Audio Version — 7:18

A Changing Employment Landscape

Let’s not beat around the bush; it’s brutal in the job market right now as COVID-19 rages through the U.S. In December 2020 — the latest data available — unemployment rose 6.7%, virtually doubling from the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s 10.7 million people out of work. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s like the entire population of Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are unemployed all at once. 

COVID-19 has claimed over 2.2 million management, professional, and related occupations of which marketers — like you and I — make up a part of this employment demographic. There’s much competition amongst marketers, more so now than ever before. As marketers, we know that increased supply drives prices down and intensifies competition; and currently, there is an excess supply of marketers, making landing a new gig very competitive.

It is undoubtedly an employer’s market. Marketing salaries are lower than before the pandemic due to the influx of marketers’ supply and low demand in the job market. I spoke with a hiring manager for an Irvine, California based online finance firm who claimed to have sifted through 200 resumes for a single online marketing manager position. He stated that he had more than enough candidates to select from and had difficulty picking the best candidate.

Masked Businessman Illustration - COVID-19

The 200 resumes were a small number of applicants than other industry professionals who had received hundreds more. Remote work for marketers can see up to 500 applicants for a single marketing position. 

Where does that leave the rest of us marketers when looking for our next career move? Out in the cold, if we do not adapt and compete for the few jobs available. After all, we’re marketers, and we should be competitive and poised to out-think our competition. But do we have the skills a post-COVID-19 job market requires from marketers to thrive? 

After my team and I lost our jobs due to a reverse merger acquisition and downsizing due to COVID-19, I found myself on the job market for the first time in 20-years. I had always moved on to the next marketing position with the help of contacts. Unfortunately, those contacts are either not hiring or in the same boat as me, unemployed.

I was humbled when my credentials were not enough to walk into a new position but that I had to compete for my next career role. I realized that I needed to adapt to a changing environment and possibly a permanent change in how business gets conducted for some time in the future.

Four Post COVID-19 Skills To Help You Thrive

Through research, conversations with human resource professionals, and my 20-years of hiring marketing team members, I realized that marketers — and most other professionals — will require specific skills to adapt — or improve upon — to excel in the post-COVID business world.

  • Technological skills
  • Enriched Cognition
  • Adaptability and Resilience
  • Reliability and Integrity

Technological Skills

Post COVID-19 skills illustrationCOVID-19 has changed the way people do business. With many employees working from home, the virus added new challenges to connecting and working remotely. 

The new remote working business model requires employees to be better equipped to manage and troubleshoot technological challenges from their homes or remote locations. Possessing better digital skills will help the worker stay connected with peers, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders they engage with for business.

Improving digital skill knowledge in advanced analytics software, marketing automation, data collection, and data visualization could help marketers work more efficiently while working remotely and without larger teams, as firms scale back their workforces depending more on automation and fewer employees.

Enriched Cognition

The new working environment poses new operational challenges for firms. Remote work and increased competition require marketers to think creatively and sidestep what was once the norm. Marketers need to demonstrate their skills in an increasingly autonomous working environment with the ability to solve challenges remotely. 

Increasing one’s fluid intelligence — the capacity to learn new information — is a matter of training more on new concepts seeking novelty, and challenging themselves by thinking outside of one’s comfort zone or doing things the hard way.

Adaptability and Resilience

Marketing has changed with new technological advancements, and marketers need to adjust to how they once connected with consumers. Marketers need to embrace more digital communication channels than they did before COVID-19. Other marketing technology tools marketers need to acclimate to are marketing automation platforms and analytical tools to serve their customers better and streamline their processes for greater effectiveness.

Marketers also need to build resiliency through emotional intelligence, tolerance, and time management. As companies shift toward remote work, their job pool expands across borders. Simultaneously, as the firms move to more online business models, they raise their reach globally. Marketers that express increased emotional intelligence levels and tolerance will do better in the post-COVID-19 global market.

Equally as important for marketers post COVID-19 are time management skills. Marketers working autonomously and from home need to account for their time more than when working at a physical work location. Being better stewards of their time and tasks will help them succeed in the new business paradigm.

