Aligning Creative and Paid Media for Better Performance

Creative and paid media don’t exist in separate bubbles. Developing successful advertising campaigns requires collaboration between these teams from the very start. Think of the two as french fries and ketchup. Sure, you could have one without the other, but would it be as good? Definitely not. 

Insights from paid media are crucial to developing ads that actually reach their intended audience, and good creative is critical to the success of these campaigns. So, it’s essential both teams feel like equal partners in campaign strategy and creation. 

Alignment between creative and paid media should be a priority, and one each team member should actively work towards. In this blog, we’ll discuss ways to make collaboration as seamless as possible so you can output high-performing campaigns. 

Better when we work together

Collaboration is key in advertising–heck, in all aspects of marketing. Silos don’t get things done, teams do. From day one, your team needs to form a collaborative strategy that kicks off with mutual goals. Establishing shared goals will center your strategy and keep the team accountable as you move through each phase of your campaign. Let’s dive into how to make collaboration work best for everyone involved. 

Initial brainstorming and strategy

It’s likely your teams are showing up to the table with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and ideas about how to make your campaigns successful. In early meetings, individuals should have the opportunity to express their ideas and provide feedback to their peers. This give and take will ideally result in a strategy that incorporates the expertise gathered from each team. Be sure to identify the areas where each team’s ideas rely on each other, such as how media specs affect design concepts. 

Content and messaging gap analysis

Right now you may be thinking, “Content? What does that have to do with an advertising campaign?” It’s probable that at some point in your campaign, you’ll offer content to your audience. Determining which content will work best requires research to figure out how you can fulfill your customers’ needs better than your competitors.

Your team will also want to pinpoint gaps in messaging left by the industry. These gaps can provide you with opportunities to appeal to your audience’s underserved pain points and stand out from your competitors. This should be a collaborative effort between media and creative. Media may uncover data, industry trends, and competitor creative that can then be analyzed by both teams. 

Understanding your target audience

Media and creative are looking to engage the right audience–meaning prospects most likely to purchase your products or services. The process of reaching this goal isn’t as simple as identifying software engineers or executive leaders as a primary buyer. It requires extensive research to get into the nitty-gritty of what makes your ideal customer personas tick. Below, we’ll touch on tangible strategies you can use to align media and creative to best target specific audiences.  

Persona mapping

Establishing customer personas will help your team understand who they’re targeting and how to develop campaigns that best resonate with this audience. These semi-fictional characters will represent groups of key buyers and provide insight into their roles, values, responsibilities, goals, and other important factors that motivate their buying behavior. Going far beyond general demographics, these insights will be fundamental to your overall campaign, from deciding which channels to pursue to how to write compelling headlines for segmented audiences. 

One of the most important outcomes of persona research is uncovering each audience’s pain points. In marketing, we’re selling more than products or services–we’re selling solutions. By understanding what your ICPs need and how your brand can provide a solution that fulfills that need, you can develop messaging that truly speaks to each audience. 

To learn more about developing ideal customer personas, head to this blog

Buyer journey and sales cycle mapping

Understanding the buyer’s journey is pivotal to determining how to best engage with your audience at each stage of the sales funnel. Think of a buyer’s journey map as a bird’s eye view of your ICP’s overall experience with your company, from when they first become aware of your brand to when they make a purchase. Using information from industry research, internal and external data, your sales team’s experience, and other sources, you can develop a sample representation of the most common ways customers move through their journey. 

Your buyer journey map should include the following details:

  • An outline of the buying process, from their first interaction with your brand to purchase
  • Specifics about how the prospect interacts with your company at each stage (are they clicking through to landing pages or downloading content?)
  • Potential touchpoints where your brand can engage with the prospect
  • Audience pain points that could be resolved by these touchpoints

Once you’ve established your buyer journey map, you can strategize on how to align messaging that meets the needs of your audience throughout each phase. Identifying how a prospect is moving through the sales cycle will also help your paid media team determine the cadence of advertising delivery. 

Balancing personalization and budget

It may seem ideal to create a host of different personas and craft campaigns that speak to each individual ICP, but the truth is that probably isn’t the most cost-effective or efficient plan. All teams involved in your campaign, including media, strategy, and creative, need to understand your budgetary limitations to best formulate a plan that maximizes resources. 

Some ways you might go about doing this include persona grouping, narrowing your efforts to certain channels, or developing standout creative that works for wider audiences. 

The power of ongoing testing and optimization

Marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it activity. To get the best results, you’ll want to regularly measure, test, and update your campaigns based on your findings. Let’s say you deploy an advertising campaign, but find your ads are performing better on LinkedIn than display. Your team will collectively examine why this may be occurring and which aspects of your campaign can be improved. It could be that audience targeting is off, creative is not resonating with a particular segment, or simply that you need to invest more in LinkedIn and less in alternate channels. 

The important thing to note is that there are many factors that could be affecting your campaign’s performance. Both media and creative need to be a part of the problem-solving process to identify areas you can test or features that need to be updated to reach goals. 

Lastly, keep in mind that you don’t need to wait until after you launch a campaign to test. For example, you may test two different ads with the same audience, each featuring different design and messaging, to compare which performs best. 

Play together, win together.

The big takeaway here is that your team needs to consistently collaborate to stay on strategy and on target. Regular meetings should serve as touchpoints where you can share recent performance and analyze how you may improve your campaigns. 

For more B2B marketing resources, news, and more, head to the BOL blog.