Use Advertising to Connect with Existing Customers

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe how ads enhance email effectiveness.
  • Learn how to avoid irritating your customers with the wrong ads at the wrong time.
  • Discover how to optimize your advertising budget for the best ROI.
  • Learn how to apply audience strategy to your business.


Your marketing and advertising work is not over once someone has become your customer. You want to keep those hard-won customers engaged with your brand. In this unit, you learn how to align your advertising initiatives with the rest of your post-sales efforts, including your email communications, customer marketing, and customer service.

The Power of Email and Advertising Together

As marketers are painfully aware, no matter how awesome (you think) an email campaign is, it’ll still probably only average around a 20% open rate. That means if you sent your weekly email offer to a million people, 800,000 of them never even see your offer.

How can you enhance your emails’ effectiveness and get your message to more people? Add advertising. By coordinating your email and advertising campaigns, customers have achieved three key results (according to a study Salesforce conducted with Facebook). They’re able to:

  • Extend the reach of their email message by 77% through multichannel visibility.
  • Improve the open rate of their emails to over 43% by bringing in higher-quality leads through CRM-powered advertising and adding those leads to customized journeys.
  • Increase email click rates and the recipients’ likelihood to act on an offer. People who saw both the email and ad were 22% more likely to purchase than those who had just seen the email by itself.

Reengage Existing Customers

You know what would be amazing? Having every single customer read every single piece of content you put out. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality. A key challenge marketers face is reengaging inactive customers. You’ve gone to great effort and expense building your subscriber base. What can you do when a lead doesn't open your email or an existing customer stops engaging?

Use ads to reengage those customers. Place your ads where these customers spend their time, such as on sites like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

Reengaging through ads is also a great way to protect the integrity of your email program. Say you’re a healthcare provider and you want to run an awareness and education campaign to existing patients about new features or offerings. You don’t want to spam them, but you do want to make sure they know about your new chiropractor or yoga studio. With ads, you can reach patients who aren't opening your emails—without spamming them and putting your email program at risk.

This is just one way that customers and brands have a disconnect fitting the right content, to the right person, at the right time.

For example, when customers search for a product on Google they can be:

  • An early-stage buyer
  • An existing loyalty member
  • A previous purchaser
  • Unqualified or not interested in buying

However, when brands respond with an advertisement, they typically:

  • Show the same ad to everyone
  • Pay the same amount for the ad itself
  • Don’t account for cross-promotion
  • Don’t consider recent service issues

Your customer data can bridge this disconnect.

Who Shouldn’t You Advertise To?

So far we’ve been talking about how to find and engage more prospects and customers. But simply increasing your reach isn’t always enough. You also need to figure out who not to advertise to.

Let’s say some customers have a bad experience with your retail business. An item they special ordered did not come in on time or was damaged upon delivery, or they were accidentally overcharged. The last thing they probably want to see is an ad saying how great your products are, with a call to action to buy from you today.

When customers are dissatisfied or have complained about a product, companies often rely on customer service and product enhancements to improve customer satisfaction. But marketing is just as important. For example, you can suppress ads for anyone who’s contacted support in the last 30 days or who has an open customer-service ticket.

You can apply that same suppression concept to other scenarios where customers probably do not want to see your ad. For example, if they already took advantage of your offer, or if they're an existing customer and you're running an acquisition campaign.

Ad suppression can save companies millions of dollars while also enhancing their customers’ satisfaction, simply by helping companies avoid irritating their customers with the wrong ads at the wrong time.

Make the Most of Your Money

Another key metric every company cares about and wants to improve is return on ad spend (ROAS).

Going back to our retail example, what are ways the company can optimize its media spend by taking an audience-based approach to advertising?

Well, for starters, they can pay more (or less) for different audiences. Maybe they want to pay more for people who always have an order value over $50, and pay less for people who spend less than that. Or maybe they want to bid more for loyal customers than for people they don’t know.

As another example, customers and prospects often use Google to search for information about a company’s brands directly. If they already have an active account, it may not make sense to pay for an ad click. It probably makes more sense to let your customers find the first search result and click on it for free instead. However, if someone just heard of your company for the first time, then that paid ad click might be very valuable! At the end of the day, the key to improving ROAS is to determine which audiences will yield a positive return on investment, and develop your bidding strategy based off that.

Audience Strategy in Practice

We’ve covered a lot of information. Now let’s bring it all together. To explain what audience strategy can look like in practice, let’s walk through a hypothetical example.

Let’s break down one of the scenarios covered in the video.Visual representation of the video content, showing how to calculate the number of audiences based on use cases, products, subsegments, and channels.

Northern Trail Outfitters has a fairly common set of marketing goals. To accomplish these goals, they’ll want to segment by:

  • The three primary use cases they care about: acquiring best customer lookalikes, upselling existing customers, and suppressing customers who have taken advantage of the upsell offer
  • Their three different product categories: Gloves, Jackets, and Shoes
  • Additional subsegments: recency of a purchase, activity, and account size
  • And the three channels they want to advertise on: Google, Instagram, and LinkedIn

To get the number of audiences they’d need for this strategy, they’d simply multiply across:

3 use cases x 3 product categories x 3 subsegments x 3 ad channels = 81 audiences

As you can see, having the right number of audiences for each strategic use case is critical to the success of your advertising program.

Whether your marketing goals are around acquisition, engagement, retention, or optimization, understanding the “who,” and strategically defining your audience based on customer data is the first step to driving higher return on investment and customer satisfaction.


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