A Guide to Ad Campaign Optimization

Writer:
Alaina Bradenburger
Editor:
Published: Mar 13, 2024
Last Updated:
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In the digital age, you need people to be able to find you online. Digital ad campaigns are a great way to leapfrog the competition and show up first in search results. But you’re still competing with others posting digital ads using your keywords. Ad campaign optimization can help you streamline your marketing process and create ads that reach your target audience and improve your conversion rates. 

With ad campaign optimization, you can refine your digital ad strategy to make sure you’re targeting potential customers in the right places with messages that resonate. Once you understand how to do it, you can optimize each digital campaign to improve your ad performance across platforms and stretch your marketing budget. 

What Is Ad Optimization and How Does It Work? 

Ad optimization refers to the steps you take to adjust your ad campaigns to better meet your business goals. Your overall goal for the campaign optimization process would be to get the best return on investment for each ad campaign.

Optimization involves analyzing digital ad performance and using campaign performance metrics to make changes to your ads to improve. You might choose to focus on a few key performance indicators and optimize your ads to meet specific goals. Or you might optimize ads based on your digital marketing strategy as a whole. 

For example, if you run a Google ad that doesn’t reach your desired click-through rates, you might try changing your keywords to improve your chances of conversion. 

How To Optimize Your Campaign

The first step in ad campaign optimization is to define your goals and make a list of metrics you can measure to determine how well you achieved them. Next, track each channel and use the data to adjust your campaigns so they meet your performance goals. 

Top 7 Ad Optimization Techniques and Strategies

Boost your click-through rates and attract more potential customers by mastering these techniques and strategies. 

1. Integrations for Updated Product Catalogs

Whether you’re running an e-commerce shop or you offer an omnichannel shopping experience, your online catalog should be up to date. If a customer clicks through your ad trying to purchase a certain product and finds it sold out online and in the store, they might not trust or shop with you again. 

Make sure your e-commerce shop, Google products, and other platforms reflect the same inventory, pricing, and availability. If you’re a large retailer, for example, you might list inventory by location so customers can see whether it’s worth driving to their local store. When the inventory on your website is inaccurate, a customer risks wasting a trip and being disappointed with their experience. 

Optimize your ads by making sure you have adequate inventory of every item you are featuring. Check your product catalog and make sure it’s up to date and all your integrations are accurate before posting your ad. 

2. Multichannel Ad Campaigns to Increase Conversions

You may be tempted to stick with a single ad channel to save money, but you can cast a wider net by reaching out to potential customers in multiple locations. Using multiple channels such as email, social media, mobile, display ads, and offline ads lets you build a meaningful connection with potential customers by exposing them to your brand in multiple locations. 

Using multiple channels gives your target audience the option to engage with your brand on their preferred channel. You can create a cohesive ad campaign aimed at connecting your message with the right customers in various stages of the buying journey. 

By running ads on multiple platforms, you can reach different segments of your target audience. For example, you might develop an ad campaign focused on building brand awareness and launch different versions of your message on social media, display ads, and connected television ads. Each of these platforms can connect you with members of your audience who would not have seen your ad otherwise because they didn’t fall into your specified targets. 

3. Campaign Tracking With Real-Time Adjustments

Before launching your campaign, make a set of key performance indicators you plan on tracking based on your campaign goal. Once the campaign has launched, monitor these statistics and make adjustments to your ads as you go. 

Some platforms won’t let you change your objective or ad format once you’ve launched, but you can still adjust settings on an active campaign. If you notice your ad underperforming, consider changing your target audience or your placement. You might have chosen to run a display ad on a website that doesn’t appeal to your potential customers, for example. Try switching up your placements to see if you can improve your conversion rates. 

On platforms such as Google Ads, you can change your keywords while the ad is running. If your chosen keywords are missing the mark, switch them up. 

4. Ad Strategy Aligned With the Buyer’s Journey

You should adjust your marketing strategy based on a customer’s place in their buying journey. When you understand how to appeal to potential customers in various phases of the decision-making process, you can improve your chances of conversion. 

Creating a blanket ad strategy aimed at building brand awareness could exclude customers who are further along the buying journey. Design separate ad campaigns for people who are already familiar with your brand and may be comparing you with your competitors. 

By understanding your customer’s buying journey, you can create personalized ad campaigns that answer their specific concerns. A person who isn’t aware of your brand will likely want to know who you are and how your product can benefit them. 

A person who knows your brand likely wants to know what makes you stand out from the competition. They also want to know how your product benefits them, but also how you do it better than a brand they may already be using. 

Consider the process of buying a car. You're likely familiar with multiple brands. If you’ve been driving for decades, you may even have a favorite. If you’ve noticed the quality of your favorite brand decreasing, you might consider other brands when it’s time to buy a new car. At this stage, you would probably research different models against your favorite brand to understand how they compare. 

