Here’s how to perform a successful campaign refresh
How to Identify Performing Creatives and Drive Viral Ad Campaigns
There’s no doubt that creative campaigns need to be refreshed regularly to deliver the expected ROI. This is especially true for the eCommerce industry which has been on a growth curve since the pandemic. However, many brands are simply not able to drive conversion as much as they would have liked. “Between 2% to 6%,” says Kris Sugatan, referring to the average conversion rate for eCommerce campaigns.
It is a gap that Sugatan.io, the growth marketing agency she has founded and leads, is trying to bridge. To be fair, there are many variables involved that brands really have no control over when it comes to designing the much-coveted viral ad campaigns. For example, much depends on the ad platform’s own algorithms which will impact the number of impressions your ad finally gets.
3 Proven Strategies for Identifying Performing Ad Creative and Sustaining Engagement
In a chat with Spilling the Magic Beans, a popular podcast hosted by Rocketium, Kris suggests that brands re-examine their approach to creative refresh. To drive revenue, it is important for marketers to “layer as many working creatives as possible,” she says.
However, it is not easy for marketers to identify creatives that actually perform. Granted, engagement metrics like CTR, CPI, and data-driven segmentation can be useful, but most teams don’t really know which creative to replace an existing viral (but declining) one with – such that the average engagement is maintained.
More often than not, this occurs “because they haven’t really figured out (how) to do continuous creative production”, Kris observes. This ultimately affects campaign performance and adds to the overall Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).
She offers some tried and tested hacks for stabilizing the typical highs and lows across the lifecycle of an ad creative.
1. Three-tier Creative Funnel
Kris says that brands need a “foundation that really sustains the performance” of a viral ad creative.
At Sugatan.io, she has devised “a system where we are identifying and categorizing the level of virality.”
Tiers I and II are reserved for ads that generate the highest levels of relative engagement, which have the meat to become viral ad campaigns. However, Tier III is the last line of defence “when an ad fatigues (and) the performance goes down.” She calls this category “performing ads” as they keep the engagement going until the “next blockbuster hits” are ready. Most brands track the performance of their creative campaigns quite closely and try to optimize without prioritizing the ones with the most potential.
2. Rotating creatives after time intervals
Kris has an unconventional approach to optimizing creative refresh. She prefers to “shut that particular ad that has fatigued off for about six weeks all the way up to three months – and then we sort of park it.” Experience has taught her that trying to optimize a viral ad with image, offer or CTA changes can “get very suboptimal results”.
She has found that reintroducing a viral ad after a few months can give performance a boost all by itself. “By that time the (platform) algorithm has identified a new set of people to introduce the ad to,” Kris explains. Making superficial changes to the creative is likely to only produce a minor boost, at best.
“If it is completely dead, we never revisit that,” she says matter-of-factly. She ranks those creative units as high to low priority across tiers two and three based on their potential for engagement. Even if a creative didn’t perform the first time, she starts building variations in hopes of finding the next viral one.
So the key is to narrow down the creatives you finally optimize based on relative performance. On being asked whether the approach worked, Kris empathically replies in the affirmative. “I mean, these are what becomes (sic) million dollar ads. They literally generate seven figures for the tier one viral ads.”
3. Workflow optimization
Marketers need to adapt their creative strategy quickly to meet evolving performance trends. The creative workflow should be efficient enough to allow testing and iteration – right until go-live. Kris’ team has developed an in-house solution to enable “fast decisions about which creatives to scrap (and) which ones do we follow through on?” It is a “naming convention” that leverages data analytics to improve visibility across the workflow.
Giving further details, Kris says that the system “categorizes by what we call themes.” These themes describe the overall campaign objectives, which are further categorized by content type or end-use, for example, user stories. Kris explains that the idea is borrowed from the Agile and Scrum frameworks and works great when designing potentially viral ad campaigns.
The “naming convention” is part of a larger operational framework that eliminates bottlenecks and streamlines creative production. It is ideally suited for managing high-volume creative campaigns because it can be adapted “in real-time based on the performance of the revenue (sic)”.
The framework allows her team to drill down to the exact root cause for the success or failure of a campaign. This ability to deconstruct the different elements of a campaign often leads to valuable performance insights.
Kris’ enthusiasm for the system is evident when she says, “it took us a year to design this…and it’s still being iterated ongoing in real time (sic).” Her team has even developed an in-house tech solution that the workflow runs on, automating the in-house creative production process.
She is excited about the potential advantages that the framework might have for other brands. “Not a lot of people in a creative or marketing world might be familiar with agile methodology; so it’s very interesting.” The cross-pollination of ideas from two different disciplines can create interesting possibilities for brands looking to capitalize on key micro-moments across different touch-points.
To summarize, marketing teams need to think deeply about how they prioritize creative utilization. It is a critical element in maintaining consumer engagement and turning ordinary campaigns to viral ad campaigns. Randomly rotating creatives – with or without A/B testing and analytics – is not enough. The key is to develop new concepts that can compete with the best that the competition may have to offer.
Since this is a time consuming process, you need a creative funnel that allows you to layer existing performing creatives such that conversion does not suffer in the meantime. A multi-tier funnel can provide a steady stream of videos or banners that can be iterated based on their conversion potential. On the operations side, this can reduce redundancy while enabling you to replace existing creatives at a faster rate.
Process optimization and technology go hand in hand when it comes to meeting creative demand within the resource constraints you may have.
A creative management platform can simplify creative review, testing, iteration and tracking for multiple stakeholders across different campaigns. It can enable brands to deliver on-brand messaging to customers in a responsive way.