How To Fix A Failing Campaign

Published on
July 02, 2024

Episode Description:

Diagnosing and fixing underperforming campaigns is both an art and a science that can break your marketing strategy if done incorrectly. Sachin Rajah, Director of Client Services at Rocket Agency and Host James Lawrence discuss the significance of tracking and data accuracy, the role of creative in campaign success, audience targeting, and leveraging AI in ad platforms.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the DREAM framework (diagnose, research, implement, enhance, allocate, measure) for evaluating campaign performance
  • How to determine whether a campaign is failing
  • Importance of accurate data tracking
  • Ad platform tips and strategies 
    • The need to consider your entire marketing funnel
    • The effect of changing ad platform campaign objectives
    • The role of targeting
    • Getting the most out of Google’s AI
  • Creative’s role in campaign success
    • What kind of creative works (and what doesn’t)
    • The importance of split testing
    • The impact of a good landing page experience
  • B2B case study: turning around campaign performance

Also read: Fixed! 25 Practical Tips to Turnaround a Failing Campaign

Listen now on Smarter Marketer

The definitive podcast for Australian marketers.


James Lawrence

James Lawrence

Host, Smarter Marketer
Sachin Rajah

About the Guest:

Sachin Rajah is the Director - Client Services at digital marketing agency, Rocket. He is both a digital marketer and strategist who has a long track record in achieving huge return-on-marketing-investment and business growth across some of Australia’s largest brands.  Sachin has worn many hats in his career—sales, general manager, entrepreneur, investor, consultant, writer, trainer, mentor, strategist, digital specialist and account director.

Follow Sachin on LinkedIn.


Podcast Summary: How to Fix a Failing Campaign

Head of Client Services at Rocket Agency, Sachin Rajah, shares valuable tips on turning around failing marketing campaigns with proper tracking, great creative, and reviewing your marketing funnel.

It’s no surprise that not all digital marketing campaigns are successful. When campaigns stop performing, the digital marketing experts at Rocket have some structure around fixing the situation and turning things around for their clients. Let’s dive into this!

The DREAM framework

To troubleshoot a failing campaign, Sachin shares a robust framework known as DREAM:

  • Diagnose: Identify performance issues through analytics and understand where the problem lies.
  • Research: Dive into audience behaviours and competitor research.
  • Enhance: Adjust ad content and targeting strategies.
  • Allocate: Ensure budget and resources are being utilised efficiently.
  • Measure: Track the right metrics against campaign objectives.

By systematically applying the DREAM framework, you can better structure your approach to resolving campaign performance issues.

Diagnosing a failing campaign

It’s really important to understand what framework you want to follow to diagnose a failing campaign from beginning to end. This starts with identifying what could be going wrong. Poor targeting within ad platforms, weak creative, insufficient budget allocation leading to poor CTR, and poor conversion rates could be some of the issues. 

Many businesses fail to review the user experience and tracking set up, leading to poor business decisions.

How to identify a failing campaign

When working with agencies, clients typically share a KPI with their dedicated team to work towards, for example, a cost per lead (CPL) of AU$100. For SEO campaigns, the KPI could be the conversion rate (CVR) from organic traffic. The team measures the client’s ad platform CPL against said KPI and also measures historical data, looking at year-on-year (YoY) and month-on-month (MoM) changes. Trends and seasonality should also be considered, says Sachin. 

While comparing, if a discrepancy becomes apparent, you’ll know that a gear is stuck somewhere.

Tools that can help spot what’s wrong

Once you've identified performance issues, it's a good idea to use a performance tracker to get an overview of key metrics, a top-level assessment that would pinpoint which aspect of your campaign you should focus on improving. For this, you can use tools like Google Analytics, Search Console, Meta Ads Manager, and Google Ads Manager to compare your KPI along with MoM and YoY changes.

Research your competitors after checking your data

Once you’ve understood which campaigns are performing subpar, research what kind of campaigns the competition is running to compare your messaging and creative. 

Important: Double-check that your campaigns are being tracked correctly. If not, your campaigns might double-track your conversions, or the tracking could fall off a key event on your landing page (like a form submission). This is very common when multiple people are involved in updating a website.

Ad platform tips

Considering your entire marketing funnel is important for understanding how to optimise your campaigns on different ad platforms best.

Align your campaigns and goals

If your goal is to increase awareness, your campaign has to focus on reach and impressions rather than generating leads. The goal is to reach the right person with the right messaging, says Sachin.

Fumbling up your goals, your campaigns, and what each of them might be achieving for you differently is a common issue, especially amongst non-marketing professionals. James exemplifies this by mentioning that if you evaluate two campaigns, with CPLs of $5,000 and $80 each, you might easily think “I’ll go with the latter since it’s more cost-effective” without realising that the costlier campaign is a programmatic display ad on YouTube, reaching a considerable audience. Ceasing such a campaign if your goal is awareness would be a major strategic blunder.

