The Step by Step Guide for Setting up Advanced Digital Marketing Channel Tests

All Campaigns are Not Created Equal

Thomas Jefferson’s infamous speech does not apply to digital marketing campaigns, unfortunately… Earlier in April, I published a blog about why channel tests were more worthwhile for SMBs on a tight marketing budget. I want to take this line of thinking a step further for SMBs that actually have more marketing dollars to work with. For those who are well versed in digital marketing, you’ll understand that there’s a difference in setting up a targeted Facebook ad campaign to increase attendance to an event compared to setting up a campaign (regardless of channel) with a custom landing page, form, goal conversion, and an automated lead nurture campaign. The former is not nearly as time consuming and doesn’t require the amount of planning as the latter. I digress. You’ll understand why I’m saying this as you continue reading…

Step 1: Select Your Channels

For the purpose of this blog, let’s assume we have a B2B company with a monthly ad budget of $1,800. In the past, the budget has been split three ways between Facebook, LinkedIn and AdWords PPC. Each channel has a different purpose: for Facebook and LinkedIn, the goal has to been build a targeted audience, increase engagement and drive traffic to the company’s website. For PPC, the goal has been to drive leads. While you’re planning next month’s strategy, you decide you want to change things up and do lead generation channel tests using the same channels.

Step 2: Allocate the Budget

Once you’ve decided on the channels and are set on a strategy, create a budget plan and decide where the money is going to be invested. Here’s an example of what that would look like:

  • AdWords PPC: $1,000
  • Facebook Ads: $500
  • LinkedIn Sponsored Ads: $300

Typically when running channel tests it’s best to allocate equal amounts of money. The PPC budget will always be highest because it’s the best strategy when converting low funnel leads. You don’t want to take away from that and risk decreasing quality scores and ad rank. Facebook is higher than LinkedIn because it’s always wise to run a monthly Like campaign. Therefore, $200 of that will be allocated to that separate campaign and equal funds will be allocated to the actual lead generation test you’ll be running.

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Step 3: The Busy Work

This step is by far the most time consuming but once it’s complete, the rest is (relatively) smooth sailing. For the past six months, you’ve been using two custom landing pages which were designed on WordPress for the PPC campaigns. The two landing pages focus on two different services the company offers. The extensive keyword and competitive research has been done as well as the original creation of the landing pages which have been generating leads on PPC to the tune of 3-5 per month. This is when the workload gets busy: because we are running the same lead generation test utilizing the same landing pages, you’ll need to create Facebook and LinkedIn versions of the landings pages so we can segment the traffic and understand where the leads are coming from. You’ll also need to create separate lead generation forms and thank you pages. Here’s how you do it:

  • Take the first (service) PPC landing page and open it in its own tab on your internet browser
  • Add a new page to your website and open it in a separate tab, as well, on a different screen (assuming you have dual monitors)
  • Literally take everything from the PPC landing page and do the exact same thing to the new page – with the exception of the URL
  • Busy work overload.

  • While you’re doing that, you’ll also need to create a new form to collect leads. Once complete, take that form ID and embed into the new page
  • The new form must also redirect to a unique thank you page. Same as the previous steps, take the PPC thank you page and duplicate the content with the exception of the URL
  • Access the company’s Google Analytics account and create a conversion goal using that unique thank you page (very important!)
  • Once the new page is set up with its own unique form and thank you page, you’re ready to publish
  • Rinse and repeat and do it all over again for the second (service) landing page and then do THAT all over again so you have a total of four separate landing pages, forms, thank you pages, and goal conversions

Just so you can understand the time investment, it took me about three hours to do something very similar to this. In my opinion, it’s well worth it because the end result is to be able to effectively gauge how well channels perform when using the exact same content. It’s a very powerful thing to be able to go back to the company at the end of the month and say, “Well, we’re seeing that LinkedIn generated 3x as many leads as Facebook. So next month, we’re going to allocate more money to that channel because we know it has a higher success rate.”

