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What Makes Online Marketing Work: Cambridge Uni x Adzooma


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What Makes Online Marketing Work: Cambridge Uni x Adzooma

That’s why, when our Head of Partnerships Sal Mohammed was contacted by the Director of Enterprise at the Cambridge University Business School to see whether Adzooma would be interested in hosting a cohort to work on a comprehensive, collaborative marketing study we leapt on the opportunity.

The results that were generated were fascinating.

There were three pillars that went into it. If you want to jump right to the analysis and the recommendations to help you get more from your PPC ads, these three articles are for you:

For everyone else, here’s a behind the scenes look at the process.

*Disclaimer – All campaign data provided to study participants was selected at random and anonymised.

What we did

Data analysis and science is crucial for any business in the SAAS space. Sure it’s important to have developers, marketers and business gurus to help shape the product and its direction, but without someone combing through the data on a continuous basis, it’s very easy for that direction to end up on the wrong path.

Afterall, when you create software which utilises AI and machine learning, the person shaping that machine needs to have the right information to hand. That’s why we have a number of data scientists in-house, and why we love undertaking projects like this one.

So how did this project come about? Here’s our Head of Partnerships Sal Mohammed:

“Whilst at Google, I was lucky enough to work with Cambridge Judge Business School to lead a project that was carried out by five of their graduates,” says Sal who completed his Barclays Scale Up programme at Cambridge University.

“Such was the calibre of the candidates, I’ve since been itching to work with a cohort from the university again. So earlier this year, when I was contacted by the Director of Enterprise at the business school to see if we would be interested in hosting a cohort this summer, it didn’t take long for me to say yes.”

Of course, the University of Cambridge is renowned as one of the best institutions in the world. The MBA programme itself is regarded as top 5 worldwide, so to be able to team up with such an impressive group of individuals was something we couldn’t turn down.

The individuals in question? Sunil Grewal, formerly of Amazon, Akanshaa Khare formerly of the World Health Organisation, and Srishti Warman recent MBA Star winner at the Women of the Future Awards.

Each one of the team was tasked with leveraging Adzooma’s data to identify new ways for small to medium sized businesses to maximise their ad spend when using the Adzooma platform.

“The data was not very complex, but required cleansing and adjustments to bring out meaningful business insights,” explains Akanshaa.

Then, once that was done, it was on to the task in hand.

“The aim of the deliverable was to create playbooks that will illustrate what leads to better ad conversion rates,” Srishti tells us. “The problem was viewed from different angles – the three pillars.”

“First pillar – how the content of the ads being shown to the customer yields to better customer engagement, i.e. what type of imagery was being used, what the language and tone was used in the ad copy, and how this would affect the ads’ click through rate.

Second pillar – after the customer clicks on the ad and visits the landing page of the ad, how was the website quality of the landing page impacting the click through rate, i.e. was the page easy to load, was the content on the page matching the expectations of the customer, etc.

Third pillar – if the customer were to view the ad from the same ad provider (business client owning the ad e.g. John Lewis) on different platforms such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, how would it affect the ad conversion rate.”

Why we did it

Finding out answers to those three pillars of questions would be vital to improving the experience for our users.

Our platform is all about taking a user’s ads to the next level. When you first sign up to Adzooma it’s not unusual to see game changing results, as Phillip Bacon can attest to in this piece which saw him achieve 1100% ROAS using Adzooma in just a couple of months.

Then, once you’re established, it’s all about those incremental gains that keep the ads ticking over nicely and keep the cost per conversion low. From an Adzooma perspective, this is where we have to work hardest, to make sure we find as many incremental gains as possible to keep improving your ads.

If answers to the questions could be found, three crucial steps of the customer journey would be improved massively. And the knock on effect this could have for our users and the industry could be monumental.

I say industry, because Adzooma is special in the fact that we have access to thousands of accounts across three different platforms. No one else has the ability to compare such data, which makes what we’d find in this project entirely unique.

“I knew this project would have massive implications for Adzooma and the MARtech industry as a whole,” says Sal.

“Very few companies have the data and skill set to undergo such a study. Even big players like Google and Microsoft only have the data that pertains to their individual channel. The question of what makes online marketing work is one which very few have the resources to answer – yet a question that has been plaguing marketers for as long as the practice has been around.

Armed with our data and unique view across platforms, matched with the analytics skills and vast business experience of the students, it was a perfect fit to set about revealing key insights to the question.”