Post COVID-19 Marketing Skills Illustration-adaptability

Reliability and Integrity

It is not to say that marketers are not reliable or lack integrity; however, as firms move away from traditional brick-and-mortar work locations to remote working, marketers are left to their own devices. More so now than ever, integrity and reliability are crucial to building trust between marketers and their supervisors, teams, and customers. Remote work can often tempt employees to stray from their daily job tasks. Working remotely requires self-discipline, reliability, and integrity. Marketers that excel in all three areas will have tremendous success amongst their supervisors and peers.

Takeaway

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our lives and how we work and conduct business. If there is a return to the way things were, it will not be for a long time. In the interim, business professionals, specifically, marketers need to make changes to how they function professionally.  

Four skills to set marketers on a path to success in post-COVID-19 include:

  • Embracing new technological skills
  • Increasing their cognitive ability
  • Adapting and showing resilience
  • Being more reliable and increased integrity 

As marketers work autonomously, the four skills become increasingly important. Will things return the way they were? It is yet for certain. But one thing is for sure, business owners are adapting and will continue to embrace the new way of doing business in a scaled-back, remote world.

Audio Version — 13:27

Measuring Facebook Ad KPIs

facebook ad KPI hand drawn illustrationIf you have ever spent money advertising and promoting your product or service on Facebook, you undoubtedly had an objective in mind. For example, maybe your goal was to generate $10,000 in sales from a specific campaign or that you wanted to sell 500 units of your product or, perhaps, sign up ten new clients.

Whatever your goal was, have you ever measured your ad campaign performance relative to your objectives? That is, did you establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if you are on track toward reaching your goals? Don’t worry; if you have not, you’re not alone.

As social media advertising spend amongst business owners and marketers increases yearly (see eMarketer.com chart below), so does the competition. To give you a competitive advertising edge, I discuss several Facebook ad KPIs to monitor when advertising on the social media platform. I also discuss why they are essential to your sales success.

FAcebook ad KPIs social media spend chart

What Are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?

Before I dive into the Facebook sales KPIs, allow me to provide an overview of what a KPI is; for those that need a refresher explanation, of course.

A KPI is a strategic objective that targets where you want your company to be by a specific date. It helps you monitor where you are at the present moment with where you want to be in the future.

One example of a KPI may state, 

 

“We will increase revenue for product “A” by 10% by the end of the second quarter.”

 

Notice that the stated objective is to increase revenue for a specific product. The target is a 10% increase by a particular date. The more specific you write your KPIs, the easier it is to measure them.

Facebook Ad KPIs

As part of an ongoing ad campaign management process, I recommend two essential metrics for your Facebook advertising success. The first metric is the Cost-Per-Action (CPA) metric.

Cost-Per-Action (CPA)

Cost-Per-action, sometimes referred to as cost-per-acquisition, is perhaps one of the critical KPIs that you want to track for ad spending. CPA allows the advertiser to pay for only the actions a user makes due to your ad.

An action can be any one of the following:

  • Purchase from your E-Commerce site.
  • App download.
  • Newsletter Signup.
  • Registration for your webinar or conference.
  • Or just about any other activity that requires a visitor’s engagement.
facebook call to action image example for facebook ad kpis article

A sample ad from Facebook desktop news feed shows the advertiser using CPA advertising to increase downloads of their article.

 

For example, you can use CPA to monitor and control costs for visitors who click on your ad link versus paying for cost-per-impression (CPM). 

Note

Depending on your ad and desired action, CPA could cost you less than deploying a CPM ad strategy.

A high CPA cost can lead to higher costs and indicate that your Facebook ad is not performing well. However, the caveat is, you may experience a high CPA in the initial days that your ad is running. It is best to allow your ad to run for at least three days before checking the CPA. Suppose your ad CPA is still high after a few days from its initial launch. In that case, you need to make adjustments to your ad visuals or headline, target group, or Placement.

