Avoiding the Pitfalls of Digital Advertising
Article Date: August 22, 2023
Don’t Just Set It and Forget It
In today's fast-paced digital environment, it is an absolute must for brands to capture the attention of their target audiences online. This has created a media landscape that has allowed for digital advertising to thrive and become a foundational component of marketing strategies for building materials manufacturers.
The rise in popularity of digital advertising can be attributed to three main factors: Targetability, measurability, and reportability.
In addition, going digital allows advertisers to reach large slices of their target audiences with what may be perceived as “minimal effort.” This had led some advertisers to adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality. This approach trusts the algorithms established by Google and others to do the heavy lifting. While convenient, trusting Google too much presents a host of challenges, including jeopardizing the overall effectiveness of your online marketing efforts, missing out on the right audience, and an inability to hit target KPIs.
How can you avoid these pitfalls and ensure your campaigns as a building materials manufacturer remain on track with your goals?
Online? You Must Refine.
Popular digital advertising methods include programmatic; paid social; search engine marketing (SEM); and digital assets secured through media partners (such as trade publications) for spots in eBlasts and eNewsletters as well as participation in sponsored content blogs, case studies, video alerts, and more. The opportunities are vast, and your annual media plan will likely feature a combination of these tactics.
However, if you are building a digital-heavy advertising plan, it is critical to never “set it and forget it.”
A media plan can be likened to a garden. Plants need to be introduced to the soil, watered, and planted in a spot with enough sunlight to thrive, and you need to tend to them on a regular basis. Similarly, your paid media plan should be tweaked, refined, and optimized with an eye on the KPIs you established at the start of your campaign.
Keeping Up With the KPIs
Each organization’s KPIs are going to vary, at least slightly. Nonetheless, it is critical to determine your KPIs prior to kicking off your digital advertising plan. Otherwise, how will you measure success or know if your efforts are paying off?
As a building materials manufacturer, your digital program will incorporate multiple KPIs built to address each stage of the funnel from awareness to education and engagement, conviction, action, and/or post-sale follow up.
As an example, one of your goals might be to get users to your digital hub: your website. The KPI in this instance might be clicks that lead the user to an informative-based landing page. Here, it is wise to measure the resulting time spent on page and what sections of the page are resonating most with readers via heat mapping.
Another example – for the initial awareness stage of the funnel – KPIs could include reach, impressions, view-through rate for video assets, or ad recall in a post-campaign survey.
Overall, it is critical to identify, track, and measure how your building materials campaigns are performing throughout each stage of the marketing funnel and if you are hitting your target KPIs.
There are plenty of other ways to measure success, too, such as:
- Social engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments)
- Social media follower growth
- Brand search volume
- Ad position and placement
- Ad quality score
- Cost per click
- Open rate
- Click-through rate
- Website traffic
- Page views per session
- Leads generated
Regardless of what your KPIs are, establish them early on and measure your success against those metrics throughout the campaign’s life cycle.
Optimizing: How Often?
Skillful paid media managers in the building and construction sector will tell you that scrutinizing your digital media mix should occur on a daily basis. However, this requires having everything properly set up on the back end. You must ensure that all conversions are set up properly and that UTM codes are being utilized where necessary within your assets. Most importantly, all advertising assets must be accounted for and visible within your Google Analytics dashboard so you can regularly measure, compare, and refine.
Not only will metrics constantly shift based on the behavior of your building materials buyers, but the analytics systems used to measure performance are also always evolving. For example, what was previously Universal Analytics (UA) has been replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4), which was introduced to provide more advanced tracking and analytics capabilities.
However, the rise of a “cookieless” web experience changes the equation for digital advertisers who were once able to rely on third-party data more readily for targeting purposes. Now, there is a greater need for advertisers in the building materials space to cultivate, maintain, and supply their own first-party data for optimum audience targeting.
From a reporting perspective, it is important to look at all metrics to fully understand how your digital advertising is performing. This includes regularly examining Google Analytics as well as trade publication vendor reports. Remember, these two sets of data may not be perfectly in sync dependent upon the systems of measurement in Google versus individual trade media vendors. Therefore, it is good practice to establish benchmarks for all media sources and for the KPIs that you put in place. This will allow you to examine performance on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even year-over-year basis to see how your current campaign stacks up against former digital advertising efforts.
Here to Stay
While other forms of traditional advertising have their place in paid media plans, digital advertising provides building materials manufacturers with more options to reach their target audiences. It also provides media planners and buyers with the big three: targetability, measurability, and reportability. The pandemic expedited a migration to digital advertising, especially in the building products category, which was slower to make this transition pre-pandemic. During this time, traditional print publications were being sent to empty offices, and the costs of printing and mailing print magazines became less appetizing for vendors. Now, vendors are leaning toward digital properties and expanding their offerings for building materials advertisers. It is simply a better business model.
Building materials manufacturers have myriad advertising opportunities and countless avenues to reach their target audiences online. The beauty of digital is that by remaining flexible and revisiting your approach on a perpetual basis, you can tweak your media plans on the fly to enhance the performance of any underperforming assets. Set in stone should never be part of the vocabulary.
In digital advertising, the only constant is change.
BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.