lessons from hundreds of ad accounts: creating quick wins that drive roi

As a media agency, we’ve audited countless paid media accounts, and we’re here to spill the beans on the common mistakes we’ve seen across brands. In this week’s podcast episode, we break down those mistakes and share how to fix them. If you’re looking for quick wins, it starts with fixing what’s broken. Andy and James go into the details on common issues they find across ad targeting, measurement & creative. Don’t be another marketer hyper-focused on fulfilling vanity metrics, in turn losing sight of your bottom line.

Podcast Transcript

From Dragon 360, this is Digital Banter, a podcast focused on modern marketing tactics and driving real business results. And now here are your host .

[00:00:14] Andy: My name is not Catfish Andy. I would say that fishing over the weekend, I did a pretty damn good job of catching things that were not catfish. Yeah,

[00:00:25] James: there’s no catfish in that lake. I looked it up.

[00:00:27] Andy: There’s gotta be at least some, there’s gotta be some

[00:00:30] James: bottom feeders. You did have, you had one job and you were supposed to feed us for the weekend and.

We had nothing to show for it.

[00:00:37] Andy: Nobody caught a perch. Yeah. You were the one, you

[00:00:41] James: were the one with the

[00:00:41] Andy: live worms. Oh, okay. Right. Just dangling ’em down there. Hoping I get a perch to, to come outta nowhere. Yeah. Meanwhile, I’d get skunk the entire day and I’d be bored outta my mind.

[00:00:52] James: Oh, with perch

[00:00:53] Andy: fishing?

Yeah. Compared to actually something. Really being reeled in.

[00:00:59] James: Yeah, I [00:01:00] guess, I dunno.

[00:01:02] Andy: I don’t know. But anyway, draft is tonight kicking it off. Eagles are picking 10th and 30th. They’re going to trade out of at least one of those. What are your, what are your chiefs picking at? Do you even know? Chiefs?

[00:01:13] James: No, I’m a Jets fan this year.

[00:01:15] Andy: Oh, okay. So you joined the the Rogers bandwagon now?

[00:01:18] James: Yeah. I mean, how can you not? You know what’s funny? So the last, the only, I say the last cause I’ve had ’em before, but the only Jets jersey still in my possession. I. Is a Brett fav jersey.

I’m going to start, like, I’m going to bring it out. I feel like now it’s like almost, ironic for me to like start bringing out at games and stuff. Like, oh, I’m going to wear my fav jersey.

[00:01:42] Andy: You gotta gotta, but now you gotta get a Roger’s one. Like you basically can only buy a jersey of somebody’s 38 years older.


[00:01:48] James: yes. And they have to new, they have to be new on the team too. It’s like, The, I’m going to have like a whole wall in my office maybe of like quarterbacks that have gone to the jets to die and [00:02:00] just post them all around. We’re up to number two.

[00:02:03] Andy: Geez. I mean, the draft is, at least for, for our listeners, a good analogy here on today’s topic.

So the draft is about, Super Bowl contenders, filling some holes, going for those quick wins and getting to the pinnacle of their profession holding the Lombardi trophy and the perennial losers. I mean, I don’t think the Browns are necessarily the perennial losers anymore, but those teams that just consistently underwhelmed and underperform looking for those franchise players, looking for those long-term franchise players that are going to elevate the team over the course of time and.

That’s why it’s a great analogy because on today’s episode of Digital Banter, we’re talking about creating quick wins that maximize ROI from paid media, really in the huge kind of umbrella view of 2023. Like we called out back in November. This year’s about efficiency and it’s really should always be about efficiency, whether it’s economic [00:03:00] downturns or economic, you know, craziness.

In terms of positivity, it should always be about efficiency. It should be always about maximizing investment, maximizing roi, and really making your dollars go as far as it can. Now James, I think on the flip side of that, one thing that we come into play with a lot is, yeah, great, you want to go for quick wins, but not necessarily at the sacrifice of long-term gains.


[00:03:29] James: Yeah, I mean it’s,

It’s interesting going from the year of grow at all costs to a level of efficiency because I do think to your point, like we don’t want to… not everything is a quick win. There’s a point where quick wins wear out. Right? Like you’ve done it all. We’ve done a technical SEO audit and fixed the broken stuff on your site.

Your paid media campaigns are targeting the right people with the right messaging, and you’re not [00:04:00] blowing a bunch of money on stuff that you didn’t even know was running. Right? We see stuff like this all the time. But there’s definitely a point where like, you’ve cleaned up the mess and it’s time to be a little bit more forward thinking.

[00:04:15] Andy: And Billy on top of that. The other aspect of that is

Where does your overarching strategy lead you? If you’re just creating quick wins in paid search, is that really going to create long-term growth for the business? I don’t want to go down the whole demand capturing, demand gen… rabbit hole that many others do and that we found ourselves on previous episodes doing.

But strategically, it is also of that mindset. Create efficient, quick wins in your channels as they exist today, but then you have to keep a balance against the long-term, trajectory of the brand. As it relates to your marketing initiatives. The other thing too that is important to bring into the conversation here is quick wins really only create a patch job. Or they can only create a patch [00:05:00] job if you have larger issues at play.

Poor UX of the website. You know, a lack of positioning. Unclear or undefined ideal customer profiles, personas. And, you know, everything internally as it relates to challenges between marketing and sales conflicts. Hey, these aren’t qualified. These are qualified. This is what we need to be surviving. You know, having only an eye on quick wins, it can just be masking what is a larger issue within the organization. think that’s the other thing to kind of call out here as, as we talk through today’s episode for sure. I think also over the last 15 years, because Dragon 360 has been around that long and you and I have been in the marketing world for about about that, that amount of length too. We’ve seen a lot of shit

like there’s been a lot of bad structures targeting a lot of wasted money over the years, wouldn’t you say? Yeah.

