5 Ways to Improve Return on Ad Spend—According to 150+ Top Marketers

5 Ways to Improve Return on Ad Spend—According to 150+ Top Marketers

Marketing leaders have been through a lot lately—from grappling with an array of challenges stemming from the global pandemic, to responding quickly to changing consumer behavior, to trying to catch up to the acceleration of growing trends.

With so much on marketers’ plates, we wanted to make it easier for marketing leaders to stay ahead. Marketing Dive, along with Social Media Today, partnered with Postclick to survey 150+ senior decision-makers in B2C/DTC digital marketing on the future of digital advertising, their top challenges, and their priority tactics for success in the future.

Our research uncovered an increase in digital marketing budgets, a focus on quality, and a greater number of tailored experiences throughout the consumer journey. It also found a desire to embrace technologies and channels that can drive stronger return on ad spend (ROAS), ad-to-page relevancy, and conversion rate (CVR). 

Overall, our study showed that 2022 would call for smart marketers to work smarter—and our data also gave us key findings on how to do it. 

Finding 1: Budget efficiency is necessary to stay competitive

Budgets are going up across the board, with most marketing leaders indicating a plan to increase budgets between 11% to 25% across all major channels. (And this number is even higher for direct-to-consumer organizations.) While it’s great that your budget will likely rise, the truth is that so will your competitors’. 

To stay ahead of the game, you’ll need to maximize every dollar—and that means putting quality and relevancy above everything else. “If we are delivering higher-quality advertising and post-click experiences, then we will see a higher return,” explains Tyson Quick, Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Postclick. To win the budget efficiency race: 

  • Leverage tools that integrate data analysis with real-time ad and landing page updates
  • Convert manual tasks by using technology to scale the creation of personalized landing pages for targeted audiences
  • Focus on quality, not quantity—ensuring each ad dollar is spent on relevant content experiences throughout the user journey

Finding 2: Personalized post-click strategy is paramount

More than three in four marketing leaders indicate post-click strategies are extremely or very important to their organizations in 2022. These marketers’ two highest priority tactics were creating personalized landing pages and leveraging technology to build landing pages. But what even is “personalization” in 2022?

To Quick, it’s being a good steward of people’s attention, time, and engagement. And to Mark McKenna, the Chief Executive Officer at Postclick, the trick to winning at personalization is to continue a personalized customer journey—after the click.

For marketers to create effectively personalized post-click experiences, it’s vital to:

  • Ensure personalization leverages a variety of data points, including geographic, demographic, behavioral, and psychographic data
  • Extend personalization to the post-click experience for a unified consumer journey and higher returns

Finding 3: AI-powered CRO is key in increasing returns 

Our study found that 43% of B2C digital marketers have already adopted or are adopting AI-powered conversion rate optimization (CRO) now. With AI-powered CRO, marketers can uplevel speed and agility and ensure that webpages aren’t becoming stale. The added benefit? Breaking down silos.

The big value of AI-powered CRO is breaking down silos—across ad units, post-click experiences, and websites—while creating cohesion and efficiency simultaneously,

Mark McKenna, CEO of Postclick

As technology continues to rapidly transform digital marketing, marketers need to do the following to advance your strategies and increase your returns:

  • De-silo the advertising ecosystem across advertising, landing page creation, and content development
  • Embrace machine learning platforms for speed, efficiency, and scale
  • Consider experimenting with AI-powered CRO

Finding 4: Facebook and Google Search continue to be top-performing channels

Our study found that Google Search and Facebook are the channels that drove the most conversions in 2021. Based on these results, marketers can expect budgets to increase across these channels—especially for DTC organizations.

However, it’s not only Google Search and Facebook that are seeing increases in ad spend. Our research showed that more DTC organizations than B2C organizations plan to increase spending on Google Shopping, Snapchat, TikTok, and Bing. The reverse is true for YouTube, where 36% of B2C organizations plan to increase spending vs. 26% of DTC organizations.

But with higher budgets also come higher performance expectations. To meet those expectations: 

  • Consider emerging platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, and even dating apps like Hinge and Bumble
  • Shift KPIs from traffic to conversions on key channels
  • Extend personalization to the post-click stage

Apple’s privacy changes could be a game-changer—but it’s too soon to tell. 

Study results showed no consensus among marketers on how to address Apple’s privacy changes…yet. This means marketers get a unique reprieve to observe this landscape versus making any hasty decisions.

As the marketing world watches how Apple’s updates shake out, marketers are leveraging various tactics to address new privacy and tracking policies in the meantime. The top three tactics revealed in our survey were adjusting goals/KPIs (52%), segmenting Android and Apple iOS (50%), and leveraging UTMs to maximize insights (49%).

For now, it’s critical to own what you can and go back to the fundamentals—like the quality of the experiences you provide to consumers. To do that, put your attention to the following while you see how Apple’s policies will impact the industry:

  • Focus on the quality ad and content experiences
  • Optimize the collection of first-party data
  • Refine segmentation

If you’re a B2C or DTC marketer who wants to succeed in 2022, it’s clear that both personalization and automation are essential. Yes, 2021 came with challenges, but 2022 comes with opportunities. Download the full survey report to get even more insights, data points, and advice from top marketers. 

Hunter Sunrise
by Hunter Sunrise

As Senior Vice President of Marketing, Hunter’s day-to-day mission is to uncover opportunities for authentic connections and experiences. Using this lens, he has driven success across brand, content, omnichannel, GTM, and growth marketing initiatives. Outside of work, you can find Hunter analyzing the complexity of a sip of wine (he is a Master Sommelier).

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