This year has been brutal, so we certainly wouldn’t blame you if you’re counting down to a fresh start in 2021 by now. However, we have to get through the all-important holiday season, which is arguably the single-most significant time of year for brands and their marketing departments. There’s no rest for the weary, right?
Nevertheless, you might be wondering if any high-tech solutions might ease the burden of at least some of the day-to-day drudgery of managing online campaigns. Historically, a set-it-and-forget-it strategy wasn’t the best choice, often leading to missed opportunities to test, learn, and enhance ads.
But things have changed: As technology has improved over the years, advertising platforms have rolled out capabilities that enable brands to automate some of the most time-consuming daily components of managing digital ad placements. That means you can actually set it and forget it now — at least for a set period.
Here are four ways to automate digital advertising.
Upload Assets and Go With Facebook’s Automated Ads
With Automated Ads from Facebook, brands start by giving the platform a goal, such as driving visitors or leads. They can create up to six versions of an ad by submitting images, headlines, and text. From there, Facebook does the heavy lifting with suggestions for calls to action (CTAs) and potential text changes to make sure the messaging resonates — and after displaying the ad for a time, Facebook will automatically begin showing the version that has consistently performed best. The platform also automatically creates an audience for each brand based on Facebook users nearby or those who have expressed interest in related topics.
Don’t worry about blowing your budget: Facebook makes suggestions based on your goals, but you’re free to make the final call on your investment. Facebook also notifies advertisers about performance and improvements along the way, so it’s easy to keep tabs on what has changed since you initially created the ads.
Let Google Optimize Your Campaigns With Smart Shopping
Google offers automation for Google Ads, which helps marketers better and more easily engage consumers across sites and devices.
Smart Bidding, for example, is an automated bid strategy that enables marketers to optimize their bids for each online ad auction in real-time, saving time and (usually) money.
Alternatively, Google’s Smart Creative uses machine learning to compile the ideal creative to target any given consumer. In other words, if a brand uploads assets like images and text, Google will automatically generate responsive display ads, dynamic search ads, and responsive search ads based on what it knows about your brand’s target audience and goals.
According to Google, early tests of these Smart Shopping campaigns saw conversion value increase 20% on average while advertisers using Smart Bidding drove 35% more conversion value.
In fact, creating automated rules to keep tabs on conversion rates is one of Google’s suggestions for getting brand campaigns ready for the holidays. These rules allow advertisers to automatically make account changes based on pre-determined inputs, such as budget or bid levels. For example, you can create a rule to increase (or decrease) your budget by a percentage or specific amount based on factors like cost per conversion — or when you want to pause campaigns that have already spent a certain budget or reached a certain number of clicks.
Google also allows holiday advertisers to enable automated item updates to display real-time price and availability to ensure product data is accurate throughout the holiday season — and no soon-to-be disappointed customer lands on your site thinking a product is in stock that really isn’t.
For more information on Google ads vs. Facebook ads:
Use a Third-Party Vendor to Automate Amazon Advertising
With the help of some third-party tools, you can even automate daily campaign management on Amazon Advertising — and better compete with the rising number of advertisers on the platform who are potentially cannibalizing your keywords and driving up bid prices. But keep in mind these capabilities are not actually available from Amazon yet, so you’ll have to work with an independent vendor.
With this automation software for Amazon Advertising, brands running sponsored product and brand campaigns can automate both keyword and bid management, and in some cases, the process of finding new keywords and/or removing low-performing keywords. Ideally, the software will make daily decisions about when to raise or lower bids or to move keywords based on rules and goals set by the advertiser. Not only does this reduce your daily workload, but it has been shown to increase return on ad spend (ROAS) as well.
Plan Your Emails and Triggers With AdRoll
You can also automate email marketing. First, you need to make sure you understand the buyer journey for your specific customers and then map out your email automation plan by deciding where exactly to engage consumers and what messaging you’ll use. (If you have any questions about this part, AdRoll can definitely help.)
Keep in mind emails typically have the best open and click-through rates (CTR) during the holiday season, so this is no time to phone it in. Nevertheless, in addition to scheduling single emails, you can also set up triggered emails, which are sent based on factors like stock levels or abandoned carts to help gently encourage conversion.
Take These Tips to Heart From the Digital Marketing Institute
This educational organization suggests brands approach automation by first figuring out which tasks are the most repetitive. Then, list what your team does on a daily basis and rank the tasks according to repetitiveness. Finally, research which of these tasks are actually eligible for automation. (Spoiler: It’s likely email.)
A word of caution: As noted above, brands must still periodically review automated marketing tasks to ensure everything is on track — and see if there’s room for improvement. As Walmart recently learned with its in-store robots, sometimes people are still just as effective as machines at certain tasks, if not better.
Also, remember to be human in your approach and not hit consumers over the head with repetitive messaging. If you can strike the right balance, it’s worth it: Marketing automation can yield better efficiency, savings, productivity, and data.
Automating for the Holidays (and Year-Round)
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday sales in November and December typically account for about 20% of brands’ overall sales for the year, so this is obviously an important time of year. But that doesn’t mean you have to be chained to your desk. Instead, by implementing marketing automation for your most repetitive daily tasks, you can actually set it and forget it, even though marketing publications have advised against it for years.
The key is to pay attention to the updates marketing platforms send about the changes they make on your behalf — and to do your own more comprehensive review periodically to ensure nothing funny is resulting in lost sales or erroneous messaging.
If you’ve followed the tips above and everything seems to be in working order, you should be in good shape to take that well-deserved break before the new year begins. And if you need any help along the way, AdRoll is standing by.
Angie is the Content Marketing Manager at AdRoll. Prior to AdRoll, she was a Content Writer at various digital marketing agencies. A writer by day and a reader by night, Angie’s other hobbies include cooking and learning useless movie trivia.