Metrics That Matter Most in 2020

July 24, 2020

Measuring the impact of advertising campaigns is critical to optimizing a programmatic strategy. 

Return on Investment (ROI) and Return of Ad Spend (ROAS) are the most meaningful metrics for tracking success according to our recent research with Ascend2

In Metrics That Matter Most in 2020, our experts will walk through the top metrics marketers should pay attention to. 

Covered in this webinar:

  • What experts consider the most important metrics to track (backed by original research fielded in May 2020 by SharpSpring Ads and Ascend2)
  • How to build a strong analysis process that will give you the insight needed to reach your goals
  • How you can continually boost performance and lower your cost per acquisition by focusing on the right metrics/KPIs and cutting out the noise
  • Behind-the-scenes look at our research findings from content expert Kathryn Hawkins, founder of Eucalypt Media, who surveyed the advertisers in our study

Watch the recording!

View the slide deck:



Hi everybody and thank you for joining us today. I’m Kathleen Davis from the marketing team here at SharpSpring Ads and today we’re going to be discussing metrics that matter most in 2020. But before we get started I just want to remind everybody that we do a Q and A at the end of each webinar, so if you have questions now or throughout the presentation you can go ahead and type them in the chat box at the bottom right of the screen. And we’ll get to as many of those as we can at the end. But today I’m going to introduce our speakers. So first up we have Jalali Hartman from Roboto and he also serves as the AI lab director for us here at SharpSpring Ads. And next we have Eric Stockton, who’s our General Manager here at SharpSpring Ads. He’s known for growing businesses and sales organizations over the years and he’s also spoken at many events, marketing sherpa events, email summit, B2B Dimension Summit and others just like that. And then our guest for today who we are super excited to have joining us is Kathryn Hawkins from Eucalypt Media. We’ve been working with Eucalypt for a little bit now so thanks Kathryn for joining us today for having me. Awesome. So today before we get into talking about the metrics that matter, we wanted to start out with this question: what are your goals? Because before you decide what metrics you want to focus on, and this is the question you have to ask yourself, and your most valuable metrics are going to vary depending on what those goals might be. So Eric I’m going to let you jump into this a little bit but we wanted to just emphasize that you have to understand the why behind your goals before you’re able to before you’re able to create any kind of plan that’s going to work for your metrics.


Yeah I think that’s right. So the reason why we put this webinar together, and the topic I think is so important because we’ve had so many advertisers over the last several months ask us what should I be optimizing for, and then that question really can’t be answered. And I spin in like a vacuum. And in my experience over the years of just optimizing and working on my own campaigns or running teams that you have to take a step back and ask what’s the goal, what’s the strategy behind the tactics that you’re employing. So I’ve seen a good example would be, I’ve seen a lot of marketing managers step into a new role and they’ve inherited a series of channels that they are not charged with managing. And they get into it several months, and they’re managing KPIs that were handed down to them. But things go south or things aren’t working the way they should or they’re not hitting the numbers that they should be hitting. And what ends up happening is you realize that they’ve been taking these same numbers and the same approach and don’t have the underlying strategy that feeds into those channels because maybe those channels are changing or maybe they’ve shifted or maybe the goal isn’t the goal anymore. And so understanding the why behind the goal is really the whole crux of this webinar.


Yeah and just like Eric was just talking about, sometimes those goals shift as you go, as time changes, as your business evolves. So as you can see there’s the business life cycle graphic we have here and it kind of just shows how your focus will shift over time and why your metrics shift at the same time. Yeah and so yeah, so the metric that you’re optimizing for at the beginning, if you are just launching a new product, the KPI that you are focusing in on is going to be completely different than if you’re a more mature model. You have built out channels and you understand what the underlying drivers are for the business prior to handing them off to a sales team. if you’re in the B2B space or if you’re in e-commerce you know your metrics are going to be different because those individual channels have brought in more data and allowed you to be able to see what’s driving the revenue. And I think I would probably stress the communication between departments is key here if you’re in a management position. And especially if you’re something like in B2B, let’s say you’re in a management position, maybe you’re a director level or something, and you know half your job is really communicating from the finance side of things, what the CFO is looking for in those numbers, the cost drivers, communicating that correctly and then also on through to the sales team to make sure that the leads that you’re handing off are going full funnel and actually closing. So having the right expectations and setting that expectation across the whole life cycle is super important.


Right right. So with that we’re gunna jump into some of the research we’ve recently done on metrics and how people are using them today. And not that long ago in May we did some research and partnership with Ascend2 and during this research we sent out a survey and asked a group of marketers which metrics ere the most important for their businesses. So here on the slide you can see the result from that survey with ROI being the most popular, and then ROAs being second. But as you can see there’s also click through conversion, cost-per-click, etc. that marketers are using. This was interesting when I first saw this data come back. So there’s a couple things that stand out to me on it. One is the view through conversion. If you’re not familiar with that, is it means somebody saw the ad at some point in the cookie window over the last 90 days or whatever, and then purchased, actually came back as the lowest most meaningful to everybody. What’s interesting about that is when you look at advertising as a whole, that’s actually what you’re trying to do is drive as many touches that ultimately drive conversions. And so we kind of work backwards up from that right, it’s like how many people have seen this? How many people ultimately at some point end up buying. And as your spend gets bigger and bigger that becomes more and more important right? It’s like the big big advertisers, that’s really all they’re looking at is branding at that point. So I thought this was interesting also.


