3 Mistakes Marketers Make During Channel Expansion

Opinions expressed by businesskinda.com contributors are their own.

Ask any Chief Marketing Officer if they want to keep the majority of their ad spend and resources within the twin-tower ecosystems of Google and Facebook. My guess is that almost 100% of them will give some sort of “no” even if those are the only channels they are currently spending money on.

Expanding advertising channels beyond those monopolies is an established best practice for a few good reasons – the main one being that high-value customers can be attracted elsewhere, online or otherwise, at a lower cost.

That said, most brands that come to me for a growth strategy have not successfully diversified their marketing portfolios beyond Google and Facebook. Some have tested other channels without success; others have not attempted to expand.

So what are they doing wrong? Why do they rely too much on the most expensive platforms and jeopardize their growth through massive market shifts like iOS14?

Related: Top 5 Not So Obvious Social Media Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid

They are not testing at the right time in their growth trajectory

Google and Facebook are popular for good reasons: they have incredible scale and their advertising capabilities are more sophisticated and proven than their competitors. This alone can make it hard to justify taking time and money to give other channels a real chance to shine.

That said, if you have one or two of these conditions in your current ad campaigns, it’s time to diversify:

  • The value of your engagements decreases with every impression;
  • Creative testing is not moving the needle on scale or performance;
  • Converting users outside your core audience on above-target CPAs;
  • Your audience will find new favorite channels (if Gen Z is important to you and you’re in retail, test TikTok pronto);
  • The clarity of your data is or may be affected by privacy regulations (only iOS14 should have been a warning about disproportionate spending on Facebook);
  • You no longer shift your business goals in line with your current channels.

Perhaps you have already come to this point of recognition and have tried some new channels to no avail. Which brings me to the second error I often see regarding channel expansion.

Related: 10 Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Business Growth

They are not testing the right channels to attract valuable users

Channels outside of the Google and Facebook monopoly have many new variables to consider: scale (basically the size of the available audience), audience composition (compare the demographics of, for example, Reddit and Pinterest) and audience intent (why is engaging the audience on that channel, and what kind of content appeals to them?).

Very few channels will approach Google or Facebook in size, but do your research (quarterly revenue calls are a good source of information about engaged users) to find out the current and projected size of the audience available on platforms and factor in any growth trends ( e.g. , TikTok and CTV are growing faster than most platforms). It’s basically a boilerplate to say, but in marketing, channels grow, grow and shrink pretty quickly, so make sure you’re using the most up-to-date data sources to help you make a decision.

As for audience intent, do a little research as a user on those platforms to get a feel for content (both organic and sponsored). Make sure you align your goals for the platform with the user behavior you can expect there – Amazon ads, for example, will drive clicks and conversions, but Reddit ads, even in the most niche and relevant sub-Reddits, can make users want that information consume, not shop for products.

Now that your shortlist of new channels has been identified, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter: avoiding the last mistake marketers often make with channel expansion initiatives.

They don’t measure the tests conclusively

Expectations, KPIs and targeting are essential to establish if you are going to provide a test environment that shows you with certainty whether your new channels are viable.

First, as part of your expansion mix, consider how long it will take for new channels to start paying off. Essentially, all channels that use first-party data and high-intent behavior have a shorter purchase time. In contrast, more awareness-based channels that serve to introduce your brand and products to customers in your target demographic will take longer to show return.

For example, email and push notifications should work quickly (if done right), and high-intent SEM terms and retargeting campaigns should only experience a slight delay. Paid social media, influencer marketing, and CTV will be even slower, while OOH and direct mail, which generally don’t leverage past engagement, should be seen as long-term games.

Misalignment of expectations and KPIs with channel size, intent and position in the purchase journey has constrained many prospects before a single dollar is spent. In other words, don’t make the mistake of putting a lot of money into OOH marketing looking for immediate KPI growth beyond brand search volume and site visits – or try using your email lists to target your retargeting audiences. build.

The last big piece of a good test environment: setting up the right targeting strategy for your new channels.

Essentially, you should start targeting broadly when the channel meets at least some of these conditions:

  • The data and segmentation handles are advanced and accurate
  • You are relatively confident, based on audience/demographics/intent/goals, that the channel should work
  • You have healthy margins and can take some spending risks
  • Your media teams have the bandwidth, clear expectations, and responsibilities to respond when data comes in.

Conversely, start narrow if the following conditions apply:

  • Data and targeting are relatively primitive
  • You have narrow margins and a very limited test budget
  • You need to prove the credibility of the channel with a small data sample
  • The new channel has similar characteristics to the largest channel in your portfolio.

Following the advice above will help you run more successful expansion campaigns. That’s not to say that every channel you test will be your next favorite, but you’ll be able to tell with much more certainty whether a channel worked and why – and you’ll know when it’s time to find another channel to test. .

Related: 7 Tips to Enter a New Market and Experience Rapid Growth