[00:05:55] James: I mean, it’s funny, our. I feel like every [00:06:00] agency probably has like the, the same sales model. It’s the same thing that you go when you, when you’re going to visit a mechanic it’s, oh, I’m coming to you.

I got a noise. Something’s wrong. I’m not sure what it is. Step one, look under the hood. So, you know, we may not have ended up working with all of these brands or you know, anything along those lines, but like we’ve looked under the hood of. I mean hundreds of B2B SaaS companies over the course of the years.

You know, we have obviously worked with a lot of them as well and been able to help uncover and fix those problems. But, you know, as we take in and audit accounts, we see some pretty obvious commonalities across the board and, you know, things that. You know, I would almost consider from things that we almost consider a mistake.

Like, okay, that person screwed up pretty much like they have. They clearly have no idea that this is actually happening and we need to fix that to some more high level [00:07:00] strategy stuff of like, you know, a mismatch of I. Offer and level of an intent or, you know, minor things that can be improved. But, you know, overall there are definitely some trends that, that we’re going to go through today that are quicker wins.

You know, because I think that the whole purpose of today’s podcast is to focus on what some of those quick wins are. You know, you can reach out to us, have us audit your account, or you could go through this checklist that we’re going to go through today and maybe you’ll find a thing or two.

[00:07:33] Andy: I think finding a thing or two is a good mention though.

Especially as you talked about that, you know, going to the mechanic analogy that you gave. I mean, how many times have you gone, well, you do your own oil changes in some capacities, but I don’t, how many times have I gone to Jiffy Lube and I get the guy coming in, oh, your cabin filter can be changed. This can get changed.

Your wipers are going. It’s like, okay, great. I came for an oil change though, and now you’re going to try and sell me on [00:08:00] everything else. The point I’m trying to make though, is when you start to look under the hood, you’re not just going to find what you’re hoping to find, you’re going to find a lot more, most likely that’s going to lead to greater efficiency gains than what you were actually hoping to get out of an initial audit.

And that’s why this process and this checklist and the entire approach itself is so important because of all of the opportunities that it presents of essentially stopping the bleeding stop hemorrhaging money that is just going out the door as far as waste is concerned. So, James, let’s get into the, the, the kind of mindset and checklist a little bit here.

I know we’re going to go pretty deep as it relates to some of the things that you kind of just teed up there before targeting messaging and things like that. But I want to start it off by talking a little bit about how do you even get started? Because in B2B or really any marketing. There are or should be a lot of channels running, especially as it relates to paid media, whether it’s search, social, o [00:09:00] t t, programmatic, multiple vendors, multiple partners, et cetera.

How do you create the roadmap to uncovering and identifying where you start? And that comes back to bottom line results, in my opinion. Yeah, that comes back

[00:09:12] James: to, go ahead. I was going to say like, I think

To talk through, honestly, like basic strategy stuff… it comes to aligning. First aligning, figuring out what your goals are and what your overall strategy is going to be.

Is it going to be demand gen? Demand capture? Is it going to be the traditional lead gen structure that everybody is ripping on these days? Do you have an e-commerce based strategy? Like every B2B company has slightly different goals that are built around what their sales process is. And with your marketing strategy, it’s super important to make sure that the overall strategy is aligned with that sales process.

So, I mean, this is going to tell you whether everything I just talked about throw ABM into the mix. Like is the strategy to support sales? Is the strategy to [00:10:00] drive inbound? Is the strategy to drive e-commerce? That’s where you have to start. And then, you know, the other basic strategy pieces are… who is your core audience?

Who’s your ICP? Where do they hang out? And serve them the right messaging at the right time. So being able to get all of those things in place is going to tell you what channels you’re on. What your messaging needs to be. And all those details that fall in line with the strategy.

Today. I don’t think we’re going to get into those too much depth just because.

Let’s just say we could talk about strategy for hours. I think we’re going to get into some of the more specific channel stuff, but it is good when you’re doing any sort of audit to make sure that those things somewhat align first before you start diving any

[00:10:47] Andy: deeper. It’s important to build on top of what you’re saying though too, because

If the overarching objective is to drive new leads. Well, when you start to really get [00:11:00] into different channels and different campaigns. Not every campaign and initiative has that as the direct output. You’re going to have your, you know, demand capture initiatives. You’re going to have your retargeting and nurturing initiatives. And then you’re going to have your prospecting and brand awareness and demand gen efforts that you shouldn’t be measuring in the form of, you know, direct conversions.

And there’s been plenty of times over the years where we’ve come across this. Where there’s this overarching objective in every campaign should be leveling up to that as the KPI. I mean, ABM is a great example here. How many times have we, and this is rhetorical, don’t answer this. But how many times have we come across an ABM pilot or an ABM initiative?

And the KPI that somebody’s measuring against is lead gen forms. Like those, just, those are contradictory.


[00:11:53] James: times.

[00:11:55] Andy: It’s way more than 37 times, but whatever. And the [00:12:00] other aspect of that is, One thing that you mentioned is your channel strategy. Where does your audience actually hang out? I mean, there’s been plenty of times too, and I don’t want to harp on this too much, but there’s been so many times over the years where we come into the mix and we’re seeing our prospective clients, you know, running LinkedIn ads when we damn well know that their audience only uses LinkedIn for a profile and to update your job status every five years.

They’re not actually hanging out on that platform. Right. And that’s, that’s where it all kind of builds out as far as a roadmap is concerned, in my opinion, as far as where you set your priorities, where’s your greatest opportunity of saving money and where is the most likely, area that you are just pissing away money.

