The Iterative Marketing Podcast Ep. 19: Aligning Digital Media With Your Customer Journey

Hello, Iterative Marketers!
Welcome to the Iterative Marketing Podcast, where each week, we give marketers and entrepreneurs
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of your fellow Iterative Marketers. Now, let’s dive into the show. Hello everyone, and welcome to
the Iterative Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Steve Robinson, and with me, as always, is the strong
and perseverant Elizabeth Earin. How are you doing today, Elizabeth? I am good. How are you, Steve? I am doing great. I want to apologize to our listeners in advance here,
because one of my neighbor’s kids has a new toy. And what is this toy? It’s a noisemaker attached to their bike that makes a squeaky-squeaky noise every time they squeeze it. which wouldn’t be bad except I didn’t know you could
make such a squeaky-squeaky noise at such a large volume. So in my office I have been hearing
squeaky-squeaky all day long for the last two days. And the kids are away right now,
but they could come home at any moment, in which case, we might get to share this
wonderful, delightful sound with our listeners. So, are you saying if I am at the toy store
and I find one, I shouldn’t buy it for your kids? Yeah, probably not. So what are we talking about today? So today, we are going to kind of
pick up where we left off last week, talking about content and aligning
content with your buyer’s journey, and this week, we are going to talk about
aligning media with your buyer’s journey. Perfect. And when we talk about media, are we
talking digital, traditional, kind of which aspect, or both? Well, I originally hope to
cover both in this episode, but as we got into the meat of it,
it’s way too much to talk about, so we are going to
address digital this week, and then next week, we will talk about aligning
your traditional media with your buyer’s journey. Okay. I think it’s also important
to note to our audience, if you haven’t listened to episode 18,
the one immediately prior to this one, I definitely recommend that you take
a moment, pause this, go back, start and listen to episode 18
and then come back to this episode, because if you don’t have a context about how
we are aligning content with your buyer’s journey, then aligning media becomes sort of irrelevant. So please take a moment, pause this,
go back, listen to that, come back and join us. I promise we’ll still be here. So when we talk about aligning
our different digital media specifically, we are talking
about our marketing channels. And when we talk about aligning
our media with our buyer’s journey, what we are talking about is if we have
gone out and we personalized our content, then we need to find a way to deliver that
content to our prospects at the right time in the right place, and that’s where we kind of get into this making
sure that our digital channels are aligned as well. Right. I mean each medium is going to have
different targeting mechanisms available to it. And we get into traditional next week;
we’ll talk about how some don’t at all. But either way, certain media
certainly aggregates or sets expectations around what type of content
will be available on that media as well, and so what we’ll do today is we
will look through various channels or media channels you can use in a digital
context and talk about what kind of content, whether it’s See, Think or Do content,
makes most sense on that channel, and then what targeting mechanisms
do we have to make sure that when we are sending out See stage content
or Think stage content or Do state content that we are aligning that with the
audience that is in that given state. And I think it’s important to note that not all media channels are going to attract the audience at every single state, and so there are some that
are better fits than others. And so that’s what we are
going to get into next. So our first channel I think
is our tried and true. When people think digital, the first thing
comes to mind is banner ads, right? Um-hmm, it is. And when we talk about banner ads, there’s really two key ways that
you can target banner ads based on the state of your
buyer in their buyer’s journey, and they really come down to
first-party data and third-party data. So, our first party data are going
to be things like cookies and our CRM, and these are the signals that we have gathered
from our audience that’s interacting with us. This is our own data
that we are using. When we look at third party data, we are talking more
about the data that we have gotten from other people. And a lot of times, this is based
on behavioral information, but it’s the big data that we are buying
when we place our media buys. And again, it’s based on signals, but instead of us collecting the signals, we are now using the signals that have been collected by other people. And in our experience, first-party data is
far more effective than third-party data, particularly when you look at trying to target around
