April 2020

The Retailer’s Guide to Marketing Campaign Optimization

00 Overview

retail marketing

Four levers for improved digital sales for eCommerce/mCommerce, direct to consumer, and subscription brands

23x more likely to acquire customers. 6x as likely to retain customers. 19x more likely to be profitable.

That’s what McKinsey reports about data-driven organizations.

The retail landscape isn’t getting any easier. Between a highly saturated market, growing demands for laser-focused personalization, and a constantly evolving customer experience, retailers must keep up with an industry moving at breakneck pace.

More than ever, data is vital to retail marketing success.

Singular gets it

At Singular, we understand today’s retail challenges. Because of this, we provide retail marketers with more data from more sources than any other solution on the market. Our customers rely on that data to make faster, better optimizations to hit their growth goals.

With access to so much rich information, retailers can do more, including:

  • Acquire more first-time buyers
  • Turn first-time buyers into loyalists
  • Drive incremental revenue via purchases or subscriptions
  • Re-engage high-value buyers and subscribers

We’re here to help

In this guide, we show you how to optimize your ad campaigns to drive incremental sales and maximize ROAS. We cover four “optimization levers”:

  • Creative optimization
  • Bidding strategy
  • Budget allocation
  • Testing

01 Build the right creative

Creatives are key to engaging buyers, particularly for the retail vertical. Being able to quickly grab people’s attention can make or break your campaigns.

To build the right creative….
Focus on quality over quantity
What makes a quality ad?

  • People can view it: Ensure every part of your ad is clear and legible.
  • A clearly communicated USP: Use visuals that best represent your brand and highlight your unique selling proposition.
  • A powerful headline: Grab attention right away to quickly attract potential customers.
  • Vibrant colors that pop: No brand wants to come across as dull. In a sea of ads competing for consumer attention, make yours immediately enticing.
  • A connection to your audience: How are you appealing to them? Do any of your ads feature their demographic?
  • It’s tailored to the experience: Make sure your ads look great everywhere your audience is—mobile, desktop, laptop, etc. That said…
  • It’s mobile-first: Be economical with your design and give your product as much real estate as possible. More folks will be searching for your products via mobile than any other platform, so be sure to create a seamless experience.

Avoid ad fatigue

If people see your ads too often, they’ll respond to them less. There are several things you can do to prevent this:

  • Try frequency caps: Limit the number of times someone can see your campaign, either daily, weekly, or for a set duration. This will prevent them from getting tired of your ads, and then abandon your products and brand.
  • Rotate your ad creative: Set specific durations for how long you’ll run an ad. Then, swap it out for something new to keep your campaign original and fresh.
  • Switch up ad types: Been serving image ads only? Run those for a set amount of time, then try video ads, or carousels, or select from many available ad types.
  • Update your offer: One day shoes, the next day tops. Or, a paint brand might try stains versus primers. Mix and match selections from your product catalog.
  • Get interactive: Try formats like playable ads, surveys, or 360-degree video. Rethink standard banners to cut through the retail ad noise.
  • Be bold: Go for the creative gold. Do something out of the ordinary for your brand and see if you can shake up performance.
  • Boost user-generated content: Are people interacting with your users’ social content? Amplify these posts to drive more engagement.

retail marketing

Get dynamic

Dynamic ads and dynamic creative optimization are like an automatic A/B test on your product feed and creative. They automatically deliver personalized ads based on the interest people show on your website or app, allowing you to understand which assets work best. 

They empower you to:

  • Serve ads that resonate with buyer personas
  • Target multiple locations, languages, and personas
  • Mix and match calls-to-action, messaging, overlay, content placements, etc. 

Use these powerful ad delivery methods to deliver hyper-targeted ads that can expand your brand’s reach into new markets or audiences.

retail marketing

Get sequential

All of the major publishers offer some type of ad sequencing. With sequencing, you can arrange your ads so that they’re shown in order. Users don’t have to interact with an ad before the next one shows up.

