Why Digital Campaign Performance Plateaus: How to Drive Consistent Growth and Smash Your 2016 Targets

At this time of year, many brands are in the process of finalising their FY2016 strategies, to meet a new crop of performance targets.

“Same again, please!”

Amongst our clients, the typical marketing or digital campaign performance target is usually to deliver the same or a greater percentage increase than they achieved the previous year.

However, delivering the same increases again and again is not as simple as just doing more of the same work.

Many marketers struggle to drive consistent long-term growth, and targets that consist of “same again, please” can be frustrating, when teams already feel like they’ve pulled out all the stops to achieve the previous year’s numbers.

In this post, we wanted to share our insight on how to stop digital campaign performance plateauing and how you, as a forward-thinking marketer, can deliver a real step change in performance for the coming year and beyond…

Campaigns don’t grow indefinitely

In our experience, there’s a lot of confusion around how campaigns actually grow and scale over time, and what level of sustained long term growth is possible.

To help with this, we’ve developed a simple model for explaining what to expect from campaigns over time:

Image shows digital campaign performance hitting a plateau - Silverbean
Most people understand that there’s a theoretical ceiling to performance – a maximum that the channels they’re working on can deliver, somewhere.

However, what’s not as clearly understood is that as you get closer to perfection, even small increases get harder and harder to achieve.

There are a few phases that most digital marketing campaigns go through as they move closer to their theoretical maximum:

1. Quick Wins

At first, when there are lots of simple improvements to be made to a campaign, it’s easy to drive large-scale increases from relatively easy work. Quick wins are coveted for that reason.

2. Diminishing Returns

Once the quick wins are gone, you’re left with a range of other options. These tactics will drive growth, but require more work and return a lesser increase in performance. Over time, marketers find themselves working harder and harder for increasingly granular improvements.

3. Plateau

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to spot when a tactic has passed the point of usefulness. Often, marketers rely on tactics that are well-past their sell-by date, either because they’re not aware that there’s no more value to be had or because they simply don’t have any other ideas.

Or worse, they’re too lazy to come up with new ones that deliver Return on Attention to their customers.

At this point, digital campaign performance becomes stagnant and growth hits a plateau.

Time for Step Change?

If you’re concerned your campaign might have plateaued, the right approach is critical.

You could simply keep optimising what’s there and chasing smaller and smaller gains, but that rarely leads to the sort of impressive ROI or growth figures our clients need to hit their targets, or the ones the senior board are setting you, right now.

Instead, in these situations we usually recommend a more fundamental shift in brands’ digital strategy: STEP CHANGE.

Image shows disruption event to step change digital campaign performance - Silverbean
Step Change is about upping the game to start a campaign on a new growth curve, with a much higher plateau point.

This often requires more work up-front, but has the potential to give the campaign a new lease of life and drive significant long-term growth.

The elements that drive Step Change vary depending on your brand’s individual situation – the higher the overall standard of your digital strategy, the deeper the changes might have to be.

It could be as simple as a website refresh, or as fundamental as business-level digital transformation.

Next Steps:

If you’re concerned your campaigns might be plateaued, there are a few actions you can take to start things growing again.

1. Stop chasing ever more granular improvements

Striving for perfection in your campaigns is not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of more profitable quick wins. Work smarter, not harder.

2. Remember the Pareto Principle

If you’ve had great results from a particular marketing tactic, fantastic! Just be aware that the growth won’t keep coming forever, and be ready to move on at the right time.

3. Get a fresh perspective

If you’ve been relying on the same channels and techniques for quite some time, it’s probably time to step back and consider other options.

Often it can be difficult to spot step change opportunities yourself, though, so a third party perspective can be a huge help to avoid a “wood for the trees” scenario.

To find out more about how to re-start plateaued campaigns and drive long term growth from your digital marketing, download our Guide to Campaign Maturity.

We also offer a complimentary Digital Performance Forecast that will unlock digital campaign performance growth opportunities and help you gain new perspective.

Alternatively, you can drop us a line via the contact form below if you’d like a fresh pair of eyes on your campaigns.


Image shows link to Digital Investment post by Silverbean as part of digital campaign performance content series.