Each marketing channel can play multiple roles throughout the customer acquisition process. Understanding how each channel can help you acquire a new customer is essential to a successful marketing strategy.
There is much more to customer acquisition than just paid search and retargeting. Many things can play into how a potential customer comes in contact with a brand.
Understanding the affect each channel has, and the optimal sequence of channels to use to convert a user, will help you know where to allocate your budget as well as what messaging to utilize.
In order to come up with the optimal channel sequence for your acquisition campaign, you must first understand each channel’s role.
Online Video (OLV)
More content is being consumed online. In fact, 33 billion online videos were viewed in June 2012, according to comScore. In that same month, 11 billion video ads were viewed, which is an all-time high.
Online video, while similar to traditional TV advertising, is still a different animal. It is a great driver of brand awareness and can also be used as a top of the funnel driver.
Users who are viewing video content on YouTube, Hulu, or other networks are often coming into contact with less video-based advertising then they would when watching a TV show.
Over the past year, online video has begun to incorporate more direct based marketing options. Viewers can now be retargeted once they have viewed your ad and ads are now being created with a more direct feel, prompting users to take action.
Paid search plays a pivotal role in converting new customers. It is a versatile tool that can help you move potential customers through the purchase cycle. By targeting potential customers at various times during the purchase cycle, paid search can play a different role during each phase.
By targeting unbranded or industry based keywords, paid search can target those users who are in the information gathering phase.
Being present when users are looking for information about a generic product or service brings your brand into consideration for that potential customer, essentially make them ‘aware’ of your product or service.
Keywords within these types of campaigns are considered "feeders" or "first touch" marketing efforts.
Paid search can also be considered part of your retargeting efforts. Paid search is a great channel to convert users who have been exposed to traditional advertising such as TV, print or billboard campaigns.
Branded search can often be the last click before conversion, so being present with a strong call to action is an important part of the overall sequence of media channels that hit a potential customer.
Display advertising is a medium that can truly play multiple roles when attempting to convert potential customers. Display is often used to compliment and work alongside other marketing efforts and when done correctly, it can truly boost your campaigns performance.
Most companies utilize display advertising as part of their brand awareness or first touch marketing campaigns. When working directly with networks or through DSPs, display can be purchased and served to promote messaging and reach new users.
Large premium placement buys are also more popular for larger brands. These buys incorporate taking over homepages of popular sites such as YouTube, Yahoo or other high traffic sites. These types of buys do a great job of filling the top of the funnel and creating awareness.
One of the more effective uses of display advertising is retargeting or remarketing. This tactic allows you to send targeted messaging based on an action a site visitor did or didn't perform when visiting your web property.
Retargeting is often used as an end of the funnel conversion channel or to bring someone back into the conversion funnel after they have interacted with your brand. But did you realize if used in a creative manner, retargeting can be a first touch or top of the funnel lead driver?
You can easily place a retargeting pixel on guest blog post or a partner site and then utilize retargeting ads to bring someone into the conversion funnel. This would enable you to be creative with the messaging utilized and use messaging that may move someone in market along the conversion path.
Social advertising is where the conversation is occurring. Whether it is about your brand, your industry or similar products and services, paid media in the social space can you help you reach new customers and upsell current ones as well.
Social advertising can be how an individual gets introduced to your company or it can fall into the middle of the conversion process.
Chances are the consumer may have interacted with your brand before and has been touched by video, display, or paid search before. They may have even been exposed to your TV, radio or outdoor marketing.
Consumers often head to social media web properties to research their potential purchase. Utilizing paid media such as Facebook stories, promoted Tweets, or other forms of advertising can help you promote a positive messaging to the consumers who are in research mode and become an option for them to consider.
While social advertising may not be the final click that leads to a conversion, a positive experience with your social media profile can often send a user in the right direction.
By understanding which channels are working as first touch and which channels are falling into the retargeting category, you can optimize the sequence in which they touch potential customers. This can help you deliver the correct message, understand which channels deserve the bulk of attribution, and ultimately help you run a more successful campaign.
The following is a hypothetical example of how channels interact to convert a user:
The potential customer is first touched by a combination of online video and display marketing. They come in contact with the brand, it resonates and the following day at work, they head to their favorite search engine to research a similar product and recognize your brand name within the paid search results. They click and research more info about your product before heading to other websites.
At this point, they are pulled into the traditional retargeting display ads but also have the opportunity to view the company’s social media profiles. They may even recognize a sponsored tweet or be retargeted while browsing their favorite sports site.
This course of interaction with the brand ultimately leads them remembering your brand that evening while playing around on their iPad. They pop your brand name into a search engine, click on a paid search ad, and convert.
The reason the potential customer was converted was due to the sequence of touch points and the messaging delivered during each interaction. The channels worked together to convert a user and without one of them, you may have never converted the customer.
Optimization of Channel Sequencing
The key to channel sequencing is figuring out once a potential customer is touched, what sequence of channels will provide the best opportunity to convert the user. Once you get an understanding of how each channel can interact and support each other, you can optimize the messaging and sequence of the entire purchase cycle.
Knowing how people respond to each channel can help you decipher what next channel should be used to bring them along the conversion funnel.
It is important to note that there may be many variations of channel sequencing that are effective, but making sure you have your bases covered by presenting touch points through each channel is essential.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!