Performance Marketing

Paid Media considerations for website projects

by Lizzy Meagher | September 1, 2020

Too often, we see brands planning major website changes without considering performance marketing implications until it’s too late. Whether tackling a rebrand and site redesign, new site launch, acquisition, replatforming, or domain migration, this blog series will help you consider the right components of digital marketing at the right time to maximize performance and returns from your new website.

In the previous post, we explored the importance of bringing an SEO expert into your website projects from the start, and how doing so can make a big difference in boosting organic traffic and ranking in search results. In this installment, we’ll be covering the importance of bringing a Paid Media expert into the fold to maximize performance and conversions on your new website.

Importance of Paid Media for your website

Paid Media is all about keeping people on your site and getting them to convert. Bringing a Paid Media expert on board from the start of your project lifecycle gives you access to the knowledge, skillset, and tools needed to build conversion and ROI into your site. They know all the right places to look, and how to dig for information about your competitors so you can succeed in paid channels where rising above the competition is so important. Paid Media experts can also collaborate with the SEO and Analytics experts on your team to help you better execute on site goals.

A Paid Media person can also help you understand what needs to go into your media budget and how to formulate it for maximum audience reach. They have a unique way of looking at your website goals, and will make recommendations on things like landing pages and calls-to-action. They can help with optimizing your site’s user experience (UX) and collaborate with your SEO person on keyword strategy.

What you can expect from a Paid Media expert

Following the standard project timeline for a website project—that is, Discovery, Strategy, Design, Development, Deployment—we’ll walk you though what to expect when working with a Paid Media expert, and highlight their value-added as a member of your team for any website project.

Paid Media in the Discovery phase

Even in the very early stages of planning your website project, a Paid Media expert should be involved to help define site requirements for your web team to include in the overall strategy. Based on your desired high-level site goals, a Paid Media person can provide your web team with full-funnel, cross-channel Paid Media insights that’ll help get them thinking about the type of content and experience they’ll need to build for different audiences at different stages in the buying journey. For example, they can help you identify what’s needed in terms of landing pages, thank you pages, conversion flow, and calls-to-action.

Paid Media in the Strategy phase

While your web team is building out the strategy, wireframes, and UX for your new site, your Paid Media person will start planning your media campaign (and budgets) that will launch at the same time your new site launches. They’ll be solidifying answers to questions like:

  • Do we need entirely new campaigns, or do we just need to update existing campaigns? 
  • If we need new ads in Social, how do we preserve the Social proof through tactics like social stacking so we don’t completely reset our history?
  • What metrics do we need to understand to track Paid Media performance, and how will we report on those metrics?

Your Paid Media person will also be reworking budgets, as needed during this stage, considering factors such as desired spend levels and allocations to maximize efficiency. Depending on what type of goals you’ve got, your Paid Media strategy will vary: 

  • For brand launches, you’ll want to skew heavier toward upper-funnel Social to build your audience and awareness.
  • For a rebrand with an established brand name, or perhaps a merger or renaming, you’ll want to have stronger coverage in Paid Search to ensure you capture search volume on the new brand name, even before your brand SEO has a chance to rank well.

In addition to strategizing on your Paid Media campaign and budget, you can expect your Paid Media expert to collaborate with your team on things like keywords; targeting mechanisms; copy; creative specs and recommendations for each channel; and site taxonomy and information architecture to best align the content to what people are searching for. They’ll also be on the lookout for any spots on your new site where you might run into conversion flow barriers.

Paid Media in the Design & Development phases

During Design and Development—and once content/landing pages are available to work from—you can expert your Paid Media person will be busy building out new campaigns, or restructuring old ones, including development of ad creative that aligns with new design, messaging, and site experience. Once built or restructured, your campaigns will be set up in a staging environment (i.e., not live, but available for testing), and billing will be set up, which can take some time.

At this point, your Paid Media expert will also be interfacing with your web dev folks to ensure tracking is being built into the website project so it doesn’t turn into a scramble later. 

About a couple weeks prior to launch, your Paid Media expert will conduct extensive testing to ensure the campaign you discussed previously is “firing” okay, and will ask for your final approvals so it’s ready to go come launch day. At minimum, you’ll want to review the ad copy to ensure it jives with other messaging across your business.

Paid Media in the Deployment phase

On launch day you can expect your Paid Media expert will have a QA checklist they’ll be running through, and if they’ve done their job testing everything thoroughly, there actually won’t be a lot for them to do just yet! 

In fact, we recommend delaying your Paid Media campaign just a bit (see shaded box) to ensure there are no major issues with the site launch. 

A warning about launching your Paid Media campaigns too early
The biggest thing you want to avoid after launching your shiny, new website is sending traffic to a page that’s not functioning properly (e.g., broken landing pages), or sending traffic to a site that doesn’t have tracking set up properly. This is where your Paid Search expert will work in concert with the SEO and Analytics experts on your team to ensure things are “good to go” before starting up Paid Media campaigns.

Paid Media after your site launches

Your Paid Media expert will be monitoring your new site extra-close for the first few days post-launch to ensure efficiency right out the gate. They’ll be doing things like: 

  • Balancing spend between campaigns and assets within those campaigns to ensure spend is tempered during the early/learning phase.
  • Monitoring creative, spend, and frequency caps.
  • Ensuring there’s impression share on your most important revenue-driving keywords.

About one week after your site launches, you can expect an initial performance update from your Paid Media expert. After that, you’ll want to wait for roughly 30-60 days worth of data to accumulate before making any major changes to your campaigns—although you can rest assured your Paid Media person will be continuously making small tweaks to ensure the best results! 

Now that we’ve covered the importance of adding both an SEO expert and a Paid Media expert to your team for any website project you’re undertaking, we’ll share insight on the importance of Analytics considerations in the next installment of this series.

About the author: Lizzy Meagher is a Paid Media consultant at Apiary Digital. She has 10 years of experience and has supported brands, including SmartBug Media and Yodle.

A special thanks to Ian Muller of our sister collective, East Coast Catalyst for additional SME input for this post. ECC provides website design and development, UX, and creative/brand services.