There's an attitude in marketing these days that if you throw enough shit against the wall (cyberspace), some will stick, and generate sales. The problem with that is, there's so much shit out there, the web's becoming one big crappy ad platform, and most of the marketing has little to no impact.
Case in point:
I took three PPC ads out on Amazon to help me sell my novels. Not 'promote' or 'brand,' or 'engage,' or any other bullshit term marketers tell clients. I took the ads out to SELL my novels. Here are the results (click on image for larger view):
So, let's examine them. 89,116 “Impressions,” and I had 0 sales. Amazon got $8.96 of my money (and times this nominal amount by the ten's of thousands of others like me out there). Hmm...about the only one making money here is Amazon.
Same crappy ROIs with most Google Adword campaigns as with Amazon, but we keep doing them because Amazon and Google tout them. They show us our 'analytics' everyday, in some cases in real time. It's a buzz watching the number of “Impressions” rise. And Impressions, i.e. eyeballs leads to sales, eventually, right?
Not so much. Clearly, with the above example. Breaking down the three campaigns, the bottom row, the one I terminated, I categorized by product segment, i.e. a BOOK, and it was a ROMANCE novel.
After viewing a webinar from Amazon detailing how to “target” audiences, I ran the two campaigns above it. For these I was required to authorize a minimum $100 spending limit for each of my ads. I was then allowed to choose my PPC (Pay Per Click) rate, then spent hours inputting Amazon product page URLs that I felt related to my novels. If my PPC rate was accepted, Amazon then ran my 'ads,' which were merely a tiny thumbnail image of my book cover, the book title, which doubled as a link to the book's purchase pg, author's name, star rating, and price.
My campaigns were a waste of my precious time, which, at least in this case, is more important than the minor expense, as TIME must be considered in ROI of all marketing efforts.
So what went wrong...
● First, “Impressions” don't mean shit. Obviously. What the hell are they, really? According to Twitter's definition: “Number of times users saw the Tweet on Twitter.” And what the hell does that mean. When I drill down, NO ONE seems to know exactly. How does Twitter know who's looking at their cellphone or computer screen when my tweet flashes by? At best, they're making an algorithmic guess, and it serves them to show high Impression numbers.
I average 500 Impressions per tweet, and I tweet 6-18 times a day. As fun as it is watching the number of Impression rise in real time, it doesn't convert to sales all that much, when considering the ROI in time— setting up TweetDeck to continually auto-tweet unique text and visual content. (I average close to 100 retweets a day, with the same underwhelming effect on sales as Impressions).*
● Link Clicks are bullshit too. Even with their sophisticated detection algorithms, Amazon, Google, and any other site that sells stuff online can NOT detect all the bots, robots or low-wage workers gaming the PPC system by repeatedly clicking on each AdSense ad on their sites.
● My 'ads' had NO differentiator. No headlines. No text reviews. Nothing to distinguish them for the 8 million other ROMANCE novels on Amazon.
● My tiny 'ads' were stuck on already visually overcrowded pages, full of book recommendations, similar purchases, and other ads for the same genre as my novel.
● Amazon's strategy of 'targeting' my audience was a joke. Something like 95% of women polled say they like books with ROMANCE in them. For my 'targeted' ads, the two with the most Impressions, I loaded over 300 Amazon URLs for each of my ads into their “Target These Sites” UI, with a cross-section of books like mine. I even loaded music URLs. Very time consuming! But with no headline, no differentiators, my novels were like everyone else's on the product pages I authorized Amazon to bid to display them.
● Copywriting and marketing are now being done by clueless web developers, or outsourced for slave labor, or become job functions of the pubescent [cheap] workforce (who don't know how to sell value and fall back to pushing image), not marketing pros trained in generating response. Sadly. And while the cheap solution initially seems attractive, in the long run the ROI doesn't pan out.
Barraging the net with crap advertising, with little to no ROI, is sticking alright, to all of us, making the internet into one big shit ad platform. I can't watch a video, read a news article, scroll my Facebook feed, do virtually anything online these days without being bombarded with garbage. So, now, even good marketing, the kind that touts products and services that actually fulfills a need for a target market, isn't seen through the muck.
The great hope of the internet connecting us all, may, in fact, be isolating us. As we train ourselves to shut out the unrelenting stream of shit marketing, we're learning to ignore each other.
*Content Marketing— 'engaging' potential and existing customers by entertaining rather then selling, even in the abstract, has equally bad ROI as PPC, but often gets a lot of “Impressions.”