In the last article, 👑 3 ROAS to Rule Them All we talked a lot about the marketing ecosystem, but never really defined it. Well, thats what we are going to do in this essay. Keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times and enjoy the show!
The Nine Parts of a Marketing Ecosystem
A marketing ecosystem is the term we use to refer to all the efforts pertaining to customer acquisition, reactivation and retention. It is comprised of 9 distinct, yet interdependent parts. We prefer the “ecosystem” nomenclature because when done correctly the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
However, it is a doubled edged sword. Meaning if you have one part of the ecosystem operating at a high level (say paid media), but another sub-optimal (say the online store); the ecosystem collapses.
To be fair, there are some parts of the ecosystem that are more relevant to some businesses than others, but neglect any part of the ecosystem and catastrophe will be on the horizon.
Ok, enough ranting about why the marketing ecosystem is so vital to the growth and health of a business.
Let’s dive into the specific, seemingly disparate parts, and talk about how they support one another and attach some metrics to monitor the health of that part of the ecosystem.
You manage what you measure :)
Paid media, when done well can be an accelerant to growth, but the days of succeeding with paid only are long gone. To further exacerbate the situation, paid media has become harder and harder to deploy efficiently, even more so at smaller budgets.
So whats the solution?
As we talked about in the previous essay, we care about three things in paid media: Effectiveness, Efficiency and Profits.
So to ensure your paid media is being deployed efficiently we recommend pacing from eROAS and monitoring POAS & ncROAS.
With that being said, we don’t want to disregard the channel metrics. However, the precision and accuracy are essentially defunct. On the other hand, directionality still holds for channel metrics.
The synthesis of channel agnostic heuristics with channel directionality is the optimal monitoring mix. Here are the most common pitfalls I see pertaining to Paid Media deployment & strategy:
“Ok we just started our business, time for FB Ads.”
Paid doesn’t always need to be and a lot of times shouldn’t be the first part of the ecosystem activated. Ensure you have a vibrant community and email is driving 25-30%+ of revenues before exploring paid.
“We need to grow, let’s scale paid.”
Paid is expensive. If you can get someone to convert with email, organic social etc try that first. On top of that, by definition at a certain scale you will have to pay marginally more for a worse customer. Why? Well because you only have so many super fans in the world.
After FB clears out the inventory of super fans, your organic starts converting and your email starts popping; you will have less “supply” and the same, if not more demand, depending on time of year.
Said a different way, you are scaling economics with diminishing returns because each customer becomes marginally more expensive (and possibly of less quality) as you scale.
**Sidenote: The time it takes you to enter diminishing returns is a function of your TAM, sales cycle, budget and channel health.
“I want all our spend going to our highest ROAS campaigns.”
The majority of your spend should be on Prospecting. Retargeting is a luxury a lot of businesses don’t have the economics to support. This is why we think ncROAS is so important as a leading indicator for the next cycle of the business’ health.
Paid media is no longer a growth vector, as much as an augmentation or multiplier of your marketing ecosystem. If your ecosystem is generating 0 value for users, it won’t matter if you have access to a WISH scale budget. Because of the multiplicative nature of paid media (wasn’t always like this, see Dollar Shave Club) building a vibrant marketing ecosystem is no longer a choice, but a necessity.
“3x ROAS on FB? I saw an agency guaranteeing 15x ROAS. Our agency sucks, we should fire them.”
To be sure there are some agencies that should be canned, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Before making any termination decisions; understand how your agency is pushing forward eROAS, ncROAS and POAS.
If you are an agency on the chopping block, explain the 3 ROAS to Rule Them All concept and spin up a dashboard in Triple Whale so your client can follow along while you print them money :).
Metrics to track health for Paid Media:
eROAS, ncROAS, POAS, Revenues, Net Margin, Net Profit, AOV
Use channel ROAS only for directionality.
Channels currently integrated with 🐳 Triple Whale: Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Tiktok, Pinterest (Coming Soon), Amazon Ads (In Pipeline)
**Sidenote: I don’t think all RT is bad IF you have the economics. Throw some cost controls on there; set it and forget it (not really, but you get the point).
