Exploring how the best advertisers are able to succeed at scale, and how all advertisers can learn from their success.

In my time at Plucky and Facebook, I’ve managed the world’s top eCommerce companies. In that time, I’ve worked with them on the lead up and execution of every eCommerce related event and a multitude of tests along the way.

While all companies are different, their marketing dominance on Facebook, Google and DSPs (that allow for deep technical integration) can be explained by four pillars of their operations.

  1. Customers are always top priority
  2. Optimize ads toward incremental outcomes
  3. Automation
  4. ‘Always on’ testing

Every advertiser should implement these pillars and improve their digital marketing investments.

Customers are always Top Priority

To make your customers your top priority, you have to understand them. Companies that truly adopt this have internal teams dedicated to understand and adapting to customer needs, behaviors and buying patterns.

Most advertising decisions (target audiences, product selections, bids, etc) are generated from these internal teams to maximize the experience users have while interacting with the brand.

This mindset means everything these companies do is a ‘retention effort’. With churn rates and customer LTV being the primary concerns of businesses, and customer LTV limiting ad bids and CAC thresholds (and therefore competitiveness), a lesson can be learned here.

Data scientists, economists, engineers and other ‘CRM/BI’ employees are no longer optional resources for marketing teams. They are necessary for sustainable growth.

Ben Cole, Business & Data Analyst | eCommerce @ Facebook

Optimize ads toward Incremental Outcomes

One result of a customer obsession is the ability to predict what and when customers will buy, and focus ad dollars on generating incremental sales (products one is likely to purchase when exposed to an ad, as opposed to products one would buy anyway).

Therefore, accurate measurement is crucial. For every existing customer group targeted, hold back a significant audience as a control group to measure lift on sales, revenue, and other high-value actions.

Automation

Utilizing API integrations with ad platforms enables advertisers to make faster and better decisions. Economists, data scientists and engineers are on every one of their marketing teams (or, more accurately, their marketers are part of their data teams). Notably, their bidding algorithms operate in close to real-time optimization, and makes decisions based on internal measurements. Yes, this can be expensive; but it is the only way for 24/7 optimization and also the only way to scale your ads without having to hire larger marketing teams.

Not every approach to automation that I’ve seen my clients take has been the correct one, and certainly not every approach was correct for all companies. But the spirit of each of their stances on automation is; establish marketing operations that automate what is repetitive, what works, and what closes the gaps between internal data and marketing actions. Resource-constrained companies will have to prioritize the opportunities they seize based on more immediate revenue or efficiency outcomes.

‘Always on’ Testing

One thing won’t work for all potential customers. And the things that work now won’t work forever. Therefore, advertisers must always test new approaches to improve results, grow a specific demographic, expand into a new market segment, etc.

Companies that understand this set aside a percentage of their advertising budgets (on a per-platform basis) for testing. Without this mentality, companies are clinging on to the present success without building for the future.

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