Here’s a tip: Allocate a set budget to top-of-funnel (TOFU) campaigns, and consider middle-of-funnel (MOFU) and bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) campaigns in isolation against that performance budget. This would give you more flexibility to adjust campaign budgets without taking funds away from a costly but well-performing campaign.

Read: Marketing Decision Making Has Never Been Harder

Reconsider your campaign objective in ad platforms

Changing ad platform campaign objectives and using automation tools like Google’s Performance Max (PMax) can lead to better performance. It's important to understand though that platforms like Google and Meta use AI and behavioral signals to optimise ads, which means you’ll have to put your trust in technology sometimes.

You should also examine the structure of your account. It could be that your ad frequency is too high, preventing your audience from progressing through the customer journey properly. They may be stuck at the top of the funnel (TOFU) and unable to move down to the middle (MOFU) and bottom (BOFU) stages, where consideration happens. 

While it's important to check your campaign setup in this scenario, misaligned objectives might also be the issue. Objectives are crucial for ads; with AI and automation, Google Ads have significantly improved over the past 6-12 months. The more data you provide a platform, the better the results.

Additionally, consider your in-platform goal setting. For instance, if you set the campaign objective in Meta to lead generation, Facebook will serve your ad to people likely to convert. Your platform should align with your objective, rather than focusing solely on performance optimisation.

Evolve your campaigns as ad platforms evolve

What worked yesterday might not work today.

As ad platforms introduce new features, campaigns implementing these features generally see more success. For example, if you have a Google Ads set up and then PMax comes along, you’re going to see a dip in campaign performance. 

Sachin recommends leveraging automation in ads because automation is built around behavioural signals. Google has a lot of data on you and it knows the likelihood of you converting on a particular page based on your browsing history, your actual search terms and hundreds of other signals. 

The reality is that there are countless ways someone might search for your product, and a standard generic search campaign in Google Ads is unlikely to give you the exposure you’re looking for. Manually inputting phrase match or exact match keywords can cause you to miss potential customers; that’s where Dynamic Search Ads come into play. Overall, Rocket’s Google specialists have observed that search ads are decreasingly about the keyword and increasingly about the audience. Audience targeting is more important now to the success of search ads than the keyword itself.

Avoid micro-segmenting your audience

Here at Rocket, we see many clients come with well-thought-out Google Ads strategies but still don’t see the desired results. Sachin shares that a client’s campaign was performing well with a broad Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) campaign, but performance dropped after segmenting into specific search campaigns. The broader DSA campaign allowed the platform more freedom to reach different people based on the client’s budget. After segmenting, targeting narrowed to people actively searching, but many of those weren’t ready to convert. Google's AI offered a level of efficiency that was missed with manual segmentation.

For optimising performance, Sachin suggests that you dive deeper into audience targeting. This is crucial. For instance, when launching YouTube or display campaigns, or advertising on social media platforms like TikTok, split-test your audience. You should also analyse click-through rates (CTR) on different creatives and continuously test new ones to find what resonates best.

The importance of ad creative

A Neilson study on the factors of advertising effectiveness, looking at thousands of campaigns across media showed that creative is often the most important lever in a campaign’s success. 

Sachin presses that your creative is really the first interaction that a potential customer has with your brand. So, ensuring that you have a compelling visual or message can capture attention immediately. 

Good creative is memorable, evokes emotion and encourages clicks. James mentions that a key aspect of great creative is that it possesses a distinct resonance that compels the audience to take the action you want them to take. It’s important that your ad visuals and message stand out from your competitors.

We recommend split testing your creative, which is relatively easy in the digital space.  Monitor your campaign’s key metrics such as click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates. Take it a step further by personalising your campaign within the ad platform. This involves matching the right creative with the appropriate messaging and audience. To make sure your data is well-segmented, use data from your CRM. Good segmenting also helps with delivering the right message at the right time.

The role of a great landing page experience

To optimise your landing page experience, start by examining the search terms people use to find your page. This will help you understand the intent behind a user visiting your site. When you're confident you're attracting the right traffic, assess the elements on your page.

There are various tools and methods that can help you gain insights into user behavior. Heatmaps, available through tools like Hotjar, can show where users are clicking. Screen recordings can help you understand the user journey. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can be used to build out your funnel, providing detailed insights into user interactions. Tracking how long visitors stay on your page can also offer valuable information about engagement. These metrics collectively reveal what's happening on your landing page and how you can improve the user experience.

Check your metrics to confirm things are working correctly

To determine what's working and what's not, start by benchmarking your data against industry standards or historical performance to identify trends and analyse your metrics. Understanding the context behind them will help you interpret them correctly and build the right narrative. 

