again. 

Segmenting allows you to understand and focus on different customer groups so that you can allocate your resources accordingly—Dormant Customers (you may need to re-engage with), Active or Profitable Customers (you might need to upsell/cross-sell), and Very Profitable Customers (there's an opportunity for renewal).

Track and use your data

Using the tools provided by each marketing platform to measure engagement creates opportunities for double counting while using third-party tools (web analytics) are often not sophisticated enough to effectively value newer forms of engagement. So, what can you do to make the most of the vast amount of data at your fingertips?

With MarinOne’s analysis and data tracking tools, you can access all your data in one place, with customizable dashboards and completely personalized views. We can also help you get your data to the right place external to Marin software; data can be pushed to Excel or Google Sheets, onto BI platforms, or even into a data warehouse. Reports can be sent automatically or in recurring intervals, and automated alerts can be used to notify you if something looks off.

Measure success throughout the journey

Many marketers still rely on last click attribution when using multi-touch attribution analysis would be more accurate and effective. Last click attribution may not provide the accuracy you need, and it has a number of flaws as the customer journey becomes more complex. 

A last-click attribution model can make you uncertain about the success of your branding and awareness efforts. This is because they only count visits after your direct marketing campaign has been completed (that is, the last visit). This means you might be tracking all of the other visitors but have no idea how many people have visited during or before your campaign.

A method of attributing touchpoints on the customer journey to a specific channel, multi-touch attribution can assign credit for each interaction so that marketers can see the value each channel plays in driving customers. There are many multi-touch attribution models out there, and there are pros and cons to each, so determining the most suitable model for your marketing campaigns can be tricky. But recently, the most utilized, and for many marketers most preferred attribution model is algorithmic attribution.

Algorithmic attribution, also called data-driven attribution, refers to attribution models that do not reveal how data is gathered or calculated and are in some way automated on the publishing platform. The advertising platforms measure the credit that different interactions provide and assign a fractional value. The downside is there is no standard for AI platforms and how they do business. It can sometimes be hard to determine which interactions are considered conversions or engagements within the algorithm. They also don't detail how much weight is given to each interaction. However, having responsive, personalized data for each user in many cases outweighs the concerns related to algorithmic attribution

Choose the right metric for optimization

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a quantifiable measure, or metric that you can use to determine the success of your business. It allows you to understand how profitable your marketing campaign was and which methods have been more successful than others. KPIs are specific to all aspects of your company, such as the performance of employees or the revenues of your company. They allow you to assess and measure these metrics to make informed decisions that can have a positive impact on the rest of your business.

Determining the proper KPI to measure success, however, is not always cut and dry. Many variables affect the success of a campaign, including audience, product, current needs of the company, campaign objectives, and so on. To get you started, here are some of the most common metrics used to measure a campaign's success and when to use them.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

We need to track the CTR, or "clickthrough rate." The more people click on your ads, the more traffic you'll get. A high CTR could lower your CPC because you'll convert enough visits into customers.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is like your sales funnel, and it's the percentage of visitors who bought something or became leads. It's a general marketing number, but it can be applied to other topics if you want to track each separate channel. For example, you could track the "lead conversion rate" separately and compare content marketing channels with Facebook advertising lead conversions.

Cost-per-Click (CPC)

It's essential to track the return on investment from your paid advertising. CPC is one of the key performance indicators that help you do this.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

The lifetime value of a customer is the amount of money your typical customer can generate. This can vary from a few days to years, depending on how long your customers typically stay with you and how many products or services you sell in the future.

Customer Acquisition Cost

Acquisition cost refers to the number of products or services you need to sell to acquire one customer. This might include things like ads, phone calls, or on-site demos.

Follower Growth Rate

You need a continuous stream of new followers from which you can generate new leads and customers. This KPI will measure the percentage rate of increase in the number of your followers over a set period.

Keyword Rankings

This KPI will measure where your site ranks for your most valuable keywords and phrases. You can track changes in ranking over time to see what is working with your SEO efforts and what isn't.

Open Rate

Open rates show you how many of your contacts opened your email messages. This metric can be an indicator of how effective your subject lines are.

Return on Investment (ROI)

The ROI is a function of your customer acquisition expense and your revenue, and it tells you how much profit you generate from these two metrics.

Search Traffic

Search traffic metrics measure all the people that visit your site and the number of pages they visited in a single session. You'll also find metrics related to your website visitors from specific search engines (Google) as well as other more minor aspects of traffic.

Social Media Conversions

To see the ROI of various marketing efforts, track both conversion numbers and traffic from each channel. For e-commerce brands particularly, social media has the potential to be a significant piece of the revenue pie.

  1. Look inwards

Expand your search for inspiration by analyzing internal plans. Look for promotions, new products/services, and other internal ‘red letter day’ events that could create moments of engagement on different channels. 

As you have a range of platforms and customer journey stages to appeal to, almost anything positive that’s going on could provide another stepping stone on that journey. Video introductions of new hires who are experts in their field, behind-the-scenes information, sustainability awards – shout about what you’re doing to raise awareness and build trust. In turn, that will accelerate the journey to sales.

Getting started with an omnichannel strategy

There are many obstacles to creating a wholly unified, omnichannel marketing approach. Many organizations are set up in a way that artificially separates search, social, and e-commerce activities, both in terms of the employees working on them and the budget allocation. This can also lead to a lack of in-house experience in setting up cross-channel campaigns, as each department hosts experts in that field with little oversight of how the other areas work.

Allow Marin to help your teams get unified and optimize all areas of marketing at once. Work with our expert solutions team on streamlining workflows, creating efficiencies, allocating resources appropriately, and getting additional bandwidth as needed. We have digital marketing experts at the ready who can set up your entire Marin software integrations and data set for you. They will even steer the ship on optimization and campaign management until you are ready to take over. We will put all your advertising campaigns across publishers in one place, so you can make responsive decisions and get executive reporting on one platform.

Managing Digital Marketing Teams: In-House vs. Agency

Managing Digital Marketing Teams: In-House vs. Agency

You need more: bandwidth, expertise, results. Should you build out your team? Hire an agency? Automate? While there are advantages and disadvantages of each path, the likely answer is a combination of all three.

