We live in a fast-paced time with new technologies, constantly evolving social and political landscapes, and a pandemic. Any predictions of what marketers would expect in 2020 were undoubtedly light years away from what we are witnessing now.
So what can we learn from this year as we move forward? You can bet that things will keep changing and evolving in unpredictable ways. What worked last year may not work now. What worked last week may not work next week! Then how can you be sure that you are getting the most out of your marketing efforts?
Develop and find opportunities
There are a few ways you can try to keep track of things. No matter what, a strategy for post-COVID is important.
Learn from others
On the one hand, pay attention to those around you. Learn from your colleagues and competitors. Some may share: read blogs, watch webinars, and consume whatever you can in your space. However, you can uncover even more by doing, for example, a competitive analysis of other websites, advertising messages, advertising spend, and content creation.
Learn from yourself and adapt
Pay close attention to your own analysis and results. Take what you see and adapt. Be ready to develop a strategy based on the data. Again, something that worked before may not work now and vice versa.
Always. Be. Testing.
Knowing exactly what will work for your business in your environment and at this particular point in time is a difficult task. The only way to find out for sure and stay abreast of the changing trends is through testing. We are all vulnerable now – every time difficult circumstances come upon us. Finding a new course of action, be it macro marketing decisions or micro-customizations, is critical.
What to test
It's easy to sit here and say "test to see what works and go with it", but that can mean a lot of things. When I put this back into maximizing your ROI during tough times, let's talk first about where to start if you want to grow your marketing and increase sales and ROI.
Too often I see brands shyly in times of crisis. Caution should be exercised, but testing and learning shouldn't be a risk – it's an opportunity.
The reality is that each industry will be affected in different ways in 2020. But challenging times are coming for all of us, and when they do we will focus on these few areas first.
Advertising is always one of the first areas I look at when testing. It's a fantastic testing ground that is often more controlled and easier to identify new, successful opportunities. Within the advertising platform, you can view ad copies, keywords, landing page content, calls to action, target audiences, and various strategies.
We've measured positive results for customers in different industries and on different platforms by changing aspects of the ads we serve.
For an SMB bike helmet retailer, we focused on creating social media ads during the height of the pandemic that featured a single rider as opposed to a group, usually in a more open setting instead of the city. The copy has also been moved to emphasize things like "embracing the open space" and alluding to socially distant riding without specifically saying so.
Due to the economic uncertainty of the time, our client reduced the budget by almost 44% in April, which contributed to a 43% decrease in the overall impression share. Despite this overall decline, click-through rate (CTR) increased 61% this month, return on ad spend (ROAS) increased from 0.25 to 1.34, and total purchases more than doubled.
We saw similar results in a PPC campaign for a network security client. With many employees working from home, we had to position our customer as a security solution provider for remote workers. Competition increased during the pandemic, resulting in higher click costs and fewer clicks despite the increase in total ad spend.
To improve our ads, we've updated the copy to speak to users who need remote security solutions and added free test messages. We also moved away from directing users to the home page and instead directed them to a product-specific landing page that served as a hub for remote worker solutions. In this way, the user's exploration path could be focused on pages that are more relevant to him at the time than on a homepage where the scope of exploration is wider and less tailored.
These adjustments in our paid advertising campaigns increased click-through rate by 11% and conversions by 31%. And since we sent users to a more focused landing page rather than the homepage, the user's path to conversion was shortened and the conversion rate increased by 44%.
Use your advertising to learn and inform other marketing efforts. A good example of this is ad copy headings. Look at the headlines of A / B tests to find out which ones are more intriguing and clickable, and then roll those results onto title tags on the SEO side of things to see similar benefits there.
A / B test various aspects of your on-site content. Optimizing the conversion rate is a powerful tactic. This could mean trying a new copy, new design, new images, new call-to-action, or just title tags and on-page SEO updates. Really everything on your website, in your email, or any content you create falls into this category. I'm not suggesting revising things, I'm not just sticking to the tried and tested as the industry and users around you change.
To give you an idea of what testing can do, Portent A / B tested a client to see which of the two forms performed better, the form originally used or a modified version on which Irrelevant information has been removed from the top of the form.
By switching to the changed form, the form fillings were increased by 6% on all devices and by 14% on mobile devices. Additionally, phone calls increased 22% – all due to a simple A / B test.
Experiment with different ideas about what a conversion is. Alternatively, if sales are declining, you can do more email signups. It may not be the primary end goal, but it can still add value and add to your marketing funnel.
If lead form submission fails, direct traffic to a whitepaper download or alternative end-user value. When primary conversion points slow down, look for other ways to add value and build productively in the future.
Testing new and creative promotions and sales that are traditionally more specific to the e-commerce space can help increase conversion rates, urgently. Nowadays in particular, many customers are experiencing difficult times. Something as simple as offering a discount, even a small one, might be required to get them to buy. You may need to get creative with your promotions to drive people to your website, especially when the competition is fierce.
A streaming service client ran a campaign in April when competition in the streaming industry was extremely high. To really stand out from the competition, most of whom were offering free trials or adding new content, we had to take a different approach. We offered to pay someone to do what they did during the quarantine – television.
This campaign resulted in the website receiving over 1,200 new links and media coverage in various online stores, resulting in nearly 154,000 referrals to the website (a 634% increase in referral traffic period over the reporting period). Overall, we saw an 86% increase in organic traffic over the reporting period and there were over 343,000 new sessions on the site, of which more than 83% were new users. During the campaign, we also offered an extended free trial that resulted in over 650 conversions.
If youIf you
Outside of the e-commerce space, find ways to lower the barrier to entry and increase conversion rates in the short term. This can mean moving traffic to simplified forms or just asking less of the individual conversion. In circumstances like what we are experiencing, something is better than nothing.
How to test
The “how” of testing is very simply a separate post with many levels, from user research to focus groups. For most trying to maximize the return on investment for their business, this can lead to complicated things. That said, there are some simple things you can easily do to test smarter and learn quickly.
First, do your homework. As mentioned earlier, do research competitively and learn from others. Review the keyword landscape and understand search trends so you can make updates to copies and content intelligently. Know your audience and personas before making any updates.
This essentially takes the guesswork out. If you take the effort to test something new, you will have the research and data to support your hypothesis.
Marketing testing tools come in many different shapes and sizes. There really is something for every situation. Here are some great tools you can use to achieve the following:
Hopefully you have already used some of these or your favorite tools. Sit back in your tools – they make work easier and help you get results faster.
do not hurry
Make your tests as scientific as possible and need statistical significance before drawing any conclusions. It's easy to get impatient and make changes quickly when results come in. Let the data do the talking, however, and give your tests time to run their course.
Have a testing budget
Remember: this is a test! It's easy to see results you don't want, panic and pull the plug. When you invest in testing, you have a budget to make it happen.
Set clear goals and expectations
Before starting the test, define success. What are you trying to achieve Make sure that all stakeholders have the same expectations of what you want to discover and what goals your test supports.
Hard times happen. Many companies are in front of them right now and are likely to continue doing so. Do not give up hope. Do your research and be quick. You can find out where your greatest weaknesses are and carefully test solutions.
And remember, testing never ends. It's an ongoing process to get the best possible results.