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Where to Look When Your Marketing Dollars Aren’t Working


Do you feel like you’re not seeing the return on investment you were hoping for with your marketing efforts? Occasionally we’ll hear from businesses that they feel like their marketing spend just isn’t paying off the way they’d hoped and they’re not sure why. This tends to be particularly true in regard to digital advertising. If this struggle sounds familiar to you, let’s get to the bottom of it. There are many places to look when your marketing is proving less than effective but, as a start, let’s dig in to five of the most common issues.

Check the set-up of your digital ads

Since we most often hear this complaint regarding digital ads, it seems like the natural place to start. We’d recommend checking the technical set up of your digital ads including the campaign objective, target audience, budget and target devices.

First, make sure you’re using the proper objective for your ads based on what you’re trying to achieve. Your trouble could be as simple as a misalignment between your expectations and your set objective. Objectives for your ad campaigns include brand awareness, traffic, and engagement. If you’re hoping your ads will bring consumers to your website, for example, then you ought to be using traffic as your objective. Brand awareness will prioritize impressions of your ads, while engagement is best used to promote your social media profiles, boost posts and videos, and garner direct messages on social platforms.

Next, take a close look at your target audience. There is so much competition for digital ad space that it’s critical to have your target audience homed in on the right people. Get as granular as possible about your audience. Target consumers by where your audience likes to spend time online, their age/generation, careers and hobbies to make sure your ads show up where your ideal customers already are spending time online. Similarly, look at the devices your target consumers use most. If most of your traffic comes from mobile, focus your advertising on mobile devices.

After these settings have been tweaked, then you might want to look at budget. Obviously, the bigger the budget you have, the more likely you are to get seen. However, if you have a smaller budget you can still see results. Try adjusting your audience size to a smaller, highly relevant pool to make your spend go farther. Utilizing retargeting is also a great way to be efficient with a smaller budget.

If you’ve followed all these steps and you’re still not seeing the expected results, then your troubles likely lay beyond your technical ad set up.

Look critically at your content

The next aspect of your ads to consider is that the content itself isn’t connecting with your audience. If you’re seeing thousands of ad views but no clicks, this could be an indication of a content mismatch. First, take a look at the channels the content appears on—do your ads match the tone and format of that channel? Your ad should be interesting, helpful, eye-catching, or entertaining.

Second, think about your ad creative and your brand. Is there a clear and compelling “why” for the customer? What’s in it for them? Why should they care? If your ad doesn’t have a clear “why” you need to rethink the creative. Or, if there is a clear message, it might be an indication that it’s not resonating with the audience the way you thought it would. All great opportunities to take what you’ve learned thus far about the creative you’ve tried and head back to the drawing board to find a “why” that will really hit home with your target audience.

Diversify your presence

Have you put all of your marketing and advertising eggs into one basket? Consumers do a lot of research before making a decision. After visiting your website, they might also look at third-party review sites or look for social proof about your product or service on your social channels and among their social media connections. Do you have a broad presence that makes you easy to find through a variety of channels? If not, you might want to invest in your search engine optimization to be easy to find on Google or look into channel marketing to broaden your brand’s reach.

Check your lead generation and customer experience

If your ads are seeing strong views and clicks but that isn’t translating into leads or sales, you might want to evaluate the customer experience after a consumer clicks on your ad. Do you have clear calls to action? Is it easy for leads to contact you? You want to make sure the process is seamless for consumers to convert themselves into leads. Additionally, the customer experience needs to support what the marketing is selling. In other words, the overall look, feel, tone and experience of your landing page or website need to match the experience of the ad. If it feels like a bait and switch to the consumer, they will quickly bounce.

Have a third-party review your brand

Finally, if you feel like you’re still stumped, have someone from outside the business review your brand. Often, when doing a lot of your marketing and branding work in-house, you can unknowingly make your message a little too “inside.” This can include your brand story, target audience and media buys. Having someone from the outside can give you a fresh perspective to see if your story is really communicating what you’re aiming for.

As you can see, there’s no one silver bullet to creating marketing ROI. It’s a mix of creating the right message and brand story, finding your audience and then using the tools at your disposal to target them as accurately as possible.

If you want an outside look at your marketing strategy or are ready to team up with an agency partner to make your marketing initiatives as strong as possible to start seeing the ROI you’ve been looking for—let’s have a conversation.