Why your paid media strategy must be customer-first

Agnieszka Kendrick

28 April 2020

As marketers we are sometimes guilty of getting bogged down in the detail of our work, focusing on numbers and other data, and forgetting that the success of our jobs ultimately depends on us changing or reinforcing the behavior of real people.

This helps to explain some of the common mistakes marketers make when it comes to paid media, harassing users with poorly planned remarketing programs, or making questionable decisions around how user data is leveraged.

This can be an easy mistake in B2B sales, where building and maintaining an emotional connection with your customer is critical to the sale. Questionable advertising tactics undermine your brand’s legitimate right to engage relevant decision makers. Once lost, trust is difficult to reestablish.

In this post I’ll tell three stories to explain common advertising misteps – adding our perspective on what brands should be doing differently.

Avoid stalker-like behavior

Imagine this scenario.

Jane enters a shoe store. The shop assistant asks if she needs help. Jane says she is just browsing and will ask if she needs assistance. Jane picks up a pair of shoes. She thinks about them but ultimately decides they’re not for her. The same shop assistant that greeted Jane appears and asks if she would like to purchase those shoes. Jane says no and continues browsing. Five minutes later the same shop assistant appears with the shoes Jane didn’t want. He again asks her if she wants to buy the shoes. And then another five minutes later he asks again. She declines in both instances and leaves the shop slightly annoyed, having not purchased anything.

This example addresses the frequency issue in advertising. Showing a potential customer the same product over and over again can’t co-erce them to purchase. There is a fine line between understanding when a customer has genuine intent and when they really are just browsing.

More advanced tracking will allow you to build a better picture of when your prospects are qualified enough for retargeting. If you’ve shared a message and it doesn’t seem to be resonating or leading prospects to show further intent, try looking at sequential messaging instead. Show other relevant products or content that might be more useful instead of chasing them around the internet with a product they may have already decided isn’t right for them.

Metia is currently working with a number of clients to solve this challenge, using decision tree logic to build responsive stories told through the informed sequencing of advertising assets and channels – rather than relentlessly pushing the same message again and again.

Always be context aware

Let’s pick up our story with Jane.

Three days later Jane is in a bookstore. The shoe store assistant from Jane’s previous shopping trip appears and asks Jane if she wants the shoes. Jane frustrated, and slightly creeped out, runs away and reports him to the manager.

The next step in avoiding stalker-like behavior is to ensure your advertising is served within the appropriate context for your audience.

Pushing a B2B enterprise SaaS platform at IT decision makers when they are on a hobbyist cycling site on a Sunday afternoon is likely to be viewed in an ambivalent or negative light when compared with advertising on a relevant sector publisher’s website on Tuesday lunchtime. And it’s more likely to have potential prospects reaching for the Ad Blocker.

Remember that your audience are real people, who browse the Internet at work – and at home. The rush to home working caused by COVID-19 has further blurred these boundaries. It is more important than ever to consider the environment in which people are working. Home is still a personal space and people are often in a different frame of mind than when sat in an office. Your messaging should be sensitive to this. Context is king.

Attribution is different to the point of sale

Jane sees a pair of headphones she likes in a magazine. Later that week Jane sees the headphones advertised on the side of a bus. Jane decides to go shopping on her lunch break and buys the headphones in a physical store.

The headphone brand are using last-touch attribution. All credit for the sale goes to the store, ignoring the marketing effort in both the magazine and on the bus. It’s almost like they never happened.

Attribution has long been a challenge in advertising, and while it is easier to track digital tactics when compared to television or out-of-home, many marketers still rely on basic last touch attribution.

Last touch attribution confuses the understanding of which channels generated success, placing full credit for a conversion to the final marketing touch point in the buyer journey. This means the value of direct response tactics – such as email marketing and retargeting – can be overstated. If marketers instead look at the full conversion path, they’re likely to get a more accurate view on how things are performing – and build a more healthy balance of the channels and tactics required to generate impact.

Keep the customer front and center

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C advertiser, it is critical to remember that there’s a person on the other side of the screen. This is particularly pertinent during times of social or brand crisis when audiences are more sensitive to your approach.

It shouldn’t a trade-off between audience or business benefits however. It is entirely possible to generate business impact while being a good online citizen.Brands which tick both boxes are best placed to generate long-term impact through advertising.

If any of these examples have caught your interest, get in touch. We’d love to walk you through some of our case studies and share best practices.