And that’s where you start and that’s where you really start to walk through kind of this audit approach that we are about to talk about.

[00:12:54] James: Yeah. So let’s, let’s dive into this a little bit. Cause.

First thing with strategy [00:13:00] is start with goals. I feel like every marketer on the face of the earth goes through and hopefully it’s gotten to the point right now where they’re goal setting first before they’re building a strategy.

So with goals comes the measurement of those goals. So inherently with any audit that we do, measurement is the first place that we start.

[00:13:21] Andy: The first thing is what are you tracking? And is it legitimate or is it illegitimate?

Great example here is… okay, e-commerce transactions, if you are selling online. Meetings being booked, demos, trials. Those high value, high intent activities that are happening. Those are absolutely conversions. And you should be tracking those every single time across every single platform that you’re running paid media. And naming them consistently across all of those channels. Unless you’re using a unified tracking system, you know? Either a [00:14:00] DSP or a bid management tool where everything’s flowing in. And you have single conversion setups. You’re going to likely have, you know, three to five plus instances of the same thing being tracked across LinkedIn, Meta, Google, Bing, programmatic, et cetera.

So consistency is of the utmost importance. And on the flip side of that, making sure that you’re not just creating BS performance success by measuring things like random page views, or add to carts. Or other things that are certainly parts of the customer journey. But they’re not truly measurements of success as it relates to true performance being driven by your paid media.

It just creates a bunch of fluff, at the end of the day, and it’s something that should be avoided because at the same. Token besides creating fluff as far as reporting and insights and performance is concerned, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice when it comes to your bid strategies. Whe [00:15:00] especially

if you’re not prioritizing certain activities over others, you might have a bid strategy that’s set up to optimize towards conversions, but if the most conversions being driven are some bullshit PDF download or add to cart, you’re actually sacrificing revenue at the end of the day.

For quality leads by prioritizing that as your initiative rather than the true measurement of success, which would be that form submit or those purchases. So consistency, ensuring things are actually set up and working properly. And then also on top of that, the integrations. If you’re in b2b, you’re going to most likely have Salesforce.

You’re going to have HubSpot, Marketo, ELICOS, Pardot as your automation system, and there’s some other things out there. But ensuring that you actually are integrating all of your ad channels with those, passing through appropriate parameters, linking up the accounts if that’s, you know, available through your APIs.

All of those is part of this checklist too, to make sure data is flowing from the ad platform. Into those various tools. A great oversight here that I just saw the other [00:16:00] day again, is many B2B brands leverage U T M parameters to pass through data into these tools. Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo. They’re using, let’s say the source medium or campaign or other variables that they’re plugging into their URLs, so that way hidden fields within their forms capture this information and attribute that lead back to the originating source.

Here’s the issue. When you get into Google Ad specifically, many times everybody forgets about auto tagging and auto tagging can override all of those parameters. You just spent time setting up and creating and manually mapping to your forms. And in reality, what happens then is not only are you skewing, skewing your data within the platforms themselves, HubSpot, Marketo, Salesforce, but if you’re using Google Analytics, you’re actually bifurcating your data within that platform.

It’s screwing up your entire measurement protocol as a result. So that simple step, that simple look at auto tagging versus manual tagging can save [00:17:00] you a lot of grief, a lot of headache, and a lot of money. James, I know you’re big as far as looking at lead quality is concerned. How do you go about doing that?

Because I think that’s the next iteration then on top of just simple conversion tracking. Yeah, I

[00:17:14] James: mean,

Step one is make sure that everything’s working correctly, like is it feeding right into the platforms? Is that data feeding into HubSpot? Is it going into LNS systems? Basically making sure that all that upfront tracking is in place. Are you able to accurately track leads?

Step two is like, okay, what actually happens after that form is submitted? What happens later on in the process? Like, who are those people? Are they the right people?

I feel like an obvious step is like, okay, yeah, it looks we have a cost per lead of $30 and everything looks like really good. We’re hitting our cost per lead goals. And then you go into HubSpot and you take a look at those leads and they’re all, you know, Nigerian princes who have hacked into the system. And it’s just like, not accurate [00:18:00] stuff.

So honestly, it’s just like opening up HubSpot, running a couple of reports and seeing the quality of those leads. Like are they progressing down the funnel? Are they being thrown out?

I like to run this report where you look at the common rejections for sales. Like we had one recently, everything looked good, but 60% of the leads that were coming through were students

so, Easy optimization within LinkedIn is change the, the age and exclude students. It’s problem solved, like, it, it’s, it’s little things like that that. Can really help dial in performance and get rid of a lot of this junk that you don’t want. And also, you know, from a strategic standpoint, you could also take that too, oh, we’re doing really well in the student market.

Should we have a student program? Should we go down this direction? Because you know, that is the future. I dunno, there’s a lot that you can do with that. But when it comes to low-hanging fruit, first things first. Like you want to make sure that you’re targeting people who can actually make buying decisions.

[00:18:59] Andy: I [00:19:00] think display is a great other area to look at from a quality perspective because on the surface, display could be doing fantastic. Super cheap cost per conversion. Great quantity of conversions. But when you look in HubSpot… you know, you see that the quality of that is below subpar. And really you’re just wasting money because it’s a channel that looks good on the surface. But the quality of the engagements, the quality of the placements, the quality of the leads themselves is so poor.

I mean, it’s you know, millions of Nigerian princes. Or on top of that, fraudulent clicks, fraudulent impressions.

I mean, you’re currently going through this right now as far as evaluating tools for a couple of our clients.