 

Example Facebook CPA Ad KPI

A written Facebook CPA ad KPI may read like the following:

 

Reduce Facebook CPA by 20% over the next three months.

 

The KPI assumes that you are past the initial ad launch by at least three days and that your CPA is higher than usual. Note that the KPI has a strategic objective to improve ad costs. It states a measurement strategy to reduce costs and has an explicit target within the next three months. 

 

CPA Calculation and Formula

To calculate CPA, divided the advertiser’s cost by the total conversions (or actions taken due to your ad). 

cost per action formula

As an example, let’s assume that the total cost to advertise is $1,000 for a campaign. You receive 25 actions for that $1,000 campaign. 

 

CPA= $1,000/25

 

Your CPA in this example is $40 per action. Some may regard this as expensive. However, compared to industry benchmarks, if you are in the auto, home improvement, or finance and insurance industry, the CPA is considered lower than average. If you are in the apparel industry, your CPA is high, and you must make adjustments to reduce your costs.

 

CTR Facebook ad KPI illustrationClickthrough Rate (CTR)

The clickthrough rate (CTR) metric is vital to monitor, especially for ads running two weeks or more. Although CTR is a simple metric, it is a telling one. 

A CTR drop may indicate that viewers are passing on looking at your ad in their Facebook feeds. Like products, ads have a shelf life too. For example, suppose you experience a 1.6% CTR for beauty products with a specific ad. In that case, your ad performs at the industry benchmark. If your CTR drops to below 1.6% and continues to decline over time, it may be necessary to change your ad’s visuals or the headline, or both.

Suppose your ad does not generate any clickthrough. In that case, it’s also an indication that there are possible issues with your ad’s visuals, headline, or target market. One suggestion is to turn your ad off and run several ad tests to determine which ad generates an increase in CTR.

Example Facebook CTR Ad KPI

An example Facebook CTR KPI may read something like the following:

 

“Increase our CTR on ad “X” from 0.8% to 1.4% over the next three weeks.”

 

CTR Calculation and Formula

To arrive at the CTR, divide the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions.

clickthrough rate formula

As an example, let’s assume that your ad received 200 clicks from a total of 1,000 ad impressions. That’s a 0.20% CTR rate; it’s low for almost all industries where on average, the CTR is 0.90%. In this example, you missed your 0.8% CTR (as noted in the above KPI example) and would need to adjust your KPI and tactics to reach the 0.8% CTR before trying to accomplish the 1.4% CTR. Your new KPI may read like the following:

 

“Establish a 0.8% CTR benchmark in the next two months.”

 

On the other hand, if you reach your KPI, you will want to set new goals.

Optimization

Facebook ad KPI success illustrationTo optimize is to make something as good as possible. Our goal is to consistently “tweak” the ad until it is as good as possible for Facebook ad optimization. When optimizing an ad, aside from changing the visuals and copy, headline, or call-to-action (CTA), there are five key optimization areas to focus on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Country/Region
  • Placement
  • Frequency 

Additionally, for new Facebook ads, it’s best to allow the ad to gather data for at least five days after launching the campaign before you begin the optimization process. For older advertisements that were once successful and are now showing a lower CTR, take a look at the visuals, copy, or headline before optimizing any of the above criteria. (See the section on CTR above.)

Age

You’ll launch your ad campaign targeting a specific age group. However, you may find that your highest converting age target group is something else. Facebook allows advertisers to target subscribers from the age of 13 to 65+.

As your ad matures, examine your best-converting age groups. Are they what you expected? Did you discover an entire age segment with a higher conversion rate than your initial age target group? The strategy with age is to move your entire budget to the highest converting age demographic. 

Two possible key performance indicators for age demographics may read like the following:

 

Increase CTR in the age demographic (ad your age range here for the best converting CTR) to 35% conversion within the next 30-days.”

or

Increase sales in the secondary age demographic by 5% in the next seven days.”

 

The first KPI addresses the highest performing CTR age demographic. In contrast, the second KPI addresses growing the second-highest age demographic to increase your revenue.
Once you have established your highest conversion age demographics, the focus should be on growing the second-highest demographic by optimizing your ad visuals, headline, color, or copy.