If you’re marketing for the car companies, your ad campaigns for buyers at this stage of the journey could include direct comparisons to the competition. Or you could be more subtle and highlight all the awards you’ve received for quality. Either way, you would appeal to the customer who intends to switch brands. 

5. Multimedia Planning for Campaign Success

The campaign optimization process also involves planning your media to make sure you’re connecting with the right customers in the right way. Not to be confused with multichannel marketing, multimedia involves running a cohesive campaign with multiple forms of media. 

A multimedia campaign might include static posts and videos for social media, videos for connected TV ads, optimized Google ads, and audio ads for podcasts or your local radio station. American consumers spend about eight hours a day on media, including digital media, television, books, radio, and podcasts.  

Using a combination of visual and audio media and text helps you tell an engaging story that resonates with your potential customers. It also increases a customer’s chances of being exposed to your brand multiple times, which can help them remember you. 

6. Ad Copy That Aligns With Your Landing Page

To get your ad in front of more eyes, you need quality copy. Google Ads uses a quality score to determine the relevance of your ad based on a person’s search. Bad ad copy not only gives your potential customers a sub-par experience; it can also make your ad less visible in Google searches. 

When writing landing page content, make sure it aligns with your ad. The message and unique value proposition should match your ad for a consistent user experience. Add a clear call to action that communicates what you expect potential customers to do when they click on your ad. 

Optimize your landing page for mobile devices to appeal to the people who find you on their phones. Start with the most essential messaging, and use engaging headlines to help people understand what they will get if they choose to buy your product or service. Focus on how you can offer the best solution to your customers’ problems. 

7. Keyword Groups for Search Ads

Optimize keywords in your pay-per-click ads to improve visibility and click-through rates. Do keyword research on your brand and make a list of relevant target keywords people would use to find you online. Add negative keywords to your product targeting to improve your relevance. Negative keywords are search terms you can exclude from your ad campaigns to narrow down how people can find your ads. 

For example, if you sell running shoes for elite athletes, you might exclude “cheap running shoes” or “gym shoes” from your search terms, because they are more likely to attract casual runners who don’t want what you have to offer. 

7 Ad Optimization Tools You Should Know

Improve your optimization score and reduce bounce rates without doing a ton of research on ad campaign optimization. Use these tools to help you out and save time. 

1. AdRoll

AdRoll is a digital marketing platform that lets you manage all your ads from a single platform. The platform offers tools you can use to optimize your ad campaigns. With it, you can optimize bids which will determine how the company prioritizes platforms. 

This means that if you want to run a multichannel campaign with a set budget but you think most of your audience is on Facebook, the platform would bid more aggressively on Meta ads. You would still get a multimedia campaign, but less of your money would be focused on Google ads and other media. 

With AdRoll, you can also set optimization goals such as clicks, conversions, and impressions. AdRoll also lets you monitor campaigns across channels with a single dashboard, so you can track ad trends and tweak your campaigns based on real-time data. 

2. Google Ads

Google Ads offers multiple optimization tools you can use to make the most of your ad spend. Its automated bidding tool adjusts your bids based on their performance, which helps you save money on ads that aren’t performing as well as you had anticipated. 

The Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool lets you see which ads are showing based on search terms. You can use it to see how your ads are performing against other ads for various searches and tweak your keywords if you’re not as high on the list. 

With Recommendations, you can analyze past campaigns and get an optimization score. Use these results and the system’s recommendations to assess campaign trends and develop campaigns that better align with your business goals. When you optimize search ads, you can rank higher among the competition.

3. Google Analytics 4

The latest version of the popular SEM tool, Google Analytics 4 integrates with Google Ads to help you optimize digital campaigns. With this tool, you can analyze how your ads are performing and compare it with statistics for your website. 

With Google Analytics 4, you can set up conversion events and get detailed statistics for each conversion. This platform also helps you segment your audience by building an audience list. Use this tool to apply customized segments to your ad campaigns. 

Google Analytics 4 also lets you track active users, specific events, and customized metrics. Since this tool integrates seamlessly with Google Ads, it gives you more data points that you can use to optimize your ad strategy. 

4. Optimizely

Make A/B testing easier with Optimizely. This experimentation platform lets you run tests on various ads to better understand how your messaging is converting. When you run tests on the platform, you get a report with insights that allow you to refine each ad. 

This platform also offers tools that help you personalize your ads to appeal directly to your potential customers. It's driven by machine learning and behavioral analytics, making it easier to adjust your messages based on what your audience wants to see. 