Step 4: Deciding on Creative

The PPC campaign is already set up because, as previously mentioned, its been running for six months with good success. Also, there’s not a whole lot of creative to consider beyond ad copy. Selecting the right keywords is the most crucial element of any PPC campaign and this process itself can be very cumbersome with in-depth research and analysis.

With Facebook, you’ll be running two website click ads where you get to choose custom images and ad copy. Additionally, you’ll target the ads to show up only on newsfeeds of people within your target audience.

On LinkedIn, it’s set up a little differently. The only ad option is a sponsored update and you don’t get to select a custom image. The image that populates will be associated with the landing page itself. You do get to customize the post message and target the post to display only on the newsfeeds of your target audience.

All three channels offer unique ways to target the right audience. The one consistency all three have is geo-targeting. We’ll talk more about the sophistication of ad targeting between social channels in later blogs on StrataBlue!

Step 5: Flipping the Switch

The moment of gratification has arrived. All of the planning, creating and executing has now lead you to the point at which you turn the campaigns on. I don’t believe I mentioned this earlier but the dollar amount assigned to each ad is $150. Two website click ads on Facebook with a monthly budget of $150 a piece and two sponsored updates on LinkedIn both with $150 each. This leaves nothing to question is regards to showing ROAS (return on ad spend) at the end of the month.

Step 6: Monitoring Campaigns and Analyzing and Reporting Results

It’s important to monitor the campaigns weekly to report back to the company to keep them in the loop on performance. At the end of the month once the campaigns have ended, the truth will be found in numbers. Your data sources will be Facebook Insights, LinkedIn, Google Analytics and AdWords. Inform the company which campaign performed the best based on lead generation and advise on next steps.

Want to continue the conversation? Let’s meet for coffee.

I’ve always found that the best conversations happen over a nice, hot cup of fresh brewed coffee. If channel testing is something you’d like to learn more about or do for your company, let’ talk! Either call us at 317-207-0195, email us at info@stratablue.com, or click the button below to fill our a brief form to contact us online! We look forward to hearing from you.

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Digital Marketing Tests for SMBs: Why Channel Testing is More Worthwhile than A/B or Multivariate Testing

Let’s face it…

Investing digital marketing dollars towards multiple channels can be costly – especially for SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) who have limited budgets. The landscape for engaging and interacting with customers is evolving everyday and the question will always remain: where is my target audience and how can I effectively reach them for the lowest possible cost per acquisition (CPA)? There’s a short answer to that question: they’re searching online. Boom. End blog here. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple! The word “online” is such a nebulous, antiquated term these days. My goal for this post isn’t to necessarily redefine the word but to demonstrate how to more effectively utilize your [online] digital marketing budget.

Throughout this post, I’ll provide quantifiable data and use cases from current clients for why it’s important to find that perfect channel rather than use valuable time researching and executing costly A/B and multivariate tests within channels that simply aren’t performing.

The Primary Digital Channels

To start, here’s a list of the primary digital marketing channels and the cost associated with managing each channel from low, medium, to high:

  • Social Media: low
  • Email Marketing: low
  • SMS/MMS (text message) Marketing: low
  • Blogging: medium
  • Landing Page Optimization: medium
  • SEO/SEM: medium
  • Influencer Outreach: medium
  • Video (YouTube, Vimeo): high
  • Digital Media (Pandora, etc.): high
  • PPC, Display, Remarketing: high
  • Website Design and Optimization: high
  • CRO: high

As a quick disclaimer, because the word mobile is not mentioned anywhere within those 12 channels, it is assumed that each channel will be optimized for the mobile experience. If you’re reading this and your website, emails, and landing pages are not mobile optimized, stop reading and get started on that now. We’re only nine days away from Google updating their search algorithm. Not sure what I’m talking about? Click below.

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Client Use Case: Lead Generation Strategy

When thinking about lead gen, which channel(s) come to mind? Ultimately, any channel could act as a lead generation tool – or at a minimum assist in a conversion. For the sake of this client in particular, the first channel we focused on back in 2014 was website design and optimization. Your website is the nucleus of your overall marketing strategy because in the event that someone wants to learn more about you, the website will be the place to do it. Unless of course they use an online reputation resource, which is a whole other story… I digress.

