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Overcome the challenges of siloed performance marketing data

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Manager full-funnel performance marketing in a global ecommerce company

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Implement new performance marketing channels

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    Transcript

    Edward:

    Firstly, I just want to warmly welcome everyone to this Performance Marketing Masterclass. My name’s Edward, I’m from the Supermetrics marketing team, and we’re excited to be joined by a very special guest today, Sam Lloyd, who is Global Media Marketing Director at Groupon. So Sam, thanks so much for joining us today.

    Sam Lloyd:

    Thank you, Edward, it’s a pleasure to be here.

    Edward:

    Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun tonight and we’ll be hearing about Sam and your journey going from working with siloed marketing data to managing full-funnel performance marketing in a global e-commerce company. We’ll dive into overcoming the challenges of siloed data, measuring and optimizing performance marketing in e-commerce. And how Groupon prepares for Q4’s crazy peak season and a lot of other things as well.

    So it’s going to be a relatively informal fireside chat kind of session. And if you have any questions that you would like to ask Sam, then please drop them in the Q&A, which you’ll find in the bottom menu. And we’ll pick out a few to ask at the end.

    So, Sam, I think we could get into it from here. And you have quite the background as you run performance marketing for Groupon, which I think everybody knows, a global e-commerce marketplace with over a million merchants and millions of active shoppers every day. You’re a former director of digital marketing at Penn Foster, a former senior paid search strategist at Wordstream, and have 10 years of experience in performance marketing for agencies and in-house brands. And I believe you also started your career in marketing at Versace in New York. So it’s been quite the journey. And I was thinking to kick things off though, what drew you to paid media and performance marketing specifically?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah, so I think it was really the data that was available and the ability to understand the impact of your efforts. I also love how paid media is really about bringing creativity and data together. I think that’s ultimately how you win.

    When I first started my career, I was very much in the traditional marketing space, but soon transitioned to digital marketing. It was a developing industry. So it was good timing.

    One thing I always highly recommend for anyone looking to grow their career in performance marketing is getting agency experience. I think often it’s a sink or swim environment, and you get to experience multiple industries at the same time. And you’re also around peers that are doing the same thing as you are. So, it’s a great place to be learning and building up your network.

    Edward:

    Yeah, absolutely. And I think we’ll dig into a few of those topics later on in the discussion. But I’d love to know, what was performance marketing like back when you started your career as digital advertising was a relatively new thing even some 10-15 years ago?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. I mean, my memory of last month can be foggy, but certainly, CPCs were a lot cheaper. It was a much less competitive space, even in the US. I would say anecdotally when I was starting off in digital marketing, it was when things were really scaling with the bottom of funnel strategies.

    One area that I was looking to be trained on early on was CRO. Most people didn’t know what that was, but optimizing your website for conversion is so important. Even now, I don’t think brands necessarily put enough emphasis on it. And I think it was a lot easier to win in paid search 10-15 years ago. Remarketing was one of the new shiny things which had amazing conversion rates. It was probably actually one of the factors why brands continue to invest in bottom of the funnel.

    And there was no formal education on digital marketing at that point. It’s only as of late that you can specialize in such courses. Back in the day, a lot of people doing digital marketing were self-taught. And so there were a lot of people who had claimed they were advanced at things like paid search and other channels, but it was really a broad spectrum.

    Edward:

    Yeah, absolutely. And so what then are some of the biggest challenges that you faced as a performance marketer throughout your career?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah, it’s a great question. There’s certainly been a few. One would be attribution. Now, obviously, digital marketing, it’s one of the big selling points compared to offline channels. But when your brand is on something like last-click attribution, you really run the risk of overvaluing some channels and undervaluing others. People don’t wake up one day and just Google your brand. There’s a lot that goes behind that. But when teams will see data in front of them showing really great ROAS for paid search campaigns, it’s really easy to want to focus the investment in those areas. And don’t get me wrong, there should be investment there. But it shouldn’t all be going to bottom of the funnel.

    I think if you put all your investment there, it’s really not a lot term viable strategy. And after a year or so, you’re going to start to see your brand searches diminishing. How I typically overcome this in the past has been through incrementality testing. In my experience, this has proven to be one of the most effective ways of demonstrating the value of upper and mid-funnel campaigns to either a company or a client. When you’re talking with finance and different teams, I found that to be the most effective at showing the value.