Start by analysing behaviour metrics. Then, conduct competitor research to see what their landing pages look like and what offers they provide. For example, if competitors are offering a free demo and you’re not, consider adjusting your offer and messaging accordingly. It's not just about the colour of your CTA button—focus on the overall offer and messaging.

From a best-practice CRO perspective:

  • Evaluate the structure of your page.
  • Ensure key CTAs are placed above the fold.
  • Review the remaining structure for optimisation opportunities.

Example - Turning around a failing B2B campaign

Sachin shares the story of a B2B client in equipment and warehousing with challenges in their Google Ads campaigns: double-counted conversions, limited campaign setup, and an un-optimised product feed in Google Merchant Center. These issues hindered performance, as Google couldn’t display sales extensions properly, without the right feed attributes.

To resolve this, Rocket’s paid search team:

  1. Corrected tracking to ensure accurate conversion data.
  2. Optimised the product feed for full visibility.
  3. Improved budget allocation by analysing segmentation and focusing on high-performing campaigns.

By examining conversion paths in GA4 and adjusting attribution models, the team identified which campaigns truly drove purchases. This optimisation nearly doubled the client's ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

Final thoughts

A comprehensive approach is necessary to diagnose and uncover the real narrative behind your campaigns. From data tracking and leveraging AI to optimising creatives and ensuring a seamless landing page experience, each element contributes to a winning campaign.

If you need help improving the performance of your marketing campaigns, Rocket’s award-winning specialists can help. Get in touch or drop us a line on 1300 059 620.


James Lawrence: Welcome back to the Smarter Marketer podcast. I'm here today with Sachin Raja. Sach, welcome back to the pod.

Sachin Rajah: Thanks for having me back, James must've really impressed you.

James Lawrence: Well, it's not about me. It's about the, uh, the audience and they've, um, they've been clamoring to get you back by popular demand.

Sachin Rajah: Nice. It's good to be back.

James Lawrence: So for those of you that haven't heard one of the episodes where such has been on previously, he's head of client services at Rocket plays a pretty integral part to the work that we do with our clients. I think a big part of your role is overseeing, um, how campaigns are working, ensuring clients are happy.

They're getting the results that they need. So when I thought of this topic, I thought of yourself, and I guess the reality is that as much as we like to hold ourselves to a high standard and do awesome work for our clients, there comes times where the work we're doing isn't driving the result they need.

You'll have campaigns that cease performing as you might want them to perform. And I thought today we'd try to give marketers an under the hood look at how you would go about approaching a situation like that. I think as a starting point. What's a good way for marketers to put some structure around how you might go about fixing a campaign that isn't performing how you want?

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, a really good framework that I like to follow is the DREAM framework. So that stands for Diagnose, Research, Enhance, Allocate and Measure. And when you look at the diagnose aspect, you're really looking at performance issues through your analytics data and understanding where the problem lies. Then you go into, ah, you're looking at.

Your research, so you're understanding audience behaviours, you're doing competitive research. You go into E then and you're looking at enhancing, so you look at your ad content and your targeting. You could also look at other performance metrics when you're looking at enhancing. Is your CPL being optimised against the right conversion objectives or campaign objectives?

Then you go into A and that's allocation. So am I allocating budget into The right areas, we even resources for that matter, um, if it's an SEO campaign and then finally, M M is measure and when you're looking at measuring, you want to make sure that you are identifying the rights metrics against your campaign objectives.

So how, uh. My lead generation campaign's going against CPL. How are my awareness campaigns performing against my reach objectives?

James Lawrence: That's a really simple and handy reference. And what are the symptoms or why do campaigns fail?

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, and I think before we get into that, it's really important to first understand what is the kind of framework that you want to follow to diagnose this from end to end?

How to essentially fix a failing campaign, right? That's probably the first step. That you want to go through is diagnosing what exactly the problem is. And to your question, some of the things that could be going wrong when a campaign is failing are things like poor targeting within your ad platforms, or it could be weak creative.

So potentially your CTR could be falling short. It could be inefficient budget allocation. So perhaps there are campaigns that are doing really well, and there's campaigns that are just not doing well. Might be. Or potentially taking the lion's share of your budget. So it's just kind of optimizing where your budget is going.

It could be other things like looking at your conversion rate. So how's your user experience and then data, making sure that your data is being tracked correctly. And that is one of the biggest things that I see. When we onboard new clients here at Rocket.

James Lawrence: So how do you, like, how, yeah, how do you know?

Because often clients will give us KPIs, which is, we're happy to spend X amount of money as long as CPAs stay in this range or growing, looks like 20 percent or whatever those things might be. Sometimes expectations are realistic. Sometimes they're not. So how do we know or how do you identify that something is failing or it's not driving the result that you need?

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, so typically clients will give us a KPI to work towards and so let's just say you've got a KPI of CPL. So you want to get leads through at 100 CPL as an example. So you want to be measuring. Your ad platform, CPL against that KPI. You want to be measuring it against your historical data as well.

