The digital advertising space has changed a great deal in the past few years, driven by changing technology, digital privacy regulations, safeguards that affect ad strategy, and sharp shifts in consumer and business behavior.
Add to all this a significant pullback in digital advertising spend, and it’s clear why marketers face a truly disorienting landscape. While it’s likely that the pullback is less of a structural downturn than a reversion to the mean after two years of unsustainable, pandemic-fueled growth, it’s nevertheless prompting many marketers to rethink their strategies and tactics from the ground up.
Even if you live and breathe digital marketing, you might be inclined to throw up your hands and hire a full-spectrum digital advertising agency. They’ll know better than you how to manage the confusing and sometimes contradictory trends buffeting the industry, right?
Maybe. Or maybe, like everyone else, they’re feeling their way through a rapidly changing environment as best they can. Perhaps you can achieve similar or better results — meaningfully boosting your digital ROI — on your own. To do so, you’ll need to understand and leverage the right trends in digital advertising and sales.
How to Increase Your Digital ROI in 2023
Use these digital advertising trends to inform your marketing strategy in 2023 and boost your digital ROI across the board.
1. Invest in Your PPC Performance and Management Strategy
Pay per click (PPC) advertising is one of the “OG” forms of digital advertising. Though not as flashy as some newer channels, it remains indispensable for countless digital brands, ecommerce shops, and publishers (among others) eager to target and reach people making relevant search queries.
If you’re like most PPC marketers, you’re satisfied with basic Google tools and analytics to discover and target relevant keywords and to stay on-budget while doing it. This is good, but it’s best to treat it as only the catalyst for your PPC campaigns rather than the endgame.
To improve and eventually maximize your PPC performance, you need to move beyond these standard tools without, of course, leaving Google behind. Despite hype around Bing’s conversational search capabilities, Google will likely remain dominant in both organic and paid search for the foreseeable future.
Savvy marketers increasingly turn to advanced solutions like Optmyzr, which offers a comprehensive suite of tools to help marketers improve their return on PPC investment.
For example, the Negative Keyword Finder and Optimize Budgets tools both help trim PPC ad-buying costs by, respectively, revealing nonperforming (and therefore expensive) keywords and enabling goal-based budget projections.
Other Optmyzr tools build on existing Google capabilities — Rule Engine complements existing Google automations and logic with a much wider and more advanced set of options.
No single set of tools can transform you into a PPC ads guru, of course. Even as you get more comfortable with Google ads and experiment with advanced solutions, devote a few hours per week to staying on top of PPC trends and consuming expert content about PPC strategy, tactics, and tools.
2. A/B Test Paid Search Campaigns
A/B testing is not exactly a new trend, but the increasingly volatile PPC advertising market makes it more important than ever. It’s no longer a “nice to have” option but a requirement of effective PPC marketing.
Create two distinct ads — “A” and “B” if you like — for each PPC keyword you want to target. You can run the campaigns in parallel or sequentially, but if you choose the latter, make sure key parameters like campaign timeframe, geography, and budget remain unchanged.
3. Refresh and Improve Existing Content Marketing Assets (Even If They’re “Evergreen”)
Seasoned web publishers and content marketers know that truly “evergreen” content is vanishingly rare.
Even when the information changes little over time, the standards that drive visibility — most importantly, search and social algorithms — are constantly in flux. A strong pipeline of new content is critical, of course, but effective content management also demands significant resources for refreshing and improving existing content with high potential to rank better and drive more conversions.
Reduce overwhelm by prioritizing conversion-oriented content. Set a realistic schedule based on your available editorial and/or marketing resources and hold your team (and yourself) accountable for sticking to it.
Apply the same A/B testing principles that currently drive your PPC ROI to your organic and paid social campaigns. On the organic side, apples-to-apples comparisons are harder to come by, but do your best to keep potential variables like tags and post timing, format, and length constant.
You intuitively understand the value of scheduling social media posts in advance. It’s much more efficient, less distracting, and allows you to outsource the work to a lower-paid nonexpert (like a virtual assistant)– if warranted.
Choosing a social media scheduling tool is a taller order. Most platforms enable direct post scheduling, but this is inefficient if you have lots of accounts and a high volume of organic content. A premium solution is in order, and the inexorable trend in social media marketing has been toward more sophisticated, sensitive, and scalable products.
