It’s every performance marketer’s worst nightmare. You’ve logged long hours piecing together a campaign plan, convinced that you’ve found the formula that will win over target audiences and convince them to purchase a product, fill out a form, or enrol in a free trial. Despite all the effort, the fruits of your labour are lacklustre and the cost per acquisition (CPA) is uncomfortably high.

Fortunately, a carefully planned, well-executed campaign strategy can fend off this nightmare scenario, lowering your CPA and delivering desired results. Follow these five steps and you’ll see your CPA trending in the right direction: downward.

1. Know your audience

A surefire way to send your CPA soaring is by lacking an understanding of your target audience.

To better define your audience, make sure you’re asking the right questions. What action do you want them to take? What’s the level of connection between you and your audience? What messages resonate with them? Do they find your ad compelling? For example, fintech marketers will want to know the financial goals of their audiences – are their users going on vacation, or looking to pay off their student loan?

Answering such questions will prove indispensable in placing the right ad in front of the right audience. Harness the power of tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics to gain actionable insights on audience interests and to segment your audiences accordingly.

2. Segment as much as possible

As any experienced marketer can attest, there is such a thing as casting too wide a net. User segmentation can help you avoid this common pitfall.

To create different campaigns, you need different data. Aim for as many seed audiences as possible; each seed represents a different audience segment.  Seed audiences are built using a  range of actions; people who watched a video and engaged with social content, repeat purchasers, etc.  The more seeds you have, the more campaigns you can build.  Try targeting repeat buyers, customers with high lifetime value (LTV), those who bought specific products, those who are prone to purchase during a specific season, and so on. Segmenting by key demographics and customer behaviour will help ensure that your campaign reaches those most likely to perform the actions you want.

3. Diversify your creatives

The fundamental logic behind audience segmentation is clear-cut: A campaign that resonates with one particular audience at one particular time will not necessarily click with another demographic at a different time. Look at your CTAs, creatives, and ad copy. Use A/B testing to gauge the resonance of different content, and execute accordingly.

It’s foolhardy to only display the same ads to the same segmented audience for a prolonged time. Even if you’ve found a winning formula and pinpointed your highest-quality audience segment, your customers are not immune to banner blindness. Mix and match between different audience segments and offers to increase the likelihood of reaching the right audience segments, with the right messages, at the most opportune moments. There are times when all it takes are different graphics behind the same slogan to motivate users – a holiday look and feel around December and a tropical look and feel a few weeks later both are relevant to users when they see a banner that reminds them to balance their accounts.  They say an image speaks a thousand words – let that truism work for you.

To maximise the effectiveness of your performance planning, it’s crucial to decide on your ads’ optimal frequency. On Facebook, among the best time-tested practices is to set your ad frequency to lower than five.

4. Add more targeting layers

It’s readily obvious that only content that resonates with your audience stands a chance of generating results. Less obvious is figuring out which messages will hit it out of the park and which will strikeout.

Precise targeting is therefore paramount in promoting your offers to different segments. For instance, if you are selling shoes, you may not only want to target people who purchased shoes during a specific season, but also those who like, say, red shoes.

Facebook and Google’s arsenals are well-stocked with user data that you can wield to plan impactful campaigns that target audiences according to their unique identities. Don’t let that data go to waste.

5. Peeling away the mystique

The dynamics of the marketing industry are ever-evolving, but identifying robust strategies for lowering CTA remains an ongoing challenge. But driving down costs is far from an elusive goal. By asking the right questions, pinpointing target audiences, smartly leveraging audience segmentation, and optimising your content for key segments, you’ll ensure that the long hours of meticulous planning for your performance campaign was time well spent.