Looking at both month on month and year on year, definitely taking into consideration seasonality and any trends like that. So if you are a lead generation type business, you'd be looking at your main metric, which would be your CPL across all your channels, across all your paid channels. If you're looking at analyzing SEO as an example, then you'd be looking at things like your conversion rate.

James Lawrence: And. If one of your team comes across the agency Florence as such, client's results have tanked or new client's just not happy with the way this particular campaign's performing, how do you go about putting some structure around that?

Sachin Rajah: So the first thing that I do is I look at a performance tracker. And so that performance tracker will give me a top level overview of your key metrics.

So if I'm analyzing a paid media client, I will look at things like. Your impressions, clicks, CPCs, your conversions and your conversion rate. From there, I will assess everything at a campaign level. So I'm not digging too deep because I want to get a top level overview of where to pinpoint my attention.

Or where do I, what do I want to put my attention into? Cause if we have things like Bing, you've got tick matter ads and Google ads, there's a lot of channels to cover them. So you want to get a top level overview. of where you want to focus that attention. So once you have a look at things from a top level, so we're really in that diagnose phase, you're using tools like Google analytics, you're using tools like search console, and you could even be in platform.

So you could be even be looking directly into meta ads manager or Google ads manager, and you're assessing where CPLs are dramatically falling month on month or year on year. at a campaign level. And so once you have understood which campaign across your marketing mix is contributing to the declining results, that's when you start to go into that next phase, which is that research phase.

And that's the phase where you really dive deeper into your audience data and doing competitor research and things like that. But before you get to that stage, it's really important that you ensure that tracking is correct. Because like I said before, In too many instances, I see either we've got clients coming to us where they might be double counting conversions or tracking could have completely fallen off or a key event on the landing page.

Because if you have multiple people making changes to your website, it's very easy for something to break as well. So in the beginning, you want to make sure you get tracking right.

James Lawrence: Yeah. And it's such a, such a hard one because I think most, my feeling on that would be the most. Marketers undervalue good tracking and good data and most marketers say that's not true place a massive degree of importance in it, but from experience looking at the types of data setups we inherit, what do you reckon 90, 95 percent of setups just manifestly wrong, lots of things, broken events being completely not tracked when they should be, it's, I think it's something that the Australian digital community generally doesn't do as well as abroad and I don't think, um, it's valued as much as it should.

James Lawrence: Good. And obviously, it's always been important, but it just feels even more so now, right, with the signals that we are sending to your Facebooks and your Googles based on conversion events, firing, etc. If you're beating incorrect information to those platforms, You just have incredibly poor performance in campaigns, right?

Sachin Rajah: That's right. And it's not that Australian marketers are doing anything wrong per se, it's that tracking is such a specialized skill and it's very difficult to find, even when we're recruiting. Tracking, finding really good tracking specialists can be one of the hardest candidates to actually recruit and find good quality talent for.

James Lawrence: Yeah, 100%. Yeah, I didn't mean that in a disparaging way. I think it's more just that I think often there's certain things in line items in budget, sorry, which people are happy to sign off and put reasonable money into, but it just feels to me that tracking data is an afterthought. It's pretty unsexy and it's, I get a Google data studio report each month and it looks okay to me, but often we'll look under the hood and it's just that it's a dog's breakfast.

James Lawrence: It's not just about having accurate data to rely on every each month, but it's also the impact that that data has on campaign performance now, um, exactly which one

Sachin Rajah: and just to put that into a practical example, just imagine you have a really key important conversion event that is just not firing and you're looking at conversions within platform and one campaign is performing much, much better than the other.

Sachin Rajah: And you're then making a decision of that data to potentially funnel more budget into the campaign when that campaign that's not doing so well could actually in fact be driving better quality conversions and a higher quantity of conversions as well. So that's really how important tracking is and I can't stress that enough.

James Lawrence: Yeah, 100%. So that is that if we jump in on the. The ad type form tips, first one we'll talk about being considering your entire marketing funnel and just the importance of that when looking at why a campaign might be failing.

Sachin Rajah: Yep. And a very important point. You have your awareness consideration and decision decision stage as, as we know.

Sachin Rajah: So for your awareness stage, if you've got campaigns at that stage of the funnel, you're really optimizing towards your reach and potential impressions. So if you're looking at that campaign and. Uh, you're asking your agency, why am I just not getting leads from this campaign? That's because the objective of that campaign should be reaching the right people with the right message.

Sachin Rajah: Should, the messaging should not be geared towards conversions.

James Lawrence: Yeah. A hundred percent. And it's so easy for particularly non marketers, right? To look at 10 campaigns and three of them, the CPLs that, you know, five grand and you're looking at other ones and the CPLs are at 80 bucks or we'll keep putting cash into the one that's 80 bucks.

