Our special guest for episode 316 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast was Susan Wenograd, VP of Marketing Strategy at Aimclear. Site Strategics CEO Erin Sparks spoke with Susan about leveraging search and social for maximum ROI. Here’s what we learned:
Susan Wenograd: Her Background and Experience
Susan Wenograd is a veteran marketer, senior-level strategist, and innovator. She has held multiple senior roles with digital marketing agencies over the past 15 years, while concurrently leading a successful paid media consultancy for more than a decade. At Aimclear, she oversees integrated paid media strategies for accounts and represents Aimclear by writing and speaking on tactics, strategy, and case studies of solutions implemented for clients. She makes regular appearances at national conferences such as SMX, Pubcon and Digital Summit Series, as well as regional gatherings such as SLCSEM and SEMPDX.
Susan started out as a writer for circuitcity.com and literally knew nothing about websites or SEO or any of that. After being promoted to editor she worked on content for their email marketing. When she saw the kind of stats she could get, such as how many people opened the email, how many people clicked, and what they clicked on, she was totally hooked on the whole idea of marketing. At the age of 26, she took over their retention email campaign, which was worth something like $65 million in revenue. Before long people were asking her to freelance for them on Google Ads, which was the perfect combination of writing and marketing. After that, she took a job where she had to learn Facebook advertising in the early days (2013-2014). What appealed to her was moving away from all-text ads and adding in imagery. Her experience has spanned in-house, agency, and independent consulting work.
Results Come by Diving Deep
It’s difficult these days to be a jack-of-all-trades in digital marketing because each platform has so many nuances and quirks. Susan has been getting great results in paid search and Facebook advertising because she dialed into those two platforms in-depth from their earliest days. There is a depth of knowledge needed to make each one work, and when you have that, the results speak for themselves. But, of course, the customers aren’t active on just one platform. Most people use multiple platforms, and it’s important for a brand to have a consistent presence on multiple platforms, so it’s definitely a challenge.
What Happened to Soaring ROI in Social Media Marketing?
With Facebook Ads, they ran out of inventory in their news feed a couple of years ago now. And so they had warned advertisers there’s no more. So they’ve been trying to innovate around that, and acquiring Instagram was probably the best move they ever made. But they’ve tried to create pockets, such as ad units in Messenger, and ad units in Marketplace, to offset the inventory issue.
Also, for quite a while it was easy to get ROI wins in Facebook Ads because not many businesses were doing them well. It was easy to stay a few steps ahead of competitors with better creative content and so forth. But now all the competitors have caught up, so it’s harder to get those wins. Add that onto an ever-increasing demand for ad units but a static supply available and it gets even harder. Whoever you’re targeting is now also being successfully targeted by many more competitors. Where advertisers were previous seeing returns on spends of 350%, many have seen that erode down to the low-to-mid 200s.
On top of all that, consumers are slower now to make the purchase. Back when one cool product popped up, they’d buy it. But now 50 cool products pop up and they’re inundated and overwhelmed. Getting the consumer to recognize your product in the crowd is much harder than it used to be, which lengthens out the purchase cycle. You have to interact with them more times over a longer period of time to get them dialed into your offering. But brands aren’t used to having that much patience and give up after a week not realizing they need to stick with it longer to get the results. What worked in less than a week even just a year ago takes longer now. Brands were spoiled by how quickly they used to get great results. Those days are over. For digital marketers with clients, the key is to very actively manage client expectations, because those expectations probably aren’t realistic!
User Burnout and Blindness
The users of the various social media platforms are getting so burnt out on ad inundation that they’re increasingly blind to the ads. But digital marketers bear some responsibility for this happening as well. Why? Because when a new tactic is discovered, it quickly catches on and everyone starts using it. Someone discovered using emojis worked well for click-through rates. Or Bitly links in the body copy instead of the headline. Or even particular video styles, like the video in the middle and a top bar with emojis and a headline, and then a bottom bar with something else (that approach has been fading lately).
But the result of new tactics spreading so quickly is that all the ads start to feel and look the same, which only contributes further to user blindness because they can’t even immediately distinguish between the brands. Mirroring what everyone else is doing is not a marketing strategy! This is especially true when you consider that just because someone else is doing it doesn’t it’s getting them real results.
What’s Working Now in Social Media Marketing
Too many paid media managers think if they can just throw money at a brand and fix it. But the fact of the matter is if you don’t have a good marketing plan, and you don’t have a long term vision for how you’re going to build brand recognition, you’ll never get off the paid media treadmill. You will always be beholden to what’s your return on spend today or this week? Because you don’t have anything building a foundation that’s going to go longer for you. At Aimclear, the focus is on showing and measuring what staying present in social for a brand will do to things like your brand search and your direct traffic. But everyone is so conditioned to think paid media has to be this direct response medium. But that’s not how you build a long-term business.
If you see good engagement on social that isn’t necessarily hard-selling, it’s a good thing. In the middle of the funnel, where maybe they’ve been to your site, they’re probably not ready to buy yet, but if you have really compelling content and stay in front of them, patience will get you to the goal. The secret on Facebook is to optimize for engagement first and then re-market to people who engaged with your content or your ad unit. It capitalizes on staying in front of these people for a very low cost. If every campaign you run is optimizing towards a conversion, it’s a super-expensive CPM. That’s the most expensive media on Facebook. And it’s not always the most effective. Use your content to get the user on the buying path and moving along it, but don’t expect it to align with how brands want to measure. Stop fixating on whether your spend gave a return on a given day or within three days. Look at engagement metrics, because it will lead to returns.
Connect with Susan Wenograd, VP of Marketing Strategy at Aimclear
Twitter: @SusanEDub (https://twitter.com/SusanEDub)
Aimclear Twitter: @Aimclear (https://twitter.com/aimclear)
Aimclear Facebook: @Aimclear (https://www.facebook.com/Aimclear)
Aimclear LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/aimclear
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