This guide will help you understand the tradeoff of each option and create an actionable plan for better results from your digital marketing programs.

In-house vs. agency marketing: what’s the difference and what is better?

In-house marketing refers to marketing that takes place in your own company (e.g. SEO, content production or branding). Agency marketing would be outsourced to an external company. 

So how do you determine what is better? We’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of all potential scenarios, but we think Eric Vardon said it well:

“It’s crucial to weigh both sides to see what’s right for you. So, as you review your strategy for next year and the years to come, make sure that your money is invested where your brand will see the greatest return. The right decision will be the one that allows you to focus on what you do best: selling, closing leads, and growing and operating your profitable business.”

Even the smallest team is going to have someone internally at the company who is responsible for the digital marketing efforts. By running things internally, you have a closer connection to the rest of the business and reduce friction but there are trade offs. Here are some of the pros and cons of doing things internally.

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Advantages of in-house marketing

Dedication

Marketing professionals in-house know the company and its mission much more intimately than an external worker-- it's only natural that they would put their heart and soul into the work. The company’s success is important to an in-house team, and the dedication and interest in their work will show that. It’s also easier to stay motivated and keep focus when working with an internal team, which can only be a positive thing.

Brand familiarity

In house teams know your brand and in many cases will be much more effective as a result. Having a team of copywriters or brand marketers particularly in-house is advantageous because they understand the company’s product, culture, and philosophy. This ensures that the best approach for your company is used for your content. Pick the right team and let them be in charge. They will know the most about what to say, how to say it, and who your target audience should be. Your employees get to know your service and product better than it would be possible for external consultants. Internal teams will also be more motivated to make every campaign excellent, which will reflect positively on the quality and level of performance you can see from your marketing strategies.

Communication and accessibility

Naturally, since in-house marketing teams spend all of their time working on one brand, you can easily get a hold of them and communication is usually quick and easy. Agencies can be hard to reach because they're not working exclusively on one brand and they often have to plan production timelines weeks or even months in advance. 

Common goals

When outsourcing to an external agency, they could have existing relationships with one of your competitors or establish new connections that you weren't even aware of. It’s important to be aware of your agency’s client list as much as possible and avoid marketing firms that have worked with competitors who hit too close to home. You’ll have a greater likelihood of getting quality, personalized work if your agency has worked near your space, but not with a direct competitor.

Another factor to consider is how agency partners work internally on their end. In order for agencies to provide the best service, they will often keep fulfillment teams completely separate from clients which can sometimes lead to work that is redundant, lazy, and simply not customized enough to you. Agencies who specialize in a single industry are also often known for “rinse and repeat”ing the same marketing strategies. So businesses are often left with the choice to either work with agencies who are not the best fit for their needs, or take the risk in trusting that a more specialized agency is indeed giving them custom work and not putting a new label on campaigns they’ve already run for other clients.

When working with your internal team, none of this is a concern of course, as all parties have the same common, shared goal: make the company successful. The right agency partners can provide this too, but it is certainly harder to come by with an outsourced team, than one that is directly employed by the company.

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Drawbacks of in-house marketing

Focus and monotony 

It can sometimes be challenging to focus on a single thing for a very long time. Especially when employees could potentially get bored and not like the work, as there is no guarantee whoever you hire for an internal team will automatically fall in love with the company and their position. Too much monotony, repetition, or boredom fosters an environment of less creativity and bad habits. This will result in your team losing sight of the big picture. Keep abreast to how your team is doing as individual people, and make assignments or projects as diverse as possible to keep things spicy. In many cases, a positive work routine with a healthy amount of variety can not only help managers and employees to be more confident about the work that they do, but also make decision making processes faster, as well as ensure consistency throughout the company. 

Finite resources

In order to create high-quality marketing material and run a successful advertising campaign, you will need lots of talent on your team, or be prepared that the amount of work produced has its limits…based on simply the number of people you have. If you don’t have enough talent available in-house to get a particular task done, the next best option is to hire an ad agency, and for many companies this is where a combination of both internal and external teams is the best choice. If you opt for this route, let your in-house teams manage the direction and vision of your marketing campaigns, and then fill in gaps in resourcing from your agency partners.

Less flexibility

The brass tacks truth is…if an agency’s work doesn’t pay off, it’s far easier to terminate your relationship with them than it is to let go of even one employee. Now, it’s still not pleasant or fun to onboard agencies to your company’s process every three to six months, so finding a long-term partner in that respect is still the best way to go when looking at agencies as well as internal hires. 

But especially an in-house marketing team is built with long-term strategy in mind, so as long as you are careful and thoughtful during the hiring process, having your own people is often well worth the risk. Keep in mind that recruiting and training a new team member can also be a slow and arduous process so ramp up time must be built into your timelines and projections. Once onboarded however, a quality internal team member can add more value in a short period of time far more than most agencies.

Advantages of utilizing agencies for digital marketing

Less investment upfront

Doing an in-depth cost analysis of what’s the lowest investment between all options we’re looking at for resourcing your marketing is not a straightforward process by any means. While in-house employees tend to “cost” more than an agency initially in terms of salaries, your bottom line could end up bearing the burden of that cost savings in the long run from poor performance, fewer deliverables, or simply a lack of familiarity with your brand and your company’s needs. However, what agencies can offer that outshines internal teams is that they can offer many services for a lower overall fiscal investment. If your company is a startup or on the smaller side, and budgets are tight, using an agency only may be the best bet for you. Many marketing firms are open to customizing their packages so it works within your budget and you can always renegotiate the contract if you would like to increase or decrease spend. But be sure to have a lawyer review all documentation before going into an agreement, as it is fairly standard in the industry to build in cancellation fees or a required percentage of buyout for early termination. To give you a rough idea of what hiring in-house may be for some of the professionals you would be able to work with through an agency, we’ve outlined below a few common salaries in the U.S. (updated June 2022)

If you take the median of these salaries, you will get an average salary of $100,000 per year. If you had a team of 3-6 people, it would not be surprising to put aside anywhere from $300,000-$600,000 per year in salaries, not including benefits like 401K, equipment, healthcare, or any other company perks. 