We were talking about the return on investment versus return on ad spend, I think you’re going to touch on that. The difference between those two is that the next one Kathleen, yes that’s right, so that’s like I think it’s a commonly confused kind of metric, but we’re going to drill into that. But yeah these are interesting and I think one thing, just from a data perspective that I see a lot is, we’re all, we and everybody on this call in the presenter panel anyways, we’re always trying to understand the metrics. Are they accurate? Are they what we’d expect? Can we present them properly because it can make a huge difference between something barely working, something making tons of profit, something losing you money, and so you have to get it right? And it’s very hard. Sometimes we don’t always have the info that we need. There’s a lot of different things you can be tracking, like in this chart like if you’re just looking at the click-through percentage that might not actually be resulting in conversions, which is what your end goal is. So you have to be kind of careful and make sure you’re not looking at false positives and so on. So there’s a lot to it, and in fact, that’s why we’re here. We deal with this all the time. We know our advertisers do as well, and we’re actually here to help you with that. So both on this webinar and actually just contacting us, so sorry go ahead. That was my little, no that’t great thanks Jalali.


Before we get into the difference between ROI and ROAs, we have some quotes from marketers from this survey and this one specifically is from Lauren Patrick, the VP of marketing at Cirricula. So this is kind of like her stance on why ROI is so important. So she says it’s definitely the most important metric for marketing leaders, especially at an early stage for technology startups in their growth stage. And this is kind of going back to what we mentioned at the beginning about how your metric focus might shift depending on where you’re at in the business model and so obviously for group people in the early stages, ROI is definitely super important. But yeah, establishing what that is and what that means because that is going, you know ROI is going to obviously for different types of companies going to be different things. So you know, establishing truly what the number is and what the metric is and why it’s important has to be at or near the top of the list when you’re first doing lots of things like market testing and channel testing, new channel testing, things like that. So yeah, in this marketer, I spoke with that Lauren and she also mentioned the cost of customer acquisition was, it was another important key point, just talking about how much did you invest initially to bring on a customer and what channel did they come through, just so you can really track what’s profitable, what’s getting a return for you, and understanding how you can optimize and make those shifts as needed.


So that was, I think an interesting point just to talk about in those early stages, yeah your focus is bringing people on and hopefully getting them to be long-term customers an interesting thing that we get when we’re talking to customers a lot is they’ll say, my budget is ten thousand dollars a month, let’s say, and so that’s fine. Like I totally understand. We all have budgets, but what it also tells us is that they’re not thinking about the full funnel, right? They don’t have an established acquisition cost like Kathryn was talking about. And their lifetime value, the customer, and they’re not comparing those two and what is the ROI. So you got into a mode of like, I spent $10,000 a month, and it’s really just because I don’t know if that $10,000 is working or not right? And that’s as far as I’m willing to go. And here I can test this. There’s people that spend half a million dollars in a day right? Because they figured out that it works and they figured out that they know if they spend this in 2.1 months, they’re going to get their money back and then they start making money or whatever that formula is. So that’s the goal I think as as advertising, we’re trying to get down to this formula of I know if I spend a dollar, I make two. And once you do that it’s really just a matter of scaling, like how can I find more volume and how can I optimize this. But it’s if you get that wrong from the beginning you get very confused about what your budget is, and what your capacity for growth is I think.


I think that’s right. Yeah and it can get away from you real quick. So I think that brings up the next slide. Right. That’s the difference between ROI and ROAS. Yeah so ROAS is sort of that leading indicator right, that helps you figure out on a bi-channel basis what’s happening with your individual campaigns. And those ROAS numbers drive the ROI, like the overall ROI of the marketing department or your marketing campaign if you’re an individual business owner or something running your own campaigns. So yeah, the ROIAS really is what kind of brings that front and center to you and establishing that by channel is super important because you might have really high quality leads in a particular channel and less quality leads but twice as many in another channel. But at the end it’s cheaper or less expensive right? And ROAS is better, but as you look at the sort of as all of the numbers roll up, what’s the overall ROI on the campaign? Because that’s all that really matters right at the end of the day, are these campaigns in aggregate really driving the business forward.


I saw a goos example of, sorry no you go ahead, I saw a good example that clarified this point for me, it was like, what the advertiser was an e-commerce advertiser, they were selling a pair of shorts and a pair of pants, so the roads on this campaign was positive, meaning they were making back in revenue what they were spending plus, but what the actually the pants had a higher cost, so it was not ROI right? So that would have given you kind of a false positive. I think the campaign’s working but then you run your numbers at the end of the month, you should have shifted that budget to the pants or to the shorts when you’re making more money. So I think when you get into e-commerce and grant where you’re very granular on each product has a certain profit margin, that becomes important when you’re trying to test a new channel. just say like, okay can I drive traffic profitably roughly, I think the ROAS is great because I think we have a quote about that where it just gives you a real high level indicator, does it work? We do which is right here. This is our next slide. So Kathryn, I don’t know if you want to give some background on this quote, this is from the CMO of Better Performance.


