The advent of social advertising campaigns created a great opportunity for the marketing community. A brand-new marketing channel opened, which brought companies in even closer contact with customers. Some companies immediately jumped into the game by creating a Facebook page and bombarding the social network with every new product that they offered.
In this new marketing channel, there were few established models or rules, and so marketing executives learned the rules by experimentation. One of the first things they discovered was the true cost to create a social campaign. Although establishing an initial web presence was certainly less expensive than many traditional advertising venues, such as buying time for television commercials, it still required a significant budget to be effective.
Marketers also discovered that if they took the approach of the town crier, throwing out fliers at random, that their marketing channel soon became sluggish. By developing cost models and analyzing online channel capacity, marketing executives were able to calculate the return on investment for social advertising and develop plans for campaign timing.
Social Advertising Costs
Newcomers to social advertising campaigns often base their ideas of cost on what they already know, such as the ease of sending an email, posting a video on YouTube, or creating a personal Facebook page. For instance, they reason that, once they setup an email account, purchase the email software, and compose the email, there is little incremental cost between sending the email to a single customer than sending to the entire company list.
They are correct that the material costs for designing an email are much less expensive than the equipment rental costs of filming a commercial. They are also correct that it is astronomically cheaper to send an email than distribute a television commercial. However, the costs can be significant for online content creation. Having amateurs design a company website or a Facebook landing page can be as disastrous as having amateurs film a television commercial. In either case, the perceived lack of quality could hurt the company rather than help it. The low quality of the advertisement could beunfairly associated with the quality of the company products themselves. For this reason, the company must budget for professional quality.
In addition, the content must be new and fresh, in order to maintain customer interest. Companies must consider the amount of money required for creating compelling content creation as a regular, repeating charge.
Strategies for Campaign Timing
Marketing executives understand that an advertisement must leave the customer with a single, focused thought. The more products that a company inserts into an advertising channel, the less likely a customer will be to choose one of the products and follow through to purchase. Even a company that features many products will have to focus on just a few products at a time, and maintain that focus for some period. This leaves marketing with the difficult decision of deciding which products receive the focus, and when each focused campaign should run.
One effective strategy is to use the data from other marketing channels to focus the social marketing channel. For instance, if a particular product were a best seller on the company website, then it would be a good candidate for a social marketing campaign. This strategy is especially effective for trending products. For instance, if sales for a particular product through the website channel begin to rise, marketing can amplify the effect by providing a supporting channel through social media. Companies that used performance indicators from existing marketing channels were able to improve social media campaigns to the following levels:
- Click-through rate increased by 62%
- Cost-per-action decreased by 45%
- Cost-per-click decreased by 23%
- Conversion rates increased by 41%
Dealing with Costs and Timing through Automation
With the demand for companies seeking to control costs and campaign timing, new companies emerged with powerful software platforms to automate the social marketing process. This software automatically conducts campaigns with the frequency the client specifies. For example, a client can specify a two-month campaign period, and the software responds by creating the initial Facebook landing page, then updating the page for the new campaign every two months.
An automated creation process can reduce the time it takes to update the Facebook page from a matter of weeks to just a few hours. Marketing executive can use the software to time precisely the advertising campaigns to correspond with other marketing events, such as press releases or holidays.
The software can also help choose the focus products. It can monitor the company database to automatically extract the performance indicators, and recommend the top performers for each subsequent campaign. One provider estimates that this strategy will increase the ROI by 62%. By using automation software, marketing can control the costs of social advertising campaigns, and maximize their effectiveness through the social media channels.