Having an expert help guide your paid media efforts is a sound investment, as an endless number of variables differentiate effective and ineffective ad campaigns.
IMPACT's team of paid media specialists employ an agile omnichannel approach to best serve our clients. This strategy allows our team to shift budget and resources between platforms depending on performance and cost.
If your business has done paid media before, whether on one platform or on many, you will likely be able to get up and running all that much faster — provided the data from your past campaigns is sound.
Rachel Palmateer, our paid media team lead, explains what businesses can expect in their first few months working with IMPACT.
Does previous experience help in getting started?
John: If a company has done paid ads before, can they get started more quickly?
Rachel: It really depends on what's going on in your account. You will have data for us to work off of, which is a benefit, assuming it's solid data. However, if an account was put together poorly, we might not even use that data.
Assuming that you had a competent team beforehand and it's just a handoff from agency to agency, then yes, you have a leg up because we've got some data to work with. We'll make some corrections in the accounts and then we'll get things going.
How IMPACT works with clients
John: How does IMPACT evaluate and build on, improve on past results?
Rachel: Every account on each platform has its foundational elements, and we start there.
1. Assuring a solid technical foundation
First, we look at the technical foundations of the accounts. If you started your platform yourself and you didn't know to hit the toggle that says, "Don't show my ads on an R-rated website," or you didn't quite set up your pixel properly, you might not actually be getting good data from people visiting your site reporting back into the platform.
If something’s not quite correct, you could be reporting on data that's not really what you want.
2. Analysis of strategy
We then jump into the strategy behind it. We make sure that all the goals are set up properly for what you're actually trying to accomplish. For example, say you want to have form fills on your landing page — that's the goal of the campaign. How can we optimize for that?
3. Looking beyond paid ad platforms
Then, we go one step outside of the paid ads platforms and we look at the landing page itself and any conversion optimization tweaks that could be made for it to become a better landing page.
We'll look at page speed because that counts into how your ads are displaying and the ratings that the different platforms give your ad.
So we jump out of the just ads and we take a wider look at the ecosystem — and then come back in with our recommendations for the account.
Why an omnichannel approach is best
John: Why does IMPACT believe an omnichannel approach is the best strategy?
Rachel: People today bounce between devices and browsers. They might look at something in the morning, then have a full day of work meetings, and then remember it later in the day when they're watching television and scrolling through Instagram.
The omnichannel approach allows us to reach people multiple times in various digital parts of their world. This way, we stay top of mind with them as they go through their buyer's journey.
It also allows us to nurture the customer using different platforms. Maybe in the awareness stage, they come to us through Google, and then we get in front of them again when they're on the couch looking through Instagram with more of a middle or bottom of funnel ad.
We've seen great results from that versus using just one platform. If you have just Facebook doing all the work, you’re putting a lot of eggs in one basket.
John: How does your team collaborate across platforms?
Rachel: We have folks on the team who each have a niche focus. Some are more geared toward Instagram and Facebook and social advertising. Some are more focused on search marketing and they prefer Google and Microsoft Ads. And so we have specialists in each of these platforms.
Our clients generally say, "Okay, I have $35,000 this month to spend on ads. That's my budget. You guys make it happen." They don't generally come to us and say, "For each platform, here's what we want to spend."
Our specialists work together to use that spend most effectively. The team talks through the budget and might say, "Okay, we want 60% of the budget for Facebook ads. The other 40% will be split between Google, Microsoft Ads, and Linkedin. How do we split that up to best accomplish the campaign goal?"
Then as we go through the campaign, if Google starts to take off and Facebook is slower to see desirable results, we can shift some of the allocated budget from Facebook to Google without having to reach out to the client to ask for more money.
John: What can clients expect in their first six months? How quickly can their ads get up and running?
Rachel: Generally, it should only take about two months to completely ramp up your paid ads. But first, we need to learn the account. If you've already had ads running, then we've got data that we can comb through. We have campaigns that we can look back on and see where they were successful and where they weren't.
Month one is a lot of digging in and getting our footing with the brand and with the account. We start by reviewing business goals, paid media performance goals, campaign goals, and the associated strategies. Then we audit everything in any existing accounts and come back to the client with a plan and a strategy. We talk it all over together, and if it all sounds good, we're ready to go.
The next step is to start rolling out the ads. That might look like new creative — new graphics and/or new copy for existing ad campaigns. It might look like a brainstorm for new audience targeting. Maybe they were targeting something that didn't work, or maybe their business moved from Georgia to California and now they need to target a whole different subset of people.