Yeah now, so this was one of the people I talked to, basically saying that if you are looking at the ROAS that sometimes you are being able to track like if an ad is doing what you need to do, it’s just a way to tell you that you’re not getting the results that you want, you need to touch your gears immediately and so that’s something that I think I feel like between ROI and realized it’s the ROI is very important but also less easy to access. I mean it’s something that sometimes there’s more comprehensive measurements that need to go into it. I mean so things like if you have, for instance hired an agency to develop an e-book or something for you, you might be paying like for or five thousand dollars for that and that’s something that you kind of need to calculate that into your bottom line. But that’s harder to kind of analyze on a day-to-day basis verses the of knowing okay this is how much you’re spending to get these results from this particular ad. So i mean I think it’s the sort of thing where the ROAS makes it, it’s I think it’s very important just because you are able to make those shifts immediately and understand like on a day-to-day level okay, this is where I can be shifting my budget accordingly.


That’s a great point. It’s from an automation standpoint, I can testify that some of these channels including ours to a degree from an advertiser, just like they’re using the ROAS because that’s the only number they have right? They don’t know what the profit on your product is, so the algorithms are going to optimize for what you’re saying the value of that sale is to you and so that’s one area where you have to be kind of cognizant of the two where you can make some big mistakes in terms of setting your targets and so on.


So we’re gunna go ahead and move on to the next one unless you wanted to talk about ROAS Eric. No I think absolutely. So kind of the next step in the process of figuring out how to look at your metrics is now that you set your goals, how do you reach them and I mean, that’s a pretty big question. It’s probably almost as big as the first question of what are your goals? So to help us answer that, we’ve got our next quote from Gabrieles from Charlotte AI, and he kind of is basically saying that once you’ve got that metric that you’re watching it’s going to tell you what to do with your ads, which ones to stop running, which ones to keep going and which ones to give another shot.


Yeah so we had Gaba on, I want to say like two weeks ago and he did a great job in the last webinar that we did, and he basically talked about different types of ad sizes and different types of campaigns and like on a tactical level, but really the whole message of the webinar was more about we, you want to test and you want to iterate and you want to do it very quickly so that you can learn what’s working, what’s not working, and dial in as fast and as efficiently as you can. So testing multiple combinations and have a lot of experience with that as marketers when we’re doing things, like AV split tests for landing pages right, and we do the same sorts of things with ads when you’re running an ad campaign. So there’s a lot of iterative process and a lot of multiple combinations that you’re testing to find that right one that’s the winner right. And so there are a number of metrics that we go through to be able to determine that, and you know maybe Jalali wants to talk real quick about that.


Yeah so I’m kind of geeky, I love looking at stuff like this because I’m looking for where the opportunity is, and I can attest Jalali is indeed I mean, it’s kind of fun, it is boring, and like you’ll scare people away at parties but I mean, most of my career has bested in dealing with numbers and looking at these numbers and trying to find money in the numbers right. And that’s, there is whether it’s, you’re building a product or a highway or an ad campaign, like you have to understand what’s going on. So when I look at this okay, what is it first? it’s like okay, I see they’ve made 4.3 times their money, that’s great. The conversions are great. I don’t know, I have no contacts right. It’s like is this good or bad. I don’t really know, I wouldn’t know what to do and how to optimize. i do know however that I’m paying for CPM right? So I’m paying for the impression whether I get a click or not. And so the first place that I start is, I want to get more clicks out of those impressions, I’m already paying for, if I’ve been paying for clicks I don’t care about the impressions, but let them run as many impressions as they want. I want clicks and kind of go down the funnel that way right? And then so once I get the clicks I say okay, and I can tell from that .109 that that’s low. Just because I have access to all the data about all the advertisers I know that’s low. So that’s an area where okay maybe I need to make a better ad, do better targeting. Like I’ve got to get more people responding to this and then I go down to the conversions. Okay well, conversions, I don’t see the conversion rate there. But that’s the next time I would look at you know. We know that we should be getting x percentage of the people buying if they’re not, then maybe we need to look at that landing page and look at that funnel before we go back and drive more impressions. So that’s kind of the system. And as you can see it gets very complicated fast.


And where the industry is going is just, no person could do this by themselves. That’s where the things like SharpSpring Ads platform comes in or automation right. So you need to be able to, these things, it’s live and there’s no way that you can manage it. You can however get really good at just setting your goal. Like we need to meet this one. We know that that [inaudible] needs to be above four. We know what the CPA needs to be, so this one is 1396. I know it needs to be at 10 or below right. So we have work to do. And those are just things that we’ve set based on the initial analysis. So we don’t have to keep coming back every time and say is this working or not. It can just quickly, it’s at 13, needs to be ten. Right right. So I think there’s something to just sort of, from a different perspective, is also how the machine learning works and how the AI piece of platforms work. So whether it’s SharpSpring Ads or Facebook or Google or what have you, the more data that you are able to put into the system and allowing to be able to learn the more effective it’s going to be, the better it’s going to perform. So over time what we’ll see are our, when you first set up your campaign it will, we’ll recommend this too, is we’ll say give the machine and it’s a function of how much data you’re putting into it right, the more data the better.