These solutions are easy to build and deploy, so there are literally dozens of options that could fit your needs. This Hootsuite guide gets at the overwhelming amount of choice. Hootsuite, which is one of the originals in this space, remains one of the best. That’s the way to go if you’re paralyzed by choice; you can always switch down the road.
6. Target Complementary Keywords in Organic Content
“Lean in” is one of several big-picture trends in organic search marketing that has emerged in recent years. And, it’s shown impressive durability.
The idea is that when you identify a keyword strategy that appears to be working, you build complementary assets that reinforce it and hopefully boost your conversion rate. For example, if your “best pet food” guide ranks well for that term, you can surmise that a separate guide for “best pet snacks” would also rank well.
You want to reinforce the wider but still somewhat specific “theme” that search algorithms believe you’re an authority on. In this case, call it “things pets can eat” or, more generously, “things you can buy for your pets”.
Sometimes, you’ll find that the same piece of content already ranks well for one or more secondary terms — not long-tail variations on the primary but actual separate ideas, like “pet snacks” and “pet food.” This makes your next step obvious: creating a separate piece of content for the secondary.
Unfortunately, in many cases, you won’t be ranking well for a secondary. To get higher-ranking digital ROI ideas, you’ll need to use a premium keyword research tool housed in a broader content marketing solution like SurferSEO. (Google Keyword Planner won’t cut it.)
7. Use Microsites for Organic Content Marketing
Microsites are back. For editorial content at least, it’s increasingly clear that Google prefers “thematically authoritative” sites over “grab bag” publications. Microsites obviously fit into a thematic content marketing strategy. This is because they’re easy to set up and don’t require tons of resources to maintain.
Still, to keep your investment low and digital ROI high, you first need to determine which ideas your brand is most likely to rank for in microsite format. Next, you need to figure out which of those have the highest conversion and revenue potential. Look at your existing traffic metrics, conversion and sales figures, and keyword volume to develop a realistic plan.
8. Don’t Chase Trends (Or Hang Onto Outdated Guidance)
This–though it’s more of an “anti-trend”– is one of the most important things you can do as a digital marketer. Be very careful about going all-in on the latest and greatest marketing tactics that you hear about through the grapevine. Always start slow, measuring and testing small campaigns first before building up to more resource-intensive efforts.
The opposite is also true. If it’s clear that a particular marketing strategy or guideline is no longer operative, remove it from your strategy.
The danger of chasing new trends and hanging onto outdated guidance is most clear in organic content marketing, which has always been a “black box” even for savvy marketers. For example, we’ve known for many years that meta tags and meta descriptions have limited SEO value. However, many marketers and publishers continue to use them for that purpose.
Likewise, the 2010s’ ill-fated “pivot to video” — based on Facebook guidance that proved not just inaccurate but misleading — wasted untold marketing resources. Even the commonly accepted derivative metrics, like Domain Authority, can send errant signals.
Of course, many trends and guidelines are “real” in the sense that they produce good ROI when executed well. For example, affiliate marketing is a valuable, high-ROI technique for many sellers despite the seemingly high cost per conversion. But even here, you need to keep close tabs on performance to ensure costs don’t spiral out of control.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
The last few years have made clear to everyone else what marketing pros have long known: The digital advertising landscape is in constant, disruptive flux. Trends are always coming, going, and morphing. Therefore, it’s hard to sort fads from staying power and sound tactics from snake oil.
This won’t change anytime soon. So, it’s more important than ever to keep close tabs on the digital marketing landscape in general. Additionally, it’s particularly important to monitor your own brand’s digital marketing activities.
It’s vital that you understand what’s working in your digital ROI strategy and what isn’t. You should also understand what just-over-the-horizon shifts in technology and behavior could mean for it all.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
At the same time, you can’t be afraid to push the boundaries of your marketing strategy. Right now, you probably don’t have use for all, or even most, of the trends we’ve discussed so far. But that could change in a hurry, for the same reason it’s so vital to keep your finger on the pulse of the digital marketing landscape.
Without abandoning core tactics willy-nilly, the best marketers readily experiment with new approaches. They also quickly adopt those that appear to be working. They double down on some, and, in short order, their core digital marketing portfolios look a little different. For your digital ROI to thrive amid constant digital disruption, you’ll need to do the same.
Article by Peter Daisyme, Due
About the Author
Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hostt, specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. Previously he was the co-founder of Pixloo, a company that helped people sell their homes online, that was acquired in 2012.