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User drop-off: the media industry’s hidden secret could be wasting half of your demand generation budget


Metia Group's Peter Morgan discusses how media industry wastage is costing your business

Whether it's taxes, trolling or data breaches, the giant social media networks are increasingly having to defend their practices to consumers, government and corporate advertisers. Away from the spotlight, down in the weeds of demand generation campaigns, another hidden secret lurks.

Using data from Metia’s Performance Benchmark Index (PBX), our analysis suggests that almost half of investments in social media marketing are wasted due to user drop-off between ads on social media platforms and destination websites.

Data analysis from PBX showed that almost half of paid link clicks on LinkedIn (47.7%) and Twitter (47.6%) fail to reach their destination, while more than a third of link clicks from Facebook (37%) suffer the same plight. The PBX data was aggregated from performance data derived from over 600 campaigns across all the major social networks.

While blame lies with the platforms and media agencies that have profited from enormous growth in social media ad spend, and have omitted to highlight this flaw to the client, B2B marketers themselves also bear a responsibility.

There’s no question that social media marketing can generate fantastic ROI, but B2B marketers must take more responsibility for monitoring the outcomes their investments are expected to generate. The social media platforms won’t do it and your media agency is unlikely to.

The media industry is engineered for bad practice

It's in the interests of social media platforms to maximise ad clicks, and user experience can be skewed to reflect this. Take the example of Twitter, where clicking a photo in an organic tweet enlarges it for a close-up view. Doing the same to a promoted tweet routes the user off domain, charging the advertiser for a link click. It is difficult to estimate how many unintended link clicks are generated this way.

Media agencies are also failing marketers. Campaign reporting often ends with clicks, with no attempt to monitor user behaviour on the destination website – let alone tie this to the end outcomes your business seeks. Consequently, agencies can become incentivised to generate clicks in bulk: with no understanding, or interest in the quality of those visitors, or what happens next.

B2B marketers must take control

While some of these industry failings are endemic, marketers can at least take steps to mitigate the impact drop-off has on their business. You could be saving almost 50% of your budget, or at least spending it more wisely and getting better performance to boot.

Tracking end-to-end is now basic hygiene. Marketers must understand precisely what impacts their demand generation investments are generating – from impressions and clicks through to sales and revenue.

Without this knowledge, marketers are operating in the dark. With recent advances in analytics and growing scepticism of vanity metrics, you might be one difficult question away from being called to account for that budget spend.

B2B marketers also need to consider their landing environment. If you make users wait for your website, many will drop off before it loads. Those who do land are more likely to experience cognitive drift: their attention has already moved on, rendering them less likely to convert.

Some excellent Google research on mobile ads highlighted just how big this issue is, with 53% of visits abandoned when a mobile site took longer than three seconds to load. Using multiple agencies – one for media spend, one for creative or web – will often break the feedback loops that identify the root cause of issues and drive performance improvements.

But well before considering the destination, marketers must first invest effort to ensure that at the outset they only target individuals relevant to their desired end outcome. This requires segmentation informed by credible, relevant data sources.

In a recent experiment with Twitter ads, we tested Twitter’s follower-based targeting against a custom audience informed by customer data via our proprietary micro-profiling techniques. The latter segment reduced user drop-off (from 42% to 8%) and increased the conversion rate for users who landed (from 6.1% to 14.9%). The result: 3.9 times more leads generated from the same investment.

Act now

If you are spending your budget on social media marketing, drop-off is almost certainly impacting your campaigns. Take responsibility for understanding how that budget is spent and the outcomes it does – or doesn’t – drive.

Get on top of the issue and be the one asking your team and your media agency the difficult questions: what is our user drop-off rate, what is the impact on my bottom line, and what are you doing to mitigate this?