So as your audience builds we know more and more about who your perfect prospect is, your perfect customer is, and as the clicks come in, as the conversions happen, the algorithm knows that this is the kind of profile that somebody is going to match in order to be able to convert. And in the future the next customer or the next individual coming through. So there’s a time process that also comes into place too where the more data that we’re collecting the better the thing is and the better and the higher performance it is. That’s very true. So then here on our next slide we’ve kind of got some of the important things that you are going to need at your disposal to get the data that you need right. Like these having these things in your arsenal or in the platforms that you use are going to help you get the data, the correct data that you need and help you kind of see all the things you need to see. So on the right side here we have a screenshot of the PA dashboard or one of the PA dashboards, and you can see you’ve got clicks CTR, CPM, CPC, etc, all side by side and you can also kind of change these things around to be what you want to see on a daily basis. I think it helps to, it helps you to figure out which individual publishers, which one individual websites are performing better than others. And so I just realized I’ve seen this screenshot like probably four times now in the last day and I had, I did not realize that we also have a screenshot or there should be a screenshot that we should have put this that actually shows you by the publisher by the website what these metrics are right.


So if you know that the New York Times for example, let’s say your ad is showing up in the New York Times is outperforming by 1.5:1, you are going to be able to see that in a more granular way right? And you’ll be able to do exclusions, maybe there’s further down the list maybe there’s a publisher that is showing your ad a lot and you’re paying for that. It’ll add a lot but it’s not producing any kind of real results for you over time right? And again I would stress over time because it has to have enough data going in and you have to give it enough time to be able to see whether or not that particular domain is or that particular publisher is going to perform. But you know over time after you have some data set you can look at and there’s enough data in there to see you should be able to start trimming back the less performing campaigns. Maybe doubling down on the ones that are performing better right, and that gives you the ability to tweak and measure and I think that’s sort of what the little bubble box to the left is right? It talks about the ability to sort of have both transparency and see what’s going on and it’s not a black box right? One of the things that frustrates me and I don’t mean, actually Jalali and I sort of complain about this a lot together is, I don’t like black box solutions that don’t tell me like what’s happening right, and I’m a little bit of a numbers nerd too right, so I’m going to look at these things and I’m going to say, if I’m just going to trust this thing to work and I’m going to trust the metrics, and I’m going to trust that this thing is happening and I’m going to have no way to see what’s driving those numbers, I get a little bit of anxiety around that and I want to be able to, you know at the ad creative level right, what is happening with my 300 by 300 ad verses my 970 by whatever right.


So I mean there’s a layer of transparency that I want to see and there’s also a layer of control that I want to have. I want to be able to turn the dials so that I know what’s going on and I can optimize the campaign as needed. And then I don’t know Jalali you want to talk about sort of the reach and the ad like sort of the ad channels and things like that.


Yeah sure, so Eric was talking about how he’s looking at different and he really is, he’s looking at different aspects of the funnels and trying to figure out where to make improvements and if you’ve ever seen one of these I get these all the time, like Facebook feeds and LinkedIn feeds where the guys talking to showing his garage full of Ferraris and he got this funnel scaled up to x right? And then now they have this profitable business and you’re thinking like how did they do that you know? it’s like I’ve been working on my e-commerce for years and like never gets that, and it’s all they’re doing is exactly what we’re talking about here’s my glory. Yeah yeah so it’s like Eric, he just came back from waxing all his Ferraris. No it’s like, it’s though they used that to try to sell you on their thing right? it’s like that’s kind of reverse thing but actually you can see it right here in the little boring chart. You get $1.67 on your biggest campaign, your biggest spend is your most expensive that may be good or maybe better but what if we move some of that spend down to one that’s only 21 cents right? And what if we then went and said okay well I’m going to change this hat to get this one that was at 0.2 to 0.35 against this volume right? And then you run into the situation where. you say well we’re probably maxing out like for example in this case what SharpSpring Ads can do for us, which is hard to do but let’s say you got Google or you got SharpSpring Ads totally working then you have to take that whole thing and move it over to the next channel and I think one of the big mistakes that I’ve made in my career, two of them, lots of them, but two of them that stand out, one is had a good business had a good value proposition had everything set up. Marketing was not correct right? So you think oh this business isn’t working like it’s just nobody wants it or it never makes money right?