James Lawrence: Mm hmm. Without actually realizing that those first two are display campaigns YouTube campaigns that are Reaching a huge audience that was never aware of us and bringing people through we had a really interesting one a few years back Which was a we're doing work for a bricks and mortar Furniture store really expensive stuff running digital for them for a long time and basically Turned off a lot of at their request We were very hesitant to do it a lot of the campaigns with a much higher CPL though Omni channel, online retail and bricks and mortar.

James Lawrence: And after about a month had the owner of the business call us and say, something's changed. No one coming into the store anymore. We realized that it was the top of the funnel campaigns. Awareness campaigns are actually driving people in store on Saturdays and Sundays. And as much as we try to talk about closing the loop and in store visits being tracked correctly through Geo, it was a classic example of not paying attention to the full marketing funnel when looking at why a particular campaign may be failing.

Sachin Rajah: That's so true. And that's why when I do look at optimizing campaigns and making suggestions, sometimes I even say we should allocate a set amount of budget towards those type of funnel campaigns and then really look at it. Your mid and bottom of funnel campaigns in isolation against that performance budget.

James Lawrence: Yeah, a hundred percent. And that's very in line with the long and the short of it. The idea that depending on your business, 60, 40 percent of your budget might be split between longer form marketing, which isn't, you're not judging that through things like CPL and conversion rate. You're judging that through things like you mentioned before, each impressions, those types of metrics.

James Lawrence: And if you conflate the two, you'll often have an issue with. Those bottom of the funnel campaigns just not performing as well as they should. The next one we had was consider changing the ad platform campaign objective.

Sachin Rajah: Yeah. So with this one here, you could be looking at the way your account is structured.

Sachin Rajah: So you have your top funnel campaigns, mid and bottom of funnel, and perhaps you could have instances where frequency might be too high. So you might be hitting people. Too many times with your top of funnel messaging and you're not bringing them through that journey through to your mid funnel messaging and your bottom of funnel messaging.

Sachin Rajah: So that's something that's really important to consider is the way your campaigns are structured and set up and the objectives that you're advertised to within those campaigns. But even the setting of the actual objective is really important within ad over the years as Google and Meta and TikTok have proved in the way of AI and automation, I'm seeing that campaign objectives, like PMX as an example, and Google Ads are performing much, much better than six months or 12 months ago when it was first introduced, and the more data that you give the platform, the better the results are, so I That's also a really another important consideration is what campaign objectives are you using?

Sachin Rajah: Are you leveraging AI as much as possible? And are you giving the platforms enough data to, to work with?

James Lawrence: That kind of reinforces the importance of data. If you're leaning on something like PMAX and you're giving Google incomplete or inaccurate data, you're going to find you have rubbish coming back through, right?

James Lawrence: That's it. So true.

Sachin Rajah: And also further to that point as well, you also got to consider. As an example in meta, if you're setting the campaign objective to lead generation, then Facebook is going to serve you out to those people who are likely to convert. So you really want to make sure that what you select in platform is really matched with what your true objective is, not what you think is going to drive the best performance, because like I said before, the tools, the technology has gotten much better.

Sachin Rajah: Even in the past, in the early days, I used to have campaigns on maximize clicks as an example for lead generation campaigns. And back then it was still very early days. And I did find some success in doing that, but that has definitely changed.

James Lawrence: The, uh, the computers are now smarter than you, Satch.

Sachin Rajah: I know.

James Lawrence: What about targeting? How big a role do you find targeting to be? And I think also what worked yesterday might not work today, right? I mean, that's the thing with all these things. If you've been running your Google ads set up and then PMAX comes on board, you haven't moved things over, haven't adopted new targeting capabilities in meta or in TikTok or LinkedIn, probably inherently going to be falling behind, right?

Sachin Rajah: And PMAX is a good example of that. And even dynamic search ads is a good example of that within the Google ecosystem. As an example, you could have someone searching a thousand different ways for your product. And if you are targeting them through a generic search campaign, where you're relying on manually inputting phrase match keyword, their exact match keywords, you could be potentially missing out on quality traffic that would actually be interested in your product.

Sachin Rajah: So that is coming back to leveraging AI through dynamic search ads, through PMAX to reach those audiences who. Maybe trying to find your product or service in a different way that you might not have thought of using your keyword research or data, your historical data.

James Lawrence: And how do you It was interesting.

James Lawrence: It was something that one of our paid search team members said at a staff meeting a little while back now, six, 12 months ago, and I've never thought of it this way, which was that search ads are decreasingly about the keyword and they're increasingly about the audience and almost making the point that audience targeting is more important now to the success of search ads than the keyword.

James Lawrence: Um, bidding that's going on, would you agree with that or is that for certain clients, but not all it's for, for someone that's been doing Google ads since the beginning of AdWord back in the early two thousands, it was a, like a real tipping point to me, but yeah, like, I'd be keen to get your observations on that.

