Pulling the Right Digital Marketing Optimization Levers to Save Campaigns

August 10, 2023

Ahhh, that sinking feeling in your gut, the devastating realization that the digital marketing campaign you willed into existence… is not working.

Regardless of the blood, sweat, and tears (or cups of coffee) you poured into the execution of the project, the KPIs aren’t favorable and difficult decisions are on the horizon. 

Enter the famous African proverb, “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” 

I’ll submit that the crux of this quote rings true in the context of digital marketing optimization. 

Marketers who can diagnose the core issue/failure and expediently “pull” the correct optimization lever save time and the headache of further wasted budget. Via the process of elimination, the most logical lever is the first pulled and, ideally, the engine that drives your campaign out of the mud pit.

Identifying the Problem: The “Why Methodology”

We’re talking about the optimization levers that any digital marketing can pull like a parachute cord to steady a campaign’s plummet. 

Before we dive into the components of our optimization levers, there must first be a “why.” What problem are we trying to solve, and what’s causing it? 

It may be that you’re generating clicks, but not conversions. Or generating conversions at an unmanageable cost. The opportunities are endless (unfortunately), but fret not. The first step in the optimization process is aided by a simple thought exercise that helps sort through the clutter, the “Why Methodology.”

Here’s what you should be asking yourself:

It may be that you cannot answer all five of these questions up front, but ideally, you’ll have completed the “Why Methodology” exercise with a core challenge in mind. 

For the purpose of this blog, let’s work off of this scenario:

Product: AI software that generates personalized greeting card designs (i.e. birthdays, anniversaries).

Target User: Greeting card companies looking for modern software. Challenge: Lead volume is low, and we’ve not generated enough conversions.

Introducing: Digital Marketing Optimization Levers

Now that we’ve identified our problem, we can start auditing our optimization levers:

Lever #1: Audience Targeting

We created an audience based on detailed targeting parameters. However, instead of selecting “greeting card companies,” we mistakenly entered “credit card companies,” as one of our targets.

Always analyze the targeting first. It can be the easiest to correct should you notice a discrepancy between the native audience setup and intended targeting. For instance, if we’re selling to Canada, but our location was accidentally set to the U.S., that’s an easy (and quick) fix.

Pro tip: If you’re serving a prospect list that isn’t producing, it may be time to consider a new list, create a look-a-like audience, or lean more into remarking tactics such as website or platform retargeting.

Lever #2: Campaign Structure

“We may have overcomplicated our ad set-up just a bit. We have three campaigns, each with three audiences (ad groups), and each ad group contains five ads; We’re serving a total of 45 ads.”

Get a bit overzealous with your build-out? Plugging your ad platform with numerous options and variations is a great mindset to have; you cast a wide net, and it didn’t work out. That’s ok. Now it’s time to simplify and make life easier for the algorithm. 

Pro tip: Consider keeping the campaign setup minimalistic to start. Use 2-3 ads max within any given audience (or ad group) and layer in/out creative as necessary. 

Lever #3: Conversion Rate Optimization

“We were a bit rushed during the landing page creation process, so we didn’t include any trust factors or differentiators, just a product shot and a form.”

Never underestimate the power of good UX. Oftentimes, marketers will put ad dollars behind well-crafted ads, only to botch the user journey where it matters most: the landing page. It’s critical to examine your landing page from the eyes of the user. Is there continuity between the ad graphics and messaging and the website? Is the conversion process short and sweet?

Pro-tip: Conversion-oriented design dictates that you accomplish three things on your landing page (in order):

  • Educate the User
  • Build Trust
  • Call-to-Action

Lever #4: Budget Allocation

“Facebook hasn’t been performing as expected, but our LinkedIn advertisements are HOT.”

My personal favorite lever, and one that is often overlooked: budget distribution. While good marketers realize that the user journey consists of multiple touchpoints on a variety of channels, they also know that they must strike while the iron is hot in terms of cost efficiency. 

Is one platform bringing leads at a lower CPA than others? Is this platform receiving the greatest share of our budget? 

These are the questions you should be asking yourself.

Pro-tip: Calculate your average cost-per-acquisition for each platform. Determine whether opportunities exist to shift the budget to capitalize on existing efficiencies.

Lever #5: Creative

“Oops, our ads don’t actually show any of the stunning birthday cards that we’ve produced; they only talk about our “powerful AI.”

Users are all about looks – and that’s not a bad thing. In reality, the creative lever is often the largest (and toughest) to pull. Why? It’s all about resources.  Creative turnaround takes time and (often) requires collaboration with the design team and client approval. 

Pro tip: Analyze the other four levers first, then determine if creative edits are needed. It might be that you can solve your problem first by tweaking audience targeting or adjusting your budget. If creative changes are needed, ask yourself, to what extent? Do you need a full overhaul, or perhaps slight edits to messaging? 

The Optimizer’s Credo: Pivot, Learn, Pull, Repeat

Digital marketing is an ever-changing beast, one that can sometimes bite back.

Yet, in the face of a floundering campaign, remember this: adversity breeds innovation. The optimization levers we’ve dissected here are not your lifeboat but your compass, guiding you back to shore when you’ve drifted off course.

Embrace the art of the pivot! If your campaign is faltering, the ‘Why Methodology’ and our optimization levers are your partners in the mission to realign. It’s all about asking the right questions, identifying the problems, and expediently making the necessary adjustments.

So, go ahead, pull those levers. Turn those sinking campaigns into triumphant victories.


Tyler Davis

Marketing Strategist
OM Performance Marketers

Tyler started as a News Director well-versed in multimedia storytelling and content writing before entering the digital marketing space. He has a background rooted in the healthcare industry, marketing life-changing virtual clinical trial solutions to pharmaceutical and biotech giants. As a self-professed skill builder, Tyler enjoys leveraging both technical and creative skill-sets to overcome unique challenges to create value for clients.

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