Use it to optimize your ad copy and targeting strategies while keeping your messaging consistent across platforms. With Optimizely’s experimentation reports, you can keep tabs on your ads over time and make note of trends. You might find that certain messages aren’t performing in any ads. In this case, you may want to highlight different benefits of your product or service.

5. HubSpot Ad Management Software

HubSpot’s Ad Management platform is another resource for tracking ad performance across multiple platforms. The dashboard lets you see clicks, impressions, contacts, conversions, and other metrics to evaluate how well your ad is meeting your goals. 

HubSpot integrates with various ad platforms, giving you deeper insights into how customers are taking action when they see your ads. This dashboard lets you see which ads are driving traffic to your website versus which are encouraging people to make a purchase. 

Use this tool if you want to develop personalized ads tailored to customers in various stages of the buyer journey. 

6. XR (Formerly AdStream) 

XR (known as AdStream before being acquired by Extreme Reach in 2021) offers a single platform to track digital ads alongside television and video ads. You can use it to manage and deliver your digital ads to multiple media outlets and track their performance. 

XR can analyze your ad for viewability and offer suggestions for cleaning up your ads and making them more appealing to your audience. XR also helps you choose which ad formats are most appropriate for your audience, allowing you to focus on the channels that will give you better conversion rates. 

This platform also helps you develop and deliver campaigns for multiple platforms in one location so you can create more cohesive ads to solidify your brand with your customers. 

7. Smartly.io

Smartly is a platform that allows you to develop, test, and distribute ad campaigns through multiple channels. Like Optimizely, it offers A/B testing tools that help you refine your ads based on how well they're performing with a small audience. 

Smartly also offers AI-powered optimization tools such as predictive budget allocation to help you determine how to split up your marketing dollars. You can use the platform to automate ads based on customer triggers and then monitor how these ads are performing. 

For example, if a person abandons their cart before making a purchase, you can use the platform to automate a retargeting ad encouraging the customer to finish their transaction. Smartly can also pause ads that are underperforming. 

How Can AI Help You Optimize Your Advertising Campaigns? 

Advertising optimization is easier with platforms running on artificial intelligence. You can use AI-based tools to help brainstorm ideas for personalization and run analytics on large data sets. AI helps you run reports to analyze your marketing campaigns and compare success metrics against each other. You can easily see which platforms are driving the most traffic and which campaigns are generating conversions. 

AI can also help you with keyword research and analysis. You can use AI to analyze keyword trends on your website and create a list of keywords and phrases. With these trends, use AI to generate a list of content topics and marketing campaign ideas. Or use it to generate outlines for blog posts, videos, and other content. 

With AI-based platforms, you can easily segment your audience with tools that sort data and run predictive analytics. AI can assess which customer may potentially buy from you in the future based on their past relationship with your brand. These platforms can also clean your first-party lists, identifying duplicate customers on each platform. 

Segmenting your audience will help you personalize your messages. You can identify customer pain points and highlight benefits and potential solutions that matter to your core audience. 

How Can You Evaluate the Performance of Your Ads? 

Before you run your ad campaign, set your goals and make a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure ad success. Your KPIs will vary based on your ad campaign objectives. For example, if you’re running a brand awareness campaign, you may choose to measure: 

  • Brand mentions
  • New followers on social media
  • Media impressions
  • New website visits
  • Click-through rates
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Page views
  • Time spent on page

If you’re measuring a conversion campaign, you might choose to measure: 

  • Bounce rate
  • Email open rate
  • Number of people who booked a demo
  • Points of entry
  • Ratio of marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads 
  • Unique and returning visitors
  • Cost per conversion

Return on investment (ROI) is a common metric for measuring the success of an ad campaign. Compare the cost of your campaign to the new revenue it generated. In general, successful campaigns will have a higher ROI. However, if your main goal is to drive awareness, you might not see a high volume of sales. In this case, you would market a separate ad campaign to your new potential customers to move them to the next step in the buying process. 

Whether you’re managing your own ad campaigns on each platform or you’re using a single platform to manage multiple marketing channels, take advantage of the analytics reports. Use the information to identify trends that can help you optimize your ads in the future. Compare your most successful campaigns and make note of what these campaigns have in common. Use successful campaigns to make adjustments to less successful ones. 

Start Improving Campaign Performance To Meet Business Goals

Ad campaign optimization can take some effort to master, but once you learn how to do it, you can better meet your goals. When you understand how and where to reach your target audience, you can focus your marketing strategy on your most successful channels. 

With ad campaign optimization, you don’t spend time creating a high volume of content and ad campaigns that don’t work. Instead, you can spend time and money on creating ad campaigns that speak to your audience. You can also focus your ad spend on your target market’s preferred channels. By working strategically, you can increase your return on ad spend without creating a ton of new ads. 

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