Yeah, I can

[00:19:42] James (2): actually give a really good example of this. So, one of the solutions that’s out there to poor quality leads is to take your, say your HubSpot data. And reimport it back into Google Ads so that you can optimize… have the algorithm optimized towards [00:20:00] MQLs, SQLs, opportunity, sales, et cetera.

[00:20:03] James: To be honest, I haven’t seen that much success with this yet with Google Display. I think the Google display in itself, is an issue. But Google’s algorithm, say you have an optimized for conversions bidding strategy. Is set to optimize towards conversions. It’s basically optimizing towards a checkbox. Like did this person or bot fill out a form?

So what happens on Google display? Because Google display inventory is such crap. Is that you actually get a lot of bots that are filling out the form and then the algorithm is going to start optimizing towards bots. So yeah, your cost per lead is going to drop and you’re going to see more leads. And it’s just going to be more of the same because it’s optimizing towards the checkbox.

It’s not optimizing towards the actual quality of that lead. So in any scenario where you can pipe that data back in, I’m sure it is helpful. Google Display may be an exception to the rule because it’s Google [00:21:00] display. You know, step one and Google Display, take a look at the inventory and where your ads show. And who those leads are because, you know, most normal people don’t visit a bunch of spammy websites. So that’s step one.

But yeah, I mean that’s certainly a place to start. Lead quality. Look at that stuff.

[00:21:21] Andy: And if you don’t have the ability to integrate those back into the platforms. The other aspect of this is giving a level of value and therefore priority to your various actions. Maybe add to carts and those, those higher funnel activities are important to track for somebody in your organization.

And if you want to track them as conversions, look. I get it. You gotta report out on some capacity. I don’t recommend it, but you know, sometimes you just gotta do it. You gotta do the devil’s work in that regard. If that is the case, assigning a value to your high party conversions can help you overcome some of those bidding.

Troubles and challenges, [00:22:00] when you have a mixed bag of high intent, high value conversions, and low intent, high funnel conversions. And by that I mean, let’s say you are tracking ungated P D F downloads, you’re tracking video views on your site, and you got a free trial form that you’re tracking submissions of.

Three activities that are part of the buyer journey. You want to track all of them as conversions, that’s fine. Assigning the value of, let’s say three. So a high value association with the free trial submission, and then backing down. You know, a value of two or value of one to the other two activities, you are prioritizing the algorithms and the bid strategies to look for more trial submissions than the collective conversion output that James was just describing.

So that’s a another way to look at this and another kind of quick win opportun opportunity when it comes to various ad platforms. Not just Google, Bing, LinkedIn. You can assign values in pretty much any ad platform. And when you have that mindset of assigning value, [00:23:00] Even if it’s arbitrary, it helps kind of eek out more performance.


[00:23:06] James: mean, you can really be scientific about those values too. Like if you know your time to close from a lead, if you know the level of engagement of people who are inter interacting, like you can be pretty scientific and do the calculations, like you’ll find that an ebook. Is far less valuable than a free trial just by doing that level of analysis.

And also makes it like clear for all the stakeholders involved too. Like this is way less valuable than X, Y, Z.

[00:23:41] Andy: Yeah. In my experience, I haven’t found many businesses that are actually able to do that effectively with a, a real value. Yeah. It’s more so we have to come in and say, look, these are not all equal.

You have to prioritize these and this is how we’re going to go about doing that. So [00:24:00] I want to now shift from measurement and tracking and all those results foundations into. How do we target more effectively? And James, this is where I want to flip it to you because I think there’s two different subsets here as it relates to initiatives and channels.

There’s search, there’s social, and there’s kind of everything else. So do you want to start with the search angle of, of cleaning up your targeting and finding efficiencies there? Because I think there’s a lot. Yeah.

[00:24:26] James: I mean, we’ll go, like, honestly, we’re going to go through real basic checklist stuff. There’s a lot of.

We go a lot deeper than this, but this is like the best place to start. And to your point, we have to talk about search and social differently because they are different. So, and I think from the me, when we get into the messaging side, things will come, come together a little bit more. So

On the search side, I’m going to go into the number one thing that we see all the time, and that’s review the search terms.

Like I feel like the first thing I do when I audit [00:25:00] anything, I’m like, all right, what the heck are these people bidding on and what are they showing up for? I mean, the number one, like, and hopefully everybody knows this to this point, but I have to say it’s not true. Because we look at it all the time and see the same thing.

But broad match keywords are a giant mistake. So, broad match… the problem with broad match is that you have little to no control over what you are showing up for. And the only way to see what you’re actually showing up for is by reviewing the search terms. And I honestly, I know why this mistake happens.

Like if you’re kind of new to Google Ads and you’re going through all of the Google Marketing materials, like they’re going to tell you that… it’s not that like to have broad match keywords, you’re going to have the most reach. And you’re going to be able to, you know, do all this stuff. And the reality is, is like, no, this is Google’s way of [00:26:00] brainwashing you into spending more money on stuff that’s actually irrelevant to your brand.

In the D2C space, it can be a little bit better. You can use it as a keyword research tool to like uncover new stuff. But in B2B for the most part, like we’re targeting small niche audiences with very targeted keywords. And that is what you should be doing. And most of your campaign should be exact and phrase match keywords. Even phrase match keywords.

At this point, since the transition away from modified broad. You see a lot of stuff coming through that is not accurate. For example, like the close variants that come through. You could be… somebody’s looking for, I don’t know. A data management platform you could show for a keyword like data analysis.

You know something that’s a very specific product to something that is like much more generic. You want to [00:27:00] have control over that because you want to have your campaigns built around very high intent keywords that are related to your product. Yes, you’re capturing demand for something that somebody’s already searching

[00:27:09] Andy: for.

