In our latest episode of Test. Learn. Grow., we are reposting a LinkedIn Live show where Myles Biggs was joined by Level Agency’s Brad Stephenson, VP of Group Accounts, and Mike Rubino, Creative Director for a conversation about creative that drives performance.
Rather listen than read? In this replay of a LinkedIn Live event, Myles sits down with Level’s own Brad Stephenson and Mike Rubino to discuss how Level uses creative to drive performance by understanding your audience, paying attention to creative trends, using creative testing and asking the right questions.
Why does Performance Creative Matter?
There is a lot of noise in the digital ad creative landscape, and with U.S. digital ad spend projected to surpass $300 billion by 2025 the noise is only going to get louder.
Every ad should demonstrate creative excellence. They should teach you something about your audience through testing. And never neglect mobile layouts — this is where most people will see them.
That’s why at Level it is our goal for every piece of creative to
- Deliver relevance
- Build trust
- Inspire action
As the ad landscape is quickly changing, it is important to consider how creative drives performance with a few key takeaways from Brad and Mike.
Understanding Your Audience
The first step in understanding your audience is to start with empathy. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. One way to use empathy in creative performance is to practice design thinking. At its core, design thinking is the discipline of developing solutions in the service of people. When it comes to your audience, take the time to do the user research and conduct interviews. This is the best way to understand what your audience needs and wants, and how you can solve their problems.
Using design thinking to guide your initial audience research doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start by creating a simple survey for stakeholders along with a 20–30-minute interview using a simple protocol. Then you look for insights in the feedback and create personas. Slowing down and taking this step first will set your creative performance up for success.
Still not sure how to get started with design thinking? Here are a few design thinking tools that Brad and Mike recommend: Luma Institute, Stanford d. School, IDEO. U, and a book called Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley.
Pay Attention to B2C and B2B Creative Trends
Regardless if your audience is B2C or B2B, it’s important to remember they are all humans making decisions about spending money! Brad and Mike recommend paying attention to a few trends to uplevel your creative performance.
- Contests and giveaways
- Leverage user-generated content for brand growth
- Board Audience Dynamic ads
- Retargeting Dynamic ads
- Build trust with testimonials and data
- Host a webinar
- Ad personalization
- Static ads are making a comeback
For both B2B and B2C, it’s important to start building ads for people on phones and avoid the bright and shiny platforms that haven’t tested positive ROI yet. Always go back to the audience, set a plan and let others test and waste money on the bright and shiny platforms that may or may not have staying power over the long term. Stay focused and finish.
When optimizing creative performance, start with a hypothesis. To develop a quality hypothesis Brad and Mike suggest following these guidelines:
- Ask a question
- Gather research
- Answer your question
- Write your hypothesis
- Make sure it is measurable
It’s also important to pick one variable to test, commit to it and see it to the end. Picking one variable means starting with prioritizing what’s most important to test first. Learn and then grow.
Questions to Ask to Get Started
- Can I see all the ads we have running?
- What are we testing?
- Tell me about our audiences, who are we targeting?
- How have previous tests informed the current creative?
And finally, a few more resource suggestions from Brad and Mike to help you get started:
If you want to dive into design thinking or if you want to learn more about creative testing and how it’s impacted Level Agency’s performance creative, let’s set up a time to chat! Or if you like our webinar and LinkedIn Live-style programming sign up for our next webinar with our client Finlistics.