In comparison, digital marketing agency fees can range anywhere from $50,000 per year to a $1,000,000 per year or more…depending on your needs. Keep in mind that this does not include paid media spend as well, which often requires a somewhat significant investment. From a fiscal perspective, the outcome for your business could vary drastically between an agency being far more cost-effective than an in-house team clear up to the two scenarios costing about the same, or even an agency costing your business more than full-time hires. In most cases, agency work will come out to be cheaper, but as we list here there are trade offs, so be leery of making this decision fiscally first. Ideally the overall cost ought to be the last consideration after all other factors have been weighed and measured.

Fewer administrative headaches

Agency marketing is great because of the level of freedom and flexibility it can offer. There’s very little hassle for the client in terms of resourcing because if an agency takes on more work than they can handle, filling that workload is ultimately the agency’s problem. This step removed can be a huge burden lifted for many business owners. Not to mention, you don't have to worry about issues like employee turnover, which is a consideration when hiring people on staff. An agency ensures your strategy is never put on hold. However, statistically marketing agencies have some of the highest turnover rates out there, so while your work will never stop i.e. there will always be someone to do the work–the person fulfilling your work is likely to change often, which could affect quality. 

More varied and diverse expertise

By partnering with a marketing agency, you have the chance to choose from some of the best marketing companies in the industry. In terms of marketing as a topic at large, you’ll usually get excellent broadstroke marketers that have done a little bit of a lot of things. Because agency professionals have to be flexible enough to work with a myriad of businesses at once, they tend to understand the mechanics of marketing and on-the-ground execution quite well. Agency pros are also often on the cutting-edge of great marketing strategies and techniques and they have unique insight working alongside dozens of other marketing professionals, all day every day. This provides a passive knowledge-sharing and training that most marketers can only get in an agency environment…as it is quite rare for in-house teams to be big enough that they have the same level of diversity in expertise among their team members. 

Potential disadvantages of agency marketing

Lack of industry knowledge

Some agencies have only been active in a handful of industries, while others work with almost anyone and everyone so they have shallow, broad knowledge of many industries. If you come from a niche industry, it may be the case that some agency marketers know nothing about your field. Consider this and other circumstances when seeking marketing help. It is worth looking at their previous work to establish whether they have dealt with clients from your particular field before or whether they have a close enough relationship to your marketing strategies that the learning curve will not be too steep and painful. Kate Churkina of SEMRush said about this,

“Just because one solution worked for one client in a certain industry doesn’t mean it’s suitable for another client in a completely different industry. Failing to understand the nuanced parts of your client’s business can often lead to unforeseen obstacles during the course of a project and leaves your client questioning your every move.”

It’s important to keep in mind that when you start working with a new marketing agency, they need quite a bit of guidance, so have patience and plan accordingly. As you get to know them better and vice versa, eventually you will be able to step back and let them do most of the work, as any agency worth their salt will take your feedback over time and responsively adjust. While it takes time for the agency’s various specialists to get your brand tone, message, and creative direction just right, if they are well-managed and well-structured…it will improve over time, and they could even become a natural extension of your company.

Agency teams are often stretched thin

It is not uncommon for marketing agency teams to have too many customers and not enough people to support them. A recent study indicated that agency account managers may need to manage as many as 14 accounts on average. Having so many people to correspond with, so many objectives to reach, and so many projects to oversee is a recipe that can sometimes lead to project deadlines being pushed and missed.

An agency should set realistic deadlines and prioritize client work according to expectations that are clearly laid out from the beginning. Most companies are realistic about the fact that they are trading lower costs for longer timelines, but that of course is tied to the caveat that those timelines will still be clear and agreed upon. Communication is key. When shopping for an agency partner, consider the number of clients a marketing agency has on their books before you decide to enlist their services and ask candidly about their employees’ work-life balance. This should give you a rough idea of how much time they are likely to have available for your project or if your outsourced team is simply too busy or not structured well enough to give your company the time you need.

Inexperienced individuals

The thing about top agencies is that they charge the big bucks for high-quality services while smaller agencies may be getting creative or cutting corners to make the dollars and cents work out. Consequently, this essentially means you get what you pay for–while most agencies try to have a good mix of more experienced and junior talent, the reality is more expensive agencies will likely be hiring great marketers with more knowledge at a higher competitive salary. But, there are many small to mid-size agencies that are structuring their businesses smartly to give newer professionals opportunities under the close guidance of more experienced mentors. Understand before getting bids from multiple companies that internships and entry-level fulfillment is an innate part of the agency industry, as its one of the best ways to keep costs reasonable and keep hires on for longer as they have the opportunity to be promoted within the company quickly. A quick rule of thumb: when choosing an agency, it's good to look for one whose clients are similar in size and revenue to your business.

How does automation fit into the picture?

In short, marketing automation is the time-saving way to outreach, auto-respond and get closer with your customers through machine learning and artificial intelligence. Automation allows you to send exactly the right message at precisely the best moment, which can enhance and deepen your interactions with customers while saving your real-life staff precious time. By letting bots and software do some of the redundant, repetitive tasks…your internal and external marketing teams will be able to keep their brain space and efforts reserved for what really matters: creativity, innovation and new campaigns that will drive the growth of your business.

So now what? Do I have to choose? Who do I hire?

We know that working with an in-house marketing team vs. an agency can be tough and isn’t the most straightforward decision.

Unfortunately, we can't provide you with a definitive answer that is best for your business—every situation is different. What we can say is that there are some pretty common themes we’ve seen across many different industries:

  • If you’re a smaller business with few clients, you might be able to handle your marketing campaigns on your own with a small in-house team. On the other hand, if you are growing as a business and looking to scale up quickly, an agency might be the way to go.
  • For many mid-sized companies, a mix of agency and in house teams is idyllic because it offers the company flexibility to speed up or slow down initiatives depending on their goals, seasonality, or logistical roadblocks. 
  • Enterprise businesses tend to also do well with a combination of both agency and in house marketers, but the biggest difference we’ve seen here from the mid-size market is that there are simply more dollars floating around, more people involved to manage both internally and externally, and in general this makes decisions or pivots slower and more arduous. Enterprise companies need to be quite particular when vetting both agencies and internal teams as the ability to change direction will most likely not happen quickly. It’s also far more common in large businesses to split work more cleanly between teams simply for ease of management. For example, consider giving all your paid media management and SEO to agency partners, while you keep content development and email marketing in house…that kind of thing. Clear lines in the sand on who is doing what will make everyones’ lives easier.

