Tag Archive for: performance creative

designing video ad creative for Facebook

Bow Down to Data: How We Use Metrics to Dictate Creative (+ Creative Analysis Templates)

designing ad creative on a computer

“Do you make creative?” This is the question (that we got over and over again) that planted the seed that eventually bloomed into the creative department here at Tuff. 

But, it was a question that we considered carefully before taking the plunge. There are a handful of other growth marketing agencies out there making “performance creative” but we knew that if we were to treat creative as an extension of our growth marketing services, we needed to make sure that everything we made answered to one queen: data!

So, that’s just what we did. And over time, we’ve built, refined, and perfected our creative analysis template and we’re excited to share it with you. It’s designed to hold our creative accountable—a way for us to make sure we axe the assets that aren’t contributing to driving clicks or revenue for our partners. And, ultimately, build out a suite of creative for our partners that centers on the stickiest messaging and drives the best possible traffic towards conversion.

Here are the two templates we reference in this article: 

The Alternative: Slow-Moving & Expensive

Branding and creative-first agencies serve a definitively important purpose in the marketing world: a solid and cohesive brand has the power to instill trust and lay a great foundation. It’s also a powerful tool for building your employer brand. But, check out the H1 of our Creative page, and it’ll tell you everything you need to know about why our creative team is different: “Creative doesn’t have to be a production.” 

We decided to take creative into our own hands after we, quite simply, realized that most branding agencies don’t have the tools or the in-house expertise to measure the actual effectiveness of their creative. It’s worth saying that almost every creative agency we’ve worked with (or at!) has incredibly insightful and talented people on their teams. But oftentimes, our growth team would submit a request for effective ad creative and, weeks (and sometimes thousands of dollars later) we’d get a file full of creative that, once we deployed it, had variable performance. 

Additionally, with the rise of emerging platforms like TikTok, user generated content is consistently showing the results we’re looking for (case in point, one of our all-time favorite posts: ​​Got a Crappy iPhone Video? You’ve Got the Perfect Facebook Ad). And, simply, UGC is a creative format that most traditional creative agencies aren’t set up to produce. 

The Short List of Questions to Vett an Agency’s Ability to Produce Effective Ad Creative

  • Do they measure the effectiveness of creative as a part of their process?
  • Are they able to use data to justify their creative decisions?
  • Are they invested in their creative actually driving measurable results for your business?
  • Can they produce assets in a variety of formats?

Why We Do a Creative Analysis

Beyond simply knowing what kind of ads to make next, we perform a creative analysis once every four to six weeks and apply our learning to all other areas of our growth marketing strategy. When we can take a step back and identify patterns among our best-performing assets (like messaging, colors, imagery and even format type), we can extend our learnings to improve landing pages, email, and more.

One of our favorite tools we lean heavily on whenever we’re strategizing new messages to test or new creative to make is the Value Props worksheet. At the outset of every partnership, we’ll fill out this worksheet and, originally, use it as a level set to make sure that the ways we’re planning to articulate points of differentiation and value aligns with the expectations and insights of our partners’ teams. But, creative analysis exercises help us treat this as a living document; consistently tweaking and refining it to reflect the messaging that’s driven the absolute best results. 

Beyond making the creative objectively better, the creative analysis exercise is a tool we use to also keep us laser focused on our main goal: drive results for our partners. And, when we center data in all of our creative work, it keeps the full creative team ego-less and unified.

How We Do a Creative Analysis

This is where left brains and right brains unite! Here’s how we conduct a creative analysis step by step.

1. Pull the data

When analyzing results, there are a lot of variables to take into account. Depending on the objective of the campaign, we will pull different data points to check out performance. We look at Facebook for metrics like cost per link click, click-through rate and amount spent and then look deeper into user behavior in Google Analytics for metrics like time on site, bounce rate and pages/session. This is where organized naming conventions come in handy! When working in Google Analytics, we add a secondary dimension of the ad content and then use the advanced filter to look at the data by creative asset and audience. Not only is it crucial to look at creative performance but it is also crucial to understand audience performance and why certain messages resonated with certain people. 

creative analysis template

If we are analyzing video content, we also take a peek at how much of the video users watched, when they dropped off and what the messaging was before. 

