If you’re running online ads and have noticed that either the quality of leads has fallen or customer acquisition cost has skyrocketed, then you’re not alone.
This blog post will explain what's causing this problem, review the warning signs that this issue is occurring in your marketing, and will provide a solution that’ll improve your marketing results. .
Let’s dive in!
Over the last decade, online marketers have grown spoiled to the ease and speed at which leads and customers could be acquired online. This is because online platforms such as Facebook and Google have allowed marketers to leverage extremely precise and specific data in order to target those who need the services they’re advertising.
Growing so dependent on these platforms, online marketers hinged entire marketing strategies on them. Such dependency manifested into isolated ad campaigns that were constructed with the sole purpose of generating leads – a silver bullet approach.
This method of advertising online was effective especially in the earlier years when there was less competition advertising on the same platforms, when there was less noise on the internet, and when all consumer data was available for use (Harvard Business Review).
Today, this approach to online advertising isn’t nearly as effective as it used to be.
Think about it, if you search for any type of service online, you’re going to see 5-10 ads from different businesses on Google that sell that service. Then, you’ll get followed by 10-15 more ads for that service on whichever website or social media platform you visit!
This experience is not unique to you. It happens to everyone that uses the internet – even those whom your team is targeting with advertising.
What’s worse is that these consumers, now bombarded with ads and distracted by content, are becoming less identifiable.
Due to several software updates regarding user data privacy and protection, the 3rd party platforms marketers have relied on for the past decade can no longer leverage consumer data to targeting capabilities with the same level of specificity and precision as they once could (Hubspot and Harvard Business Review).
Despite the fading effectiveness of online ads, many online marketers are still relying on ad platforms the way they always have – building entire marketing strategies on the backs of the tech giants like Facebook and Google.
This dependency on online ad platforms combined with the noisy consumer internet experience and lack of consumer data is why your marketing efforts are not working.
Signs You’re Experiencing this Problem
If you’re on the fence about whether your marketing efforts are suffering from the issue that we’re describing, here are some signs your marketing has been affected.
CAC is Too High or Increasing
Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is a metric that represents how much it costs to get a new customer.
A rise in CAC may either indicate that the cost to advertise has increased while the number of customers gained from it remained constant, or that the number of customers gained from an ad campaign has decreased while the cost to advertise has remained the same.
If you’ve been using the same campaigns over a few years, and your CAC has become unbearably high, this could be a result of the fading effectiveness of the silver bullet approach to online advertising.
Ads Aren’t Producing Results
If your ad campaigns have been successful in the past but are no longer generating leads or customers, this could be a sign that your advertising is being affected by this issue.
Other possibilities could be that:
Cost per click or cost per conversion rates have increased, so you need to pay more in order to get results.
You need to target a new audience with the ads because the existing audience has been oversaturated (meaning they’ve seen the ads too much).
Quality of Leads has Fallen
This is among one of the most common signs that your ad campaigns have been affected by the overcrowding and privacy updates. Many marketers and businesses have noticed a drop in the overall quality of leads.
Online ads used to immediately attract leads that were qualified and ready to buy. Now, many of the leads aren’t serious about buying or aren’t even in the target audience – regardless of how meticulous your targeting and pre-qualifying measures are.
To recap, your ads are most likely not working because you’re using a silver bullet approach to online advertising where you rely on a single ad platform such as Google ads to produce leads.
Though this approach used to work, its effectiveness is rapidly decreasing due to the oversaturation or overcrowding of other ads on the internet as well as heightened consumer privacy protection measures on the internet.
The best solution to overcoming this problem is to diversify your campaign strategy while approaching potential customers earlier in their buyer journey.
So what does this mean?
Diversify Your Campaign Strategy
To diversify your ad strategy means to incorporate multiple campaigns on different platforms (e.g. Facebook, email, text message, Google, YouTube, etc.) that each serve different functions (whether to build brand awareness, to collect contact information, to answer FAQs, to generate leads, etc.). This follows a different method than the silver bullet campaign strategy.
With the silver bullet approach to advertising, you’re relying on one or two campaigns to do all of the heavy lifting. In most cases, they’re running on one platform such as Google and are set to complete one action – to generate leads.
This lone campaign strategy is what gets lost in the noise of the internet and obstructed by privacy updates. This is why we suggest weaving together several campaigns that serve different functions. Such functions should correspond with each part of the buyer journey which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Approach Customers Earlier in the Buyer Journey
Google search ads and advanced targeting options in other online ad platforms have allowed marketers and businesses to deliver ads to people who are most likely to buy immediately.
Having gotten used to the convenience of it all, we’ve prioritized ad campaigns that reach consumers right at the moment when they are ready to buy from someone. This moment occurs during the last stage of the buyer journey – the decision stage.
The buyer journey is broken down into 3 stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. By suggesting you target customers earlier in their buyer journey, we’re recommending you start making contact with them during the awareness stage.
Approaching consumers at the awareness stage will require a change in the type of ads and content you use.
For example: If you’re a floor covering business, then your ads targeting consumers at the decision stage (last stage) might target people who are thinking “I need to call flooring companies near me” and will have a call to action of “call us to schedule a consultation.”
If you begin to run ads targeting consumers at the awareness stage (first stage), then they might target people who are thinking “my carpets are outdated” and have a call to action of “check out the latest flooring trends in our online photo gallery.”
As you probably noticed, approaching customers earlier in their buyer journey means you’re further away from the point of sale.
Though it means your marketing efforts will have to court your potential customers over a longer period of time as they transition from awareness to decision, this approach is cheaper and more effective.
There’s less competition to target consumers who aren’t ready to buy which means it’s cheaper to reach them with advertisements. This allows you to either reach more potential customers or to increase the frequency at which you interact with potential customers through your ads.
Approaching consumers at the awareness stage, then aiding them through consideration and into the decision stage also gives you the advantage of controlling your narrative (explained in this blog), increasing brand awareness, and building trust. This helps your business distinguish itself from competitors as a leader in the industry -- which can even give you reason to charge more for your services.
Start Fixing Your Marketing
If you’re experiencing the problem we covered in this blog post and have read this far, then you must be serious about improving the results of your marketing efforts!
Now the question is where to get started...
We recommend you start by writing out the questions and needs your potential customers might have at each stage of the buyer journey for the service you want to promote. If you’re promoting multiple services, then create a set of buyer journey questions and needs for each service.
After mapping out the questions and needs to the buyer journey stages, begin developing ads and content that address the main questions and needs.
Note: This process takes time, but don’t get discouraged. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is an effective online marketing push that will drive results despite internet overcrowding and privacy measures!