Ad sequencing is great for telling a story. And, a story is one of the most powerful ways you can connect with an audience.

Use ad sequencing to:

  • Engage your audience in a different way
  • Build curiosity about your product offering
  • Reinforce a brand message or theme
  • Drive viewers to perform a specific action

The right creative for the right audience

Every campaign is an iterative process, so you’ll see an improvement in conversions when you produce creatives to drive a desired action.

Once you’ve created your stellar creative and tested to see what’s working, go even deeper. Here are just a few advanced tips for fine-tuning your performance.

  • Know your audience to make better creative decisions. Go beyond KPIs. You’ll see an improvement in conversions when you build creatives to drive a desired action tied to each step of the funnel.
  • Build content around your audience actions. Expand the lifetime value of your customers by producing ads to upsell or build loyalty.
  • Avoid making decisions based on the first data point. Look at data beyond CPA. If view-through is good but conversions are not, iterate your creatives with a new and improved value proposition.
  • Create seasonal content. Use the data to update creatives for better performance. If CTR is going down, it usually indicates ad fatigue or seasonality.
  • Engage with new audiences. Sell the value and benefit instead of the product.
  • Become relevant by reflecting people’s realities. Localization isn’t enough if you don’t create momentary connections. Personalize your message.

Pro tip: With Singular’s Audience Management, you can automatically group visitors to your app, shopping cart abandoners, or existing buyers (just to name a few). They’ll then receive customized marketing messaging through different connected platforms and partners. You can use these segments to re-engage, retarget, and prospect new customers and upsell or cross-sell existing ones.

The best thing is that this list automatically updates based on your app user’s actions. Just be sure to think full-funnel—generate enough activity at the top to have actual people to retarget throughout the customer journey.


retail marketing

Test, Rinse, Repeat

When you’re ready to see what’s working, address one thing at a time.

Here are just a few examples of things you can analyze:

  • Copy length: short vs. long
  • Ad formats: video, static images, collection ads, carousel, other?
  • Images: illustrations or photos? People using your product, or the product alone?
  • Color scheme: what colors attract your largest audience?
  • Tone of voice: soft or persuasive? Energetic or mellow?
  • Calls to action: try different ones—shop now? 30% off?

retail marketing

02 Set the right bids

Bid optimization is all about monitoring performance and analyzing data. When it comes to optimization, most of the time less is more. Be mindful of how often you should adjust your bids and budgets throughout the day.

A good rule of thumb: Your bid strategy should work for your goals and what you’re optimizing for, whether it’s clicks, impressions, purchases, or other conversions. 

The more data insights you can glean, the more likely you are to hit—and exceed—your performance goals.

Bid there, done that

To set the right bids:

  • Determine your budget: Figure out what’s doable and go from there
  • Give it time: Run your campaign long enough to gather ample data 
  • Adjust as needed: Fine-tune once you know what’s working (or not)

Adjusting is part art, part science. Make sure your bids are high enough so that your ads are being shown and you stay competitive, but low enough to keep your CPC in check. Or, invest in a tool that automatically adjusts bids for you based on performance—just a few on the market include Kenshoo, Marin Software, and Smartly.io. 

About Google Ads 

With paid search budgets in the retail space continuing to grow each year, Google Ads remains the bread and butter of most retail advertising campaigns.

There are several types of bidding can you do with Google Ads, and you only pay for results. You determine what your budget will be and then pay when someone interacts with your ad, such as a click or video view. Your bidding strategy options include:

  • CPC bidding, or cost-per-click bidding, allows you to set a maximum bid you’re willing to pay, and only charges you when your ad gets clicked. This strategy is ideal for advertisers who want to drive visitors to their website.
  • CPM bidding, or cost per thousand impressions, is when you select how much you’re willing to pay for a thousand people to see your ad. This strategy is best suited for brand awareness and top-of-funnel campaigns.
  • CPA bidding is when you bid based on how much a conversion is worth to your business. This strategy is best suited for campaigns focused on driving conversions like purchases or sign-ups.