2. Analyze the findings

Sitting among a suite of growth marketing tactics and strategies, creative is its own unique beast. So, analyzing the data and coming away with insights that can incrementally improve results can be a bit of an imperfect science. Sometimes the results are obvious: like motion outperformed stills. But other times, the takeaways aren’t as clear.

This is where it helps to enlist a creative brain (or two) to take a step back, and check out the spread. Here, it’s all about finding distinct patterns/similarities among the top performers. While it’s not always comprehensive (and sometimes necessitates a deeper look) check out our quick list of questions we ask to help us compare the top performers with the underperformers:

Among the top performers…

  • Which messages are featured? (Revisit the value props sheet here)
  • What creative format do we see? (Carousels, videos, GIFs, etc)
  • What kind of imagery do we see? (Lifestyle, illustrated, portraits, etc)
  • Is there a color pattern? Is one brand color featured more prominently?
  • Are there any other noticeable shared elements? (humor, testimonials, offers, etc)

creative analysis worksheet

3. Create a game plan for a fresh round

Here’s where it all comes together! Once you’ve got your list of findings and your full team (including your partners) are in general agreement about the patterns among the top and bottom performers, it’s time to outline a game plan for the next round.

Again, this is where it’s handy to have a creative brain on your team to synthesize all of these findings and create a fresh brief that lays the groundwork for new concepts and ideas that uplift what’s working, ditches what’s not, and introduces a few new ideas to layer on. Over time, and after a handful of these exercises, you’ll have a growing list of messaging, creative formats, imagery, colors, and other shared elements that you know are going to generate the results you want to see.  

Creative: It Can and SHOULD Bow to Data

If there’s one major takeaway from this article: there’s no room for creative egos when it comes to making ad creative that uplift growth marketing strategies. Even the most amazing, high-quality, expensive video can simply flop. And that stings. But instead of allocating more spend, trying new audiences, and trying to coerce some performance, sometimes (most often) the right course of action is to just scrap it and try something else! 

Ready to get ruthless with your creative and see real results? Let’s chat!

developing ad creative on a computer

The Beginner’s Guide to High-Performance, Channel-Specific Ad Creative

developing ad creative on a computer

When balancing the main components of a growth marketing tactic (strategy + targeting + creative), there comes a time when many organizations find themselves in a chicken-and-egg scenario: which comes first? Is it the campaign strategy and targeting that should dictate creative? Or should great creative—backed by battle-tested value props and watertight messaging—lead the way into a strategy that can really bring it to life; serving it to the right people, and driving up conversion?

The short answer: it depends. (I know, I know).

In a perfect world, the world in which giants like Verison, Budweiser, Nike, and other Super-Bowl-ready players operate, there’s an endless well of data at the ready to inform all of the above. And you’d know what creative works best on which channel paired with which optimized audiences, etcetera, etcetera. But! If you’re here, you’re likely looking for a growth marketing agency that can operate with trim budgets, run efficient tests, and use scrappy creative to drive quick wins and set the stage for scaling. 

So, before we talk about creative, we’ll need to broach the topic: what kind of creative do you already have at your disposal? Your answer to this question might help you hone in on which channels are your best starting point. Here’s our quick guide:

Making the Most of Creative You Already Have

Before you jump headlong into creating a full new library of creative for the channels on which you’d like to run ads, revisit your existing assets with a fresh lens! How about that product shoot you shot last year? What’s left in the B-Roll folder? Revisit that brand video you commissioned for your sales team. Check in with your videographer to see if you might be able to snag some other shots out of his archives to repurpose instead of planning a full new shoot. 

Still Photography/Images:

  • Suitable for: Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, Gmail Ads, Display Advertising, Email Marketing
  • Make them ad-ready: Hire a freelance designer (we love UpWork) or get your own hands dirty with a drag-and-drop tool like Canva. Add simple on-image copy and your logo in an unobtrusive way so it’s super easy for a user to understand who you are and what you do in a flash. 