No one can know your business as well as you do — so it’s all about making the right decision for you and your business. For all of these scenarios, having expert consultancy available to you from several places is never a bad idea. Two heads are better than one, and with multiple marketers analyzing your business and strategy…your campaigns are sure to be innovative and unique.

How can Marin help?

While we cannot make all your resourcing decisions for you, our expert solutions team is now bigger and more experienced than ever. This dynamic group of individuals work with our clients both with onboarding our software and providing guidance in a multitude of marketing dilemmas.

Our diverse group of marketers can manage your paid media optimization hands-on until you are ready to take the wheel or they can collaborate with both internal and external teams to provide additional insights. We will provide support and expert consultancy your in-house teams and agency partners will value to make positive paid media performance the driving force of your company growth.

As a global leader in digital marketing, and through long-standing publisher partnerships like LinkedIn, Meta, Apple, and more, we have the latest data regarding new campaign tactics and strategies.  

Expanding as a company, facing hurdles or financial challenges, or simply not having the bandwidth to get everything done you would like to are all good reasons to explore our expert solutions services, in conjunction with our industry-leading software

Request a consultation today to learn more about how we can help your teams get more done, in less time.

Apple Search Ads 101

What are Apple Search Ads?

Apple Search Ads is a paid media platform where developers can advertise their app directly in the App Store. Placements appear at the top of search results in the App Store after a user inputs a query, which is why the advertisements are search-based. Overall, Apple Search Ads are a great way to make your app more discoverable. Naturally this increases your app’s brand awareness, impressions, user base and downloads.

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Why are advertisers moving to Apple Search Ads as an ad platform?

Apple Search Ads launched in 2016 and enabled thousands of App Store developers to help build up their reach and find quality users. And while the Android operating system has the most global market share, iOS dominates in the US with close to 60% market share (Stat Counter). Additionally, iOS users are more likely to spend more on in-app purchases, making it a potentially lucrative revenue stream for app advertisers to employ.

According to the AppsFlyer Performance Index report, Apple Search Ads grew by 34% in app installs from the year 2020 to 2021…indicating that iOS users are more engaged than ever in getting the most from their apps. In both gaming and non-gaming apps, Apple users ranked Apple Search Ads second overall for quality and retention, only slightly behind Facebook in rank. 

So if you are seeking high-intent traffic with a high likelihood of staying engaged post-install, look no further than Apple Search Ads. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything needed to get started in. 

“At Apple, we believe that advertising can play a positive role for both businesses and people. This is why we've built a platform that delivers industry-leading performance and value for advertisers, while ensuring an experience that customers love and trust.” - Apple Search Ads

Apple Search Ads Basic

There are two versions of Apple Search Ads: basic and advanced. The basic version is easy to set up, as the name suggests, and has the benefits of being quick and cost-effective. The downside is that the targeting options are limited too, so you only pay per install, not for how many people see your ad.

This setup works well with those who are just starting out marketing their apps, since advertisers can quickly set up a few campaigns and be off to the races. Easily digestible dashboards also make it easy for advertisers to review their performance in a very straightforward way. And since there's no long-term commitment, you're free to choose the length of time you want to promote your app, starting and stopping whenever suits your needs.

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Budgets:

Apple Search Ads Basic works fine up to $10,000 per month, per app. After $10K it is required that you move up to Apple Search Ads Advanced. While it is not required to move to Advanced options within this $10K budget, you may still want to consider running your campaigns on Apple Search Ads Advanced for the additional features available to you. 

For all new accounts, Apple Search Ads offers a $100 credit to get started. This gives you the opportunity to do a small test and see if it is the ideal advertising platform for your business.

Benefits:

  • $100 account credit for all new accounts
  • Pay as you go at a fixed cost-per-install of your choice
  • Basic management knowledge is acceptable
  • AI-powered solutions assist performance through machine learning

Considerations:

  • Lacking audience segmentation options
  • No keyword refinement available
  • Limit to the number of apps that you can promote at any given time

Apple Search Ads Advanced

In Apple Search Ads Advanced, your options are more extensive and you can get specific with settings that matter–like keywords, audiences, and creatives. The metrics and insights available to the advertiser are also more comprehensive in the advanced interface…so you know on a micro level how your campaigns are performing.

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Benefits:

  • No budget limits or app limits - promote as many apps as you’d like
  • Targeting options are far more specific and sophisticated than Basic
  • Keyword optimization is straightforward and simple, with machine-driven recommendations (very similar to Google Ads)
  • No limits on Attribution AI, full access to all features

Considerations:

  • $100 account credit not available
  • Management has increased complexity and nuance
  • Takes time to optimize and oversee, more so than basic (although when paired with MarinOne, significant time can be saved and efficiency shortcuts created)

Getting Started with Apple Search Ads

Setting up your account

Setting up Apple Search Ads is relatively hassle-free. Ensure that you log in with your Apple ID and have granted the app access to your email address. You'll also need to choose which app you'd like to promote. If you published it through Apple Developer Console, it ought to appear as an option to select for promotion at this point.

Launching a Campaign on Basic

Setting up an advert campaign couldn't be easier. All you need to do is choose the app from the drop-down menu, select the geographical region you want to target, enter your monthly budget and max CPI (Cost Per Install) or CPT (Cost Per Tap). Apple Search Ads machine learning AI will take it from there.

Naturally, ads will not run unless you have a valid method of payment entered, so at this point you will need to enter a credit card number or other form of payment. When filling out this section, you will also have an opportunity to see if you qualify for the $100 promo credit. The credit will automatically be applied when you add your card.