 

Gender

Facebook allows the advertiser to target a specific gender, men and women. Following the same guidelines as with the age demographics section above, examine which gender category is converting more. Suppose one gender demographic is higher in conversions. In that case, it may be wise to move your ad budget toward that gender category.

Your product may not be suited for both genders. If it does apply to both genders, optimizing the ad for the poorly performing gender demographic may be required.

An example KPI for this demographic may read like this: 

 

“Improve conversions for (gender with low conversions) by 25% of the higher-performing gender category within two weeks.”

 

Country/Region

Targeting different countries or regions can pose challenges for new advertisers. It can also pose challenges for advertisers entering into new markets. The more regions/countries you target, the more the ad can potentially cost you or not perform as well due to a variety of reasons.

It’s best to begin your ad campaign targeting one specific region, providing that your product or service is suitable for that region. Allow at least five days to pass before reviewing the CTR for the ad. If your ad is performing poorly, your options may include optimizing the ad image or headline. 

Once you have mastered and increased the Facebook ad CTR of a specific region, begin experimenting with other same language regions. If you target countries that are non-English speaking, your ad will need to reflect the native language.

Two possible key performance indicators for the country/region metric may read like the following:

 

To increase ad conversions in (name of country) by 25% in the next two weeks.”

or

To enter into new territory (name territory) and have sales earning $500/month by the end of February (or whichever time frame you decide to specify).”

 

Placement

The Placement KPI (or Place) is one of the 4P’s of marketing. Placement identifies where you promote your product or service. 

Facebook offers several ad placement locations on its desktop and mobile platforms. The key is to find the optimal Place on their platform that delivers the highest conversions for your ad. 

As a general rule, ads performing lower than 1% conversion may need further monitoring and continue to underperform, optimize the ad, or eliminate its Placement. 

Another good practice is swapping the low-performing ad spot with a higher-performing (converting) ad to see if the Placement is driving down conversions or the ad itself.

One possible KPI for Placement may read like this:

 

Increase ad conversions of the Facebook right column ad to 10 complete sales per week by the end of the month.”

 

The KPI assumes that you are running several ad placement spots and want conversion improvement on the right column ad.

Frequency

Frequency refers to the number of ad impressions shown to an individual. Frequency becomes essential when the ad shown continues to increase and your conversions begin to decrease. The cause is likely one or several of the following:

  • Your ad has been seen too many times by the same target group. 
  • Your audience size is too small. 
  • The ad’s image needs refreshing. 
  • Your offer is “tired,” and you need a new offer.

Frequency also correlates with increased ad costs. As your frequency number increases, so too does the cost of the ad.

A possible KPI for Frequency may read like this:

 

To reduce our ad Frequency from 8 impressions per person to 3 impressions per person by the end of the week.”

 

The KPI addresses the increased impressions the ad has and the goal of reducing the impressions per person to reduce ad expense and increase conversions per impression.

Frequency Calculation and Formula

Calculate Frequency by dividing the number of impressions by the ad Reach (how many ad exposures per unique individual).

ad frequency formula

Takeaway

Facebook advertising can be lucrative for your business if executed effectively. Setting useful KPIs, monitoring them, and making the necessary adjustments along the way to correct for low-performing ads is essential to your ad success. The key to successful optimization is to monitor and fine-tune your progress consistently. When something is not working, test and adjust until it does work.

Audio Version — 12:07

Digital marketing, to many small business owners and B2B leaders, is still something of an enigma. They acknowledge its existence and importance but often do not understand how the digital communication channel, and all that it offers, functions to their benefit. These leaders understand terms such as SEO, analytics, PPC, and social media. However, they fall short of understanding how each digital channel operates independently and together to deliver customers and profits at a fraction of traditional marketing channels’ cost.

Without overwhelming the reader with elaborate details, this article addresses the most common digital marketing channels and how they communicate their brand value and engage customers. The list is not exhaustive but a primer for business leaders looking better to understand the digital landscape and the types of information and content typically communicated to their audiences.