I was going to say, because. I think there’s almost always a conversation when this stuff comes up about, but, you know, they’re so close that our, our, our perspective clients and customers might be searching for that. And the argument that I always have is, okay, well,

Do you want to put your money into something that’s a maybe?

Or do you want to put your money into something that is a given? And I think there’s always that conversation. And looking at this data kind of just reinforces that as far as when you have conversion set up properly and you’re able to look at it at that level. You know, what are people that are converting, really searching on? And are they truly in line with what you offer?

Or are you just wasting money on those that are maybes? Right? You might hit a home run once or twice out of a thousand times at that.

[00:27:57] James: Yeah. I mean, generally speaking, like [00:28:00] your goal out of search should never be like branding and awareness. On paid social, you can get your message in front of your audience, basically guaranteed versus search.

Like you don’t really know who’s searching. You don’t know who these people are.

You don’t know if it’s a student. I’ll give an example, the number one people that visit our website are students because they’re looking at digital marketing goals and we have like a blog post that’s about that.

Right? And you know, that’s going to be the same thing. So, sure. I’ll use this as an example. If we wanted to bid on digital marketing goals, like yeah, there are going to be people who are looking to set goals who are in a B2B. Software company, sure. But 80% of that is not going to be in our target market. 90, 98% of that’s not going to be in our target market.

And that’s where, you know, I think that the ne getting into the next point here,

The next thing that we look at is like the account structure. [00:29:00] And it’s, the thing that I always look for is grouping keywords based on intent. Again, this is something that I feel like Google is pushing people to do is take a lot of

keywords that are on all different stages of the funnel, put them in the same campaign and serve them the same ad. And kind of trust their algorithm to do the rest. And is the, is Google getting better at that? Yes. I’ll have to agree that they are. But to me it’s like still a big no-no and a big opportunity for efficiency.

Your account structure should always be grouped together based on intent. And your goals should still always be to have very closely knit ad groups with keywords that are closely tied to each other so that your ad copy can directly speak to those keywords. And your landing page is relevant towards what that user is searching for. When you group all that stuff together and send it to your homepage…

it’s like a shot in the dark that you’re taking. Versus kind of really determining what that customer journey

[00:29:59] Andy: [00:30:00] is. The other thing with that though too is, and I just saw this literally the other day again… is the grouping of branded and non-branded phrases into the same ad groups and campaigns. Those are great examples of two different levels of awareness and intent.

Branded terms should be in their own campaign for control of budget, control of messaging, control of landing page, and proper testing to see if they’re even worthwhile running. Or just leaving organic kind of play cleanup. Versus non-branded is obviously somebody that is not necessarily brand aware.

They have a challenge. They have a problem. They don’t know that you’re the solution yet, or the preferred solution. And the messaging and the landing pages and all the content that rolls up to that is a completely different strategy then. So you have to have them group separately. You have to control them in different ways, and this is still a huge challenge for many brands. And I’m surprised by that.

Yeah, for

[00:30:57] James: sure. So I don’t think I’m going to get too [00:31:00] much into the other network stuff here.

There’s like a whole array of issues that come with like Google Display, Search Partners, Gmail. Honestly, at this point, for B2B brands, I kind of recommend staying away from display and Gmail.

Search Partners can be like a good opportunity to expand your search campaigns. But, always like segmenting by these networks and actually looking at the performance between them is the important thing. Honestly, I think everything that I say for paid social is going to align with display except for note that display has like just pretty spammy placements lately.

And it’s… if you’re running only search and display and you’re not running social, like that’s a mistake in my mind.

[00:31:45] Andy: What was one of my quotes on a recent episode? When was the last time you bought from a display ad? I think that holds true here too. You know, just in terms of strategic thinking. You bring up a great point. If you’re only bringing search and display, you’re placing some big bets on [00:32:00] channels that are not actually going to drive not only quick wins, but really long-term success.


[00:32:07] James: You, we should actually do like a whole episode on YouTube. Cause I feel like there would be some fun stuff to dig into there. That’s like the one, I feel like the one Google thing where you can s I say the one, the one Google Pro. The one Google thing that’s not search the one Google thing.

That’s not search. That still has something good going for it.

[00:32:26] Andy: I don’t know. I, I, I don’t know man. The targeting on YouTube is still highly suspect to me. It’s the same freaking targeting. It’s just a different format. Yeah.

[00:32:36] James: But you can use first party data now and do

[00:32:40] Andy: certain things. Yeah, but you can use first party data on display

[00:32:43] James: too.

Yeah, but those placements are horrendous. People go on YouTube for information. Right. So it’s about, and there is more targeting options on YouTube too. Like you can target specific channels like, Hey, I’m a graphic designer and people are doing how to videos on, [00:33:00] some Adobe stuff. Like I can reach my target market effectively.

[00:33:04] Andy: You bring up a good point about placements. And I think that’s one area of opportunity that not enough marketing managers and digital strategists look at is where are your ads actually showing? You talk about networks, but then when you really go a level further… what are the placements and sites where your ads are showing

if you’re running display? God forbid. What are the topics, the affinities, the interest targeting that you have in play? And what are those doing from a performance perspective? Are they cost effective? Are they generating strong quality conversions? And then one level beyond that is looking at other things as it relates to geography.