No it’s just the funnel was wrong right. Like if I just spent time on fixing that, the other I think the other side of it is kind of just you start getting so overloaded with data and stats coming in and reports coming in you don’t know what to work on right? Like what’s the thing this week that you need to change in your business and that’s hard right? And I thin that’s where as we get into more of a modern age of where automation is kind of standard and business intelligence and AI is just kind of commonplace, it’s going to make our jobs more of just interpreting what’s coming in and making decisions based on that rather than trying to manually like figure all this stuff out and I think to a degree that’s kind of what perfect audience does for you. And I’m not trying to pitch this product or anything, it just takes multiple channels, these real time auctions where you’re bidding on placements in different places and retargeting to certain groups of people at certain times right? Like you could never do that by yourself. So it gives the people that are doing it a big advantage. And a lot of times you don’t realize that’s what’s going on right? It’s like you’ve over here like pushing buttons and pulling levers and nothing’s working. You gotta zoom out, slow it down, get a big picture, then really focus your brain, your marketing, on what’s important, creative and customer journey right. And even understand what your ROI is, what are your costs?


Like Kathryn was saying, it’s one thing this is like take this product costs out of the equation but then what are the costs your staff, what is the cost of this webinar for us to put this webinar and advertise this webinar. All that goes into our calcs. So yeah, there’s a lot of info and it can be very overwhelming. [Inaudible] and then find the people that can help you. That’s I think why we wanted to have, this is just you know, if you’re sitting there wondering like how do I scale what I’m doing never seems to make money or it’s always close, that’s a great reason to reach out to us. We’ll take a look at it for you and help you. Something too, I mean I just thought of is, there’s a, you talked a lot about like sort of the overwhelming numbers and data there is no shortage of data. You can go and look at Google Analytics and you can go and look in spreadsheets and charts and you’ve got a million data points coming at you. The making sense of which ones matter is really the most important thing and in my experience, just looking at these campaigns most often, and I’m gunna sort of, I’m gunna put a number on it I guess and I’m gunna say this is one of those situations where the Pereto rule or the 80/20 rule is really the most important thing that you could possibly have in your arsenal right? When you wake up in the morning and you sit down in front of your computer and you’re working through the problem and you’re trying to figure out how to drive more sales or more conversions or drive more leaves, how do I increase conversions rates, there’s all these numbers, what do I start on first? What’s the most important thing right? Understanding what the most important thing is and what you’ll find is it’s probably only three or four things right? So I’ve got, I don’t know I mean I’ve got 65 numbers in front of me every morning. Google Analytics has got more tabs than I can possible spend my time on right? PA does too for that matter. And so when I’m looking at it I’m saying what is the driver that I need to focus on today? That is going to give me what is the most leverage? What’s the biggest lever that I can pull today? And if I just focused on that one thing or, and again, and it’s usually, you guys can disagree with me if you want, but in my experience anyway, and maybe somebody needs to chat with me and yell at me, but my experience is like, it’s really kind of like three numbers, three, four, maybe four right, and those are the things that if I pay attention to those things, everything sort of clarifies and simplifies and all of a sudden you’re in a position where you’re making decisions that you feel good about when you go to sleep at night.


You turn your computer on right, that anxiety especially if you’re an entrepreneur I mean, I’ve been an entrepreneur in my life, I’ve been a director of marketing in my life, you know I’ve done these things and sort of being in your shoes you do have sort of again a level of doubt, sometimes about am I, like I’ve got all these meetings I’m doing all of these things but I am doing the right things and so the idea of having it all in one place is simple is sort of why PA or SharpSpring Ads was built, originally it was because the people that were running their campaigns were looking at these numbers, all of these different numbers and all of these different channels and trying to pull it all in under one roof. So it’s fun. I went to, years ago I went to a company called revival [inaudible] I think they got bought a long time ago, but I remember it was very simple. This huge warehouse, all these people working and went into the executive room they had on one wall they had customer acquisition costs for the day. On the other wall they had lifetime value, and that’s all they look at, that’s all the executives looked at. Like their marketing teams are digging in and doing stuff, but if that was above a certain level, they were good. If not, they all started fire drilling and stuff like that, and I think that was smart right? It gave those guys clarity to where they didn’t have to get into the weeds, they just knew it was working or not. And that was a good kind of calm that calmed everybody down. Yeah, because there’s a frenetic nature in marketing right? There’s, Kathleen will attest to this, there’s a million things that you can do and then there are the things that matter you know, and so if you sort of just focus on the things that matter, that have the highest leverage and just sort of got to put your focus on that and say okay, these other things are great and they’re important and we want to do these but we’re going to set them aside right? You know kind of Steven Covey right, that kind of approach. And that’s why I like to take an 80/20 hatchet to things and I say there’s, and I see really good market that’s sort of the difference. Really good entrepreneurs, really good marketers, that’s what they do is they just take relentless focus and they just take a hatchet to everything else, and they’re only focusing on those big big levers.


Yeah that’s right. I was going to say wait, I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a data or a numbers nerd, but I know that those are important and I’m thankful for people like Jalali and Eric so that they give me that clarity of what to go and do and what to go and focus on. Or else like they said, I would be losing my mind trying to do a million things because I don’t know which of them are actually driving the bottom line. So even I don’t know if, Kathryn you can attest, but I don’t know if you would call yourself a numbers nerd, but I’d definitely have a respect for that even if I’m not into that as much as Jalali and Eric.


