Earlier this year, Facebook forecasted its revenue to decrease by $10 billion in 2022. The drastic revenue decrease comes from the fact that for advertisers, Facebook can no longer tie a conversion to specific visitors due to privacy changes in iOS and cookies. Without those metrics, brands and merchants face higher customer acquisition costs (CAC) and therefore, are reluctant to spend on advertising platforms that don’t allow them to optimize their marketing dollars.
Why iOS privacy changes are bad news for brands
These iOS privacy changes directly impact brands (and not in a good way). How? Precise campaign targeting, a critical technique in customer acquisition, becomes history in upper-funnel channels like Facebook and other social media platforms.
As a result, return on ad spend (ROAS) plummets. Further, it becomes more challenging for brands to measure the conversion rates of their marketing campaigns.
As Prof. Robert Kelley discussed in his book Critical Path Manifesto, all business activities should align with the critical path: generating more revenue or reducing costs for a company. The results of these activities need to be measurable—but without accurate measurement for marketing campaigns, brands lose the compass for fruitful ad spending.
Seize the low-hanging fruit
Fortunately, machine learning solves the measurement problem by connecting the dots along the shopper journey, and points out what marketing channels and campaigns are moving the needle for brands.
Working with hundreds of brands over the past two years, we’ve found that they gain tremendous growth opportunities by shifting marketing budgets from underperforming campaigns to high-performing ones. Seems obvious, right?
For example, the marketing campaign performance from a brand that spends sizably across channels looks like this:
Underperforming campaigns in the lower quadrants generally take up over 30% of ad spending for each brand, areas where they are burning cash on ineffective campaigns. How can they reverse course?
Cart.com customers leverage Unified Analytics for real-time marketing reports and campaign suggestions to optimize spending. Within one month of using Unified Analytics, brands reduce their ad spend on low-performing campaigns to less than 5% of marketing budgets. Here’s how:
Supercharge your brand’s campaign performance in three steps
1. Review high-level marketing metrics
Ecommerce brands usually review sales and marketing metrics at least once a week. The most critical metrics include conversion, ad spend and ROAS. Since brands generally have a weekly sales plan associated with holidays, seasonality and promotions, reviewing these three metrics helps them evaluate whether marketing activities are driving sales as expected.
Without Cart Unified Analytics, the metrics evaluation practice is challenging. While many brands use Google Analytics to measure success, the platform doesn't integrate with Facebook and other major ad platforms, and thus can't provide true insight into their holistic campaign metrics. The difficulty accessing and harmonizing marketing data leads to continuous investment in underperforming campaigns. But with Unified Analytics, brands make every marketing dollar count.
2. Evaluate marketing channel performance – fair and square
Marketing across a diverse mix of channels helps brands cast a wide net. But not all channels are created equal, and the best channel for each product in a catalog likely varies—which is why experienced brands regularly evaluate channel performance and find room to shift budgets accordingly.
Due to data fraction across ad platforms, this step is painful without help from Cart Unified Analytics. Further, reports from ad platforms are misleading because they all use attribution approaches beneficial to themselves – making their performance seem better than reality so that brands will invest more dollars in them.
Powered by clickstream and Attribution AI technologies, Unified Analytics gives an honest “opinion” about each channel's performance: good, bad or ugly. In fact, it’s not uncommon for our attribution AI to uncover over 20% swing in ROAS across channels and campaigns – compared to the ROAS reported in Google Analytics (which uses mainly last-touch attribution) or the ROAS reported in Facebook.
Marketers are often surprised when they get to know each channel's actual performance. Some channels that received heavy investments don’t generate returns as expected … not even close … while others that aren’t given much attention have contributed to double-digit conversions.
3. Fine-tune campaigns
After identifying your high-performing channels, the next step is a deep dive into campaigns. Even among the high-performing channels, some campaigns are burning cash while only a few marketing campaigns are generating revenue. The split between these two types of campaigns generally follows the 80/20 rule. Brands must distinguish the 20% top-performing campaigns among the crowd and continue to scale them.
Interestingly enough, we often notice that brands don't spend enough money on top-performing campaigns, leaving a lot of money on the table.
With campaign-level attribution, Unified Analytics displays the top-performing campaigns front and center, so brands never miss a shot and make the most of their marketing budgets.
Optimize customer acquisition with confidence
Customer acquisition is top of mind for every ecommerce brand, but optimizing CAC requires industry and product expertise as well as knowledge about marketing and data science. Cart.com has encoded the latter into Unified Analytics, giving brands the time, resources and money back to focus on what they do best.