Everywhere from country down to metro area. Time of day. If you’re in B2B, are your potential buyers shopping and researching and doing some level of work over the weekends? Or are they nine to five or is Monday through Fridays? And on top of that, thinking about all the time zones, if you’re a global [00:34:00] organization. Nine to five on the east coast of the US like we are, is not the same, within an account as targeting somebody five hours ahead of us in London. Because they are

almost ready for lunch. Or almost ready for happy hour, when it comes to noon on Friday. So thinking about logically how all of your efforts are combining into those geographic and time zone areas is super important, especially when you can control so much of that in many of the platforms.

LinkedIn aside, I think at this point.

Yeah. Geographic

[00:34:36] James: is a huge, like, again, campaigns where you group all of your, we’ve done accounts where they group all of their, all of the countries in the world that they’re targeting 20, 30 different countries all in one single campaign. Like those peop different time zones, they speak different languages, they have different pain points.

They have, like there’s so much stuff that is different. Not to mention like there are certain areas of the world where spam [00:35:00] is significantly bigger problem. You know, that’s definitely stuff to look into.

[00:35:06] Andy: I think a common structure, at least to, to test out is you have US and Canada together. You have your Latin American, south American countries together in most regards.

And then when you move over to Western Europe, I personally avoid lumping in all of Western Europe into a single campaign. I like the UK and Ireland together. And then I like I. Western Europe, you know, France, Belgi well, Belgium may like in Ben Deluxe, Benelux docs, so Germany, Switzer, Switzerland, Austria, the Nordics.

All of that kind of structure, I personally like because there are cultural nuances that are blended across those different countries that roll up to each of those regions. The, the, not just the culture, the languages are very similar. I mean, I get beat up by saying German is very similar to some other language that’s over in that area.

[00:36:00] But at the end of the day, I think that level of structure is important for control, but also experimentation. Yeah.

[00:36:08] James: I mean, the best way to, and, and people hate, hate this and I never see it done, the best way to actually improve performance in these regions is localization. Definitely see that more often than not.

[00:36:22] Andy: Yeah, and the, I I just want to say one more point on this because I think it’s important. Do you have actual success? Do you have a sales team? If that is your buyer process to getting new business in those markets. Like if you are advertising in Western Europe, but you have no European footprint, You are probably wasting money at this point.

Like there is a, a level of localization that certain countries want local partners, and if you don’t have a footprint in those markets, it’s a taller task to, to convert new business in those areas than where you [00:37:00] have your best brand awareness, your best brand engagement, and your best sales footprint. I think that’s very important to throw out here in this conversation too.

[00:37:08] James: Definitely.

[00:37:10] Andy: You want to talk about paid social?

[00:37:12] James: Yeah.

On the search side, I feel like there are a lot more like technical nuances to it. We talked about broad match keywords, stuff like that. The great thing about social it is a little bit more straightforward. You know, you want to serve your messaging to your audience in the right place.

So the most common thing that we see is honestly brands that have not accurately taken their ideal customer profile and mapped it to their targeting. There’s your ideal customer profile, which really is around the type of companies that you want to work with. And then there’s the target personas that fall within those ideal customer profiles. Influencer, decision maker, you know, [00:38:00] what are the job titles within those roles?

So in order to effectively run a paid social campaign, you need both of those things. And I think that sometimes there’s this disconnect with sales… where everything’s so focused around the ICP. You’re overly focused on company targeting and you’re not even targeting the right people within those companies. Or

vice versa you’re overly focused on the persona of influencer and decision maker. And the companies that you’re actually showing for are not accurate. So one of the first things, and my favorite things to look at when auditing a paid social account is the detailed demographic reports. So this is what tells you what companies you’re targeting, what the job titles are, who they are, where they are. All of this stuff.

Because who you’re targeting and sometimes who’s actually seeing your ads. Or who you feel like you’re targeting, who’s actually seeing your ads are different. For example, you know, if you don’t have your [00:39:00] company size figured out. And you don’t include company size in you’re targeting and you’re targeting, I don’t know, civil engineers. You could have like a company like Pepsi

soaking up all of your budget. When you look at the companies, you’re like, oh, 80% of my impressions went to one giant corporation that doesn’t that actually is outside of our ideal customer profile. So always look at your targeting and match, like who you’re, who’s actually seeing your ads in these demographic reports. And oftentimes you’ll find some sort of disconnect there.

The next thing is audience size. Like

There is a such thing as an audience size that’s too narrow. You can run up a frequency and hit ad fatigue really fast. And you can have an audience that’s too big. I think the one thing to really note here, especially in the B2B space, is our audiences are small, they are narrow, and that is okay.

You [00:40:00] know, certainly we don’t want to have a list of like 300 people that we’re targeting. You do want to hit like the platform minimums, but it’s okay to have small, segmented audiences. I mean because it’s really about taking those personas and mapping creative that speaks to those individual personas.

So if you take all of those personas and you group them all together in one group because you want to have a large audience. There’s no level of personalization that you can have in your messaging. So it’s okay and it’s actually a good thing to have multiple different campaigns with multiple different audiences that are segmented and have messaging that speak to those.

Don’t try to do it all in one bucket. That’s something that we see a lot.

This one I feel like I have to note because it’s just like a basic thing. If you’re opted into the audience network, which is something that LinkedIn does, I mean there’s audience networks on like every channel now at this point, whether it’s Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, whatever, there’s always some sort of audience network.

I’m referencing LinkedIn for this example. Turn that shit off. You know, [00:41:00] if you actually ever segment your results by Audience Network and not Audience Network, you’ll see that very quickly. Basically, you’re taking your ads and you’re showing them outside of LinkedIn on channels that are not that good probably.

It’s basically taking your audience and running it on Google Display. It’s a bunch of junk. So

[00:41:19] Andy: I want to, I want to hop in here. Yeah. Real quick because I think you brought up something about Pepsi as an, as an example here, possibly being outside of an ICP and a consuming budget. On the flip side of that, Pepsi, Could be in the ICP and consuming budget.