    And I think the other one that I would call out is the privacy concerns. So one of the latest is with the iOS 14.5 update that occurred last year. I think most marketers believe there should be better user privacy features available. That said, it has made tracking and attribution more difficult. And that’s why I think platform diversification is more important than ever. Brands that rely on one or two platforms have more risk when CPMs continue to increase.

    Edward:

    Yeah, I think three really great points there. And I’d just love to dig into that second point in a little more detail. So you spoke about a strategy built around bottom of funnel paid. And we often speak about demand capture versus demand creation in the Supermetrics marketing team. And that’s really kind of jumping on the capturing demand of people who are in that buying cycle and looking for a solution. You spoke about incrementality testing and proving the value of middle and more top of funnel advertising. Could you just open up on what sort of tests you’ve done? And how have you shown the value and convinced people outside of marketing that, hey, we need to be investing top of funnel as well?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah, totally. So, if all you’re doing right now is bottom of the funnel, I would advise the best ways to work up from that. So start with mid-funnel campaigns. If there’s a particular platform that you want to test it out with first, such as YouTube campaigns, it’s obviously really important to either be partnering with your analytics data science team or if you don’t have that, working with the partner directly. You do have a somewhat aligned interest there of wanting to scale, and they can absolutely help with setting up an incrementality test. Which is essentially an A/B test.

    So how I’ve done it in the past is, one group has the business as usual performance campaigns, nothing changes there. And then group two, you have those same BAU performance campaigns, but then you also add on additional strategies such as a mid-funnel campaign. And how I’ve done it in the past is a GOX. So certain DMAs are targeted with these mid-funnel campaigns and then similar DMAs that can be compared, don’t get the mid-funnel. And then you’re able to measure that incremental revenue generated from the mid-funnel campaigns.

    Edward:

    Yeah, that’s really good to hear. And one other challenge that I know you’ve had, we didn’t discuss previously, was siloed data. So why is having access to centralized and clean data imperative as a performance marketer?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. So, I mean, if you don’t have centralized clean data, you’re essentially flying blind. And that’s obviously really dangerous when you’re optimizing campaigns. There’s also no, there wasn’t five years ago, time to be pulling manual data. So certainly not now. And then as we think about platform diversification, that just gets more complex as there are more platforms. So there really needs to be an automated way to be seeing the most up-to-date data every day.

    Edward:

    Yeah, absolutely. So how do you bring that data together and get that 360 views?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah, so I’ll add a bit of background first. So it was about six years ago when I was listening to a marketing webinar that Supermetrics was sponsoring. And the speaker gave a brief introduction to the tool and I thought that looks cool, I’ll try it. And six years on, every company that I’ve worked for or consulted with, I’ve onboarded Supermetrics.

    I’m typically skeptical about adding tools. I really only advocate for a tool if it offers something that we don’t already have with our existing platforms. And what stood out for me with Supermetrics compared to other tools is the flexibility. Every performance team I have been on, there are account strategy campaign nuances, and having the flexibility with how we build queries and pull in the data, and the customizations you can do with the tool is something I haven’t seen with another tool.

    So I’m a big fan of Supermetrics. I use the Google Sheets version. It allows us to manage our budgets, which are not only just split by channel but also different strategies. And also it allows us to pull in the KPIs that matter for that particular strategy. So for mid-funnel campaigns, I’m going to be looking at engagement metrics, planning page views. For bottom of the funnel, I’m going to be looking at conversion KPIs.

    So given Supermetrics has been such an asset to me and my teams, and I first heard about it from a webinar, I thought it would be a nice way to pay it forward so to speak.

    Edward:

    Yeah, that’s great to hear. And you spoke there a little bit about some of the KPIs you’re looking at across the funnel. So let’s dig deeper into that full-funnel performance marketing piece at Groupon. So what are your goals? And what are some of the KPIs you are looking at each stage of the funnel, so from top to middle to bottom?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. So, I mean, it’s really important when running full-funnel strategies that you’re setting the campaign up for, success, and establishing what the KPIs are before you launch. So in terms of more operational KPIs, for the upper funnel, I am going to be looking at views, reach frequency. For mid-funnel, I’m going to be looking at engagement, like click-through rate, landing page views.

    But this is where something like incrementality comes in. That long-term KPI doing a kind of split test, conversion list. Those are really important.

