How to Defend Higher Digital Ad Budgets in 2017

Posted on by Blair Symes

Photo working process. Account manager work new global project in‘Tis the season for marketers to finalize their 2017 budgets. For most marketing teams, this means an increase in digital advertising spend. According to eMarketer, digital advertising in the US in 2017 will exceed $82 billion, up 14% from 2016, making it the most expensive marketing channel.

If you are planning to increase spend on digital advertising in 2017, you will be under increased pressure to prove its effectiveness and impact on the business. You should have the right processes and technology in place to get full intelligence and attribution for every conversion and customer your digital marketing generates. Below are three tips to help.

Digital Means Mobile, and Mobile Means Phone Calls

It’s no secret that we live in a mobile-first world. Consumers today spend more time running searches, interacting with social media, and engaging with digital content and email on mobile devices than on desktops and laptops. To target these smartphone users and mobile consumers, marketers are shifting digital ad spend to mobile in a major way – in 2017, spending on mobile ad channels is expected to double desktop-targeted ad spend.

If your ad budget is going mobile in 2017, you should know that smartphones and click-to-call have changed the way consumers shop and convert online. When smartphone users engage with mobile ads and website content, they often convert by calling – it’s the easiest and most natural conversion path on a smartphone. According to research by analyst firm BIA/Kelsey:

  • Mobile advertising will drive 130 billion call conversions to U.S. businesses in 2017.
  • Search advertising alone will drive nearly 50 billion call conversions in the U.S. in 2017.
  • Calls convert to revenue 10 times more than web leads and will influence over $1 trillion in U.S. commerce this year.

For many businesses, call conversions will make up 50% or more of their mobile conversions. Taking the necessary steps to ensure you get full attribution and intelligence for these calls is an important step in proving ROI from digital channels. Call conversion data marketers should capture includes:

  • Marketing source that drove the call: Knowing the channel, ad, keyword search, email, and/or campaign that drove each call is critical to knowing how to optimize spending and messaging to drive more.
  • The caller’s path through your website: If a lead visited your site after running a search or engaging with your mobile marketing, you should know that person’s entry page, the content he or she viewed on your site and in what order, and the page they eventually called from.
  • Caller data: You should capture who the caller is, the phone number, the geographic location, and the day and time of the call. This data is helpful when fine-tuning ad targeting and bidding.
  • What happened on the call: Knowing who answered the call, how long the call lasted, and what was said can help you judge lead quality, gain insights into your customers, and ensure callers receive a quality call experience.
  • The value of the call: You need to know if a call is “good” or “bad,” based on your business’s definition of a quality lead. That often means knowing if the call resulted in an appointment, opportunity, or sale, and how much revenue it was worth.

Integrate Marketing Stack Tools for Online and Offline Attribution

It’s important that you have the right tools in place to measure digital advertising ROI. While there are many technologies that marketers find useful, the three core pillars of a successful marketing stack for digital advertising includes:

  • An online analytics platform to capture attribution data on online conversions and measure website and mobile app interaction
  • A call attribution platform to connect call conversions from your digital advertising back to the specific channel, ad, keyword, and website behavior that originated or influenced them
  • A CRM system to track those online and offline conversions through the sales funnel to revenue

These three tools should integrate and share data seamlessly with one another, while also connecting to the other tools in your stack (DMP, bid management, marketing automation, etc.).

Give Credit to Digital Channels Influencing Conversions

Marketers investing significant budget on digital in 2017 should not leave their ROI to chance. It’s important to actively monitor results and make continual optimization, targeting, and budget allocation adjustments. Knowing which channels, ads, and keywords drive the most quality sales leads, customers, and revenue is critical to making the right optimization decisions.

But it’s also important to adopt an attribution model that gives credit to digital channels that might only influence conversions, not drive them directly. For example, most conversions from display advertising do not occur when a lead sees the ad, but later through a channel like paid search or SEO—and often through a phone call. It would be a mistake to pull spending on those display or Facebook ad campaigns that do the brand-building work needed so SEM/SEO can have more impressive conversion rates.

Blair Symes is the director of content marketing at DialogTech.

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