The Digital Marketing Channels Advantage

sketch art of binary for digital marketing channels articleDigital channels, more commonly known as digital marketing, is marketing that uses digital technology or digital media. The medium has revolutionized marketing due to its unique ability that allows the marketer to target online customers precisely. Before the digital marketing revolution, marketers would create advertisements that broadcasted to large target audiences. The firms would distribute their marketing campaign through print advertisements, radio, and television. In other words, marketers engaged in undifferentiated marketing — or marketing where the firm created a single message for their entire target audience.

The commercial advertisement below demonstrates a typical ad that firms would broadcast to millions of viewers with the hopes of increasing brand recognition or increasing sales. However, the single message ad to their entire audience was challenging to track. Companies did not have an easy way to track their audience reaction or target specific demographic groups like they do today with digital media.

The following commercial for Friskies Cat Food from 1969 aired over television to a broad audience with the hopes of capturing cat owners with little to no control for specific targeting based on precise demographics or psychographics.

Now, imagine the above commercial advertisement distributed through digital channels. Marketers would have greater control over who, where, when, and how viewers watched the ad through advanced analytics and online targeting tools, like google analytics. Today’s digital tools provide advanced ability to target and track customers with precision results due to the rise in popularity of the internet.

As online expenditures increased, more customers turned to online retailers for their purchases. According to Statistica.com, There were nearly 228 million online shoppers in 2020, with a steady yearly rise in new online shoppers, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People turned to online retailers to avoid going out to physical stores for fear of exposing themselves to the virus.

With digital technology and online shoppers, digital marketing implementation gives marketing managers access to tools that specifically target online customers. Furthermore, marketers can target specific customer segments with digital targeting tools based on personal interests and affinity groups (groups of people with similar interests). The precise targeting and analytics allow marketers to measure their campaigns, often in real-time, and determine the success or failures of those campaigns. In other words, marketers can determine what’s working and what is not working. Monitoring campaigns in real-time saves the marketing department resources while fine-tuning low-performing campaigns or duplicating their successful ones.

Popular Digital Marketing Channels

While digital marketing is an umbrella term for all digital marketing functions and technologies, people often categorize digital marketing into a few popular categories. These categories include:

  • Social media marketing.
  • Search engine optimization/search engine marketing (or SEO/SEM).
  • Display advertising.
  • Email marketing.
  • Content marketing.

Each of these digital marketing categories provides a different way to communicate through their respective digital channels.

Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing (SEO and SEM)

Purpose: SEO helps drive organic traffic to your owned digital assets. In contrast, SEM helps make your products and services discoverable to customers.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are often confused by people who do not fully understand the two strategies’ contrast. While SEM includes SEO, SEO focuses on driving traffic to your website organically. In other words, SEO is the practice of using keywords and different strategies to improve your company website’s chance of showing up on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

However, SEM does include SEO as part of its strategy and has paid and non-paid activities. As an example, purchasing ads through Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns is part of SEM. So is developing engaging video content for your YouTube channel and creating a social media influencer strategy. 

In short, SEM is the practice of making your products discoverable through the SERPs and other digital channels.

The example below shows Google’s search engine results for the keyword bookshelves. Notice the images in the upper Google Ads feed? Five different ads for bookshelves appear, followed by the organic listing for websites that offer bookshelves. The ad images result from deliberate ad placement (or paid advertisement). The information below the ads is organic results, a product of SEO. Together, the ads and organic results are part of a firm’s SEM strategy.

digital marketing channels article SEO and SEM example

Social Media Marketing

Purpose: Helps brands connect with their audience in a non-sales way to better understand their audiences’ likes and dislikes. Also, to provide content solutions to the audience’s pain points.

As its name implies, social media are social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, to name the more popular ones. Social media channels help brands connect and engage with their customers. Social channels like Facebook are excellent places for the brand to interact and “listen” to their customers. 

What is meant by social “listening”? 