One of the things that we like to do in that regard is when you’re looking at those company level reports, if there are a handful of companies or less just eating away your budget and preventing you from being in front of 90%. Of the rest of your audience, take those out and put those companies into their own campaigns or campaign.[00:42:00]

You have greater control over budget. You have greater control over messaging. And this is where what, what we’ve talked about in the past is the blending of demand gen and lead gen philosophy. With a B M tactics, you are inherently in that process moving somebody out of the larger bucket, the higher funnel activities, whatever you want to call it.

Into an ABM model, at least as it relates to paid media. And therefore, you can have more control, you can have more personalization, and you can identify whether there’s a true r ROI there or not. Through ABM thinking, The other thing I want to bring back into the conversation that you had mentioned before is that concept of quality over quantity.

And we talk at length about quality over quantity as it relates to leads. We’ve talked about eyeballs, impressions, reach, things like that. It also boils down to quality of. Networks and placements. You bring up a great example there as it [00:43:00] pertains to LinkedIn and the audience network that exists and the performance of it being suspect and it really eating away at a lot of budget at a campaign level when you start to segment on LinkedIn versus off LinkedIn, data.

On Facebook or meta or Instagram, whatever you want to kinda lump into that bucket. The same philosophy holds true when you start to look at it and segment data by a network perspective. Take for example, if you are not selective around where you’re going to show ads within the meta platform, you’re going to be showing on things like marketplace stories.

Reels, all of those other ancillary, complimentary ad units and placements that could be beneficial if you have the right creative, if you have the right messaging, things like that. And looking at that level of detail is inherently, almost always going to return a savings by reducing wasted spend. And I think that’s, that’s the [00:44:00] big thing too, is when you get into social, like you’re talking about James, there are so many avenues for audience expansion that you should avoid.

[00:44:08] James: Yeah, I feel like any audience expansion is always bad. I mean, even jump back to search for a second, go to like bing, Bing is like taking the lead on, forcing you to do stuff that you really shouldn’t do right now. Like they, they just recently really lead just audience ads and like all these dish, these networks that are like baked into your search campaigns and have made it like, Near impossible to opt out of them.

So I’ll jump back to Bing for a second. Likes segment by network on Bing. And you’ll find some interesting stuff there too if you’re running there because you’ll be like, oh, you know Bing, we’re getting more reach now. And then you realize that half of your impressions are some audience add. Bullshit. I don’t know.

Bing is like on my shit list.

[00:44:54] Andy: Especially if compliance says you can’t run on certain networks. Oh, and all of a sudden you’re running on ’em, hey. [00:45:00] Yeah.

[00:45:01] James: With no, with no warning. And then you dig up an article that somebody else reached out to Google support and they responded saying like, oh yeah, sorry. You should just need to check this every once in a while because we’ll automatically do that for you.

[00:45:15] Andy: Another part that I want to hit on with audience expansion that a lot of brands steer towards is similar audiences. Maybe that’s uploading a list of contacts and creating a similar audience off of that, similar audiences off of, a conversion pixel or retargeting pixel. Honestly, at this point, I really try to steer away from those because it is so dependent on the data source that is creating those similar audiences and the algorithms and matching capabilities of each platform.

I don’t trust them. I don’t think they’re getting in front of the right people. I’ve seen too many instances where similar audience is reaching just so many individuals that are outside an i, ccp, and outside of anything that is even. [00:46:00] Remotely relevant. If you can use first party data or native targeting if it exists, like use that all day long.

Do not rely on similar audiences for scale. I just don’t, I think you’re a waste of money. Yeah, if, if you’re in b2b,

[00:46:13] James: don’t run lookalike audiences for anything. If you are, like, if you do want to do something like that, we use a tool called Versium that actually you can create a look-like audience based off of your first party data and then actually preview that data before you.

Run any ads to it. So you upload your email list and make a look like out of, out of it, and you can see all of the companies and email addresses and job titles that are associated with that lookalike, which is at least you can then go through that list, delete all the stuff that you don’t want, upload that lookalike and, and go about it that way, versus these in platform lookalikes.

You have no idea who’s on that list. They’re like, oh. These people want this B2B SaaS product. They’re [00:47:00] mo, it seems like 80% of them are movie lovers, so let’s target more movie lovers. And it’s like, it has nothing to do with anything. And that’s literally how it works. Like I think a lot of people don’t know that.

[00:47:14] Andy: That’s why I love when I get my hands on account and I see similar audiences running, especially on social and LinkedIn. I love going to those demographic reports. I love looking at age ranges. I love looking at the things that you brought up before, job titles, companies, things like that. But I also, especially as it relates to LinkedIn, I love looking at industries because, One thing that people forget is that there are big categories of industries on LinkedIn when you look at native targeting software development.

Great example, everybody and their brother does software development from HR tech to manufacturing tech to sas to every other software product under the the, the sun. But when you start to look at the industry level demographic reports, you can start to see nuances as it relates [00:48:00] to that, and you can start to actually exclude industries that are outside of your I C P.

Let’s say, you know, HR Tech is your I C P. Well, if you are starting to look at your industry reports and you’re seeing manufacturing, you’re seeing IT services and consulting and other things that are well outside of your icp. You should start excluding those. Start reigning in your cost. Start reigning in your impressions and your ad visibility to something that is truly part of your icp, and that’s something that’s just so often overlooked.

[00:48:29] James: Absolutely. All right, so

I want to end this talking about creative because I feel like this is going to bring it back to one of the biggest strategic misses that there is. So strategy again… are we reaching the right people in the right place at the right time with the right messaging to meet our goals? So, and I feel like creative incorporates all of these things: messaging, goals, audience.

