Ask the Expert: Secrets to a Great Digital Campaign Strategy

A comprehensive digital campaign strategy is the key to finding campaign insights. At Goodway, we strive to provide our clients with marketing insights on every campaign. Our strategic planning process uncovers insights through taking an approach that combines both art and science.

Goodway group insights process and best practices

Q&A with Nick Gaudio

As director of account management at Goodway Group, Nick guides the account management team to find meaning in data. He applies an end-to-end test-and-learn philosophy to help deliver the insightful reporting and strategic planning services Goodway’s clients deserve. Nick believes that numbers tell stories and that good campaign strategy is a delicate blend of craft and science. He’s spent the last two years at Goodway as the director of strategy and insights, working directly with clients to provide strategic advisement, education and subject matter expertise.

Access our digital campaign strategy guide for tips on how to build insights into your campaigns.

How do you set up your client’s digital campaign strategy for insights? Is it the same starting point for every client, or does it vary?

Since our overall planning process is strategically driven, we do our best to always set up our clients’ campaigns for insights. First, we look at a client’s goals and align those with the most effective channels to achieve success, whether the goal is upper funnel or lower funnel or awareness or direct response. However, within those goals there might live some unknowns such as, who is my audience, or is this the right creative message to present to the consumer? We compile a list of these questions, and then develop test-and-learn action plans or A/B testing to let the data guide us to the answers. Most clients start with some idea of who their audience is, yet segment discovery is a big part of the digital insights process. It helps to start broad and then further dive into subsets. For example, if you are selling computers and you know that college students are your core audience, testing can extract insights around whether we should also target the parents who actually make the purchase. Other clients might find insights diving into site analytics, testing different calls to action or measuring in-store foot traffic.

What value do insights provide?

Insights should be able to provide actionable recommendations that move up the marketing chain. Once you assess the data from a digital campaign, it should be applicable elsewhere. You might start with digital, but the best value is an insight that has a ripple effect to out-of-home, print, TV and partnerships or sponsorships. Ultimately, when you can apply those learnings to your client’s greater business, you can provide them ways to spend their budgets or run their business more efficiently. Digital has the advantage of rapid iteration and gaining significant sample sizes quickly, which presents the ideal test bed for insights.

What successes have your clients seen with campaign insights?

A luxury car dealership was targeting golfers, a segment they had been marketing to for years. However, when we did a segment exploration, we found that the golfer group had a lower digital ROI than other audiences. The golfers were still important to the client, but needed to be valued differently because they are an expensive audience to go after. We refocused our budget on lower hanging fruit to find more users that were still highly qualified, yet less expensive to balance out the cost of the golfer audience. Believe it or not, we discovered that owners of this brand also enjoy going to comedy clubs. It came totally out of left field, but there was an observed significant correlation and impact. This was not what the dealership was expecting, but it ultimately became a successful new segment that they continue to target.

You CAN’T always bat .1000. What’s your approach when an insight turns out to be false?

When you bubble up an insight, you are drawing from a trend with statistical significance, but it’s not always guaranteed to be right. With an experimentation-first mindset, it’s important to be OK with being wrong, because that’s crucial feedback that tells you to pivot and try again. It’s like Facebook’s old mantra of “moving fast and breaking things.” With digital, you have the advantage of being able to move fast and change rapidly if something isn’t working. Agencies and advertisers need to be OK with their hypothesis being wrong since course-correcting is part of a digital campaign strategy. Perfection is the enemy of good — it’s far better to be right only 80% of the time than not knowing what is working 80% of the time.

What are some common issues or blocks you see when agencies struggle to find campaign insights?

There are three main issues that I’ve seen several times:

  • The first is agencies or advertisers that aren’t open to an experimentation mindset. They are steadfast in their conception of their audience and assume their audience never changes or develops new interests. It’s important to be willing to try new things to gain insights.
  • The next issue is not including an active control in tests. Your control group must be running at the same time as an experimental group; otherwise, your conclusions won’t be valid. If you compare test results to last month or last quarter, your performance could have been affected by seasonality or the news cycle, so it’s like comparing apples to applesauce.
  • The final issue I encounter is agencies that act transactionally rather than strategically. An agency might say they want to spend $50K on a specific site or tactic because it’s “the thing to do,” without thinking through why they want to run there. Will they learn something from that site? If we’re just placing the media, we’re simply providing measurement and attribution, and no learning will come from that.

Digital Campaign Strategy Series How to Build a Digital Campaign Strategy to Gain Valuable Insights