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18 October 2017 / Opinion

How to deliver a high-quality cross-channel experience

Arianne Donoghue / Strategy Director

By offering a truly great experience to your audience, you’re giving your brand the best chance of being considered during those ‘zero’ and ‘first’ moments (Think with Google) But what does a great experience look like? For me, it has four key components:

  1. It's audience-driven; focusing on the message over the channel
  2. It has a consistent "feel" across all channels
  3. It gives the best possible experience on the device being used
  4. It is specific to the point of the journey that the user is at

Let’s look at an example:

This is a coffee brand which split their audience into seven core segments, with a control group to compare against. While using the same black-and-white look and feel, they personalised the ad shown to each audience segment to make it relevant to them.

The challenge for marketers is going to be finding ways to do this at scale - as having multiple messages for audiences depending on their place in the funnel, the device they’re using etc. can be tough to do manually, or without the help of some sort of technology.

Use the right KPIs

While you can solicit active customer feedback from your customers about your advertising, there are easier ways to understand whether your campaigns are working as you’d hope. You just have to listen in a slightly different way; by using the right KPIs.

If you’re using sales and revenue as your sole KPI, you risk damaging your campaigns - you can read more about this and the use of micro conversions in an article we published in Marketing Week.

In brief, you should be using KPIs relevant to the right stage of the funnel, to quantify success for channel activity designed to target that stage.

Here are some example channels:

Putting together your audience profiles

In the same way that you split your paid search keywords out into different ad groups, you should split your customers into distinct audiences, based on the knowledge and data you have on who they are, and research into the “why” - why are they searching, what motivates them?

Think about the different messaging these groups might need and don’t be afraid to split out further if the messaging needs to be customised.

Beware of getting too granular though; as audiences which are too small aren’t useful and only create more work for you. Also bear in mind that creating these audiences is just a means to an end - you have to do something with them once you’re finished.

There’s a number of free ways to dig into your audience data:

  • AdWords & Bing campaign & audience list data

  • Google Analytics Demographic & Interest Data

  • Facebook Page Audience Data

  • Take email addresses & interrogate using Facebook Audience Insights

You can also pay to use research platforms such as YouGov to obtain deeper insights, getting more of the qualitative data and personality insights. Some display providers are also able to take your CRM data and enrich it with a number of other data points - further informing you about your customers.

When you start to put things together, it can be tricky as there’s so much data to start with. But begin with all of your site visitors and using a ‘family tree’ method, start to drill-down. Perhaps split out your converters, then go by gender, age, device etc. Or you may want to start this process with device, then primary motivation, and go from there.

It’s worth doing this a couple of times to ensure you’ve captured all of the key findings. From here, try and describe your audiences and then humanise them into personas, with motivations, life-styles, pain-points and more.

Do the same with creative

As mentioned earlier, creating the audiences is just a means to an end. The bulk of the work comes in the next step when you use this same process to work out the creative and messaging you need to put together.

Starting with all of your visitors, take your core profiles and begin to think about when and how your message needs be personalised. In the below example we’ve begun with audience, then looked at device, point in the funnel and finally, creative format.

Feel free to switch things up and begin with the funnel stage if you wish, or introduce factors like product, messaging (as you’ll need to A/B test), etc. Remember not to get too granular as you’ll need to actually create all of these variations.

Think sequentially

What’s sequential advertising?

Sequential advertising is when a series of ads are shown to the audience in a specific order and each message informs the next.

Sequential advertising has started to be increasingly used because nobody likes a hard sell - whether we’re interacting with a salesperson in a shop, receiving a cold call or we’re on a date - particularly in that final instance we want to try and get to know someone before deciding whether we want to take things any further. However in advertising, we always go straight for the sale.

We shouldn’t be asking potential customers to buy from us without any sort of context, or background, or affinity. We know customers are more likely to purchase when an affinity exists – it’s why brand keywords perform better than generics. With this in mind, think about how you might want to vary your creative to take advantage of a sequential approach.

The benefits of this method are as follows:

  • Ultra-targeted & relevant
  • Reduced ad fatigue
  • More qualified traffic
  • Lower cost per conversion

While this approach has been popularised by Facebook as they have a number of ad formats which lend themselves well to this approach, you can apply it across all of your digital marketing, by incorporating your display and paid search ads into the planning process.

What are the three stages?

Stage 1: Introduction - introduce the brand or concept to the customer Stage 2: Teaser - tease what the brand has to offer and entice the customer to explore further Stage 3: The Hook - include a strong sales call-to-action

In summary

Hopefully by now you’re convinced of the benefits of an audience-led approach! Here are a few takeaways to leave you with:

  1. Move beyond sales as your KPI & last click as your model
  2. Create detailed audience profiles – use these as guides
  3. Customise your messaging by audience – no one size fits all
  4. Think moment & sequential - guide the user on the journey