The benefits, lessons, and limitations of a single-tactic campaign
This is the final installment in a three-part series exploring our decision to launch a paid media campaign for our own company. The first installment talks about the factors we considered in making the decision to advertise. The second installment talks about the process of media planning and media buying.
Our decision to run a media campaign to promote Richardson Media Group, was driven by two factors. First, we wanted to experience sitting in the client’s seat for a change so that we could better understand what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a media campaign. Second, we were curious to find out whether we could drive any significant lead generation via a small (actually tiny) budget/single tactical effort. The results of our campaign were somewhat surprising! What follows is a review of the campaign details and a summation of campaign results and delivery metrics.
Before we go any further, let’s review how different types of digital media tactics work.
We’ve written about the intentional nature of paid search before. It’s a unique dynamic that separates paid search from other media tactics. Paid search ads (regardless of the search engine) are delivered only after a user types in a search query that includes a combination of designated campaign keywords. Simply put, audience search triggers advertising service. We can’t control the search behavior of our audiences, yet we’re dependent on those actions for our ads to be served.
In contrast to this action-based model are display banners and other types of impression-based ads delivered across mobile and web. Banner ads and many types of paid social ads are served based on available target audience impressions on groups of websites (called Ad Exchanges) and social platforms. Users who experience banner ads are not typically expecting to see them. They certainly haven’t been looking for them!
Both search-based and impression-delivery tactics serve important roles within a comprehensive media campaign. Search is often linked with lead generation while display ads generally support raising brand awareness. Run in tandem, they are an effective and efficient match.
Why did we choose to run a paid search campaign?
Initially, we hoped to generate leads from potential clients and agency partners and we believed paid search would be the most effective medium to do that. We wanted to tap into audience search queries for keywords such as “media planners and buyers,” “advertising agencies,” and “marketing strategists.” We believed that once users were exposed to our ads, they’d want to learn more and would follow through with a phone call or click through to our dedicated campaign landing page where they’d complete a lead form. On paper, it all sounded great!
What roadblocks did we encounter?
Our first challenge was our advertising budget. We didn’t allocate enough dollars to bid on more competitive media and marketing industry keywords in the Boston metro area. That meant that we were forced to set more limited geographic parameters reducing our overall campaign reach. If we had spent more money, we could have bid on terms like “media agency Boston” or “Boston-area strategic advertising firm.” Instead, we used keyword phrases that included more restricted geographic regions such as North Shore or Portsmouth NH. Budgetary and geographic limitations kept us from finding the critical mass we were looking for in order to see stronger results.
A second and unexpected issue cropped up around who was doing the actual searching. Turns out our campaign did a great job serving our ads to media vendors looking to sell us their wares. We received a few phone calls and form inquiries from print salespeople, digital vendors, and an online directory listing representative. As a media buyer, it’s my job to speak with sales reps and I welcome the chance to do just that! But I certainly didn’t want to pay for them to find me!
How did the metrics look?
Between January 30th and March 19th, we delivered 1,576 impressions and earned 75 clicks on those ads for a healthy CTR of 4.76%. Industry average for B2B advertising on Google Ads is 2.41% so our campaign was almost double that!
We spent a total of $474.10 and earned 3 conversions, for a cost per conversion of $158.03. If those leads had come from prospective clients or agency partners, I would have been happy to pay the money to connect with them. However, not so for the media vendors who ended up reaching out to us.
What will we do differently next time?
The information we’ve gathered from this campaign will inform future RMG-focused advertising forays in three key ways:
- We’ll try out keyword phrases that we think industry outsiders might use. We suspect that prospective clients and agency partners who don’t know a lot about media planning may not know what terms to use to search for media experts like us!
- We’ll build in a second layer of advertising to give the campaign a boost and help increase frequency. Considering our relatively brief Google Ad campaign delivered 1,500 impressions, we believe we could have easily re-served our message to a few thousand more in our audience pool if we had run some retargeting ads.
- We’ll set aside a more robust budget and dip our toe into the Boston market. The more concentrated the marketplace is, the more likely we are to find our targets. Call it deductive reasoning or the law of averages, either way, we have to put ourselves in front of our prospects in order for them to know how to find us.
Marketing metrics and budgets aside, there were intangible benefits gained from this experience. We enjoyed some productive conversations and had fun writing this 3-part series. All of our implementation and optimization efforts went smoothly, and we made some refinements to our internal processes, thanks to this campaign. It’s been worth the hard work and our clients will be the ultimate beneficiaries, as we go forward.