    There are ways in which you, after doing incrementality testing, find out what that sweet spot is with some of the operational KPIs like CPM. So there is definitely a way in which to correlate them. But yeah, the KPIs are very much different across those three buckets of strategy.

    Edward:

    Yeah, really good to hear. So how do you manage your global performance marketing? What kind of workflows do you have at Groupon to stay on top of everything?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. So being a global team is relatively new to Groupon. Previously, the teams were divided between NA and international. So there was an opportunity to streamline some of those workflows. I’m a big fan of automation, and I personally always want to be doing things as efficiently as possible. I always say to my team, 90% of your day should be focused on driving performance in some way. If it’s not, why are you doing it?

    And I think it’s really important to make sure there are clear goals and an owner for each stage. And then checking back to ensure what you are working on is aligned to your quarterly goals and overall company strategy. They really can’t be disconnected. Otherwise, you’ll find you’re veering off into another area that isn’t aligned with that company strategy.

    I do use project management tools. So whether it’s Trello, Asana, whatever works for the team, I’m definitely a fan of those. And then if you’re a manager, it’s really important to be providing your team with the context of the bigger picture. I think it really helps drive performance in their channel when they know what’s going on outside of that as well. And just makes them feel way more connected to that big picture.

    Edward:

    Yeah. And performance marketing requires a great balance of both creativity and analytics, which is something you mentioned earlier at the top of the interview. So let’s move on to the former. So what’s your approach to creating and landing a really effective ad creative.

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. So I think it’s marrying the brand messaging with performance tactics. It is really important for those two teams to not be siloed. If you only focus on one of those, you’re typically not going to be as effective.

    I also think it’s really important to be making small and frequent tweaks to creativity. I’ve often found more significant impacts in performance with small changes, whether it be a headline, a button color, those things can have a big impact.

    So I highly recommend running A/B testing. And then sharing those insights across stakeholders. At past brands, we’ve tested ad creative on Facebook and Instagram and found it worked on one, but not the other. And nobody would’ve guessed that. So, as much as intuition can be really important, A/B testing is the best way to go when it comes to creative tweaks.

    And then once you have those results, share them with the creative team. So as we continue to get assets and evolve, they have all of those insights, which is super important.

    Edward:

    Yeah. And in recent years, Instagram, Snapchat, and more recently TikTok have all come along, which aligns very well with the need for creativity. So how do you go about trying and testing and experimenting on new performance marketing channels?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. So, I mean, I typically will recommend trying to do the light level of effort testing for the initial go. Don’t try and do all the platforms at once. You also don’t want to be putting a ton of engineering and product work into standing up a platform that you then find isn’t a great match with your brand. Every brand is different, so you do need to test to find out.

    I also think it’s important to be testing platforms across all funnel strategies. So one platform could be great for mid-funnel strategy, but not necessarily bottom of the funnel. And kind of what I spoke to before, but really defining the goals and what success looks like before you start is really important.

    I think also understanding how every platform has its nuances. What works on one, won’t necessarily work on another. Speaking of creative, what you use for TikTok, wouldn’t be what you use for Facebook and vice versa.

    And I do recommend utilizing platform partners. You do have somewhat aligned goals with them. And they are most experienced with looking at the creative across different clients. So they can really help guide it in terms of what works. And for social media platforms, the creative is so critical.

    I think the final thought would be, what’s also really important to remember is that while there is audience overlap across the platforms, it’s not a hundred percent. So you are reaching new audiences through users that are said on TikTok, but not on Facebook. So there is huge value if your brand is really looking to grow.

    Edward:

    Yeah. And for ecommerce marketers, in particular, Q4 is an insanely busy time with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holidays, and it’s often referred to as peak. So how do you prepare for Q4’s wild peak season?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. I actually love Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I think there’s a real buzz that you get among the team, even being remote. There’s obviously a lot of prep work that goes into peak week across the teams. Reporting is a big one, making sure the teams have visibility, even at the hourly level, can be really valuable.

    It’s also important to start early with campaigns. It’s not just about that two-week period. And then making sure there is a clear workflow, if a technical issue arises, that all needs to be outlined well before peak week.

    I think as you are going through peak week, it’s important to also not be siloed in your channel. If you are managing a team, I think it’s critical for you to be communicating how trends and performance look beyond just your specific channels. I think that can really help in just putting that in the team’s back of their mind as they’re going in optimizing on a daily basis.

