When you work in digital marketing, things are constantly changing, and while this may seem unsettling at times, it provides a unique opportunity to experiment with overall strategy. Whereas traditional campaigns are often fixed to run for a set amount of time, digital campaigns are easier to change on the fly in reaction to real-time results and analytics data. This can seem tricky: if you change things up too soon, you may rob yourself of the chance to see your strategy succeed long-term; if you wait too long, you’ve wasted time and money, two valuable resources.
So how do you know when it’s time to change your strategy in a digital marketing campaign? Below I provide a case study to help you decide when to call it quits.
The Original Strategy
At its most basic level, our initial strategy was to drive traffic from a client’s Facebook page to their website (as opposed to a strategy built around getting “likes” or one that puts dollars toward promoted posts). Our Facebook ads offered a discount on Honda vehicles to recent college grads and military personnel. Once a user clicked on the Facebook ad, they were brought to a landing page on the site that had more information.
The ultimate goal—what would be considered a conversion in this case—was to have the user read about the offer on the landing page and then visit the site of their nearest Honda dealer. To monitor conversions, we would check analytics for a user’s time on page (are the users reading the content?), and check clicks on outgoing links (once they are on the page, are they actually clicking through to visit the site of a dealer near them?).
The very first metric we looked at was the click-thru rate of the Facebook ads. We chose this as a starting point because it was a good way to evaluate whether the strategy was working on a basic level: if no one was clicking on the ads, it meant the strategy was ultimately ineffective. Once we established that we were happy with the click-thru rate, we checked our campaign traffic in analytics to see what users were doing once they arrived at the landing page. (Are they bouncing out right away? Are they checking other pages on the website?) We weren’t necessarily concerned when we found a high bounce rate. Perhaps the user was reading about the offer quickly, and then leaving the page to visit the site of a dealer near them.
One thing we noticed that did concern us was that users who clicked the “college offer” ad had a higher time on page than users who clicked the “military personnel” ad. We looked at the design of our page and found that the “college offer” information was located at the top. The “military personnel” information was located lower down, below the fold, meaning a user would have to scroll all the way down the page to find the relevant information.
In order to make sure every user immediately found the part of the offer most relevant to them, we installed an anchor that took users straight to the section of the page corresponding to the ad they clicked on. So if a user clicked on the “military personnel” ad, they were taken straight to that information lower down on the landing page as opposed to the top of the page like before.
This helped increase the time on page for the “military personnel” ads, but overall, time on page was still low. This was cause for alarm, but on the other hand, it was possible that users were just finding the information they needed quickly (there was not an abundance of content on the page).
The next step was to check the outgoing clicks to dealer websites. If users were clicking on the ads and reading the content on the page (2 out of 3 desired steps), were they taking the final step and visiting the site of a dealer near them? Unfortunately, we found that outgoing clicks to dealer sites didn’t show a significant increase since enacting the Facebook campaign. There was a slight increase, but combined with the fairly low time on page, we didn’t feel confident in the strategy.
Re-Evaluating and Shifting Our Strategy
The time frame of this strategy was a little over two months. We wanted to give the campaign some time to pick up speed. Once the Facebook click-thru rate was stable (about a month and a half), we started picking apart the analytics, finding the weaknesses outlined above.
Shortly thereafter, we decided to switch to a Facebook “likes” campaign. The “likes” on the Facebook page were low, which was an issue since our overall marketing strategy in this instance was about driving traffic to individual dealer pages as well as creating brand awareness. If our Facebook strategy was unable to drive traffic to the dealer pages, we decided it would be best to tackle our second goal by building brand awareness via a strong social media presence.
Since switching our strategy to a “likes” campaign, we’ve seen a 167% month-over-month increase in “likes.” It took a few months of trying and failing to figure out that this was the most effective way to spend our dollars, but in the end, we can say with confidence that our Facebook strategy is working!