So it's a lot of hands-on work with the client in the beginning as we start figuring it out.
Month two is essentially running the plan and watching how it works, and adapting as we need to, optimizing as we're able.
By month three we mostly know who our winners are and who our losers are and where we want to scale moving forward. By this point, we're fully up and running.
What not to expect
John: What shouldn’t businesses expect to see in the first six months?
Rachel: They won't see us creating landing pages for them. They won't see us creating content for them outside of the ads. They are not guaranteed to see instant change in results. Sometimes we make a couple tweaks and suddenly a client’s ROAS (return on ad spend) rapidly improves and we're all thrilled about it.
But sometimes we need to really recalibrate an account and the results come more slowly.
What businesses should expect to spend
John: What should businesses expect to spend with IMPACT?
Rachel: This really depends on the client's industry and their niche within the industry. If you have low competition, then it's going to be less costly for you. If you are advertising sneakers, you probably have a significant number of competitors so you’ll likely need to bid higher for your ads to display.
Cost also varies platform by platform. Generally speaking, LinkedIn is more expensive than Google and Microsoft Ads. But LinkedIn can drive better results than Facebook for some businesses — like those in the B2B sector.
Seasonality plays into this as well. If you're a sunscreen company, you're going to have a more expensive time advertising in the summer. This is because your peak season for advertising will also be the peak season for your competitors.
Additionally, the seasonality around ad inventory can have a big effect on costs.
For example: we have an election coming up, and for platforms that allow political advertising, the ad inventory is going to drop as more and more political ads come on the scene. When ad inventory goes down, the cost to advertise (even if you're not advertising politically) will go up because there's just not as many slots available for your ads. It’s basic supply and demand.
Same with Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the end-of-year holidays — as companies flood the platforms with ads about their amazing big savings, ad inventory will drop and advertising will become more expensive.
Plan to spend at least this much
John: What is the base that a company should expect to pay?
Rachel: It depends on what a company’s budget is and what they're trying to accomplish.
If a brand wants to promote their important annual conference and they want to put a little money into paid ads to see if that will help their ticket sales, that can be done. The concern is: are you going to be able to catch enough data to really evaluate the efficacy of your spend and optimize for success?
With a $300 budget, you’ll have a limited reach and therefore a limited amount of information to go off of when reviewing the account and tweaking to improve results. You’ll need a longer timeline before you have enough data to make strong decisions off of.
If you’re going to dabble, dabble all the way. Think about it like this: If you're going to try out oil painting, you should spend enough money to buy the good quality oil paints, otherwise you aren't going to know what's possible.
John: What about IMPACT’s fees?
Rachel: We bill a base fee at the beginning of each month and then a percentage of ad spend at the end of each month.
For example: If a company is spending $15,000 per month on ads, IMPACT will bill our $5,000 base fee plus 15% of ad spend.
So, that’s a $5,000 base fee plus a $2,250 performance fee.
John: For companies who are not new to paid ads, is there anything they should do to be as ready as possible to start working with IMPACT?
Rachel: Know your business goals, know your conversion paths and where you actually want to direct people to, and know your ideal budget. We can help build a budget plan with you, but you should have a pretty clear idea before we get started.
And past data is great, too. Be able to give us access to your current account so we can dive in and get our bearings before having our conversation. That's extremely helpful for us to get started quickly.
John: And they need to focus on their website too, right?
Rachel: Yes. There are different ideal conversion rates for different industries, but having an ideal conversion rate for your pages is important because then you're sending traffic to a machine that just works, and you know it works, versus sending all this traffic to something that's a dead end because it's not actually converting well.
I use a housewarming analogy: You don't invite people to a housewarming party at a house with no furniture or windows or doors.
Your website is the house. Your paid ads are the invites to the party. When the guests start coming and they arrive at an empty house, they're going to say, "Why did I bother coming here?" And then they go away and they never come to your house ever again.
That's the thing with paid ads. It's like, if you're just getting started, really have your house in order before you start doing the ads. Otherwise you could start reaching really great people who come and immediately write off your business and will never give you a second chance.
Or, you wind up spending all this money, getting people to go to your website, and they bounce. Then you or your boss starts to think, "Paid ads don't work. I give up." And then you're leaving out a really valid marketing option that works for almost everybody.
Don't give up on it. You have to set the right environment for it to succeed.
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