by Elena Dvoirin, Sr. Client Services Manager  |  Digital advertising thoughts from the minds at MediaNet

As a marketer today, it is particularly important to understand how to leverage both internal and external data resources to maximize the efficiency of your media investment. Here are three effective ways to extract greater long term benefits:

Identify your customer journey.
When it comes to analyzing customers, it is essential not only to gather data, but to know how to segment and interpret it. Begin by modelling your customers’ myriad journeys through touchpoint mapping and identify behaviors that correlate with each stage along the path to purchase. Next, customize your digital strategy to match those variable consumer frames-of-mind. For example, when a prospect is in the research phase of a purchase decision, you’ve identified that they will likely visit multiple brands on your e-commerce site, read reviews, compare products and pricing and maybe even add items to a “save for later” list. When a prospect is in this discovery phase, research shows that it’s more effective to keep remarketing ad creative brand-focused, rather than dynamically displaying a specific item. Alternatively, if your prospect has reached the consideration phase and added a particular product to her cart but not yet completed the purchase, remarketing with that same item may be a more valuable approach.

Use data tools to gather insights.
It is helpful to interpret your first-party data within the context of broader consumer trends – over time, in real-time, and across verticals. There are some fantastic (and free) resources available to help you think strategically and critically about your brand. Tools like Consumer Barometer and Google Trends can help you observe audience, geo, vertical, interest and action-based data on a larger scale to determine periods of heightened interest in your product. It can also be useful in answering questions like what consumer segments are most likely to conduct research and complete purchases online. These types of large scale data signals can help inform your creative strategies: how and when to speak to consumers at different stages of the purchase funnel and what types of messages to focus on.

Test, test, test [and learn]!
As much as analytics and data trends can inform campaign structure and creative direction, the most effective way to learn about your audience is by testing new strategies. Set aside a portion of budget specifically for experimentation and craft your test strategy based on intermediate or longer term goals (ROAS, CTR, increased site traffic, building brand advocacy, etc.). To develop a deep understanding of how creative impacts performance, you can run a variety of tests such as: A/B testing with video, landing page layouts, calls-to-action, dynamic vs. generic creative remarketing strategies, and many more. While test budgets may seem counterintuitive to the efficient use of advertising dollars, an investment in testing will help inform the longer-term strategic direction of your brand and surface insights that will benefit future planning cycles.

The beauty of digital advertising and programmatic in particular, is the myriad of data and tools at your disposal.  Take advantage by embracing a multi-faceted approach to planning your digital media investment: create an in-depth plan of your consumer, observe the big data picture, and iterate early and often. Doing so will help you go further with less and ensure you’re best positioned to take advantage of the endless sea of opportunities that are out there.