Yeah no that’s definitely why it has to have a platform to kind of drill down for you and be able to locate the most useful analysis without kind of having to crunch everything yourself 100 times. Yeah that’s how I feel. So we do have a couple questions now. If you have questions and you haven’t sent them in, go ahead and send them in. We’ll try to get through some now and if there are too many to go through we will do a follow-up but. So our first question is from Brian Walters, and he’s asking, do you introduce third party data or demographics to help in your AI process? So Jalali as our Ai expert I’m going to hand this question to you.


Yes absolutely and I’d love to if you have some third-party data let’s just see what you’re talking about. Yeah so I just hit on the answer to that question is, Eric was kind of saying so AI is this kind of big buzz word that I get annoyed, I think these guys know I get annoyed when it gets used too often because it’s really nothing new right. It’s just this kind of analysis on a large scale and Eric kind of hit on a thing well, the only issue is that it doesn’t work unless you feed it data. In fact like a Tesla, tesla you could, I’ll use that example they have the by far the most mature self-driving platform just because it’s driven around the most right, and that gives them a huge advantage over everybody else whether you like the car or not. It’s just been on all the roads and then like most people drive the same places all the time. You get it learns real fast right. So to the degree we can train our stuff, our algorithms ahead of time to give you guys the best ads. Absolutely. In fact there’s a whole project going on right now with pre-trained audiences and people that we already know about and we know their behavior and we know they’re not robots just scamming people like we do a ton of that stuff and then wrapping other stuff to your question like demographics around that only helps make that better and make it work better. And it’s really like, I think in a few years we’ll be amazed that we ever did the kind of advertising we used to where you get a tiny tiny conversion rate or a tiny response rate because this stuff is getting better and better trained. So yeah, absolutely the more stuff you can throw in I think my only [inaudible] would be like, be careful you don’t make an already complicated problem more complicated right? And that does back to just what is it you’re trying to solve for goal wise. Maybe you don’t need to introduce a new demographic information yet because you’re still just trying to get funnel information, like how are people moving through the process. So but yeah, I’d love to see any stuff that people are working with or questions related to that.


Awesome yeah, so Brian if you have some follow-up to that. Definitely reach out to us and we will see what we can do but we have another question from Tracy Lynn. So Tracy if you’re on here, her question is, do you have any advice for a product that has a fairly long lead cycle? For example, higher education. Yeah that’s a good one. So long on sale cycles that have to mature and be nurtured over time, there’s a, so and jumping in completely blind feel free to maybe correct me if there’s comments and things that you wanna put into the end of the chat box there, but basically when I’m looking at something that has an extraordinary long, maturing lead cycle, you’re looking at coming in and optimizing around a particular lower commitment kind of offer right. So a good example is actually the webinar that maybe brought you in, or sorry the ads that brought you into this webinar so we have lots of ads that we’re running on our own behalf for SharpSpring Ads and we will have a soft offer that will come in and we’ll have you come in, click on a particular high performing ad, you will visit the site and then we’ll also launching retargeting ads in the event that you didn’t fill out the email capture that we asked you to fill out and bringing you back if. you did get to the landing page. And you’re looking at it, we’re giving you the information, but it’s a super super soft offer right? We’re not asking for credit cards or anything up front right? That’s not a hard offer. And then what we’re doing it we put you into a drip series. And a lot of higher education obviously is in this sort of bucket of types of advertisers where they have to, over time, like your email list honestly is the most valuable asset you have right. We talk a lot about that on webinars is the email list that you have, that’s like the one thing you really own right? You know you own that audience, that that email audience and you got to treat them like gold you know, and you have to develop relationships with them. So maybe you’re not hitting them with hard offers for your product every time but what you are doing is delivering content for them. You’re giving them access to case studies or ebooks, things like that sort of drive that conversation forwards when they are at that point where they’re making a decision.


And some of them will be and if you sort of view it like a funnel there are going to be people that are still further up into the buying decision phase that you are bringing to the further down into the funnel so that when they are making that decision they’re going to convert. So there’s email marketing, that’s why marketing automation is incredibly popular right now and allows you to be able to do a lot with a little right? So that you’re able to build email sequences and you’re able to do triggers based on behavior of what kind of landing pages they visited or what kind of actions they took and then also again sort of tying all of that back into some of your paid ad strategy too, so getting people to do that and’s funny like marketing a lot of times you’ll see them stop right there at the conversion right, and then at the end like you go further right, you take that relationship further because then there are upsell opportunities across all opportunities, things like that that you’re able to send and you’re able to track. I mean we are in a time right now where we can track everything right? So the idea of being able to see where somebody is in the buyer journey is incredible valuable right? And allowing you to be able to very specifically target them with certain types of messages that they’re going to find useful at that particular time.. and again, you can actually overcomplicate it. You can get super complicated and you can have 55 different triggers and all these other kinds of things, but I would go back to what we just talked about a couple of minutes ago, focus on the three or four metrics that really are what’s driving each one of those sort of steps in the funnel and make sure you’re concentrating on those every day. Have a I want a post-it note or something or a dash that you just have on your screen as it’s, you know throughout the day so you’re paying attention to making sure that those things are top of time. But yeah great question, if there’s obviously more specific things you want to talk about I’m sure we can do that too.


