Online Marketing: The Only Thing Constant is Change

keep_calmIn the words of my ole pal Heraclitus, “The only thing constant is change.” Most of us know this to be true in our daily lives. But for me, I find this to be glaringly obvious in my work across paid search, display and social media advertising channels. Every day brings something new to learn. Each ad platform is constantly on the move launching new products, services and policies (yay?).

Consider this: Over the past month alone, we’ve seen Google make the final switch to Enhanced Campaigns. Facebook adjusted their ad formats and reporting functionality. Twitter Ads started testing cards. LinkedIN upgraded their interface and introduced Promoted Updates. And these changes on top of the multitude of online marketing options. PPC, Google display, 3rd party display, YouTube video ads, Bing Ads, Facebook, FBX, LinkedIN, Twitter, remarketing… I could keep going. With all of these options and never ending changes coming at you, how do you prioritize what to test, what to ignore, etc.?

Don’t Ignore What Is Already Working

When presented with a new feature or channel to test, keep one thing in mind: don’t ignore those campaigns or accounts that are already working. Make sure that you keep these at the top of your priority list. Just don’t confuse this prioritization with being a stick in the mud. It’s OK to try new things, just not at the expense of your online marketing foundation.

Is it Appropriate for Your Target Audience?

In this day and age, nearly every demographic is online in some way. Be that on search, reading the news (display!) or on various social networking sites. So, I suppose an argument could be made to advertise everywhere! But consider Pinterest (still in the development stages of an ad platform) which skews towards females or Tumblr which skews towards younger folks. And LinkedIN is the ultimate B2B channel, so advertising the latest fashion or product craze may not be a fit. In short, consider each advertising channel or new feature’s audience. If it is a match, then it is worth testing!

Learn From Past Tests

Take the Google Display Network for example. Over the years, there has been a consistent flow of new features released. For many of my clients, I have a solid understanding of what targeting methods work and what methods don’t. If a new feature comes along, understand how it relates to previous tests. If there are similarities in targeting methodologies or demographics, use that as a basis for your decision to test. Previously failed? Either don’t test the new feature or keep the budget low. Previously succeeded? Test away with confidence.

Comfort Level

Often times new channels or new features are so radical that there is no precedent either for data comparisons or simply for a learning curve to set up and launch. Let your (or your clients’) comfort level act as a guide. If you have a high comfort level, the new channel or feature can be given a high priority. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t say no – but give it a lower priority to give you and your client time to get educated and create the best campaign possible.

What About the Money?

Sometimes the biggest hurdle is budget. Maybe the budget is so small that testing new channels or features would be detrimental to your existing campaigns. On the flip side (and every marketer’s dream) is when there is a seemingly unlimited budget. Then the question becomes “how much?” Truth is, the answer will be different for every advertiser, every client. Look to past tests on similar channels to determine a target spend. If there is no prior data, make a gut call based on volume from other channels (Lots of inventory on search and display? Probably a safe bet there will be inventory on social, etc., etc..). Whatever you decide, just make sure you set a budget so everyone involved has a clear expectation. But remain fluid and adjust based on performance.

It is so easy to develop an “oooohhhh shiny!!!” complex working in this industry. But you have to remain focused and make decisions on new channels and new features in an intelligent way. Don’t fall into the trap of cutting off your foot to spite your face.

How do you prioritize new online marketing channels or ad platform features? Let us know in the comments!