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, that, that's a really important point. And it comes back to leveraging automation because the automation is leveraging its behavioral signals. So if you think about Google and how much data it has on you, It knows the likelihood of you converting on a particular page based on your, your browsing history, perhaps based on your actual search terms that you're inputting into Google.

Sachin Rajah: So that's why it could be less about the actual search term and more about tapping into those other signals that Google has access to. Really key example here could be, if you think about buying a TV and you think about, A top of funnel search or a bottom of funnel search. I could be searching for best LED TV and that would be a top to middle of funnel search query.

Sachin Rajah: Whereas if I search for a specific model, then of course that's going to be. More so a bottom of funnel query where I'm ready to convert. I'm ready to buy that particular model. Google would know based on my browsing history, the likelihood of me converting regardless of that search term that I put in, because I could have just put in Sony TVs and I could be ready to make a purchasing decision.

James Lawrence: Yeah. It's fascinating, isn't it? That the promise of search, which was always intent driven, keyword driven, they've looked exactly for your product or service can now be overridden by other behavioral signals that Google has on us. I think it is worth, cause I think we do have a lot of prospective clients that will come to us with often really well structured Google ads accounts, um, lots of thought put into campaigns, ad groups, et cetera.

James Lawrence: Lots of work with exact phrase and phrase match having well considered how they feel about broad match, et cetera, but the performance isn't quite there where it once was. And I think that's often because. The way to optimize within Google ads now is not what it used to be. And that some of that stuff still matters incredibly.

James Lawrence: Um, but it's, you, you do have to see that blending now, isn't it? Uh, when to, how to introduce PMAX and when to see things over to automated bidding and when not to.

Sachin Rajah: Yeah. And very timely, actually last week I was analyzing a campaign that we want a better performance of. I wouldn't say that it was failing per se.

Sachin Rajah: And it's actually to that point, we were testing segmentation and historically segmentation has worked really well. So we had a really broad DSA campaign and we looked at that campaign and we took themes that were performing really well, and we segmented them into the right and specific search campaign.

Sachin Rajah: But what we found when we did that was that performance actually had dropped because we When it was in the broader campaign and in a DSA campaign, we were leveraging more Google signals or giving the platform more freedom to reach different people based on our budget. Now we were going after essentially 9 or 10 out of 10 people who are searching that query.

Sachin Rajah: When in fact a large portion of those people weren't ready to transact, we were really missing out on the efficiency there in leveraging Google's AI. Yeah,

James Lawrence: it's interesting. Any other, before we move on, any other tips around platforms and how to get more out of the platforms themselves?

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, in terms of the platforms.

Sachin Rajah: You really want to dive deep into audiences, as you were saying before, can't stress enough how important audience targeting is. So if you've got, as an example, a YouTube campaign or a display campaign or in your advertising and social or TikTok, you want to make sure that you're split testing different audiences as much as you possibly can, because you might have campaigns that are relying on, it could be contextual targeting, it could be, You having to pre select certain audiences.

Sachin Rajah: So that's scenarios where you really want to be split testing audiences as much as possible. And then moving down another layer is creative. You want to make sure that you're analyzing your CTR on different creatives. You want to make sure that you're testing different creatives and just really leveraging the tools and the functionality of also doing a lot of experiments in Google ads and doing a lot of creative AB tests in meta.

James Lawrence: They're good, good, good insights. I reckon into some of the more platform driven factors that can lead to detrimental performance or improved performance. The next area we wanted to jump into is creative. And we've had a bit of a hitch earlier on today, which was, it had a bit, an element of creative and also an element of, of digital media buying, um, the prospect had turned to rocket fall and putting together the deck for the pitch.

James Lawrence: We pulled a graph from Nielsen five keys to advertising effectiveness, um, which is a big study that they did and really awesome kind of pie chart outlining what the key levers to campaign success is and so Nielsen across the study, I think it was thousands of campaigns, media, media, media, And the effectiveness of your media buying made up about 30 percent of the effectiveness of your campaign, your brand itself, or the 15%.

James Lawrence: So 45 percent of your likely effectiveness comes from media and brand, but then 55 percent comes from creative. So the impact of your creative will have is the biggest lever you have to pull in terms of campaign effectiveness. I think what would be some of your observations around the types of creative that have worked for your clients over the years, and I guess, conversely, the types of creative that just simply don't.

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, creative is so important, right? It's really that first interaction that a potential customer has with your brand. So really ensuring that you've got a compelling visual or message can capture attention immediately. And that's what you're really after here. You're after creative that has a really high engagement rate.

Sachin Rajah: So you want high quality creative. You, if you think about it, you're putting creative in front of users and what you want, what your objective is to get them to Either look at that creative and it'd be memorable. You want them to remember it, or you want them to click through on your ad and explore your product or services further.

