Marketers have always wanted to contact customers and prospects with messaging that’s relevant to their level of interest and interaction.

To show the potential benefits of doing this with new marketing methods, I’m going to demonstrate how programmatic advertising made this a reality for a leading UK retailer. For a previous example see how Argos uses programmatic buying across the marketing funnel.

Well-trodden path

Historically, the best way to target people has been to start with ‘branding’ – using generic messages with a very broad reach to engage existing customers and prospects alike.

These would then be followed with direct marketing, such as email or direct mail, aimed at customers. 

This has been made easier in the last few years with the advent of retargeting and the huge amounts of data available online which allow brands to distinguish between online customers, visitors and people who have never been to their site.

Now, programmatic has increased the potential reach whilst also making this more accurate by allowing for complex ad delivery set-ups based on specific pages, products or browsing times.

The new route

With programmatic targeting allowing marketers to be more personal with their advertising communication, the key question is to what degree does connecting up the customer journey live up to the hype in terms of improving performance?

The campaign for the retailer took the following format:

  • a) Specific ‘new customer’ prospecting messages were initially used to target users who hadn’t previously shopped with the brand
  • b) This was followed up with a second message which was different based on whether or not the prospect had visited the retailer’s site
  • c) To encourage loyalty, new customers were shown ads that varied depending on how many times they had purchased from the retailer’s rite, with existing regular customers excluded from all activity.

The results only included conversions resulting from viewed adverts. All conversions from non-viewable impressions were discounted, so as not to include people who converted without seeing an ad. 

A clear sign-post

The analysis revealed that users who saw a prospecting message (a) followed by a retargeting message (b) were 63% more likely to convert than those users who only saw a retargeting ad.

Similarly, the users exposed to a prospecting, retargeting and CRM message (a, b & c) were 59% more likely to convert than those exposed to retargeting and CRM messages (b & c), and 1,240% more likely than those exposed to just CRM messaging (c) – admittedly, the size of the last group was smaller.

To double-check these results weren’t simply the result of increasing frequency of adverts seen by each person, we compared it to a baseline frequency and still saw significantly larger uplifts with the ‘full-customer journey’ messaging (a, b & c).

Uplifts in the customer journey

Upgrade your Sat Nav

So what does all that mean for a marketer? How can you use it to improve your results? Well this is largely dependent on the data you have access to, your ability to manipulate and target it and the amount of creative resource you have available.

An easy early step is to split your advertising audience into customers, visitors and cold prospects, tailoring your communication accordingly. Whether that’s showing different messages to all or excluding key groups. Then target these with messages relevant to how they have interacted with your brand. 

If you have more data available, you can begin to do more accurate targeting and messaging by splitting visitors out based on the sections or pages on the site they have spent time on, to ensure you’re speaking to their interests.

You can follow this up by segmenting customers based on purchase history, or even vary the message based on where users are, using geo-location data. 

The above study shows how you can boost results by joining up your customer journey with programmatic advertising by using data to increase the relevance of your messages.

The list of available data sources you could use is extensive, and as you optimise to the most appropriate, this will leave you with relevant, targeted messaging and improved performance.

However, always make sure you approach a complicated and undefined project like this using a test and learn strategy. This way you will build a campaign that is based on the facts of how your customers interact with your advertising, not your own preconceptions.

Learn more at our Get With the Programmatic conference…

Learn how to optimise your channels, applications and performance by attending our Get With The Programmatic conference in partnership with Marketing Week, taking place on Tuesday 29 September in London. 

This year’s ​conference will provide real-time information on developing your programmatic strategy plus how to optimise your programmatic spend. Book your ticket now.