Once the website (we’ll call it redesign) was complete, we began blogging to build keyword rich content to increase the amount of indexed pages for the website and then repurposed the content on LinkedIn. Using a monthly ad budget of $250 for sponsored posts on LinkedIn, each weekly blog was posted on LinkedIn and allocated a small budget to promote. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the client is B2B. As a “value added” service, we also curated the blog on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ – organic, not paid. Though we saw an increase in traffic, the blogs did not drive any new leads.

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We continued the blogging, LinkedIn strategy for three months. Within each blog, I would do CTA testing. I spent hours creating buttons and drafting persuasive copy to reel people in — to no avail. I tested and adjusted the ad targeting in LinkedIn — also to no avail. I spent hours digging through Google Analytics data and researching keywords to create blogs focused on topics people were actually searching for. Do you get the idea? I spent an inordinate amount of time researching, testing, and refining a strategy that flat out wasn’t working. We went back to the client and simply said, “Look. We aren’t saying that blogging is a bad strategy – it’s just not the right one for what you’re trying to achieve – which are leads.” Our recommendation was to change things up and allocate the ad budget to a PPC campaign. We went over what the new strategy would be and explained that we have a higher likelihood of getting your brand in front of the right people who are searching for your services.

Nine Days into the PPC Campaign

So obviously we didn’t just flip a switch and start a PPC campaign. Over the course of two weeks towards the end of March, we did additional keyword research to target the right keywords for the campaign. We also had to create a whole new landing page from scratch! Using unbounce, it was easy and did not require a developer to get involved. I created a separate sub-domain, dropped in Google Analytics tracking code, created a new conversion goal, and we were on our way! I built out the campaign in AdWords and by April 1st, we were ready to turn it on.

Nine days in, nothing. Just a bunch of impressions, a few clicks, but no conversions. Which is fine! PPC campaigns take time but when you’re quality scores are not great it’s easy to deduce why conversions aren’t happening. I decided not to mess with ad copy, keywords, or targeting just yet. Instead, I signed up for a webinar which was titled: 10 A/B Tests to Use on Your PPC Landing Pages. It was kismet. While I was watching on the ninth day of the campaign, in parallel, I was making a B version of the landing page. I utilized some of the tips and tricks they were suggesting and when I was done making the B version of the landing page, I pushed it live. Then, BAM! The next day we got our first conversion on the B variant. Needless to say I made the B version the primary variant to populate simply because I have more confidence in it’s conversion abilities.

Key Takeaways

The best case scenario is to have enough budget to be able to spread across all channels. Unfortunately, that’s usually not feasible for SMB clients. Obviously it helps when clients come to the table already believers in the power of digital marketing and advertising. If they happen to be tech laggards or have been allocating their budget to more traditional forms of advertising, then it will be more difficult to utilize marketing dollars for digital until it’s actually proven that it “works.”

If you’re limited to one or two channels, plan on running multiple campaigns within those channels and test, retarget, refine, and repeat. But if you’re not seeing results, rather than continue testing, propose a change. Be bold if you have to! If you feel confidently that utilizing other channels is the best option, be forthcoming with you plan and execute. If the channel or channels you’ve selected are also not performing, suggest another change. Don’t beat a dead horse with something that isn’t generating results. Every campaign you are in charge of has goals and KPIs. If they are repeatedly not being met, be sure to let the client know and pitch/present your new plan of action. Taking that initiative will (in most cases) never hurt you. You may get some push back but go confidently in the direction of your digital marketing plans – I think Thoreau said something similar to that…

Have a Difference in Opinion? Let’s Talk about it!

Some people might not agree with this approach: And that is completely fine! We want to hear from you and your experience with A/B, multivariate, and channel testing. If you’d like to set up sometime to hash this out, feel free to give us a call at 317-207-0195. Or, to get the process started online, simply click the button below to submit an online form. We’ll follow up with you shortly to schedule a call – maybe even over coffee or drinks!

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