    We are now in a new world following the pandemic. So you can’t just rely on historical trends. Last year, more people were shopping in-store versus shopping online because of shipping concerns. Whereas the previous year, pretty much everybody was online because of lockdown and restrictions. So I think it’s even more important to be following current trends and be as agile as possible to react in real-time.

    Edward:

    Yeah. Really good to hear your advice. Yeah, go ahead.

    Sam Lloyd:

    Sorry. And one other tip, it’s a really simple one, but it’s one that I still use to this day, would be Google Trends. So I think as performance marketers, we can get really into our data and what’s going on, whether it’s performance ups or downs. But it’s really important to pull yourself out of that and what’s going on in the general market and industry. And so looking at Google Trends to understand, for instance, COVID interest, is that at peaking, is there weather concerns, all those different things. You can get a really good pulse on the market just by utilizing Google Trends.

    Edward:

    Yeah, really good advice. Great to hear. And any final advice, Sam, from yourself before we wrap up and take a few questions?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah. So, I think if you take one thing from this seminar, it would be to try and do more incrementality testing with your team. It does take planning and there are drawbacks as there are with every measurement strategy. For example, if you have to keep group one, you have to keep it constant. You can’t be making changes while you’re in that test period, which typically will be at least a month. But I think it’s a really effective way of measuring the impact of a full-funnel strategy. Measuring how much incremental revenue you generated over a 6-12 month period really helps convey the value to finance teams and other leadership teams.

    And then I think final advice for anyone in performance would be to make sure you’re celebrating the wins across your team. In performance marketing, there’s always an opportunity to improve, unless you’re getting a hundred percent conversion rate. Every month there are new targets, new initiatives, you can easily just be going on to the next thing. But it’s really important to reflect and celebrate what worked, sharing insights. And I also think it just breeds more wins.

    Edward:

    Yeah, that’s awesome to hear. And I guess with that, I can pass over to Fanny] for any questions we have from the audience, and a poll as well.

    Fanny

    Yes. Thanks, Edward. We have a lot of interesting questions here. And let’s start with the one with the most upvotes. So Sam, what do you think are the biggest trends shaping performance marketing in the future?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Oh, the biggest trends. I think it was one of the things that I spoke to around privacy. I think that is definitely going to shape our industry and environment and how we operate. So I think more things are certainly coming on that front. And teams should definitely be keeping a pulse on that to understand how they should be shifting.

    Fanny:

    Yes, that sounds good. Another one here was, when you work with full-funnel performance marketing, you obviously have a lot of KPIs to follow. So how do you manage different kinds of KPIs and how do you prioritize them?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah, well, I think it’s definitely important to have that separation and understanding the value of one versus the other because they are such different KPIs. So making sure you’re really communicating and educating the other teams about what the targets are and how those KPIs differ, I think is really critical.

    Fanny:

    Yes, that sounds super good. Maybe as the final question, we could take up this one. What do you think are the most important competencies or skills for performance or e-commerce marketers?

    Sam Lloyd:

    Yeah, it’s a great question. I think you have to be comfortable in a changing environment. What worked five years ago, what worked a year ago, is not necessarily what works now. So you really have to be comfortable and curious to dig into new features and technology. Yeah, I think curiosity is definitely really important and kind of what I spoke to previously around, if you love data, but also the creativity, if you can merge those two, that’s definitely, you’re onto a winning ticket.

    Fanny:

    Yes, that sounds good. Maybe as the final step, we could launch a poll. So you should be seeing a poll with a few questions in a minute.

    If you are interested in a demo of Supermetrics, we would love to know that information. And also which country you are located in.

    Edward:

    Cool. And I guess with that, we would just like to thank everyone for joining us today, this morning, this afternoon, this evening, depending on where you are. And if you have any feedback or any follow-up, then feel free to reach out to us. You could reach out to me directly at edward.ford@supermetrics.com.

    And if you requested a demo, we will be in touch with you shortly to follow up and set something up so you can see Supermetrics in action.

    Edward:

    And finally, I would also like to thank Sam so much for joining us today to come on and share your

    learnings and experience and wisdom with us and everyone who’s joined.

    Sam Lloyd:

    Pleasure.

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