the state of the audience in their buyer’s journey, and the reasons for this are really two-fold. One, if you are using first-party data, you
know where those signals came from. You know [where] they came from based on the
content that they have engaged in on the site or a flag inside of your CRM or marketing automation system that tells what state that buyer is at that moment. And so you can trust those signals
and know exactly what they mean, whereas behavioral data, you are getting
whatever that third party has kludged together from whatever signals they pulled together. And it’s usually (a) not as accurate, and (b) you don’t really know
exactly how they got there. I think the other reason why first-party data is so much
more useful is because it has a higher degree of fidelity. You really can nail down exactly where
that buyer is in their buyer’s journey, whereas when you get third-party data, you are usually either able to detect whether somebody is in a market or not. And so if they are in the market
for your product or service, does that mean that they are Think state?Does that mean that they are Do state? It’s really hard to understand where they are
and how ready they actually are to buy. So taking a look at using first-party data, when
you are looking at your own website interactions, it’s actually very clear. This isn’t a scary thing. It’s not hard to figure out. So for example, if you have got someone who’s coming to a let’s
say a pricing page or they are in your shopping cart, it’s pretty obvious that
they are in the Do state, and so you can then re-target
them with that Do state content. The same applies to Think state. It’s going to be content that is
demonstrated that they are interested but maybe not necessarily
ready to make that purchase. And so in the case of content, this
comes down to guides or white papers, anything that they are going to be downloading or consuming that is one step closer to being in that Do stage. A great example would be if you
were say a car dealership, if you had published a guide on how
to get the most for your trade-in, that would indicate that that
buyer is probably in Think state. They are considering buying a new car, but it’s not like they are checking out the
individual features of individual models and trying to figure out exactly which
car they are going to buy next week. They are just trying to figure out if they can afford
to buy a car right now based on their trade-in value or how to maximize that trade-in value. And then our See state is basically
everyone else who’s not in Think or Do, and so they are pretty easy to identify
as they come through the site. And to do that, basically — a lot of these —
when you go to place banner ads and you can choose to target your audiences
that you have figured out based on their web activity, you can do the opposite
as well and exclude them. And so your See state is really just excluding
everybody who is in Think and Do. It’s a pretty straightforward process, once you are into
whatever tool you are using to place the banner ads. We talked about targeting
based on web activity, and that’s kind of the most basic level of doing
this targeting of banner ads based on buyer state, but you can amp this up to the next level if
you have a marketing automation system and a little bit of technology behind you. And you can use the marketing automation
system to figure out what state that buyer is in and then take those signals and
pass them out to the ad networks in order to really laser focus that advertising down
to exactly the right audience at the right state. That’s kind of crawl, walk, run. That’s more of a walk or run state, but you usually start out just trying to identify the
content on your site and retargeting off that content, but if you are ready to go to that level,
it could be really exciting. So sticking with the basic level because
that seems like a good place to start, one key to be able to do this is you
have to have a journey state filled either in your CRM or in your
marketing automation system. And that’s going to allow you to identify those
people as they are interacting with your site, correctly identify them
and label them as that state. Another option is, if your sales team
is able to identify what state they are in, once you have labeled them,
you can then export that list and you can use your CRM
retargeting to target that audience along whatever state they are in
as they move throughout the web. If you are not familiar with CRM retargeting, this is — some banner systems will let
you upload a list of email addresses and then target advertising based on the individuals
that they are able to match to those email addresses. So I believe Google rolled out a way to do
this as well as AdRoll has a way to do this, and it can be really powerful. You are not going to match the whole list, but you at least know for certain that you are
getting the right ads in front of the right people because it’s not based on
anything fuzzy whatsoever. So that’s first-party data.