Sachin Rajah: So looking at things like your CTR is really important when it comes to creative and looking at practical in platform metrics, you also want to be making sure you do look at reach as well and making sure that before you make decisions on whether a piece of creative is good or not, that you have had a sufficient amount of reach.

Sachin Rajah: Before you get to that decision,

James Lawrence: yeah, comment is a Sam is our creative director. She has a distinct resonance. I think he's a kind of phrase around what great creative traditionally has been. I have someone in the leading creative director and big agency land back in the day came up with that. And she has a variation of it, which is distinct resonance that compels just the idea that great creative is distinct.

James Lawrence: It resonates with the target audience, but then it also compels it at some level to drive action that you want. Um, which I think is a nice idea. I think emotion would be something I'd say that a lot of great creative has as a feature.

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, for sure. And that's the point I was coming to before, you really want your creative to stand out from the crowd.

Sachin Rajah: Your competitors and spark some sort of emotion in them to get them to remember your brand and get them to really consider what you're having to offer. And it just doesn't come down to it's a messaging visuals is so important as well in order to spark that emotion

James Lawrence: that's right I think we presume that anyone listening.

James Lawrence: That your creative follows a style guide, that it's been professionally created, that it passes the kind of Bell test, that it's, it feels authentic and that will, the type of creative you're rolling out will depend so much on your brand and the target market. There's certainly lots of incredible brands that have more cheap and cheerful feel, you can miss warehouse types, uh, your luxury goods, you're going to have a different level of production value on your creative, but has to be appropriate for, for your target market, right?

James Lawrence: And you're in the market, you're competing with him. Yeah. I think you've mentioned it, but testing what works right? And we do have the benefit in digital of being able to more easily split test, I think, than in many ways, more than in traditional media. The idea that you should be, where possible, testing creative to see which, which performs the other.

Sachin Rajah: That's right. And here you're analyzing performance metrics, like CTR, what I mentioned earlier, conversion rates, and then really identifying those best performing creatives. And taking it a step further, when it comes to in platform, you really want to ensure that you nail personalization. So matching the right creative, the right messaging with the right audience is so important.

Sachin Rajah: You just don't want to create this really cool, sleek creative that's on brand. And then it's being scattered across all your different audiences. So that's where the intersection between creative and performance marketing comes into play is really having your performance teams work with the creative and branding teams.

Sachin Rajah: To get that personalization

James Lawrence: that feels that is the future right that is the direction of this space where the AI promise is that you'll have this hyper personalization at scale and I think there's some truth to that and I think there's some probably around it but. Feels that having great data and not speaking around analytics and cracking, but having great customer data, having it really well segmented, having it in a platform like a HubSpot or a Salesforce or whatever it might be, will allow you at probably some point in the near future to be able to hyper personalize campaigns, creative content, particularly with the growth that we'll see in AI tools and technology.

James Lawrence: We had cat war boys, who's. APAC marketing director of HubSpot on the pod recently, and that was very much the HubSpot kind of direction. And Google is on the hunt to try to buy HubSpot. And you'd have to think that there's something within there that is very attractive to Google within, um, as to why they might be looking at making that transaction.

Sachin Rajah: Yeah, that's it. It's a good point.

James Lawrence: Let's presume that we looked at, we've got reasonable data, we're in platform, we're making some of those changes based on, um, the factors that you, that you went through earlier. You're assessing your creative feeling that there were thereabouts, um, conversions, like how do you actually, what are the, what are the types of things you're looking at if you feel that potentially a campaign is being let down by landing page experience, UX, um, CX.

Sachin Rajah: Yeah. So this is where you want to look at what search terms are people typing in, in order to get to that landing page or what creative are people saying in order to get to that landing page. That's the first step. You got to understand a user's intent when they are on your landing page. And once you understand that, and you're confident that you are driving the right traffic, that's when you take it a step further and you'll look at your on page elements.

Sachin Rajah: So if you've got a tool like Hotjar, you can track heat maps, you can have screen recordings, and you can understand the user journey. You can also use tools like GA4 to build out your funnel. So you can understand. The entry pages, and the exit pages, and where people are dropping off, so our people Dropping off on that first page, are they accessing other pages and then dropping off?

Sachin Rajah: You also want to understand how long people are spending on a page as well. So those are the kind of metrics that will tell you what is actually going on.

James Lawrence: It's hard, right? Cause we'll get asked all the time. What's a good conversion, right? How long is a good time on site? What's a good click through, right?

James Lawrence: And all those things I suspect is that it depends, right? You can definitely get some benchmarking data based on industry, but how do you assess it? Like, how do you look at it and go, yeah, the issue here is the landing page environment, but potentially that landing page environment might be converting at a reasonable percentage.

James Lawrence: Or are you very much just looking at guidelines and looking at benchmarking data to go, this is where the problem is.

