Demand Generation Framework
Rand Fishkin articulated the problem very well in the future of SEO post that the following observations will make investment in SEO much harder in the future.
Plateauing growth of total searches
Decreasing clickthrough rates on organic results
Cannibalization of many popular queries by voice answers
More results answered entirely in Google’s SERPs
Greater competition vying for less traffic opportunities
Less opportunities for small sites and emerging companies as a few big players dominate an ever-increasing share of Google’s top results
With softer returns in SEO more pressure will be placed on getting better returns from paid search, which will continue to drive more competition and increased CPCs. This really leads to the same conclusion that Rand identified in the post that retailers and brands need to start shifting marketing dollars to demand generation. By building awareness and ultimately demand in your brand you are better shielded from competitive pressure.
We believe there is an effective amount of money that can be spent to expose your brand story (message) to your addressable market resulting in overall growth of your brand over time. We believe that these investments produce an ROI that is beneficial for the long-term health of our clients, but they can’t be measured using our existing lower-funnel COS model.
Our approach to executing a brand awareness campaign
We plan to develop, in collaboration with you, a series of Brand Awareness Campaigns that fit within your existing branding efforts.
We want to spend the minimum amount possible to identify the optimal mix of marketing messages and advertising types for spreading awareness and increasing likelihood of future engagement with the brand.
Within our budget we will allocate spend to the most effective ad types based on continual testing, limiting our reach to an audience defined as ‘not-aware’. Through a combination of a geo-targeted brand lift study and the performance of remarketing lists that are the direct result of these branding initiatives, we will be able to track performance and effectiveness over time.
Matrix of Ad Types to Audiences and Highly Targeted Display & Video Placements
How we’ll collaborate and what help we’ll need from you
Unfortunately, brand building like making investments in SEO takes time and the impact is not easily measured in weeks. We’ll measure the impact of brand awareness campaigns quarterly. We’ll need to coordinate closely with any internal creative team member or external agencies working on branding efforts. A lot of the coordination will involve development of the creative brief and production of the ads for the brand awareness campaign.
Reach Metrics based on Channel/Message/Ad Type
Spend Relative to Budget
Quarterly Reporting of Geo Split and Brand Lift (see Validation / Measurement below)
Validation / Measurement
Because the measurement tools provided within AdWords bias toward lower-funnel conversion and lack the ability to fully track and attribute the value of upper-funnel demand generation, we will need to use alternative methods to measure the success of these campaigns.
To do so, we will A/B test this demand generation strategy via geographic splits. That is, based on the necessary campaigns costs and the available budget we’ll have to work with, we’ll take a randomly selected subset of geographic zones (ex: states, provinces, or DMAs) and run the campaign only in those selected geographic zones (our test group). The remaining geographic territory will serve as our control group. As the campaign runs, revenue growth in the test group will be measured relative to growth in the control group (representative of what revenue growth the company would observe without any demand generation campaign). If, after a significant amount of time (and campaign exposure), the test group does not show any greater revenue growth than the control group, we can conclude that the demand generation campaign has been ineffective. If the test group does show greater growth than the control group, we can measure it’s relative lift, and assess whether that revenue lift compared to the control group was a valuable return on the investment (the ad spend for the campaign).
We randomly select 15 states to run our demand generation campaign in.
The other 35 states serve as our control group (no demand generation campaign).
After 6 months of $5,000 in monthly ad spend toward demand generation, we observe:
Monthly revenue in the test states is up 20% year over year
Monthly revenue in the control states is up 9% year over year
Adjusting for the growth of the control states, we estimate that the demand generation campaign drove a 10% lift in monthly revenue. Let’s say that a 10% growth in monthly revenue for those 15 test states sums to a total revenue lift of $50,000 per month. Then we can measure the ROI of this campaign as $50,000 / $5,000 = 1000%.
If the estimated ROI meets our target, then we can continue the campaign and even roll it out to a wider selection of geographic zones (still keeping some amount as a control group so we can continue to measure the results in the same manner going forward).