What about third-party data? Well, third party data is much more
straightforward than first-party data, because while its kind of handed
to you on a silver platter, you don’t have to go and figure out
how to detect these signals. Somebody else did that work for you. Now you just need to go and match
your creative up with audiences. So when you go to
place your banners, depending on what system you are using, there
is usually a method to target a third party audience, an audience that somebody
else gathered for you. And when you do that, you are looking for what
they are usually called in-market audiences. These are audiences that other big
data companies have identified. These users are in market
for a given product or service. The trick is, depending on what it is
that you are selling or marketing, there may or may not be an in-market
audience to match it, so you are not always going to
be able to find that audience. And the other trick is
that, once you find them, you don’t know for sure whether or
not they are Think or Do state, right? You just know that
they are in market, meaning they are not See state. So by excluding the audience, you kind of
might get somewhat of a See state audience, but when you target, you are going to have to target
both Do state content and Think state content. As we talked about last week, you are going to want to make sure those
are two different sets of content as well. So I think this brings us to a good point for us to take
a quick break and talk about how we can help some people. Before we continue, I’d like to take a quick moment
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that are important to you. And we are back. So before the break, we talked
about targeting banner ads. And I think that was
a good place to start, because it sort of sets the stage for a lot of the
other digital media that we are going to be talking about because the mechanisms for
targeting are actually pretty similar. So what’s our next media here? So video ads. And to your point, video ads
are much like banner ads. We can use first-party data
or third-party data to target them, and again, we really want to just focus on
what state our customer is in, in their journey. And video ads usually take
the form of one of two types. You have your video html5 ad, where it’s
a video that shows up in place of a banner and the user has to click
or rollover to get audio. You also have your pre-roll ads, and so I would say that the video ads that are just banner
ads follow all the same rules as your regular banner ad, but the ones that are pre-rolled, there’s a couple of
special considerations when you are looking at those ads. In particular, you want to look at the fact
that it may not be as ideal for Think or Do, but it’s actually kind
of perfect for See state. And the reason why it’s perfect for
See state is you are interrupting somebody who’s really there to
watch something else, and so if you can captivate their attention, you can get somebody who’s not in market for
your product or service at all paying attention to an ad because, really, they are trying to get to other content. So while it’s good for See state,
it’s not necessarily great for Think or Do simply because you don’t
have a call to action. And typically, when you are in Think or Do,
we are ready for them to take that next step. And so one thing you want to be careful
when you are looking at video ads as an avenue for delivering your Think
or Do content or Think or Do advertising is keeping in mind that not all
platforms allow you to include a link. And so you are (1) you don’t have
a way to connect them through but in the event that you do, you are asking them to either click
on your link or to search you out, and you are taking them away from the
content that they are already there to consume and that’s disruptive in a way that doesn’t
necessarily leave a good taste in their mouth. So, something to keep in mind. And it may not even be
possible for that viewer. A lot of people are now watching
YouTube on their television, so asking them to take action means
pulling their phone out of your pocket or stopping whatever it is they are doing
on the phone or they are watching television and going to do something else,
and that’s a hard ask. Let’s talk about social
media for a moment here. And for the most part, we
are talking about paid social, because as we get into a moment, it’s
really hard to target organic social at all. But social media is a little bit
different from banner ads in that you don’t usually have as much of a
behavioral audience to be able to target for in market, at least I haven’t seen that on
the various social networks. Usually, your targeting on social is based
on what people have put into their profile or the things they have liked
or interacted with online, which doesn’t give you a whole lot of signal
on where they are in the buyer’s journey. It is great for persona though, and that’s
something it’s a great avenue to use for that. But it is possible to pull that
data in using custom audiences, if you are looking at Facebook or tailored
audiences, if you are looking at Twitter. Each network calls these
something slightly different, but basically it’s the same
as retargeting on the web. You are going to take the signals
that you have, either in your database or as people browse the website, and
pass those signals into the social network to retarget content, based
on their journey stage. And you’ll do that by uploading a list from
your CRM based on that journey state, which goes to reinforce why it’s so
important that you do have a cell in there or field in there that
is capturing that data. One thing to keep in mind
is that social is interruptive, and that’s good because, again, when we are
talking about our See state audience, we want to get in front of
them and Think and Do. If they are already receptive to our message,
then we can get in front of them again, but keep in mind that we are
interrupting their user stream and we are getting in the way of whatever
other content they are consuming, what they are interested in that moment, and so it’s very important that the content