Launching a Campaign on Apple Search Ads Advanced

In the Advanced setting, setting up an ad account and launching your first campaign requires a bit more time, but not much…it is still quite simple for a beginner to take on. You're going to need to decide which app you want to advertise and where. Apple Search Ads now cover 61 countries, so select those that are relevant for your campaign. You will also need to set the budget and more. The pricing is based on the cost-per-tap model, where you set a maximum level of money you are willing to spend for a tap. The price will go up depending on how much you bid and there is an auction system determining the top bids.

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Apple Search Ads Audience Segmentation

There are various segments for putting the most relevant ad possible in front of your target demo. Mix and match multiple a/b tests with these segmentation options.

  • Search Match - matches ads to appropriate searches with the use of AI to automatically pair the best query with your app.
  • Keywords - much like Google Ads, you can choose particular keywords you feel fit the product or you can receive machine learning assistance here as well and target the keywords Apple Search Ads suggests.
  • Customer types - there are a myriad of options for you to make ads visible to your core customers depending on your campaign needs, such as returning or existing customers, or users of similar or competitive apps.
  • Demographics - gender and age range are the core segments offered in demo audience segmentation. Remember that when you apply age and gender refinements, you automatically exclude customers with LAT turned On or Personalized Ads turned Off. Apple’s privacy policy goes into detail about how LAT and Personalized Ad settings may affect targeting.
  • Device type - the main distinction to be made here is whether the user is on an iPhone or iPad, and what generation thereof.
  • Location targeting - you can segment campaigns by region or country, which offers some specificity to who you would like to reach. This is particularly beneficial to geo-specific apps like DoorDash, Uber, or Pokemon Go.

Keyword Refinement for Apple Search Ads

For anyone already familiar with Google Ads or Microsoft Ads, Apple Search Ads work very similarly, at least as far as keyword list development goes. There are 3 main types of keywords you can use on the Apple Search Ads platform:

  • Search Match: Apple Search Ads uses the app listing to generate keywords.
  • Broad Match: Apple Search Ads suggests relevant keywords and adds them automatically, with some optimization by the user.
  • Exact Match: As the most specific and targeted keyword iteration, these are typically manually added by the advertiser. Brand keywords, competitor keywords, and extremely targeted phrases like product names are all great candidates for exact match.
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Best practice indicates that you ought to only use one match type per ad group. Adding appropriate negative keywords is also very important for Apple Search Ads advertisers. By blocking irrelevant keywords, you can save money on bids, which are often wasted on customers who won't download your app or are not relevant enough to your brand’s targeting.

If you want to optimize your campaign performance for Apple Search Ads, the most fundamental rule is to include relevant keywords in your ads. A simple method to follow is as follows:

  1. Find new searches through the search match and broad match types (use a dedicated ad group for this)
  2. Include the keywords with the highest performance to your different ad groups
  3. Add the keywords that perform poorly to a list of negative keywords.

Best Practices for Apple Search Ads Campaign Management

Keep your campaign structure simple

Don't undertake an overly complex campaign structure or begin to restructure things too frequently simply because it sounds like a good idea. There are many simple things you can do to optimize your campaigns (like many of the tactics in this guide), so be sure to explore those first before making any drastic changes. 

As an example of a great yet simple campaign structure, let’s say you have 500 keywords, two different match types and are targeting people who have downloaded your app as well as those who haven't. While fairly straightforward in terms of methodology, that still makes 4,000 optimization possibilities. That's a lot of variants to manage and monitor before ever incorporating more sophisticated tactics or segmentation. 

It's important to weigh your business goals with your use of optimization and testing new opportunities. Adding more things to your Apple Search Ads campaign can add a lot of extra work and complexity, so be sure to assess what is fitting for you first.

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Be cautious about bidding too high

Apple Search Ads documentation tells us the TTR (Tap Through Rate) per ad unit is taken into account by the Apple Search Ads algorithm in deciding to display a certain app. The higher your TTR, the lower your cost per tap. Such an implementation pummels bigger players with expensive rates and also negatively affects advertisers with a lower budget by limiting their ability to compete.

If your TTR is anywhere between 3-5% (a common rate within the non-gaming industry), then your app is unlikely to rank well and you’re going to be struggling with poor conversion rates.

If your conversion rate is low and you're not getting targeted traffic, instead of increasing bids, try other keywords or optimize your ASO (App Store Optimization) game by working on keywords in the app description or metadata. 

Capitalize on the Ad Variation feature

As a result of Apple Search Ad's Ad variations feature, advertisers can tailor ads to users by aligning creative to keyword themes and audiences for more relevant content. First you’ll need to set up custom product pages, more on that here. You can create up to 35 pages using different preview videos, screenshots, and promotional text. Once that’s done, you can version out ad variations sending users to specific product pages when they tap your ad. This gives Apple Search Ads managers the ability to curate a preview into the users’ experience when using the app based on their preferences. These custom ads are available on devices using iOS 15.2 or later. If your ad reaches someone with an earlier iOS version, your default ad will appear on their device. 

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Check for traffic outside of the US

When you use Apple Search Ads campaign-targeting settings, all the US storefronts you're shown are based on the location chosen by a user in your device. There are also a number of countries that don't have the App Store. Therefore, Apple considers downloads from these regions as US-based downloads at the matching rate. 

Based on data provided by AppsFlyer, the percentage of this type of traffic varies between 20% and 40%. Without a doubt, the percentage is higher in games versus other apps. This can lead to your ads’ Return on Investment (ROI) being negative or less than zero, so it’s crucial to set conversative goals and account for this potentially variable traffic, up to 40%. Anot bnbher tactic is to run your ad campaigns during the peak hours of your targeted region only, versus 24 hours a day. This can reduce irrelevant “US” traffic by 80%.

Use App Store Optimization and Apple Search Ads hand-in-hand

Apple has changed the limit for the maximum number of keywords allowed for app names; it has been reduced from 100 to 50 characters. This will make it more difficult for apps to cram as many keywords into their name, which is often called "keyword stuffing." This impacted keyword rank positions for over 15% of the iOS App Store's top apps, whose names had over 50 characters. However, with Apple Search Ads, publishers who don't use App Store Optimization techniques are still able to gain a competitive advantage.

