Executing a productive and cohesive paid media strategy results in two core outcomes that marketers should always be driving towards:
1. A seamless experience for the target audience.
Multiple devices. Multiple touchpoints through the buyer’s journey. An endless variety of platforms, channels, content, and ad units to consume. As ad technology progresses it’s getting easier for marketers to create a seamless experience for end-users as they absorb marketing messages.
The brands that can seamlessly take their target audience through the buyer’s journey with the right paid media marketing mix and the right messages at the right time will win out more often on customer acquisition in the end.
Achieving that seamless experience is only obtainable when a cohesive strategy runs throughout your plan for execution. Doing so effectively will not only increase conversion rates, but it will drive a higher volume of customers down the marketing funnel faster towards conversion.
2. Streamlined marketing operations.
Cohesive campaign messaging, clear performance reporting, and speed to iteration are battles marketers repeatedly fight on the back-end as they continuously work to drive value with their ad dollars.
The brands that can streamline the execution of their paid media strategy will make more accurate decisions faster and, ultimately, will get the most out of their campaign goals and advertising budget.
Strong cohesion across your paid media efforts and the team executing said strategy gives you the best chance to build a streamlined approach when managing a paid media strategy.
Why Siloed Strategies Don’t Work
The key to hitting the two desired outcomes above starts with open communication and de-siloing the teams that execute strategy. Everyone who has a hand in your paid media mix must be on the same page and should be continually working together. There is so much to gain by leveraging your paid media platforms off one another. Allowing them to be managed independently across departments in-house or multiple agencies makes it much more difficult to get the most out of your paid media efforts.
Siloed communication increases your chances of having:
- Misaligned performance goals
- Unreliable performance tracking, attribution, and reporting
- Slower iteration on targeting, creative, and budget-optimization work
- Inability to leverage cross-platform audience-sharing capabilities
The presence of anything outlined above results in an inability to hit the desired outcomes mentioned earlier.
How to Build a Cohesive Paid Media Strategy
Cohesion across your paid media efforts establishes marketers with the best opportunity to hit their desired outcomes and drive performance.
Here’s where to start building cohesion:
Target the Entire Marketing Funnel
Targeting the entire marketing funnel should be considered when designing a cohesive paid media strategy. It’s common for brands to ignore middle- and top-of-funnel strategies, foregoing longer-term investments to drive as many conversion-based actions for as cheap as possible.
For some brands, that’s fine. Oftentimes, the need to prove immediate value and ROAS dictates a heavy focus on the bottom of the marketing funnel. That focus can drive quick ROAS when done well, but brands leave money on the table by ignoring top and middle-funnel targeting.
Middle- and top-of-funnel ad campaigns drive performance metrics that don’t immediately impact the bottom line, and that can be hard for marketers to stick with. But for those that have the understanding and patience for developing top- and mid-funnel campaigns, the results can be exponential. Later on in this post, I’ll share how lower-funnel metrics can soar further when the entire funnel is targeted throughout your paid media campaigns.
Establish Clear Goals
Don’t spend a dollar until you have clear and concise goals for your ad campaigns.
Create campaign goal segments that level up to create a top-level goal for your budget.
A goal segment is established by combining a channel, platform, and funnel target combination. Each segment should have a unique set of KPIs and a specific goal for that segment.
For example, your KPIs for a campaign using paid social (channel) on Facebook (platform) targeting the top of the marketing funnel (funnel target) should look very different than KPIs for your ad campaign using the search network (channel) on Google (platform) targeting conversion-based objectives (funnel target).
By establishing appropriate goals for each campaign segment, you’ll set better expectations for each campaign’s success.
Below is a table breaking down various types of channels, platforms, and funnel targets that can be used within a goal segment.
Again, each goal segment should have a unique set of KPIs. When goal segments are accumulated for all of your campaigns, those segments add up to an encompassing goal set for your paid media strategy.
Every party accountable for executing the strategy needs to fully understand the top-level goals and goal segments they are responsible for.
With your goals in hand, the execution of an accurate tracking plan is a must. Getting this wrong can be detrimental to making reliable performance iterations and optimizations once your campaigns are live.
For most online-based conversion brands, getting the basics in place is pretty straightforward. Reporting can get tricker when online-to-offline conversation paths are in play.
Establishing proper attribution modeling is crucial, especially if your campaigns target multiple stages of the funnel (as they should) or require multiple interactions before conversion where last-click attribution doesn’t appropriately communicate the value of a campaign.
