Three Tips for Improving Twitter Ad Campaigns

Twitter ad campaigns

By Eric Wittlake, {grow} Contributing Columnist

You could say I’ve become mildly addicted to Twitter ads recently. Without the benefits of business information, like LinkedIn, or granular interest information, like Facebook, Twitter ad campaigns are a unique challenge for B2B marketers, and that makes a successful program that much more rewarding.

Over the last 12 months, there are a few tactics that I’ve found can consistently improve the performance of Twitter ad campaigns. You probably won’t hear these tips from someone at Twitter (I know I never did). In fact, they run counter to what Twitter sometimes recommends. So try them out and share some of your results and some of your favorite tips is the comments.

Tip 1: Get granular with handle targeting

One of the best ways to target an audience on Twitter is handle targeting. This lets your target based on who people follow. If you want to target readers of {grow}, you could target ads to people who follow @markwschaefer.

Finding out your audience follows TechCrunch, CNN or Guy Kawasaki isn’t going to do you any good. You need to find the accounts people in your target audience follow but who are largely unheard of outside of the audience you care about.

How can you find these accounts? Today, Little Bird is my first stop. The team at Little Bird has built the best solution I’ve used yet for finding the people that are influential on very specific topics along with the context needed to see if they have an appropriately focused audience.

(Disclosure: Regrettably I have no stock or other financial interest in Little Bird).

Tip 2: Step carefully with mobile

85% of Twitter’s ad revenue in Q3 came from mobile. Yes, Twitter is mobile, but maybe your Twitter ads shouldn’t be if you want to get people to your site or content. Stick with me here.

If you are running Twitter ads today, look at your reporting by device. Chances are you will see mobile platforms have engagement rates as much as 10 times higher than desktop. And remember, you pay per engagement, so that high engagement rate looks great, but it has a big budget impact.

Now flip over to Google Analytics, or whatever site analytics solution you use, and compare desktop and mobile engagement numbers in Twitter to desktop and mobile traffic numbers from your Twitter ads. You will see a huge difference between engagements and visits from mobile devices, and a much smaller difference when you compare the desktop numbers.

Why is this happening? People are “engaging” with your ad, which includes simply tapping on your Tweet from a phone. No, that isn’t much of an engagement, but unlike some other social ad platforms, Twitter charges for every engagement, not just a click.

If you are driving people to your content outside of Twitter, sadly, targeting only desktop users will generally improve campaign performance significantly.

It is worth noting, Twitter announced objective-based campaigns, with additional pricing models, about four months ago. While this program is still in beta and hasn’t been rolled out to all advertisers yet, thankfully Twitter is beginning to address these challenges with mobile ads.

Tip 3: Use handles as keywords

Are you using Twitter ads to seed content you want people to discover and share? Instead of just targeting the type of people that will be interested in your content, you can target ads based on the kind of content people share by using the handles of publishers as keywords.

Would people sharing articles from HBR or Fast Company Design be interested in your content, and likely to share it? Then target ads to @HarvardBiz or @FastCoDesign.

In one recent program I saw this approach to handle targeting drive dramatically higher additional organic sharing of our content than any of the other targeting approaches we used on Twitter.

Your turn

These are some of the tricks I’ve picked up over the last year, what are some of your favorites, or what else should I be testing? Please share in the comments below!

Eric WittlakeEric Wittlake spends his days working with B2B marketers and (occasionally) shares his marketing views on his personal blog, B2B Digital Marketing. You can find him on Twitter (@wittlake) when he isn’t spending time with his three boys and new baby girl.

Top Photo Credit: martinak15 via Compfight cc

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