**Side note: Not all paid media leverages the same psychological mechanisms. For example, a FB/IG ad generates demand. A Google Ad/Amazon ad captures demand. This is uber important to remember when constructing creative, landers, copy and offers.
Klaviyo Dashboard in Triple Whale
EmAiL iS dEaD. How many times have we heard this?! Well, I can assure you email is not dead. If anything, it has had a renaissance on the back of all the privacy nonsense from Apple.
If you think of the marketing ecosystem like a farm with different plots of land representing each part of the ecosystem; without a doubt, I would start sowing the Email/SMS field first. The importance of email to a healthy marketing ecosystem can’t be overstated.
Why is it so important? Because the cost to effectiveness ratio is through the roof. Highest ROI part of the ecosystem. Maybe you could argue Brand Support? The fact of the matter is that you have more ability to segment, message and drip on prospective and paying customers at a fraction of the cost compared to paid.
Going back to the farm analogy: if the Paid Media field requires 10x the water of the Email/SMS field with 1x the yield, why not divert more resources to scaling your email versus paid?
One of the central tenets of optimally managing a marketing ecosystem is that you divert resources from the lowest ROI parts to the highest ROI parts of the ecosystem.
Metrics to track health of Email/SMS: Open Rate %, Click Thru Rate %, Total Subs, Net Subs, Unsub %, Attributed Email Revenue, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), Revenue Per Email Received, Revenue Per SMS Sent, Attributed SMS Revenue
Preferred Email Service Provider (ESP): Klaviyo (🐳 Triple Whale Integration)
Preferred SMS Provider: Klaviyo (🐳 Triple Whale Integration)
**Side note: I didn’t go much into SMS. I have mixed feelings about SMS. IMHO, people think it is way more impactful than it is. It also has variable costs, which I am always watchful over. With that being said, it is worth trying and can be a great boon to certain segments of your customer base. We see a lot of success with exclusive sales and some marginal success with SMS journeys.
**Side note: I recommend moving everything under one roof in terms of ESP and SMS. This alleviates so many attribution kerfuffles.
Client's Triple Whale Dashboard
Reporting is a requisite piece of the marketing ecosystem because it is how you derive the health of the ecosystem. This quote is about pilots flying without any instruments, but it is perfect analogy to managing a marketing ecosystem with bad reporting.
“With loss of all instruments, zero visibility and complete lack of visual reference, the pilot might as well be physically blind…unable to see anything through his eyes.”
You are the pilot, don’t fly your business or your client’s business blind.
Preferred Provider: Triple Whale
SEO and Content is another pivotal piece of the ecosystem. The internet is a huge place and capturing the long tail can be incredibly lucrative.
At the core, SEO and content are volume plays (see Zapier, AirBnB, Shopify etc). On the other hand, there are SEO fundamentals that can be implemented on your site. However, after that is done the real lifting comes through content and back linking or building clever things like this Business namer generator by Shopify.
SEO/Content can be overwhelming and is outside a lot of marketers or biz owners skill sets. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to hire out (if the economics support it). There are all sorts of great content agencies like The Hoth and others that can do all the heavy lifting.
One caveat, much like email, SEO/Content is compounding. There are going to be times where you feel like you are just posting into the void. This is why it is really important to operate with leading goals versus lagging goals. Whole other topic, but here is an uber simplified explanation.
Leading Goal: Post 4 pieces of content this month
Lagging Goal: Generate 50k Unique Pageviews this month
The leading goal is actionable, you can impact it. The lagging isn’t, however, it is a function of the leading goal (major 🔑). Therefore, if you focus on accomplishing your leading goals; you have a higher probability of achieving your lagging ones.
Preferred Provider: Google Analytics (🐳 Triple Whale Integration), Ahrefs, Google Trends, SEM Rush etc.
There are tons of really good KW & Content tools out there.
Metrics to track health: Unique Pageviews, Pageviews, Time Per Session, Bounce Rate, Page Value, Avg. # of Pages Visited, Average Position on Identified Keywords
**Side note: You can also do some really cool stuff with user journey analysis in GA, but that is a different topic for a different day #PatienceGrasshopper (Do people still get this reference?)