How to establish the right attribution model is uniquely dependent on your business model. There is no one size fits all methodology.
Align Audience Targeting and Iterate
Marketers should cross-leverage platform capabilities, data lists, and performance metrics to further fuel campaign targeting reach across their entire paid media strategy.
Paid social platforms provide a goldmine of audience information to spur targeting for search, remarketing, or programmatically-targeted campaigns. Marketers not cross-pollinating their audiences from platform-to-platform are missing opportunities to optimize their audience targeting.
Where to start:
Create Custom and Similar Audiences with Google Ads from Facebook Campaigns
Generate audience email addresses with Facebook Leads Ads and upload them as a custom audience on Google Ads. Use that custom audience to run highly-targeted search, display, or remarketing campaigns to an already qualified segment of potential customers.
Analyze Demographic Insights from Facebook Ads to Fuel Search and Programmatic Audience Development
Facebook provides marketers with a scary amount of information when it comes to audience demographics. Break audience performance down by age, gender, occupation, household income, interests, and a host of other demographics to gain insight into which audiences respond and which don’t. Those insights should be used to build and refine search and programmatic audiences.
Observe Social Listening on Paid Social Platforms
Paid social ads present the opportunity for audiences to ask questions, give praise, and complain about what’s being promoted directly on the ad. Those interactions are gold and can be used across all of your marketing work. The benefits of analyzing and iterating on that commentary span far past executing your ad campaign, but those comments can provide valuable insights to do things like add negative keywords to your search campaigns or improve the copy on your ad landing pages.
Optimize Audience Bid Modifiers
As performance varies based on the targeted audience, utilize platform-specific bid modifiers to optimize spending for the most impactful audiences to stretch your ad dollars further.
The learning opportunities and cross-platform capabilities across the paid media landscape allow marketers to leverage this work off one another to build better audiences for their ad targeting. Open communication and de-siloing the executors of this work is vital to taking advantage of these options.
Align Creative and Iterate
As ad creative and messaging is designed to hit a singular campaign segment, that creative and messaging should be cohesive across the channels and platforms utilized within that particular campaign.
Platform-specific ad unit requirements will dictate how closely that creative can align, but marketers should strive to provide end-users with similar content throughout all touchpoints of a campaign.
A/B testing your creative within paid media provides a straightforward environment to quickly learn what creative and messaging resonates with your audience and what does not. While creative and messaging performance may vary from channel to channel, marketers should be looking across every paid media platform at how performance differs or aligns to iterate within their campaigns.
Leverage performance data on one platform to boost performance on another platform by looking at the following:
- High-converting and high CTR search terms in Google Ads. Those search terms provide key insights into what searchers are actually searching for; use those terms directly in your paid social and programmatic ad copy.
- Analyze high-converting and high CTR visuals, then iterate. As you build complementary visuals on display and paid social networks, iterate ad creative across all platforms based on what’s performing and what’s not.
- Analyze CTAs, conversion rate, and CTR, then iterate. Your search, paid social, and programmatic ads should have a clear call to action. Find what works where and what doesn’t. Those findings should scale across your campaign creative.
Similar to leveraging these cross-channel opportunities to develop better audiences, open communication and de-siloing the executors of this work is vital to actually taking the learning from ad performance and quickly sharing winners across all of your ad campaigns.
Optimize Budget Allocation
Agility here may be where marketers can make the biggest impact when working within a streamlined, collaborative environment.
Speed here is critical, and the marketers who can reliably gain insights, see performance across the entire paid media mix, and allocate ad spend appropriately set themselves up to make the most with their ad budget.
Effectively doing this requires a clear understanding of campaign goals, reliable reporting, and the ability to move budgets quickly across platforms and channels.
The key here is de-siloing execution teams, providing the transparency and communication needed to move quickly.
Cohesive Paid Media Performance Builds on Itself
At the end of the day, brands market to reach, inform, and convert customers who are looking to fulfill a need. When that need is fulfilled, customers achieve their desired outcome. And when strategized and executed cohesively, paid media channel and platform performance builds on itself. The results can be impressive, and the brands that can leverage their audience targeting, ad creative, and budget allocation will see further growth than when efforts are siloed away from each other.
As you build a complex channel and platform mix to hit your advertising goals and cohesion grows, so will the performance of your campaigns. And when marketers target the entire funnel with cohesive messaging and leverage audience and budget insights, brands will begin to build sustainable growth for the future.