Yeah definitely, just reach out. Same for Brian and everyone else who were going to go over their questions today. But we will go ahead and jump to, we’ll take two or more minutes and we have one from Felix and his question is, is there a particular kind of ad that will give you a better conversion rate whether that be video, interactive, or any other type or does it depend on the industry that you’re focusing in? Yeah I think that’s a good question. Yeah so generally I’d say, I hate answering these questions because it all just comes down to testing the two ads. Like every situation is going to be different, every channel is going to a have a different type of app that works better. Generally what we tell people to do in that scenario though is test four or five different types initially , get your best click-through and your best conversion and then run and scale a little bit with that one. So you’re not trying to continuously change your ads so you kind of have a general idea what’s going to work best. Anecdotally I just did an analysis on one of the bigger advertisers hands down across the board, animated ads work better than static ones. I can’t say whether that’s really going to work for everybody, but it kind of makes sense. The motion of it, the video ads are performing way differently, so you don’t get click-throughs on videos as much anyway in most scenarios so you kind of might think it’s not working but we’ve seen advertisers where the videos are actually their number one driver right? So you have to be a little bit careful but yeah we just test, like literally I think 20 plus years of doing this that’s the one things I come back with, I don’t know, like I’m probably going to be wrong, so we set up real structured testing and all this tuff we try to move through it quick, not get too carried away, but just like is this working, is this working, is this working, and then moving down through. Jalali’s extraordinarily humble.


Yeah so he, that is something that I think is true, through you know, we’ve done a series of live webinars over and they were live, they weren’t taped, recorded, not edited, nothing, and they were just live webinars where people would send in their ads and they would send in their landing pages and they’d say help me figure this out, like help me optimize this, and then we would go through live and take a pretty methodical approach at what works and what doesn’t work right? And then they would go and test it, they would come back with the results right and what would end up happening is you would find that what you thought was going to work really well ultimately flopped for one reason or another. Or over here on this side something that you tried, that you tested, and you dialed in really well, outperformed everything else two to one, right? So one of the, I totally agree with what Jalali said, everything’s about testing. Testing and iterating and doing it quickly. It is not a static, just you know pull an ad out and one ad and you put it up and you hope for the best. Those campaigns are not gunna work. In fact, we discourage it because we know if that is one thing for sure, that’s not gunna perform for you.


So I’ve seen that, like I’ve seen, I’ve gone where I’ve tested ad creative different types of offers, different types of copy, different design layouts, the whole bit. And you know, I could never beat the, I’d launch something and I’d have my control, and I couldn’t beat it. And like three months would go by, it might be iterating on the 40th times or something I couldn’t beat it in that 41st time was something that just absolutely destroyed that the first control. And in that methodical approach as you go through and you start honing in on who your audience is and what they’re responding to is really where the value is, and you can ask it’s like okay well, for the first 40 days or 40 creatives was that worth it? Well in that particular case based on the volume that we were doing at the time, that was another million, million and a half a year in revenue right? And so million, million three. And so that kind of deep devotion to testing and getting it right is super super important.


Wow that’s awesome. So we have kind of a similar question, I think this will be the last question we take for today, but this is from Lyrielle and she says, I’m sorry he or she says that my question is, what marketing campaign or marketing strategies are recommended for startup internet companies? So I’ve kind of asked a follow-up of what kind of internet companies are we talking about here? So literally if you have a little bit of background you can give us that but just in general I think we kind of touched on startups in our earlier talk about business models and stuff. So maybe you guys have some better insight about how to do the marketing strategies for startups. Personally I would say, focusing on content marketing is a really promising avenue for startups in particular just to be able to build the brand and be able to create an educational portal on your website and then obviously using ads to generate leads and drive traffic to those, to your content, build up your social channels.


Personally, yeah. That’s with all of the startup clients we work with, that’s where we tend to prioritize kind of building out who are the buyers, understanding buyer personas and then creating educational, useful content that’s designed to appeal to them and then using that as an avenue to generate impressions through advertising and then ultimately generate leads. I think that’s a good point. There’s, especially for startups that they’ve built a product, they have designed the product, they feel like they kind of know what the audience is, and you know who the customer is, and content marketing does help with that right? It helps as you figure, as you start educating people and you lay things out, it does help identify. Yeah that’s right, it helps you to identify and sort of hone in on what the, and who the prospect is that you’re targeting. I think there’s a combination of that plus, if I were starting a brand new company from scratch and I had no product, or sorry I had a product, I launched my product, it’s a software let’s say, it’s just a software as a service model, and I kind of, who I’m building this thing for right, I’ve got my engineering team and we’re building something and I have a pretty good idea of what that is, but when I start something I actually, what I try to do is I actually start with a PPC, and because it’s going to allow me to be able to see very quickly the drive traffic to my offer and find out if they have any interest whatsoever right, and drive some traffic through, it allows you to be able to judge and see who is clicking, who’s interested, what kind of ads they’re clicking on, that sort of thing so that you can kind of get a feel for who your prospect is. And that is super informative when you have no data at all right, if you’re starting with nothing. So getting that, have an idea, are they even responding? And it’s interesting, like I would actually take a step back before, and I know I’m not precisely answering your question now, I’m actually taking a step before that, and I’m saying that before I even launch a product I still have a PPC campaign running. That’s what tells me whether or not the product is going to resonate with my audience and whether or not I can get them to do anything.