that we put out is — it has value to them and it’s very quickly clear
what that value is. Otherwise, they are going to tune us
out or ignore us altogether. So coming back to last week,
if it’s See state content, it can’t be just your generic branding-type content where
you are trying to just get a logo in front of someone. It has to imply value or you are
not going to have any engagement, any dwell time, any real impact of
that particular advertising. So you have to offer that
utility of the See state. And then if it’s Think or Do, it can’t be too salesy,
because you have got to pull somebody in. Even if they are in that state, they might not want to interact that way
when they are in their social stream if it doesn’t immediately compel value
to whatever their context is. So we have just talked
about paid social. What about organic social? Is there an opportunity here to
target based on buyer’s journey? It’s very, very limited, I believe. And I apologize for not having
researched this before the show today, but I believe there are mechanisms, at least on
Facebook, to be able to target a custom audience when you are releasing
some organic content. We have never used it, because it’s hard enough to break through
Facebook’s algorithm with your organic content anyway. If you narrow your targeting down
to a subset of your audience, then you are just limiting
yourself even further. And so when it comes to organic content, we generally
advise our clients to stick to your See state content, because it’s going to be the most
broadly applicable to your audience and most likely to get shared and really, really help boost that algorithm. Your Think and Do is
better reserved for paid. And again, that See audience, that’s going to help
you build that first-party data within Facebook and so that’s a good thing. Even if we can’t talk to Think and Do
necessarily, we are still building up our See audience and having the opportunity
to talk to them in the future. Exactly. So jumping into our next medium here,
we are talking about native ads. And this is kind of new territory
for a lot of marketers. But when we talk
about native ads, native ads can mean a lot
of things to a lot of people. Here, we are using it in the more
literal sense of these news stories that show up in news
feeds on certain apps, or more likely, at the base of certain news stories
as other things you’d be interested in, right? And those are usually placed
through one of two networks, either Outbrain or Taboola
are the two biggest ones, there are some other niche ones, but for the most part people
are using those two networks. So Outbrain just released retargeting. So it allows you to use a lot of the same strategies that we have talked about above in terms of content targeting. Taboola doesn’t have it yet, but that’s not to say that it
won’t come soon or be something that they are working on. One thing to keep in mind that — when we
are talking about native advertising is that this doesn’t necessarily
work for Do state content, and that’s because Do state is typically salesy. And when you are interacting with these types of native ads, a Do state message, even
if you are receptive to it, a Do state message on a different
site is going to turn you off. It’s not something that you are expecting. It’s not in line with what your experience is going to be and what you are hoping that
experience is going to be with that site, and so by using one of these platforms for Do state,
you can actually turn your audience off. Instead of Do state, you should really be focusing
more on the See and the Think audiences. Absolutely. It’s a matter of trust. I mean if I am on a news site, if I am on, I am expecting the content that I am going to be
interacting on to be newsworthy. I expect it to be adding value. I expect it to be informative. And when I run across something that’s
trying to sell me something, it’s out of context. It’s sort of sleazy and I think it’s
trying to pass itself off as news, and that immediately kills any authenticity
or any trust I would have for that brand. So absolutely stick to your
See or Think with native. What about email?
Where does email fit? Email is great. Email is probably one of
the easiest ways to target, given that you have got either your CRM
or marketing automation system in place that has that accurate
journey state field. And again, coming back to —
we really can’t hit on this enough. It’s very important to have
that journey state field in either your CRM,
your marketing automation or both. But it’s effective at all journey states. And based on either your email abilities
or the marketing automation system you have, you can really hone in on — very targeted
message to not only each of the journey states, but other factors that are going to allow you to provide
really relevant and timely content to this audience. And so email is a phenomenal way to talk
to your audiences along all of the states. This can come from drip emails, this can come from
segmenting your newsletter. Any time you are sending an email, you can
make sure that it’s contextually relevant to the state of that particular buyer based
on, again, having that field. Paid search I think is a good
channel for us to talk about here. And paid search is a very unique
animal when it comes to targeting media. Why is that? Paid search has the power to identify
intent among unknown audiences better than any of the other channels that
we have discussed or tactics we have discussed. One of the downfalls is
paid search is more expensive, and so that’s something to keep in mind, but the ability to identify the intent and really
understand someone who’s in Think or Do and target them is something unparalleled to what
we are seeing in any of the other options we have. And the way you identify
that intent is that you are very selective in the
keywords that you are bidding on. And so if you really want to nail
down that Think or Do audience, then all you have to do is take
your product or service and tack on a keyword at the end of it
that would indicate that intent. So these are things
like “pricing” or “price,” “cost.” Things like “best” or “list of,” right?