Social media platforms allow customers to comment and brands to ” listen” or read their comments and respond to understand customers’ likes and dislikes better.

The example below shows the Facebook feed for Nordstrom’s department stores. In the feed, customers leave comments, likes, and dislikes about Nordstroms as a social media specialist responds, allowing a two-way dialogue between the retailer and customers.

digital marketing channels social media Nordstroms example Facebook

 

Social media platforms are more for engagement and less for selling. The social channels are ideal for delivering content that helps solve customer’s problems without a hard sell. The example below comes from Southwest Airlines Facebook page. Their social media team shares research from a Harvard University study on mask usage and the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The virus is a topic that weighs heavy on almost every passenger’s mind when flying during the pandemic.

Southwest airlines facebook feed example

You can look at social media as a friend’s backyard barbeque social gathering. Friends and family attend the event and socialize, sharing stories, ideas, and helpful solutions to problems they may openly discuss. Rarely do you see or hear a guest delivering a sales pitch to people at such social gatherings. They may share their places of employments and discuss what they do. Still, people generally do not attend a friend and family gathering to conduct hard sales.

Display Advertising

Purpose: Display advertising helps build brand recognition and target specific customer segments online to deliver your product offerings.

Display advertising is advertising represented and broadcast through websites, apps, and social media. Display ad formats may include text advertisements, images, flash, video, and audio.

Distribution of display ads occurs through websites that partner with ad platforms, such as Google. They may also appear in your email inbox or through apps on your phone. The example below shows display advertising through the Google Partner website.

As part of a search engine marketing strategy, the primary purpose of display advertising is to deliver your brand message or product offerings to website visitors.

 

display advertising example

Email Marketing

Purpose: To stay connected with your customer base or help potential customers move along the marketing funnel toward conversion.

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most cost-effective forms of digital marketing. Early on, Email marketers would purchase or harvest email addresses and broadcast product messages, filling millions of recipients’ inboxes. Later, legislation passed prohibiting marketers from sending unsolicited Emails. 

Today, marketers are leveraging Email to customers who sign-up to receive information about your company, products, or helpful solutions to their problems. Marketers use Email to connect to customers, to keep them informed about new products, specials, and to better their lives with the products.

The newsletter below is one example of email marketing. Petco, a popular pet store (in the USA) selling various items for pets, sends their newsletter to current customers. The newsletter keeps their customers informed about new or on-sale products and helpful information about keeping their pets safe and healthy.

Email marketing example

 

Content Marketing

Purpose: To provide valuable information to customers or potential customers about how products and services may solve their pain points. Content is more informative than sales-oriented.

The fifth popular form of digital marketing is content marketing. It has been the buzzword in digital marketing for several years now. However, content marketing is not new. Companies like Coca-Cola have been content marketing for over a century.

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach where content is created and distributed, intending to attract customers to a product or service. The key to content marketing success is that the message does not overtly advertise the product or service. Instead, content marketers focus their message on delivering informational or educational content to increase interest in a product. 

Content may be in the form of a written article, video tutorial, infographic, case studies, or any communication that helps inform or solve a customer’s pain point. 

The advertisement for Carnation Milk below is an example of content marketing in 1943. During World War II, food was in short supply in Europe. To help send food to their allies, the USA launched a program promoting gardening at home, which encouraged Americans to plant food for their use while the government sent food supplies to Europe. The Carnation Milk company was one of many advertisers that took advantage of the Victory Garden campaign by promoting their product using content marketing.

In the example, Carnation discusses the benefits of growing your food along with a helpful recipe using their canned milk. The content addressed how consumers might prepare a meal with the food they grow and a can of milk.

1945 Carnation Milk Content Ad example

Takeaway

Whether you call it marketing or digital marketing, it is all the same. The only difference is that digital marketing uses digital channels to communicate brand messages. These digital channels are found in various formats across all digital devices yet serve a specific purpose for delivering brand content. Additionally, the digital marketing advantage is that brands can target specific customer segments and get fast analytics to better serve their customers.