Optimization vs DiversificationFriday March 4th, 2016
Balance performance with resilience in digital marketing.
Digital marketers are obsessed with optimization. We love meeting the challenge of producing growth while staying under budget. Constraints activate our love of data and let us use all of our tracking and analysis skills to find creative ways around limitations.
We feel good making more out of less. It’s almost magic.
However, achieving efficient growth in our digital marketing campaigns distracts us from optimization’s darkside: vulnerability. As we narrow our advertising campaigns toward optimal performance, we reduce the account’s resilience to change in the ecosystem — constant change that is largely unpredictable.
While internal, strategic pivots can be planned for, changes in the advertising landscape can come out of nowhere.
What would happen to your accounts in the face of these unpredictable changes?
- Facebook changes its ad policies and bans your whole product category.
- A well funded competitor enters AdWords PPC auctions and you can no longer afford first page listing for your ads.
- SERP layout changes annihilate your impression share.
- A well performing niche site decides to shutter and you lose all referral traffic.
- You have a one time PR blunder that decimates your online reviews.
- Your best organic traffic is lost after a Google Search Algorithm update.
Do you really want to bet everything on a single demographic or put all of your money into that one group of keywords, even if it is your top performer?
No, you don’t — even though it could be an short-term win for you.
Remember, everything online is in constant flux, and no matter how reliable you think the basket is, don’t put all of your eggs in it. The most optimized campaigns will fall the hardest and fastest in the face of change, unless you diversify.
At Brolik, we expect change and prepare accordingly by creating agile, scalable, diverse campaigns within each client account.
Communicate the Value of Resiliency to your Clients
Before backing off of short-term, results-only optimization tactics, it’s important to talk with your clients about setting aside a portion of their budgets for resiliency. If they have a long-term vision for their company and its digital marketing presence, they will appreciate this foresight from you.
Let’s talk about some easy ways to build a resilient digital marketing strategy:
Invest in white hat, user-first SEO
It’s possible to use SEO loopholes to create an increase in organic traffic to your site. Be warned that big, quick wins in SEO usually rely on deceiving people into visiting your site with false promises that take advantage of weaknesses in the Google algorithm — anything that claims to “beat” Google is called black hat SEO. These techniques will leave you vulnerable when Google finds and closes the loophole you’re leveraging. Additional penalties for your site — or even blacklisting — could result from exploiting the algorithm.
As long as you align all of your SEO efforts with improving the user experience and don’t try to “beat Google,” you will be much less likely to get slammed by a new algorithm update.
Provide a great experience for your visitors, and trust search engines to reward that.
Protects against: Google algorithm updates, influx of paid competition
Diversify lead sources (Paid Search, Referral, Display Ads, Social Media)
While some lead sources may have a much lower CPA than others, you should maintain investment in multiple lead channels as a disaster-preparedness measure.
For example, if you rely on acquiring low-cost, quality leads from paid search ads, your strategy could be knocked off course if a well-funded competitor starts using the same strategy (thus driving up the cost of your ads). When this happens, you don’t want to be suddenly looking for other lead sources, or designing display and social ads on a moment’s notice.
Ideally, you have multiple lead sources including small campaigns that are ready to scale up and replace the ailing lead source.
Protects against: Increased competition on one marketing channel, failure or loss of a marketing channel, search algorithm updates
Create more than one connection with your brand advocates.
There’s an expression that says any business can survive as long as it has 1000 true fans. Imagine your best 1000 customers are following you on Facebook and, for some reason, your page goes down or gets blocked. Instead of losing all of these contacts unexpectedly (and possibly the business along with them), preemptively make sure that you have at least two touch points for these advocates.
You’ve probably seen cross promotions like this yourself. Think about it- have any brands asked you to follow them on Twitter AND Snapchat? Building multiple touch points is especially important for brands that have a personal relationship with their supporters and are easily tempted to rely on a single medium. This is why you see YouTube stars building followings on Twitter even though they are just linking to the youtube videos.
Protects against: Unexpected marketing channel loss
Create Campaigns that target slight variations of your target audience in each marketing channel
Once you’ve diversified across channels, consider employing various strategies within each one. Your customers themselves might be changing, or the culture might be changing in a way that changes the appeal of your product or service. Your campaigns need to be flexible enough to accommodate this.
You can strengthen your presence by running multiple campaigns that target different demographics, different customer needs, and/or different value propositions. For example, when suburbanites are suddenly flocking to your urban-focused industry, you can have a mature but small campaign ready to scale while your competitors are scrambling to enter the market.
Protects against: Changing customer needs, changing industry landscape, changing customer demographics, changing customer lexicon
It’s easy to get lost in the pursuit of ever-increasing traffic and plummeting customer acquisition costs. However, instead of thinking of your account in terms of short-term gains and laser-focused optimization, take a longer view of both to build a more stable, resilient account. Have several contingencies at your disposal to deal with the unpredictable. Just like any investment portfolio, diversification makes digital marketing accounts more stable and resilient — a smart marketer’s take on optimization.