Or “alternatives” or “comparison.” If you are in that Do state, you are going to
be shopping actively for that product or service, and so you are going to be
looking these things up online. And if you can get an ad in
front of somebody who’s in Do, it’s a great opportunity to capture that individual right at
the time that they are looking for your product or service. As someone who’s in
the market for a car, I am in the process of this and I have done Google searches that
have Buick Enclave Vs. Toyota Sequoia. I hope I just said those right, and I did
not totally butcher the car makes here. But comparing features of. And so
again, I am getting ready to buy a car. This very clearly indicates to
whoever is on the other end hopefully analyzing this that I am
someone who is in the market. Where you want to avoid is trying to put See
or Think state or even early Think state content in front of a paid search campaign, because you are paying a premium
to drive that traffic to your site. And if you are paying a premium to drive
traffic to your site, that’s still very early or not even in any sort of buyer’s journey,
then that’s really hard to get the ROI out of it. Let’s flip to organic search,
because this is a little bit different. When we look at organic search
and we talk about organic search today, we are really talking the context of content that you
are creating to try and drive up your organic traffic. But really here, you are trying to — you really want to take all three of the See,
Think and Do buyer’s journey states into mind when you are coming up with
your organic search strategy. And you do that by creating content that aligns
with keywords at each individual state. The beauty of organic search
compared to paid search is now it is cost effective to go after
that See and Think audience, because you are developing this content once and then you usually have to pay,
put some money behind promoting it once in order to drive up some links
and some activity around that content. But once that’s done, it will continue to produce
returns over a long period of time, assuming it’s evergreen content. And so if you build up a large repository of evergreen
content that’s of interest to your See audience, you can do a lot to build up some great
first-party data for targeting other content, as well as dangling some Think state content
alongside of that See state content, or Do state content alongside
of that Think state content, and really drive some activity on your
site in a very cost-effective manner. I do want to just to hit
on one thing, though. That content is not necessarily a magic bullet for
increasing your search engine rankings. It really — there is a correlation to how much effort
you put in, both in the quality of the content, the research that you are doing
beforehand to make sure it aligns, but then also, as you mentioned,
to promoting the content because just putting it out
there isn’t necessarily enough. You have got to get it out
there for people to see. Absolutely. We should probably do a whole
podcast episode on SEO at some point. I think so. A lot of misconceptions out there
that could stand to be adjusted. So I think we are coming
up towards the end here. I’d like to sum things up. It seems like we really ended up harping on
two points as we went through all of these, and the first is that digital
is a beautiful space, because within digital media, we have the
ability to really nail down our targeting using first party or third-party
data down to individual states. We don’t have to worry about overlapping states
when we are doing our media targeting. It’s focused, but — and this is the big but — in order to be able to do that,
we have to have good signals. And to have those good signals, that means having that
field in your CRM or marketing automation system that indicates that buyer state and having content that you can use to
detect the buyer state of your audience as they are bouncing
around on your site. And so if you don’t do the
homework, it can be challenging. I want to thank everybody for making time
for us this week and invite you all back. Until next week, onward and upward! If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the
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each week at There, you’ll also find the Iterative Marketing blog
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questions of your fellow Iterative Marketers. You can also follow us on Twitter. Our username is @iter8ive or email us
at [email protected] The Iterative Marketing Podcast is
a production of Brilliant Metrics, a consultancy helping brands and agencies
rid the world of marketing waste. Our producer is Heather Ohlman
with transcription assistance from Emily Bechtel. Our music is by SeaStock Audio,
Music Production and Sound Design. You can check them out
at We will see you next week. Until then onward and upward!

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