By reporting on these measurements to you on a quarterly basis, we can collaborate on whether to expand or shrink inclusion in the test group, whether to invest more aggressively (if we are exceeding the ROI goal), or invest more conservatively (if we are not meeting the goal), or whether we want to revise the demand generation strategy altogether if you aren’t seeing sufficient traction after a significant amount of investment.
We have opportunities to get our message in front of people that have visited our competitors’ sites. We will provide you with a list of your competitors based on data we have available to us from your account and SpyFu and you add any additional competitors that are included in that initial research.
Placements (Display & YouTube)
We also have the opportunity to target specific sites or video content that our prospective customers are engaging with. We will provide you with an initial list of targeted placements and you’ll provide us with any additional placements that we may have missed. Please update as soon as you see new relevant placements.
We provide you with list of related content on the web that your customer may be interested in and you provide us with any we may have missed. News, bloggers, how-to sites, resources, etc. This will be mainly used for audience building and not ad placements, per se, although there could be some sites that can do both.
We’ll also want to build look-a-like models based off of your existing customers. We’ll need a list of your customers’ email addresses. Minimally required we’ll need a list of all customers and prospects. Optionally, based on the size of the email list additional data would include last transaction date and lifetime purchases.
You’ll provide us with a list of the specific utm parameters used to tag your other marketing initiatives - display, facebook, instagram, pinterest, etc.
Develop Brand Awareness Campaign
It’s critical that we drill down to the truth here and are honest with one another; the consumer will find out if we aren’t being honest. Telling the truth is our best form of advertising. If the product is boring or we can get the same service and price from our competition then let’s be up front about it.
Why did you start the business?
Describe your different customers and what you know about them. Tell us what they love and what they hate.
Why do customers do business with us today?
Why are they buying our products?
Why do some prospects NOT choose us?
Why should these people believe us (rational and emotional reasons to buy)?
What will we say and how will we say it? - What are the key messages, what are the key points you need to say? What words, images, sounds best communicate what we are trying to say?
What messaging are we producing for this campaign i.e. print, outdoor, social media, trade shows, video/television, podcast sponsorship, email, etc.
What action do we want people to take once they receive our messages? Mapping out the buyer journey is helpful here.
How do we want people to feel about us and our messaging? What are those feelings and when do they feel them?
What’s non-negotiable? What must we include in the final project?
Who or what is the competition?
Campaign Creative Brief
What is the purpose of this campaign?
What is the product we are hoping to sell?
Who do you believe the audience is for this campaign?
Is this campaign primarily geared toward prospects or customers?
What is your budget for this campaign?
What is your success metric?
Revenue lift measured over time
What would you want to do if this campaign doesn’t meet the success metric?
What offers/messages would you like to test for this campaign?
What timeline do you expect this campaign to run?
How are those offers redeemed i.e. coupon code, sitewide messaging, phone calls?
What creative do you plan to produce to support this campaign (do you need help producing the creative)?
Are you planning to produce different messages for prospects vs. customers?
What are the top 10-50 YouTube channels that this target audience is viewing?
Unboxing/product reviews of similar products
Related content: bands, authors, celebrities, etc.
What are the top 10-50 blogs/websites that this target audience is reading?
Bands’, authors’, celebrities’, influencers’ pages
What are the top 10 competitive websites for these products?
Produce All Ads
We’ll meet quarterly to review performance of the existing brand awareness campaign and plan any new campaigns or modifications to the existing campaign.
Before launching the brand awareness campaign we’ll review the assets produced against the checklist that came out of the creative brief. If we all don’t agree that this campaign meets the requirements from the creative brief we won’t launch the campaign.
Unlike lower funnel COS-based campaigns, which are much more predictable, brand building campaigns require significantly more experimentation and will produce an unpredictable ROI. Setting a branding budget is more about the amount of capital you are comfortable experimenting with. The smaller the budget we have to work with the smaller the addressable market we’ll target. For example, rather than doing a geo split across the entire US we may choose 1 or 2 DMAs to start our brand awareness campaign testing with.