A major shift I’ve observed taking place in both the paid search and social advertising industry is a move toward relationship marketing. Brands can no longer be available to customers only when they’re ready to convert. Advertisers must now be ready and willing to provide value to their customer’s days, weeks, or even months prior to a conversion taking place.
The key to a successful relationship marketing program is to take customers on a buying journey. An effective paid search and social program must create brand awareness, generate demand, force a buying decision, and finally inspire brand loyalty and advocacy.
This article outlines strategies for effectively leveraging paid search and social in a way that builds sustainable relationships, which ultimately drives ever-increasing amounts of revenue and profit.
Strategy #1: Be there for your customers
The first step toward building sustainable relationships is being where customers are either searching for information or consuming content.
Learn where your specific audience is consuming content, and gain an understanding as to what phase of the buying cycle they’re in while on those platforms.
For instance, if a customer is on Facebook but in the awareness or consideration phase, prepare messaging that focuses on a product’s benefits, and lead them to a landing page that provides useful information that leads to a buying decision at a later date.
Asking for the conversion too soon can scare customers away, which ruins credibility and eliminates any chance of converting them at another time through alternate tactics such as remarketing.
Customers also consume content on multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets. Creating device-specific campaigns geared toward the behavior being exhibited by your user segment is a powerful way to leverage paid search and social to drive additional business.
For instance, if a retailer receives significant amounts of mobile traffic but conversion rate is low, this could imply that users on mobile devices are in “research mode.”
If those users are, indeed, in research mode, driving them to a product information page with the intent of remarketing to them later could be more effective than driving users directly to a purchase page and asking for a sale when the customer is not ready to complete a purchase.
Creating messages and content based on device-specific behavior is a powerful way to build a strong 1:1 customer relationship.
Strategy #2: Micro-targeting
Micro-targeting reaches people at a deeper level. Deeper customer connections result in stronger loyalty to your brand, which increases the chances of winning business through your paid advertising efforts.
A few ways to micro-target are:
- Demographic targeting: Many businesses have data that tells them which demographics make up their core customers. Creating campaigns with messaging based on demographics creates a hyper-targeted opportunity to reach your core audience and speak to them in a way they understand that leads them to take action.
- Location: Geotargeting has been around a long time. However, the key to effective geotargeting is to mine location reports for purposes of targeting smaller sub-locations. For instance, let’s suppose a restaurant is in the borough of Queens. Is it more effective for a campaign to have a geotarget containing all of NYC or one that targets just the borough of Queens, where there’s a higher probability of that traffic leading to becoming paying customers? Location reports can help you decide the best way to target.
- Interests: Are you trying to reach customers through their interests? For instance, if your business sells outdoor gear, are you targeting just general keywords like “outdoor gear,” or are you targeting people’s specific interests, like “fishing” or “water skiing?” Connecting advertising messages with people’s interests reaches them on an emotional level, which removes significant barriers to conversion.
- Ad scheduling: Another way to think about ad scheduling is creating campaigns based on time of day. Going back to our previous restaurant example, let’s say the restaurant in Queens offers both lunch and dinner. Creating a “lunch” campaign provides flexibility to just focus on lunch. On the flip side, another campaign can be created that just focuses on the dinner crowd. Ad scheduling can be used to as a micro-targeting tool to bring in the right customer at the right time, as opposed to just being a method of excluding traffic.
Strategy #3: Ad messaging
A recurring theme throughout this article is aligning ad messaging to where customers are in their buying cycle. A successful message moves people to respond on both an intellectual and emotional level.
This concept is known as the elephant and the driver. The elephant reacts purely on emotion, while the driver uses intellect to make decisions. Targeting ad copy to both the emotional and the rational helps remove obstacles and drives people to convert.
An example of an ad employing the elephant and driver concept is shown below. Consider this approach when creating ad copy. You’ll be rewarded through improved results!
Conversion paths are longer and more complex than ever before. Providing value throughout the buying process is critical to success. Being there for customers regardless of whether they’re in “buying mode” builds a loyal following based on trust.
Creating a loyal following of brand advocates will positively multiply the effects of your paid search, social and overall digital marketing initiatives.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.