Sachin Rajah: You are definitely using benchmarking data. But you're also looking at your actual CPL as a leading indicator as well, because as an example, I could have a campaign that's driving really high quality traffic bottom of the funnel versus another middle of funnel type campaign, and the middle of funnel type campaign could be inflating all my figures because I'm driving thousands and thousands of visitors that I'm not ready to convert.

Sachin Rajah: So that's why you've got to take that into consideration as well. You can't just say, all right, my conversion rates, 1%, that's terrible because you've got to take into consideration the context. So it's understanding number one, your benchmarks and number two, your historical data and your other leading indicators as well to know if that is a good or bad conversion rate.

James Lawrence: Any advice on where to look to try to find out whether your conversion rate is an acceptable one?

Sachin Rajah: I would definitely look at benchmarking data and there's lots of sources on the internet on Google that you can look for in terms of your specific industry. A lot of the stats are international based or US based, but you can use that as a guide if there is no Australian data.

Sachin Rajah: And you can also use some competitor research tools as well, so SEMrush is another good example though that you can use. Yeah, those would be the main tools.

James Lawrence: Yeah. And if you're feeling that your landing page experience is your Achilles heel, what would be your kind of suggestions around improving that?

Sachin Rajah: So first, once you've analyzed your behavioral metrics, you want to also do some competitor research as well. So understand what are your competitor landing pages looking like? And are you missing any key elements? So as an example, your competitors could be offering, if you're a software as a service customer, you could have, a free demo that your competitors are offering that that you're not offering.

Sachin Rajah: You could have someone offering a free trial and you're not offering a free trial. So there's all these other considerations that are at play here when it look, when you look at optimizing your landing page. So it's not just about KMI, CTA buttons in the right color, or is the structure of my landing page good?

Sachin Rajah: You also have to consider your offer and your messaging as well. So it's competitor research. It's then looking at things from a best Practice CRO perspective. So that's when you then look at the structure of your page. Do I have my key call to actions above the fold? Do I have my key messages above the fold?

Sachin Rajah: And then look at the remaining structure and go from there. I

James Lawrence: think it'd be good to share a story or two of a campaign performance that you have turned around and maybe don't speak specifically to the brand, but maybe you could talk about category or type of business. What changes were made that then had performance turnaround?

Sachin Rajah: Yeah. So I think it was towards the end of last year, client came to us there in the B2B space, industrial type equipment, warehousing, and they do transact with customers online. So it is an e commerce client for us and we were managing, we were engaged to manage their Google ads. Now, when they came to us, we had a few challenges to work with.

The first one was. We had conversions and e commerce revenue double counting within the platform. That was the first thing that we had to resolve. The second thing that we had was campaigns were very limited in terms of the way that it was set up in the segmentation. And the third problem that we found was the feed was not optimized correctly.

So when you're looking at Google Merchant Center, and if you're an e commerce business. Feed optimization is so important, really important. As an example, if you are running a sale and you don't have the right attributes listed in your feed, Google will not know it's on sale and it won't show that sale extension.

So that's just an example of how important feed optimization can be, and it can also impact your visibility as well. So those were onboarded this client. And how we turned around or improved performance dramatically was number one, getting tracking sorted. So we were analyzing clean, correct data when we were making the right decisions.

The second thing that we looked at was ensuring that the feed was optimized and that we had 100 percent visibility of all their products. The third thing that we did was we looked at segmentation and where the budget was being spent. So we, this is a large spending account. I'm talking six figures a month.

And there were areas where we were, there was a significant amount of budget being spent, where it was just not contributing to a purchase. Now, what I said, that was really important contributing to a purchase. When I looked at the conversion parts in GA4 and I look at attribution and you can actually change between different attribution models.

You can then start to understand what campaigns are actually driving that user towards a purchase. And so we used that information to really optimize those campaigns and pull budget away from what we knew was not performing well. And we put it into campaigns that were performing. And just some simple things like that can have a significant impact on your return on ad spend and your revenue.

James Lawrence: And what, so no fun of example, what sort of change in ROAS would you have had from making those? Kind of foundational changes, structural changes.

Sachin Rajah: It's quite significant. So that one there, we had an increase of about 1. 8 times. So it almost double.

James Lawrence: Yeah.

Sachin Rajah: The Ross.

James Lawrence: Kind of incredible, isn't it? The idea that if it's a six figure account, even if it's just bang on a hundred, that's a hundred K.

Of media spend, you don't need to, to, in order to double your ROAs. Yeah, massive. Massive. Otherwise. Fascinating stuff. If, if you've managed to get to the end of this pod, I'd like to think that there's one practical takeaway that you could run away with and go, yeah, I actually haven't thought about implementing that in my campaign, which is struggling so such.

Thanks so much for coming back onto the pod and I hope to have you back soon.

Sachin Rajah: Thanks, James. Good to be back.

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