These Ad Campaign Optimization Tips Increase Performance and Decrease Spend

6 minutes
Mar 14, 2022
Digital Marketing

For newcomers to digital advertising, launching ad campaigns can be tricky. But it’s even trickier to make them successful. There are plenty of moving parts that must be harmonized: audience...

For newcomers to digital advertising, launching ad campaigns can be tricky. But it’s even trickier to make them successful. There are plenty of moving parts that must be harmonized: audience selection, copywriting and design creation, monetary investment, it goes on. 

The good news is that you don’t need to (and shouldn’t expect to!) create perfectly performing ad campaigns on Day One. The secret to high-performance campaigns is a process of iterative optimization: launch, observe, modify, repeat. 

To get an authoritative perspective on campaign optimization — and several shortcuts and actionable tips for newcomers — we spoke with Kyle Dugan, 6sense’s Director of Digital Marketing.

Kyle has extensive experience in managing Digital Marketing efforts, and is fluent in demand generation, content creation, lead tracking, and business development.

6sense: What is campaign optimization?

Kyle: It’s examining your ad campaign’s metrics — like clicks, click-through rates, landing page visits — and finding ways to improve its performance. And there’s always something to improve because there’s always something missing, at least at first.

It’s all about determining what you tweak in your campaign, and in which order to tweak it. Where to make the fine-tuned adjustments.

So where does the campaign optimization process begin?

It starts before the optimization process. It begins with targeting. You want to make sure that you’re targeting the right people with the right job titles in the right industries with the right interests. With a solution like 6sense, which brings a lot of visibility into buyer intent, you’re looking for accounts that are in-market [ready to buy] that can be further narrowed down by the keywords they’re searching for.

Let’s say you wanted to base a campaign around ABM advertising to boost awareness for some content you’ve been creating. You can go into our platform and see specific accounts that are in-market, and in the Consideration stage, and they’re looking at ABM keywords around advertising. You can also see that they’re looking at your solution and your competitors. 

This is peak targeting. You use this intelligence to create and launch your campaign.

How can you optimize your ad spend?

It depends on what your campaign objectives and goals are. If you’re on a set budget — if you have $200 to run your campaign — you probably want to manually set your bids and make sure you can control costs and keep everything within a reasonable amount.

If you’ve got $2,000, you probably want to go through and do maximum delivery and get as much bang for your buck as you can.

Budget will play a big part of that, as well as just the size of the audience. With a smaller audience, you can pay a little higher cost-per-click because you’re not going to spend as much overall. If you’re going after a larger audience, you probably want a lower cost-per-click because you’re trying to cover a lot more people.

Generally, you want your campaign to run for about a week before you start to make any adjustments.

Are there cues that beginners should look for to determine what adjustments to make?

Sure. Let’s talk about audience size. If you’ve got a good click-through rate, and if you’re getting a decent amount of clicks with your ads, and if you’ve got good time on-site, and you’ve got people who are engaging with your content, but you’re not reaching enough people, go ahead and bump that budget up.

If you have an ad that’s performing better than others, stop and look at it and say, “Okay, what’s different about this ad? Why is it doing a better job speaking to people?” Duplicate that ad and make one to two variations to see what happens with click-throughs.

Is it challenging to compare ads and suss out differences that affect performance?

It’s not too hard. Start by looking at the call to action. What’s the CTA on this one versus on that one? What image are you using? [At 6sense], we almost always use text on our ad images. That’s the main headline text. Maybe there’s a meaningful difference there. Also, look at your intro copy messaging for the ad.

When it comes to intro copy, usually short and sweet works fairly well. I’m often surprised that witty copy doesn’t always perform well. Being straight and getting to the point does better.

When I’m setting up a campaign, I like to create two ads. They’ll have the same image, but one will have a clever headline and the other has a plain intro headline. If I get more images from our creative team, I create two versions for each image. There’s always a variation for testing purposes.

Lots of SMBs have tight ad budgets. Are there ways to iteratively optimize in ways that are sensitive to smaller budgets?

Keep it as simple as possible. Two versions of the same ad, that’s it. And make sure there’s only one element that’s different between the two. It could be one image with two variations of the headline. See how that performs.

Is there anything that you can recommend regarding optimizing ad creative?

Making sure your CTA pops and stands out is important. Making it a bright color or off-color from the rest of the color palette.

Keep the CTA relatively short, too. That is one area where I like seeing people get more creative than just “Learn more” or “Try this.” Get clever with your CTAs. Anything that stands out and is even just a little bit different, that does a better job capturing peoples’ attention. 

When many people think “campaign,” they only think about the advertisements. But that’s only part of the equation.

Yeah. The other part is what happens after they click through the ad.

Click-through-rate is almost always a KPI for digital ads. Remember when we talked about if you have low CTRs to adjust your ads? Well, if you have high CTRs but you’re not getting conversions on your website, you need to look at your landing page.

People may be coming to the site, but what are they doing when they get there? Are you actually providing the value on-page? Is the CTA obvious? Is it obvious what you want them to do?

Is there only one action? There should really only be one user action per landing page. You shouldn’t have people do multiple things. If you want them to sign up for a demo, it needs to say “Sign up for your demo here,” and then it needs to explain why they would a demo.

This is something a lot of people struggle with: explaining the “why,” and explaining the value of that why. What’s in it for them?

Why do you think that’s hard to do?

A lot of people assume that their brand has an affinity or recognition that actually isn’t there at all. They think, “If people are seeing the ads, they probably follow us on LinkedIn. They know what they get from us. They’ve already heard it a bunch. They’re going to—” No, they don’t, and they won’t.

You can’t assume any familiarity. You have to clearly explain what they’re going to get. You have to do this with them in mind. You have to express the value.

What are some other tips for optimizing ad campaigns?

You have to have a willingness to experiment. It’s a willingness to invest time, understanding that this is not going to be an overnight process. Don’t get impatient, and don’t be afraid to spend some money to find something out. As long as you’re learning something, it’s not money wasted. It’s well spent.