The key takeaway is that the rate of installation via the App Store search bar is very high, both for paid and organic placements, which is why utilizing both Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization tactics is the ideal strategy for app advertisers. In fact, over 65% of downloads happen after users search for apps in the App Store. Much like a grocery store shopper is interested in buying things on the shelf, mobile users are much more likely to want to download an app when they're browsing the App Store. Publishers can use Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization to drive more customers to their app at a high-intent moment in their journey. 

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How MarinOne Can Help with Apple Search Ads

Our comprehensive system for optimizing ad campaigns across multiple networks offers agencies and brands an easy way to find, filter, and compare the best ads for a given keyword or demographic. Compare your Apple Search Ads campaigns against Google Ad campaigns, Microsoft Ad campaigns, LinkedIn and many more platforms in one fully-customizable tool.

A few of the key offerings that makes our software distinctive include:

  • Custom groups with A/B testing functionality to reach your target market and new markets. 
  • Expert insights and consultation from our managed services team to increase conversions and lower cost per lead.
  • A single interface for making any kind of digital ad - whether you want to schedule ads for a later date or publish content that's already written.
  • Our Marin-specific conversion tracking tool allows you to have insight into the success of your keywords and segmentation.
  • Forecast budget and spend more effectively by having omnichannel performance comparison all in one place.
  • Automated reporting and data visualization provide customizable modules which increase your efficiency.
  • You can consistently measure the results of your Apple Search Ads against the results of campaigns for other publishers and platforms.

Here you can learn more about MarinOne for Apple Search Ads, and schedule a demo with one of our advertising experts to get started.

If you're still wondering whether or not you should use Apple Search Ads, read some of our related articles that will convince you this is the right tactic for your business and help you strategically plan your Apple Search Ads campaign roadmap.

Paddy Power - Apple Search Ads Case Study: Improve CPA by nearly 30% using Marin bidding
Why you should be running Apple Search Ads
Automated optimization for Apple Search Ads
Get your app in front of the right people

LinkedIn Advertising 101

LinkedIn's Marketing Solutions allow marketers to find new prospects, increase engagement, and move prospects through the sales funnel. To help you get the most out of LinkedIn, here are some tips to help you with everything from determining your budget to measuring your success. 

Organic vs. Paid: what's the difference?

If you're new to LinkedIn advertising, it's essential to know that there are two types of content placements: organic posts and paid ads. 

Organic posts 

When you create a post on LinkedIn, it appears in the activity feeds of your connections and their connections. These posts go out for everyone to see, but they also get pushed down in peoples' feeds over time. 

Paid social media ads

You can pay to make sure you appear at the top of your audience's news feeds when they log in. As with organic content, people will be able to like and comment on these posts, too (unless comments are turned off).

Pros and cons of organic posts versus paid ads

Organic posts are free but tend to drive fewer leads. Paid posts can be expensive, but they generate more qualified leads for your salespeople. 

  • Paid ads offer options for targeting, allowing marketers to reach specific audiences based on company size, industry, etc.
  • Paid ads offer a lower cost per lead than other marketing forms, including cold calling or email campaigns.

Why it’s necessary to use a mixture of organic and paid

Your marketing strategy should include a mixture of organic and paid posts. Organic posts allow for greater flexibility because you to reach a large audience without restricting the targeting options, which is beneficial to your B2B lead generation efforts. They’re also vital for building brand awareness and enhancing credibility. Paid ads allow for better targeting and more substantial leads.

What is LinkedIn advertising, and how does it work?

LinkedIn ads consist of sponsored updates, sponsored messaging, and display ads. There are nuances to optimizing each ad type, which we will get into a bit later…but first, let’s cover some basic definitions and some of the simple understanding you’ll need to start LinkedIn ad campaigns.

An example of a sponsored ad - Image Source 

According to LinkedIn, "creating and running a successful ad campaign on LinkedIn is similar to creating and running a successful advertising campaign anywhere else—only better." They say this because the advertising options on LinkedIn are more targeted than on other social media sites. However, they also note that "You will need to think differently than you would for traditional media."

"Creating and running a successful ad campaign on LinkedIn is similar to creating and running a successful advertising campaign anywhere else—only better." - LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Sponsored Messaging

Formerly known as Sponsored InMail, this ad type goes directly to a user’s inbox. There are caps on these messages, and they come in two forms: a message ad or a conversation ad. To make sponsored message ads successful, personalization is paramount. It’s also best to keep copy short and incorporate some visual elements to increase the likelihood of capturing LinkedIn members’ attention. 

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Sponsored Content

Sponsored content ads appear as posts in the news feeds of LinkedIn members and typically include a business logo, headline, image, and link to your website. They’ll also say “sponsored” to let the user know it’s an ad. 

Sponsored content is a type of native ad that can be seen whether you're on your mobile feed or desktop. The ads come in three different forms: carousel, single image, or video. They look and feel much like organic content on LinkedIn; however, LinkedIn marks these ads with a “promoted” label to distinguish them from other posts and connect them with companies in which the user may be interested.

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Text Ads

Text Ads have been around for a while, appearing alongside LinkedIn’s desktop feed. They are ideal if you are looking to have repetition in advertising a particular demographic group again and again. They can also be a cost-effective way to reach a wide audience and increase brand awareness. Grab attention with this ad type by addressing a certain user particularly, like, “Seeking HR Professionals for Hire” and having a strong CTA such as, “Apply Now.” 

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Display Ads

Display ads are shown on targeted LinkedIn pages such as Jobs or Companies. They can be text or images that redirect users to any destination you like, such as your site or a particular blog post, etc. 

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Dynamic Ads

LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads are able to talk to the user directly thanks to personalization. For example, the ad based on your profile pops up and features your own personal details such as your photo and job title.

Some users are turned off by this ad type because it is so individual, calling attention to data privacy concerns. A/b test this ad type judiciously and make your copy is upbeat to best combat a negative connotation.

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Why should I include LinkedIn as a platform in my paid media strategy?