So the number one thing that I always see is that there’s

A mismatch of the offer [00:49:00] and the level of intent. And this comes from being a little too narrowed in on what your goals are. Hey, our goal is e-commerce. I’m sorry. Not everybody is ready to buy your product today. You cannot take every level of audience targeting and drive them to a product page and expect them to purchase. If you’re running a retargeting list of people who added to your cart, like yeah, sure, that’s a great opportunity to push towards an e-commerce transaction. But if you have a cold prospecting audience, like you’re focused on creating demand within that audience. And your messaging needs to fit this. And this is something that can be seen on every channel.

So like branded search has a level of intent associated, non-branded search. So branded search you can ask somebody to purchase then basically. They’re already searching for your brand. Non-branded search. This is going to be more bottom of the funnel demo trial. That type of stuff. That’s pretty much it…

it for what you should be doing on [00:50:00] search. On the social side. This is where you can start promoting different content gated, or not gated. I’ll kind of leave that up to you. We’ve gone into that in enough detail. But those colder prospecting audience should be focused on that. Then you’re retargeting audiences are focused on demo trial.

Like you have to match that level of intent to the audience that you’re targeting. This is like the most common issue that we see.

The second thing is about tailoring towards your messaging towards the channel that you’re on. This is something that we see more in the social space, but you can count YouTube and search and display and all this stuff where.

You know, a, a brand is running creative that was designed for display advertising and asking you to adapt it for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Like all of those have a slightly different format like Instagram, like [00:51:00] short form video is doing extremely well. Facebook, same thing. LinkedIn, you can still like, Incorporating lead ads work really good on LinkedIn.

Lead ads don’t really work that great on Facebook for b2b, like making sure that you are. Tailoring your creative to the mindset of the individual on the channel that they’re on, is another super important thing. Like I consider it a mistake at this point to take your blanket creative that looks and feels exactly the same and put it across all of the channels.

But those are the, those are like the two biggest mistakes that I see on the creative side.

[00:51:37] Andy: You got it. I mean, I can’t say anything else on top of that because same issues that I’ve seen over the years, the repurposing of content, the repurposing of creative, and it goes back to what we were just talking about before as far as placements are concerned.

If you’re repurposing LinkedIn creative on Facebook, not only do you have a, as far as platform usage is concerned, but you have a mismatch if you’re not. [00:52:00] Actively monitoring and segmenting and selecting the placements of those ads. You’re going to have LinkedIn looking creative within reels and stories or marketplace versus a newsfeed ad, things like that.

It’s just a completely different beast in animal, and you can go well beyond that. Right. An example that you brought up was YouTube. Well, YouTube now think about it as it pertains to other video platforms. Maybe it’s TikTok completely different use cases, completely different audience, completely different behavior.

Sure. YouTube shorts are probably the most, comparative to TikTok, but even those are different. And then take it up a level you look at, like online video, O L V or like O T T and CTV streaming. Through, you know, multiple devices, like you have to be very mindful of what you’re taking to market there and whether it’s the right match to the platform, the intent and the audience.

Like that’s how you set yourselves apart. That’s how you stop the leaks. The hemorrhages in so many [00:53:00] other ways is thinking big picture, but whittling that down into something that is tangible and and able to be prioritized. James, before we kind of get into wrapping up this episode where we literally just went through pretty much how we tear apart accounts and what we come back with.

So thank you for giving away our secret sauce in that regard. Any other comments as it relates to how somebody listening should get started with. Doing what I just said, finding those leaks, finding the hemorrhages if they exist, and starting to save money and, and allocating it into the areas that truly deliver quick wins.


[00:53:38] James (3): I mean, I’m going to just like recap some of like the three biggest issues I see all the time. Broad match keywords on search. Don’t do that shit and fix your mismatch of offer and level of intent. Make sure that your offer matches your level of intent. If you can do those things, you know, assuming that

[00:53:58] James: I hope a lot of the other stuff is a little bit [00:54:00] more straightforward. Like making sure that you’re targeting your audience in the right place at the right time. But those are two of the biggest issues that we see that are hindering performance and wasting money.

[00:54:10] Andy: And because I am the measurement guy, in air quotes, I’ll say audit your conversion tracking. Especially if you haven’t audited it or looked at it over the last three to six months.

A great trigger for this too, is when you go through any site updates. And you figure out three months later that you broke something in the process and it’s not tracking anymore. Or you changed up the B2B buying process for your customers. And lo and behold, you realize that you’re not actually tracking what you just put into play.

Fix that, fix that shit tomorrow or today.

So to close out this episode, I also want to throw out an offer to anybody listening that if you feel constrained by time, bandwidth, or you’re struggling, just to wrap your head around where you’re losing money, DM me. Reach out to me on [00:55:00] LinkedIn, email me [email protected].

I’ll hook you up with a free audit because I guarantee that I will find you anywhere between two to $3,000 or more in savings, and if I don’t, I’ll back it up. I will give you a hundred dollars gift card, Amazon, or Visa if I can’t find you that amount of money. I will. We talk a lot about betting. I’m willing to bet on this.

How do you feel about that, James?

[00:55:22] James: Better than I feel about the Jets.

[00:55:24] Andy: Well, we’ll see if the Eagles even stay in the first round or they trade out and I stay up till midnight watching nothing. So that all being said, thank you for listening today. Like, subscribe and connect with James and I on social wherever you hang out.

Catch you next time.

Thanks for listening to Digital Banter. If you enjoy today’s episode, please be sure to like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

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