Pro tip: With a tool like Singular, you have a rich source of data to test and optimize against. We automatically note when a bid has been changed, and then show the impact of that change overlaid on your performance goals so that you can re-evaluate bids. You never have to manually track bid changes in a spreadsheet.

03 Allocate the right budget

You’ve got the perfect creative and a stellar bidding strategy. How do you know how much to spend?

We recommend a holistic measurement approach:

  • Think cross-channel: See how you’ve spent historically across channels
  • Go full-funnel: Compare spend between top-of-funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom-funnel; a full-funnel view of performance ensures you’re allocating the right budget
  • Go high with ROI: Optimize based on your highest ROI; when these campaigns plateau, move budget to where it works better
  • Test, test, test: Which brings us to our next section….

Pro tip: Singular allows marketers to see exactly what their ad partners have spent to date on their campaigns, and joins spend with the ad partner’s performance that their mobile measurement partner tracks. You can view performance across ad partners, allowing you to make more educated decisions based on ROI.

04 Test the right channels

(in the right way)

In these data-rich times, marketers are constantly trying to expand their reach. Those who adopt a “create and learn” mentality to continually experiment have a huge advantage over their competitors.

But, the trick is knowing when, where, and what to test.

  • The when: To have the greatest impact, test at every stage of your ad campaigns.
  • The where: To build a successful testing framework, first determine which channels to test. We’re all familiar with the tried and true “big publishers.” But, since new channels are cropping up all the time (TikTok, for example), constantly test to consider which channels to add to your retail advertising toolkit.
  • The what: social vs display, agencies, etc.; video ads, etc.

Don’t worry—if you don’t have dedicated resources or one month of internal work, you can automate this with a tool like Singular. 

Home & Shopping, the top retail app in Korea, used a “create and learn” approach with Singular to decrease cost per purchase by 15% while saving 24% of their ad budget.

Testing, testing, everywhere—get granular 

Granularity in digital marketing is the ability to dissect big chunks of marketing performance data and ad buys to discover areas of incremental growth.

Getting granular with your measurement highlights interesting opportunities. For instance, you can experiment with niche keywords and measure them at a granular, per-network, per-publisher level.

There are many benefits to this:

  • If an ad campaign is split across different agencies, you can view each one individually
  • If each agency uses multiple ad networks, you can see how each is performing
  • If each ad network employs different publishers and sub-publishers in your campaign, you can dive into sub-publisher metrics
  • If you’re using varying creatives and forms of targeting, you can see how each performs
  • As users or customers engage, you can see their journey and react personally to their preferences and needs

A note on testing new partners

Growth marketers look at more than which additional ad networks they’re using. They’re also using a tool—like Singular’s Campaign Analytics and Attribution combined suite—to peer behind the ad network curtain and see where their ads are actually running.

At this level, there are two things our top customers are doing:

  • Whitelisting: allowing your ads to run on that publisher’s app or website, regardless of performance
  • Blacklisting: blocks an ad network from running your ads on a publisher’s app or website, regardless of performance

Note that either of these can lower your ROI, despite strategic usage.

Pro tip: As you increase the number of partners you work with, it’s important to tackle ad fraud before it eats into your bottom line. If you don’t already have a fraud prevention solution, make sure you secure one to ensure your ad budgets are focused on actual users and potential customers instead of robots. 

Singular’s Attribution platform has the best fraud prevention solution on the market. We’ve saved our customers from wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on fraudulent activities. Schedule a demo with us to learn more.

05 The bottom line...

Use data to generate first-time buyers and create loyal customers.

With hundreds of billions of measurement marketing events annually, Singular sees how the world’s best marketers win. We hope you’ve found this guide helpful.

But we know there’s always more to learn. And, we know that you need the right tools for the never-ending job of growth and driving the next purchase.

Contact us to schedule a demo. Our goal is your success.