Benefits:

  • You can choose your target audience by job title, company, industry, or seniority level—which helps you narrow down your market.
  • Ads on LinkedIn are typically cost effective compared to other forms of traditional advertising, such as locally driven print or radio campaigns. 
  • In the digital space, conversions on LinkedIn tend to be a bit pricey…but they are often worth it due to a much higher quality of lead for B2B businesses. The close rate of leads from LinkedIn tend to be the highest compared to close rates for any other paid social platform. 
  • The social context puts your ad in front of potential buyers who are already connected with and know your brand. This means less time is spent building awareness from scratch.

Considerations:

  • Updating ad content regularly and monitoring the performance of each piece is time-consuming. You need to be committed and willing to invest in order for it to work.
  • Your tone will need to be specific for LinkedIn—you need to know your audience very well to maximize your return. 

Who should use LinkedIn advertising?

The short answer? Anyone and everyone. As our friends at LinkedIn like to say…there is no longer B2B or B2C, as all marketing is truly B2P or “business to person.” This is obviously a somewhat tongue-in-cheek phrase, but the sentiment is valid that more marketing tactics do not vary so widely as we once thought between business-to-business or business-to-consumer products. As millions of people continue to work remote, and the lines between work and home become much more blurred, the focus for us as marketers should be on finding the right person wherever they are online. 

“The lines are all blurring together and the reality is…marketing on LinkedIn is really business to person, or B2P. In today’s landscape B2B or B2C signifiers are somewhat limiting.” - Melissa D'Arienzo

Are there specific benefits for B2B marketers?

What makes LinkedIn unique for B2B marketers is its targeting options: allowing businesses to reach specific audiences based on their company size, industry and other business data. However it is becoming increasingly common to see personal and playful content being shared on LinkedIn, making the rules of engagement more lax than they once were.

Although LinkedIn is not as popular as Facebook or Twitter in terms of users and reach, it is one of the most effective platforms for business-to-business (B2B) marketers looking to reach a specific type of buyer with relevant information. 

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How do I create a LinkedIn advertising campaign?

Whether you're running an ad campaign through LinkedIn's self-serve interface (Ads Manager), or working with an agency that manages your accounts for you, the process is basically the same. 

You'll start by selecting your audience demographics—age range, gender, industry/job title—and then define your budget for the campaign and your maximum bid. After that, you'll need to set a timeline for your campaign and choose a call to action (CTA).

Next, upload your ad, enter some creatives and content if you're promoting a LinkedIn Page update or event, and complete the process by paying for the campaign.

On the other hand, if you're promoting a LinkedIn Company Page or job posting, simply click "Promote this" from the associated pages’ menu bars to get started.

Regarding setting your budget, there are a few steps and things to remember. Start by choosing whether you want to set your budget by the day, week, or month. Then choose how much you want to spend. There are limits, but LinkedIn will notify you if you exceed them.

How methods can I use to manage LinkedIn campaigns?

Once your ads are created, there are three main ways to manage and optimize your LinkedIn ads: manually, via LinkedIn, or through a third-party marketing platform.

Via LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s campaign manager interface is a straightforward way to manage your LinkedIn ads. There are no other steps to take once you've set up and completed your ad. LinkedIn will take care of the optimizing and managing aspects. You're limited only by your daily budget in this method, but it's fairly time-consuming to manage

Via a marketing platform

Managing your LinkedIn campaigns via a marketing platform like MarinOne means all your data is handled through one interface. The management of ads is more simple this way and does not require any special knowledge or training. Our guided walk-throughs help users get started right away on the interface, and your dedicated  account managers are ready to assist with any questionsl. Using an integrated platform means you don't have to rely on IT or an agency to set up or manage your LinkedIn advertising campaigns for you. 

MarinOne unifies industry leading optimization tools with flexible reporting and bidding to help advertisers maximize the impact and reach of their LinkedIn marketing investment. And MarinOne serves a hub that links marketing activity with true business impact from an advertiser’s CRM, allowing optimization to revenue, not just form fills. By connecting downstream customer data with  advanced automated bidding, MarinOne can significantly improve the performance of your campaigns.

LinkedIn Audience Targeting

Geotargeting

Location is a the only requisite targeting option when starting a LinkedIn ad campaign. The location or area can be as broad as an entire country (or multiple countries) or as specific as one city or zip code.  LI uses the location indicated in a user’s profile or their IP address to determine where they are physically. Exclusions are an effective layering technique for this targeting option as you can make very specific indications of who you need to reach through this method. For example, say you target all of a metropolitan area or county, but you want to disclude a residential area in favor of where most businesses are located. Exclusions would be a good way to make that delineation. 

Demographics

This is where LinkedIn is quite dissimilar from other social networking sites, as demographics are not a predominant factor in targeting segments. The two main options regarding demo are gender and age. And age is an estimation in many cases of the LinkedIn algorithm as the user may not have indicated an age, but rather the LinkedIn AI is making an estimation of their age based on what the member put in their profile, like years of experience.

Education

You’re given a variety of educational targeting options in LinkedIn, including targeting by fields of study, schools and types of degrees. With options based on a person’s major field in their degree, it's easy to find a specific segment based on this data. 

Member schools lets you target by the college or university where a member completed courses. Membership by rank lets you create an audience according to an individual’s ranking at their learning institution.

Company

Targeting by company is particularly useful when you want to reach a specific list of ABM accounts or reach a distinct industry. The options LinkedIn offers here include industry, size of company, name, followers of a certain company, and company connections. 

"Tip: Create several campaigns that vary according to the size of the company and customize your messages and offer (content) for that audience. This strategy allows us to be much more relevant, which should improve the performance of our campaigns." - Magnetica Advertising

Job Experience

This may be one of the most useful targeting options on the LinkedIn platform. Several types of LinkedIn ads exist that allow you to target your audience based on their job or experience. You can, for instance, target people based on what they do in their job which is grouped into a standardized profession, such as “accounting” or “construction.” When paired with other exclusions you can create great niche segments that are still broad enough to reach a range of individuals in jobs with a relevant interest in the service or product you are offering.