Owned assets (meaning images, illustrations, or other graphics that have been created specifically for your brand) are typically much more impactful and drive better results than stock photography. But, that doesn’t mean you should rule out stock! 

GIFs or Simple Motion

  • Suitable for: Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail Ads, Display Advertising, Email Marketing
  • Make them ad-ready: Ensure your freelance designer from UpWork has the ability to accomplish simple animations in After Effects or a similar program. Canva also has some simple, easy-to-use motion templates as well. The same advice goes for GIFs or simple motion in your video — make sure it’s super easy for your audience to get the message. If possible, even keep the copy to 5 words or less. 

Super simple motion, like animated text flashing over a still image or a 3 second looping video almost always performs better than still imagery across all the above channels.

Video

  • Suitable for: TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Gmail Ads (as longer as they’re under 30 seconds long)
  • Make them ad-ready: Swing back by Upwork and find yourself a scrappy video editor that can help you recreate ad-ready assets. Ensure product placement (or super strong branded elements) appear within the first 3 seconds and that your video does not run longer than 30 seconds in length.

No matter if you’ve got a branded video, YouTube reviews, or a scrappy library of shot-on-iPhone video, it’s definitely worth splicing, dicing, resizing, and testing video against your still assets.  

🚨 Important! Before you start drawing up your strategy, investigating your targeting options, and setting aside budget, be sure to check out this Creative Ad Specs cheat sheet to make sure your files are large enough and are either in the right aspect ratio or can easily be reconfigured.

Pro tip: you’ll (likely) see better results quicker if—instead of creating brand-new creative—you instead focus on resizing your existing assets to fit each placement. 

How to Create High-Performance, Channel-Specific Ad Creative

If you only take ONE thing away from this whole article: don’t bust your budget on creative. Our approach (and, truly, the only way we can get behind creative production): test, test, test. Then, only then, consider investing in more high-value/bigger-production creative after you’ve gotten an opportunity to really hone in on the messaging and visuals that drive down cost per click (CPC) and drive up conversion rate (CVR).

Here at Tuff, when we take on creative production on behalf of—or alongside—one of our partners, here’s the approach we take:

The Tuff Timeline: Creating, Deploying, and Learning From Creative

When you hire a revenue and conversion-first growth marketing agency like Tuff, before we dig into pre-production, we’ll ensure the first weeks of our engagement are centered on rapid, actionable testing so that we can confidently make new creative that really resonates (and is worth the cost).

Days 1-3

Before we spend a dollar, we’ll start by digging into your target audience and validating/battle testing your value props. Based on the site experience, your sales materials, and what we can learn from you, are we confident that we can make creative that can hit the right people with the right message at the right time? 

Days 3-5

From there, we’ll get into concepting. If “fair, modern and inexpensive insurance” are the strongest high-level value props (for example), we’ll build creative ideas around them and workshop them with you to make sure we’re aligned.

We’ll create three very distinct concepts to test against each other so we’ll be able to understand—from a high level—which works and which don’t work as well.

Days 5-15 (depending on complexity of the creative)

Then, we’ll get into production. We’ve got a Rolodex of photographers, videographers, and designers to quickly and efficiently produce great creative.

We’ll produce 1-2 different pieces of creative underneath each of the three distinct concepts (for a total of 3-6 pieces of creative) every 6 weeks until we hone in on winners and double down there.

Days 30-60

Finally, and most importantly, we’ll put that creative through the wringer by conducting a full creative analysis that measures its effectiveness using two major data points:

  • CPC (is it grabby/compelling enough to get a quick click?)
  • CPL (is the ad-to-site experience seamless enough that the creative helps smooth their path towards conversion?)

From there, we’ll emerge with insights about what’s performing, what’s not, and a game plan for a fresh round of production (the timing on this cycle is totally dependent on ad spend and audience size).

Ready to Get Started?

Whether you’re ready to break out and start testing what kind of creative drives the best results for your growth or you need to enlist the help of a team that can take that burden off your hands, we’d love to hear about it!