Digital Advertising Trends: What We Learned at AAM Summit 2021
Every year, its seems that digital advertising trends change at a faster pace. Luckily, AAM Summit always provides valuable sessions to keep members up to date on the latest digital marketing trends, and what we can do to better connect with and convert our target audiences. In 2021, we had a digital marketing content block led by Corinne McMunn, Denitria Lewis, and Sydney Taucher. The following are 10 nuggets we walked away with based on their collective presentations and the meaningful Q&A that came after.
1. Research ahead of time goes a long way
Take the time to get to know the audience you want to target with digital advertising before you run a campaign. Lewis mentioned gathering demographic and psychographic data to help you better understand how what you have to offer can solve your target’s problem. Which websites does your target audience visit? What do they read? What keeps them up at night? Where are they in their career, and what’s their biggest hurdle? The more you can identify about your audience in advance, the more successful your campaign will be.
You also want to spend time researching keywords for campaigns before you launch them. While this may be obvious for paid search, even doing keyword research on campaigns that aren’t search-targeted can help you understand what people look for and what phrases might stick out when they are served an ad. For search engine marketing (SEM), it’s important to find long-tail keywords: Keywords that may cost less to bid on and consist of a few words and are targeted to match your audience’s intent or interests.
2. Decide what you are trying to do before you do it
Once a campaign is up and running, how can you determine whether it’s on the right track? Before you begin, McMunn suggests you determine the outcomes you want to reach and ensure you are tracking them, as well as other values that are along the conversion path. For example, if you are trying to get visitors to download an eBook, you could also track pageviews on the landing page, clicks on the page, clicks on the ad, impressions on the ad, and so on. While it’s good to measure metrics along that journey, the most important thing to look at is outcome, and whether your campaigns are successful at reaching that outcome.
3. Envision your funnel
Along with KPIs, outline what your funnel will look like. Lewis divides targets into the following stages:
Your funnel may be labeled slightly differently or involve different key steps, but the idea is the same. Make sure that you have content and goals for each step in the funnel.
4. Unify your content across platforms
No matter how much digital advertising trends change the landscape, one thing will remain the same. A consistent message is vital, and is especially important when you’re launching a campaign on multiple platforms. Imagine how confused your target audience would be if they received completely different seeming messages depending on where they looked. Whether you need to coordinate internally, or manage your message with external vendors, ensure everyone is on the same page and is using the same playbook.
5. Don’t discount the value of influencer marketing for accounting marketing
At this point, we’ve all heard about the power and value in influencer marketing, but it may be a digital advertising trend you’ve ignored in the past. Really, who is an influencer for accounting or professional services firms these days? Lewis encouraged the audience to think differently about this. Think about people with a significant social media following who talk about business challenges and how to overcome them, or discuss how they grew their business. They may be perfect candidates for influencers for your firm, or, at the very least, they can serve as good inspiration for content you may want to post.
There are also some accounting influencers out there that you can find! Look up accounting-related hashtags on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok and you may be surprised to see what you can find.
6. Creating an ad campaign isn’t a “set it and forget it” process
Congrats! You finished a campaign! Now just sit back and watch the conversions roll in, right? Taucher reminds us that we should be making small, incremental changes on our ad campaigns as they are live and as we see insights roll in. Don’t make any dramatic changes until you collect enough data to truly evaluate performance.
7. Tell your audience what you want them to do
Isn’t it annoying when someone wants you to do something, but they don’t come out and TELL you exactly what they want? They want to go out to eat at a specific restaurant, or for you to wash the dishes, or specific feedback from you, but they’re being vague and indirect. If that’s the kind of thing that bothers you, how can you expect your audience to do what you want them to unless you ask them?
Lewis put it well – If you want someone to book a call, say “I want you to book a call,” and then make it as easy as possible for them to schedule it on your landing page.
8. Use instant feedback via digital advertising to your advantage
One of the biggest benefits to digital marketing, according to Taucher, is that you can have instant feedback at your fingertips. Instead of running a traditional campaign, such as a newspaper ad or a billboard, which may take a long time to show results (and may be even harder to track), use the almost immediate insights from digital advertising to make your campaigns better. But still, keep to the small, incremental changes as Taucher advised.
9. Check these three things if conversions are your biggest pain point
The virtual audience at AAM Summit 2021 agreed almost unanimously that conversions were a huge pain point. All of the panelists gave valuable advice about how to go about improving conversions. Lewis suggested A/B testing, using attention-grabbing language, and taking advantage of platforms that have a means to convert the visitor in no time. McMunn echoed these sentiments, agreeing that if a user has to take several steps to convert, they will be less likely to do so. If you are targeting the right audience by using the right message and you’ve created a meaningful and impactful landing page, you should see results. However, if one of these pieces is off, your campaigns may not perform as well.
10. What to do if you need stakeholder buy-in
It can be disheartening to return to the office after an engaging conference, brimming with ideas, only to be met with resistance due to budget, time, or technology concerns. So, how do you get your stakeholders to buy-in and agree to digital advertising? Lewis suggests that you explain what role the digital pieces will play versus traditional. McMunn suggested finding a KPI that is meaningful both to the campaign and senior management to communicate what success looks like.
McMunn, Lewis, and Taucher packed so much valuable information in a little over an hour, far too much to include in one post. If you haven’t already, you can access the Summit recordings via the AAM Store.
About Sammi Dittloff
Sammi Dittloff is a Marketing Consultant, writer, and founder of Needs More Fiber, an agency dedicated to adding substance to a brand's content. She previously worked as the Marketing Director for Chortek LLP for 3 years. As a freelance content marketer, consultant, and strategist, Sammi specializes in content strategy, brand manuals, SEO, and analytics. She has 15 years of experience in marketing, writing, promotions, advertising, and analytics. Sammi was a Media Writing TA while pursuing her MA in Media Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and has since returned to school for an MS in Nutrition. Her latest projects can be found at needsmorefiber.com and hisammi.com.