"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Yariv Drori, CEO at AY Digital.
The view of digital marketing service industry from 1,000 feet reveals a patchwork of technology vendors. Some offer service layers that are highly tailored to their specific technical solutions. Others simply expect brands to adopt self-serviced platforms.
Ascend to 10,000 feet. You’ll find the patchwork split between services geared toward customer acquisition (media) or conversion (ecommerce).
As a result, brands are often forced to manage separate lines of engagement with their audience. One involves reaching out and bringing visitors to their site and the other converts those visitors into customers. It’s an artificial split because, from a customer standpoint, the engagement with a product or brand is continuous and ongoing.
Many brands split acquisition and ecommerce into two completely separate teams. One team owns the goal of bringing traffic to the site. It typically employs a media agency, creative agency, data analysts and special managers for search, affilliates, mobile and social, among others. This team considers a conversion to be a click on an ad. It measures its ROI by total media spending against total clicks.
The second team owns the goal of converting site visitors into customers. This team also employs designers, usability experts, data analysts and the like, but its ROI will be calculated differently. It is measured by the site’s ability to increase time spent on the site, lower “bounce rate” and, ultimately, to convert visitors into customers.
Wait, there’s one more team. It owns brand recognition, voice and consistency across the board. Lucky for this team, it is rarely measured by any tangible metric for ROI, although its contribution is extremely important.
The View From 30,000 Feet
From this altitude, the separation between technologies, teams and objectives begins to blur. As the weeds merge with the fences and silos, all that is left is the business as an island in a sea of potential customers. Here the single, most important ROI for marketing is overall cost per sale, with a sale being the only event that is recognized as a conversion.
The inefficiency illustrated here is typical for medium to large brands and it spans across verticals. For example, a renowned fashion brand wanted to revamp the look and the user experience on its US home page. But misalignment among its marketing, ecommerce and IT teams made for an uneven execution on the website. The digital media team down the hall did not have plans to promote the new website’s launch, and the content on the site was not relevant to the specials being promoted by the ecommerce team. What was a significant investment into the site resulted in a missed opportunity. The results could have been completely different if all teams were aligned behind site sales as a unified objective.
There was also a large mortgage lender that wanted to improve its performance in display advertising in order to reduce spending and dependency on affiliates leads. The purview of team heads across the various marketing channels was so narrow that they struggled to maintain brand consistency across channels and ran different messages and creative on each. This approach caused dilution to brand strength because it ignored how customers consume media across various channels during the day.
In addition, the various channels drove traffic to the same main home page where success was measured by click volume. As a result, there were high volumes of poor traffic to the site and a decline in media spending efficiency.
Once again, having all teams align behind the single ultimate objective would have yielded better results.
Break Down Thy Walls
There is a lot lost by splitting user engagement on the path from brand recognition to checkout. There is much to be gained by tearing down the fences and silos, including a unified brand experience through branding, purchase intent, website user experience and conversion.
The user’s experience could be better tailored based on data, such as past purchases, traffic source and demographics across the entire funnel. Messages can be better customized based on a customer’s lifetime value. And retargeting and upsell opportunities can be made more effective based on past conversions.
There is a significant room for improvement in overall business performance by creating a unified brand view over the entire conversion funnel. It requires an aligning of the various teams behind actual sales as a primary KPI. This can only be achieved with open lines of communication between teams and incentive toward a single goal.