Cue the Paid v Organic fight bell…jokes, just jokes. I personally love organic. I find it invaluable to paid media. The ability to test for free on social feeds and then augment with paid when something hits; is an incredibly viable path.
With that being said; it is imperative you figure out what the goal of your organic social is. Is it to tell the brand story? Sell Products? Gather customer feedback? Then hammer the user with content that adds value and pushes forward the specified goal(s).
Another awesome way you can leverage organic social; comb through the comments. You will find nuggets of gold in there. How people use the product? Why it is important to them? What features do they value the most? What do they hate? Plus, you might find some solid testimonials that work wonders on Paid.
Metrics to track health: Reach, Net Followers, Engagement, Link Clicks, Comments
**Side Note: Don’t know what time to post? Go into your Instagram insights on mobile, you can see what time and day your community is most engaged. Gottem!
The creative and design is essential to the success of the marketing ecosystem. The ability to produce impactful creative at a high velocity is one of the biggest cheat codes out there.
From typography, to colors, to CTAs, the creative that is produced will be the lifeblood of paid media and organic social. It is imperative that the deliverables are on brand and are pushing forward a business objective or testing a creative thesis.
Preferred Provider: Canva, Figma, Adobe CS Suite
Honorable Mention: Konstant Kreative, Lumen5, Billo,
**Side note: On Facebook, the creative in a way is the targeting. By constantly testing (DCT), you can identify which creatives go into the Champion campaigns and which creatives to kill.
This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. If your site is slow or your conversion process is garbage, you are losing money. If you have a sub optimal shopping experience, you are losing money. If you aren’t implementing upsells, you are losing money. If you aren’t capturing email and SMS on your site, you are losing money.
I prefer not to lose money and if you are a Whale Mail subscriber, I assume you also prefer not to lose money. So, ensure your conversion process is tidy. Have info captures where they make sense and add value to the user.
Are there products you could suggest at checkout or bundle as upsells? Does it make sense to offer payment plans? Do recurring subscriptions drive more LTV? Do you have a post-purchase survey integrated?
Tons of levers in this part of the ecosystem that can boost the conversion rate. And if there is one metric that truly augments everything around it, like Kobe in his prime, it’s lifting your conversion rate.
Preferred Platform: Shopify (🐳 Triple Whale Integration)
Some strong Shopify Apps:
Metrics to track health: CVR, Returning v New Customer Revenues, Cohort Analysis, Site Speed, LTV, AOV, Refunds
**Side note: It can be a lot to look in every nook and cranny for optimizations. It can be helpful to bring in people who specialize in CRO (conversion rate optimization). Not only because they specialize in it, but sometimes it’s really hard to see past internal biases (no judgement). Someone like Oddit can be super helpful. Best part? You see the impacts on the P/L much quicker than say a “redesign”.
Brand Strategy plays an invaluable role in unifying the brand message across channels and coalescing a brand identity that aligns with the business’ goals.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” - Seth Godin
Brand strategy is rarely something you will have any impact on as a media buyer unless you or your agency is in a partnership role. Even then it will be limited.
**Side note: Having a Brand Book, Style Guide, and Copy Usage Examples can really elevate all your touch points along the customer journey. On top of that, having these assets, makes it easier to leverage out of house talent, at possibly lower rates.
Often overlooked, Brand Support can be one of the highest ROI parts of the ecosystem. The ability to transform a ranting customer into a brand evangelist only happens in this part of the ecosystem.
Do the right thing as much as possible and insulate yourself from making decisions by having clear values and convey transparent expectations to the consumer. This will enable your brand/business to show up with a unified message across all customer touch points.
Preferred Provider: Gorgias (🐳 Triple Whale Integration) Honorable Mention: Zendesk
Metrics to Track: Tickets created, Tickets solved, Avg. Ticket Time, Avg. response time, Customer Satisfaction
Thanks for coming with me on this wonderful journey through all the parts that comprise a marketing ecosystem.
Now your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to evaluate your marketing ecosystem and identify the highest ROI parts.
After that, ensure the resource allocation is supporting the highest ROI parts of the ecosystem. Then print money :)
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