The results

I mean, this is the reason you’re here for, right? As mentioned above, we have written full reports of each pillar’s findings, so I’ll again direct you to those

So here I’ll just give you a little bit of a snapshot of what we saw with some words from those involved.

Ad sentiment

For Sunil who worked on the project what initially surprised him from Adzooma’s data was, “the breadth of industries and countries that Adzooma customers operate within”, which helped create such a foolproof analysis, one that was relatable for anyone in the world, not just users from a single country.

What was found was really interesting…

  • Those with Google and Microsoft ads accounts connected to the Adzooma platform see a much higher CTR than industry average – 6% vs 1.91% and 3.7% vs 2.83% respectively
  • Those advertising on Microsoft Ads with positive sentiment in their ads saw a 4.2% CTR, compared to 3.6% for neutral sentimentality and 3.3% for negative sentimentality
  • This was in contrast to those on Google ads who saw a 6.5% CTR for negative ads, compared to 5.7% for neutral and negative

“Based on the analysis, the users of different advertising platforms have different responses to ad copy sentiment”, says Sunil. “This is important because it can impact return on ad spend if Adzooma’s clients can refine their ads to capitalise on this.

“Adzooma users can use the findings to tweak their ads to test and learn what works for their target customers in order to maximise their return on ad spends.”

Landing pages

“We have always known that some digital ads end up getting more clicks/customer engagement than others,” says Srishti who conducted the landing page analysis.

“Even amongst the clicked ads, there are a few websites which tend to get a higher conversion rate than others.

“The task was to identify the key parameters that lead to a higher conversion e.g. faster page speed, better optimisation for mobile and web viewing, page responsiveness, etc. This analysis would eventually help understand not only which companies scale quickest within verticals, but critically, why.

“The impact of this project would deliver resounding effects, not just for existing businesses worldwide, but also shape the routes startups and fledgling businesses exercise when looking to scale.”

And some of the results were indeed resounding…

  • Landing page best practices have the biggest effect on conversion rate
  • Under Lighthouse checks, 0% of tested landing pages had a perfect score for best practices
  • Overall, only 5% of landing pages had a perfect score for website performance checks

“I was really surprised to know that best practices to create the landing page is the most important factor that directly impacts the conversion rate,” says Srishti. “I was expecting Performance that audits how fast the page is to open to be the most important factor in affecting conversion rates.”

Which platform is best to advertise on?

“While doing business-level data validation, I discovered that very few SMB customers use multiple channels (Facebook, Google and Microsoft),” says Akanshaa, the lead on this project.

That’s a really interesting piece of analysis, and not something that was part of the main project. But it’s something we’ve stressed the importance of a lot, how being seen across every touch point is crucial to digital advertising success.

Most people just stick to Google as that’s where they’re told to be, but that’s not always the best case for everyone’s business, as Akanshaa can attest, “The analysis pointed out that Facebook seems to be the most conducive channel for SMBs based on cost (CPM, CPC) as well as return (impressions, clicks)”.

  • Facebook is the most cost-effective channel on average for SMBs
  • Microsoft is the most responsive channel for increasing ad spend
  • Only 56% of advertisers are looking to acquire new customers with their online ads

As Akanshaa says, “I believe my findings will help Adzooma’s SMB users form successful digital marketing strategies by helping them to one, select the appropriate marketing channels. Two, plan their ad-budget in a more informed way. And three, know if they are lagging behind competition and seek help from Adzooma’s Marketplace accordingly.”

Improving Adzooma through data analysis

As we all know, getting access to the right data is crucial for any business’ digital success. But one of our missions at Adzooma is to take all that hard work away from you.

As Srishti says:

“Businesses that tend to manage their own ad accounts are usually with limited resources and lack digital expertise.

Adzooma as a platform is currently helping such businesses optimise their digital ads through multiple channels and increase their click through rates. This research in particular will empower them to ensure that once the ads have led the customers to the businesses’ landing page, that they have done all they can to ensure that the conversion rate increases too.

The clients who are technically capable can make such changes such as avoiding deprecated APIs, not logging browser errors to console, displaying images with correct aspect ratios, background and foreground colors to have a sufficient contrast ratio, amongst other things.

Those clients who need some technical help, can again be connected with the right talent through Adzooma Marketplace.

In short, we are providing the mantras for the businesses to improve their conversion rate. If they need help to get it done, they shall be provided support through Adzooma’s platform.”

That’s how you make your online marketing work.

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