At the end of the day what you want them to do is be able, and if you’re like a SAS model or something you want to be able to pull out a credit card right, that’s the goal right? You want them to be able to pull out a credit card and convert. And if you’re running a PPC campaign through, and you’re driving traffic to your landing page and nobody’s doing anything, then you’ve either got an offer problem or you’ve got an audience problem right? You don’t know, what you find is, and I know I advise for startups and stuff over the years and one of the things that I find is a product is built, there’s lots of startup dollars put into it, maybe outside investments been raised, and you get everybody excited around it and you built the wrong product for the customer right. And you find that out six months after you’ve launched your marketing campaign. And your marketing partner comes back and says we can’t sell this thing right. I see that time and time and time again right. The most beautiful products you’ve ever seen in your life, well-designed, or here’s another way to put it, existing products for an existing company that you are now launching right? So same sort of thing. You’ve got your core product and there’s a lot of excitement around this new product idea or this new feature. And there is no pre-testing or anything has gone into it right, there’s been a thousand [inaudible] hours have been put into this new feature and then it just falls on deaf ears and you can’t get the adoption right? So there’s a lot of being able to do that and if you have, especially when you’re in that situation where you already have a product, you have an audience, and you’ve built something up you an actually go, and this is sort of where retargeting is good because it’s less expensive than PPC, and you allows you to be able to bring back people that are already familiar with you and your brand right. And they’ve already seen your messaging, now you’re sending them a new message do they do anything with that offer right?


Yeah I’m sure everybody’s sort of experienced that sort of thing. So I’m not sure if that answered your question but maybe, I don’t know Kathleen, Jalali, anybody else want to chime in there. I think that, no I mean that’s everything that you said makes sense and I don’t think I have too much to add except for that I guess for startup companies like you said, it’s just the biggest thing in my mind would be awareness right? Like exposure and awareness and focusing on your audience so as much as you can put your name out there is probably going to be like your number one focus for strategy. I don’t know do you have anything to add Jalali? Yeah I was actually going to use their same example of using apps to test the business concepts ahead of time. It’s a great way to do it. If you’ve already launched then I think aren’t you going to put this up here, we’re offering free ad credit and some free creative, that would be a great way to get started if I was a startup. So you get a professional designer so, and we get, we might, there’s a limit on this, so I’m not sure how many people are gunna do this, but yeah get some good creatives, get them spinning in different places, start to look at your funnel. Like what’s happening with this, are people coming through? So we’re fronting the budget and giving you the ads. You really have nothing to lose on this one. But it also just gives you a great amount of info, like we could even do some different ads, one with message, the other one with another and just see what works. This is such a valuable piece of info, especially when you’re early on, before you raise all the money and before you spend all the money, at least like get some data points on what’s happening.


Yep yep that’s right. So I’m going to go ahead and drop the link that’s on here in the chat box below so if you’re interested int his or you want to learn more about it, it’s and the link is in the chat box on the bottom right. So with that we just want to give a reminder that we have webinars every two weeks, so our next webinar is coming up on August 6th, and the topic for that’s going to be retargeting best practices. So for anyone who had questions about marketing strategy or how to get started, this is going to be a super great webinar, kind of like a 101 for retargeting in general. Eric I don’t know if you want to add any bullet points on there. I think it’s going to be one of our more popular events that we hold. We get these types of questions all the time. Luckily with quite a bit of capacity with go to webinar, where we can see lots or we can get lots of people on at the same time, and then we’ll probably allow it to be viewed as a recorded series too in case you can’t make it. Yeah it’s gunna be I think one of our more popular ones for sure.


Yeah I also agree I think it will be, it it’ll be, and we do send out a recording of every webinar to the registrant so if you want to go ahead and just register and not sure if you can make it, that’s totally fine. You’ll get a recording and then all the information will also be on our blog after the fact. But with that we just want to say thank you Kathryn for joining us today. Thank you, we also love seeing your dog there at the end for a few seconds. She needed a hug, Yeah well thanks for showing her to us and thank you for coming on here and then also thanks Eric and Jalali, as always for your knowledge and expertise. So with that we are going to call this, but we hope you guys enjoyed, we hope you got some good nuggets out of it. As always if you have more questions email us at and we will take care of you.

Post categories: Webinars
Post tagged with: A.I., Eric Stockton, Jalali Hartman, Webinars

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