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Don’t Pause Ad Spend — Instead, Analyze It Now to Optimize for Q4

Skyller Whitney

New Business Sales Representative @ AdRoll

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Lately, I’ve had many conversations with clients concerned about making risky changes to their media strategy during these uncertain times.

Those conversations come as marketing teams face layoffs and furloughs, and as fallout due to the coronavirus pandemic continues, clients are less willing to spend aggressively on media campaigns. Some have said they are intrigued by AdRoll’s offering and will keep us at the top of their lists once the dust settles and they are willing to try something new, but they’re not quite ready yet.

I, however, would argue this is the perfect time for marketers to find ways to make their existing campaign strategies more effective. In fact, with AdRoll's new cross-channel tracking product, the clients that collect data from their current strategies through Q3 can use this intel in Q4 to make up for lost sales in Q2.

Here’s how. 

A Silver Lining Amid Uncertainty

While the retail industry has started to rebound — with clothing, automotive, furniture, and sports equipment sales in May 2020 pushing retail up 2.1% year over year despite earlier lags — the future is far from certain. 

That’s in part because this consumer spending spree followed months of what the Washington Post described as “record-breaking declines as Americans abruptly pulled back on discretionary spending.” 

In fact, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned the road to recovery will be a long one as 20 million consumers have lost their jobs since February (and layoffs continue at airlines and professional services firms) while $6.5 trillion in household wealth dissipated in the first quarter. 

“Significant uncertainty remains about the timing and strength of the recovery,” Powell said. “Until the public is confident that the disease is contained, a full recovery is unlikely.”

And so brands are understandably wary about what’s to come in 2020 and whether they can still rebound this year. Meanwhile, economists say it could take years to bounce back from the economic fallout of the pandemic. But if there is a silver lining now, it’s in e-commerce, which is reportedly up 31% from a year ago as consumers shop from home in greater numbers. And that’s where many brands have the best hope to not only survive, but thrive.

For a look into e-commerce marketing trends:

A New Customer Journey

Thanks to online commerce, it’s not entirely doom and gloom, but brands are nevertheless concerned about making strategy changes or spending more on digital advertising in the current climate. But I believe it’s the brands that forge bravely ahead now that will ultimately reap the biggest rewards when the economic crisis is finally over.

Research has shown consumer sentiment in the U.S. is already rebounding, which bodes well for Q4. In a June 2020 survey, for example, market research company Ipsos found more than 50% of American consumers believe economic recovery will be quick once shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted. The report said these consumers also “favor restarting the economy even if the virus is still not fully contained.” In other words, this crisis won’t last forever and consumers are as eager as brands to put this chapter behind us.

Meanwhile, consumer behavior is changing as we speak, so brands need a clear understanding of what exactly their customers are doing in order to allocate their ad spend most effectively. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more, but rather more wisely allocating ad dollars to get the most bang for their buck, even with a decrease in budget. 

Brands have long been investing in top-of-funnel campaigns to raise awareness among new consumers early in the purchase journey. But as competitors pause these efforts in a wait-and-see approach, an opportunity has emerged for savvy brands to grow market — and mindshare — at a much lower cost.

For tips on how to build a customer journey map:

An Investment for H2 and Beyond

That’s where AdRoll's new cross-channel tracking product comes in. 

With cross-channel tracking, brands can collect the data they need for a great H2 without increasing their digital advertising budget — and even with a decrease in spend across their marketing mix in some cases.

Cross-channel tracking enables brands to see their customers’ purchase journeys across their marketing mix without having to try anything new. It brings all ad and conversion data into one place so brands can see insights like the top channels, events, and devices their customers interact with along their purchase journey. Cross-channel tracking also analyzes each channel’s performance side by side and zeroes in on key events or changes within the marketing mix that could impact performance. This, in turn, shows brands where to keep going and where to scale back. 

Cross-channel tracking answers marketers' most burning question, which is how to get more mileage from their marketing budgets — and then immediately take action. After drilling down to customer journeys by channel, campaign, ad group, and ad to identify which tactics affect customers’ decisions to bounce or buy — and analyzing top conversion paths by revenue, average order value, and path length to see how views and clicks from one channel drive engagement across other channels — brands can make smarter marketing investments based on the entire customer journey, not just a single channel.

And, of course, by collecting this data in Q3 as sales trends increase amid volatile market trends, brands can spend their ad dollars more effectively in Q4 and therefore make up for the dip in sales in H1. While Q3 may historically be a slow period for the retail industry, it’s actually the perfect time to focus on new consumer habits so brands can better target customers during the holiday shopping season. That, too, can help retailers compensate for slower-than-expected sales in Q1 and Q2.

If you’re looking for a faster, more scalable way to digest insights on the impact your marketing activities have on return on marketing investment (ROMI), get a personalized demo of how Cross-channel tracking could help your brand see a better ROI throughout H2. Cross-channel tracking acts as your on-demand business intelligence team, giving you a safe space to explore how different attribution models define success. See how your model holds up against others, without having to commit to any wholesale changes or investments. Learn more by clicking here.

Check out our D2C Shopping List — you wouldn’t want to miss the goodies we have lined up for you. 

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