Job seniority lets you target users by things like their rank or influence. Job title segmentation allows you to target members by what they list as their current title. Member skills will help you find people with relevant skills by keyword search. These keywords would match what the member has listed in the skills section of their profile, those mentioned in their profile text, and inferred skills based on machine-powered profile analysis.

The last targeting field under the job umbrella is years of experience. This option lets you target users based on the years of experience they have accumulated over time. LinkedIn also excludes gaps in experience and doesn’t count overlapping experience, meaning that you don’t have to worry about covering two fields with one job posting. 

LinkedIn Advertising Tactics

LinkedIn ads can be a great lead generation tool, but you should track the return on investment of your campaigns to see what's working and what's not before investing too much time and/or money in them. That said, here are a few best practices to get you started:

  • Start with a small budget: As with any new type of ad campaign, start small to test whether or not this is going to work for your audience.
  • Include a clear CTA: Your CTA should be simple and compelling. For instance, if your top goal is to get people to sign up for a demo, you could use "watch a product demo" rather than "learn more about our company." You can also experiment with personalized CTAs that provide value to the user. 
  • Keep messages short and snappy: Don't lead with too much information when writing your ads. Walls of text are unappealing and obscure the CTA, which defeats the purpose of advertising in the first place. Stick to one concise sentence that highlights the value of clicking on your ad.
  • Add more engagement elements: Use images, videos, and GIFs to make your ads more engaging for users.
  • Use a mixture of organic and paid: By having a harmonious marriage between your organic and paid media content, the brand equity and consistency of your messaging will have a greater impact with users, increasing the likelihood they will retain and remember your key value proposition.

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  • Be consistent: Stick with just one call to action in all your ads so users know exactly what the offer is before they click on it. If you're advertising different products or services, vary your headline instead so users see some variety.
  • Use lead forms for lead gen: If you're advertising B2B products or services, use LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms to collect contact information from users who are interested in your product/service. You can then directly follow up with these users to nurture the relationship over time. Remember that the end goal of LinkedIn advertising is to drive sales. Therefore, you will need to retarget these leads with ads or messages inviting them to buy your product or service.
  • Use targeting options: Target people similar to your existing customers, lookalike audiences based on broad user data (e.g., location, industry), and specific user attributes (e.g., job title, company size). Keep in mind, when using lookalike audiences based on specific user attributes, create a custom audience first.

LinkedIn Content Trends

The experience with Coronavirus has brought some macro trends that are influencing how advertisers interact with customers on LinkedIn in 2022. We’ve listed below a few of those trends that you definitely need to be aware of while determining next steps for your LinkedIn strategy.

Economic Recovery

The first is a boom in economic recovery, with a positive momentum in GDP & the Labor market. According to a recent analysis performed by LinkedIn, ecommerce has had a 73% increase in workforce need, digital content creators have increased in number by 44%, and the demand for more digital marketers at large is up 33%. Economic health for each market also seems to have a direct correlation to vaccine rollout, which varies significantly from country to country.

Digital Transformation

In 2021, e-commerce grew three times what it was before the pandemic, which has paved the way for new industries like telehealth. As one example, this new method of virtual medical communication did exist before the pandemic, but as Covid-19 made it a more critical need, it has now revolutionized healthcare overall. As administrations found that patients actually enjoy the option to visit their local doctor remotely, all signs indicate  that option is here to stay.

New Workplace Norms

Employers are more and more often providing their employees with the option to work remotely, while some companies are promoting or even requiring a return to the office or a public workplace. Statistics show however that many working professionals prefer being able to work from home as it gives them a sense of increased flexibility. This means we are at a critical point for the future of acceptable workplace culture and this is going to impact how leadership attracts and retains talent.

A Call for Increased Diversity

LinkedIn as an organization is also seeing content and statistical trends that support more diverse workplaces is an ever-growing priority for many c-suite executives. As the global workforce tries to recover from the pandemic that's been going on for a few years now, roles like "chief diversity officer" seem more needed than ever before. In fact, CDO is currently the fastest growing c-suite role being posted on LinkedIn. On top of this, three out of the most in demand skills of LinkedIn’s top twenty for 2022 are around diversity, inclusion and belonging.

"Chief Diversity Officer is the fastest growing c-suite executive position on LinkedIn in the world at this moment." - Jessy Jacques

Companies Must Create a Culture of Trust

Last but not least, the most important trend for companies to consider that LinkedIn has observed in their global content analysis is the requisite for organizations to be trustworthy and genuine. With the pace at which damning information can be circulated globally, and the ability for said information to become the undoing of an organization, it is imperative that businesses know who they are as a corporation. If the mission, vision and values of your business are unclear, the likelihood your representation in the public eye could take a negative turn increases exponentially. And both consumers and potential employees expect companies to practice what they preach as well. With virtually anyone having the ability to “expose” something internal that may not align with your external messaging, conducting your business unethically has a much higher risk than it once did, even if no laws are being broken. The power of the individual to call companies out for bad leadership or other poor business practices is strong.

How MarinOne can help with LinkedIn ads

With MarinOne, you can design and launch a successful LinkedIn campaign in minutes. Key features include:

  • Custom ad groups to align targeting with your marketing goals
  • A/B testing for lower cost per lead and higher conversion rates
  • Access to a best-in-class customer support team that provides reporting, training, and recommendations to help improve ROI 
  • Complete ad and post management from one easy-to-use interface
  • Ad optimization and automation
  • Offline conversion tracking associated with raw queries to provide better insight into whether keywords make sense to be added based on their post click success.
  • Spend and performance forecasting
  • Budget management and pacing tools
  • Automated reporting and data visualization
  • Unified reporting and campaign management allows you to manage your LinkedIn campaigns alongside campaigns for all other publishers

MarinOne is the only platform designed from the ground up to connect B2B marketers' campaigns across all paid social media platforms seamlessly. Plus, because our system learns from every campaign run on our platform, your ads will deliver even better results the longer they run. 

If you’re interested in trying MarinOne for yourself, check out our free 30 day trial.

Click here to learn more about MarinOne for LinkedIn, including additional resources, case studies, and demo videos.

Not convinced LinkedIn ads are the right fit for your business? Check out our case studies with other organizations to get more detail.

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