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How Long Until I Know if This Channel Works for Me?

How Long Until I Know If This Channel Works for Me

Are you getting the best return on your online marketing spend? Probably not.

Why not? Because it’s very likely that you are spending too much money on a suboptimal set of channels.

Strong statement, I know. What makes me say that? Full disclosure: I sell multi-channel online marketing advice, so I may be biased. But since my advice here boils down to telling you to spend less before you spend more, I recommend that you read on.

If you are an entrepreneur trying to figure out the best channels for user acquisition, you are faced with literally dozens of options. And should you make your questions known to the world, you can easily be bombarded with hundreds of vendors and experts—all very passionate about whatever it is that they happen to be selling.

From an empirical point of view, it makes sense to attack this problem by defining a set of experiments that work within your time and budget constraints and hopefully help you identify the channels with highest potential. But that’s only half of the problem. I’ve found that without clear guidance on what effort is involved or when to expect results, most companies still end up spending too much money while trying too few channels—or just settling for the first one that sort of works.

So I decided to look back at my experience doing these experiments hundreds of times and share my best estimates of how much money and time it takes to conduct a test—one that is meaningful enough to decide if a particular channel has good potential for your business. I also thought I’d share a few other key parameters that can help you evaluate usefulness of various channels within your overall strategy.

Related Article: How to Do Online Marketing for eCommerce

Should you try all of these? Very unlikely. Can you get to the results even faster? Sometimes, if the channel works really well or really poorly. But by and large, this should help you optimize your efforts no matter how much or little money/time/expertise you are working with.

Here are the parameters:

  • Access: most platforms are accessible to anyone, but some new ones do require permission
  • Media Spend: the actual media budget (excluding cost of any vendors or 3rd party resources)
  • Time: time to see meaningful results (includes average of 2 weeks for campaign setup)
  • Creative: is the creative image unique for this channel or can it be reused for other channels?
  • Copy: is the creative copy unique for this channel or can it be reused for other channels?
  • Tech Difficulty: does the setup involve filling out an online form, or programming an XML feed?
  • Targeting Options: how granular can you get with targeting audiences by geo/demo/keyword?
  • Best For: is this channel significantly better for a particular audience/industry/function?

Traditional Online Channels

Paid Search (Google or Bing)

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $1,000
  • Time: 4 weeks
  • Creative: Reusable
  • Copy: Reusable
  • Tech Difficulty: Easy
  • Targeting Options: Extensive
  • Best For: All topics

Display

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $2,500
  • Time: 5 weeks
  • Creative: Reusable
  • Copy: Reusable
  • Tech Difficulty: Easy
  • Targeting Options: Extensive
  • Best For: All topics

Email

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $0-500 monthly vendor cost
  • Time: 8 weeks
  • Creative: Unique
  • Copy: Unique
  • Tech Difficulty: Moderate
  • Targeting Options: Extensive
  • Best For: Follow up/Loyalty

Social: Established Platforms

Facebook

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $2,500
  • Time: 6 weeks
  • Creative: Reusable
  • Copy: Unique
  • Tech Difficulty: Moderate
  • Targeting Options: Extensive
  • Best For: All Topics

LinkedIn

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $500
  • Time: 3 weeks
  • Creative: Reusable
  • Copy: Unique
  • Tech Difficulty: Easy
  • Targeting Options: Moderate
  • Best For: B2B/Content Marketing

Twitter

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $1,000
  • Time: 3 weeks
  • Creative: Unique
  • Copy: Unique
  • Tech Difficulty: Easy
  • Targeting Options: Moderate
  • Best For: Real-time

Social: Visual Platforms

Pinterest

  • Access: By application
  • Media Spend: $2,500
  • Time: 6 weeks
  • Creative: Unique
  • Copy: Unique
  • Tech Difficulty: Easy
  • Targeting Options: Moderate
  • Best For: Fashion, clothing, home décor, beauty, food

Instagram

  • Access: Currently in beta—by invitation from your Facebook account rep
  • Media Spend: $2,500
  • Time: 6 weeks
  • Creative: Unique
  • Copy: Unique
  • Tech Difficulty: Moderate
  • Targeting Options: Moderate
  • Best For: Fashion, clothing, home décor, beauty, food, travel

Polyvore

  • Access: By application
  • Media Spend: $10,000 minimum (less for established brands)
  • Time: 8 weeks
  • Creative: Unique
  • Copy: Unique
  • Tech Difficulty: Hard
  • Targeting Options: Moderate
  • Best For: Fashion, clothing, home décor

Advanced Options

Retargeting (Facebook or Google Display Network)

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $1,000
  • Time: 4 weeks
  • Creative: Reusable
  • Copy: Reusable
  • Tech Difficulty: Moderate
  • Targeting Options: Extensive
  • Best For: Traffic driving

Dynamic Retargeting (Facebook or Google Display Network)

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $1,000
  • Time: 4 weeks
  • Creative: Reusable
  • Copy: N/A
  • Tech Difficulty: Hard
  • Targeting Options: Extensive
  • Best For: eCommerce products

Shopping Feeds (Google or Bing)

  • Access: Everyone
  • Media Spend: $500
  • Time: 4 weeks
  • Creative: Unique
  • Copy: N/A
  • Tech Difficulty: Hard
  • Targeting Options: Moderate
  • Best For: eCommerce products

*Note: once you set up the XML feed for Google Shopping, it’s widely reusable for various other advanced channels.

Published: October 12, 2015
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Source: DigiShopGirl

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Katya Constantine

Katya Constantine is a seasoned marketer with over 10 years of online marketing experience. She has developed a well-credentialed background in marketing for large online brands, having significantly increased online performance at several large web properties. Katya also has a deep background in email and multi-channel marketing. Most recently, she was at Expedia and Amazon, leading projects ranging from behavior-based programs to increasing customer acquisition and conversion with great success. Katya is the founder of DigiShopGirl Media. Currently, she advises several ventures with their online marketing. She also contributes to several blogs and publications and readers worldwide regularly read her blog, DigiShopGirl Media Blog. Follow Katya on Twitter: @digishopgirl

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