Regardless of your industry vertical, you know that your consumers’ browsing, consideration and buying journeys are becoming increasingly complicated.
To say this is a revelation would be a stretch. Over the past five years, we’ve seen new terms emerge: “multi-channel,” “cross-channel” and now “omnichannel.” All of these terms were concocted to help businesses better understand the information needs and behaviors of target customers. Still, many marketers are struggling to figure out the best way to acquire, retain and engage consumers who switch between different channels with reckless abandon.
AdRoll examined the trends and developments in the advertising space and reported the findings in State of the Industry: United States 2016. The final survey report includes insights from 1,050 marketers across the U.S. We took a deep-dive into the report so you don’t have to. Here are the highlights:
1. Programmatic Ads Are All the Rage
Programmatic advertising automates media buying by targeting specific audiences and demographics. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time bidding (RTB), ads are developed and published through different channels. In essence, programmatic advertising empowers marketers to make smarter campaign decisions and activate ads quickly and efficiently.
AdRoll found that 87% of marketers are doubling down on programmatic advertising because they say it delivers a higher ROI than traditional media. Many businesses, as a result, are prioritizing programmatic advertising. Nearly all (98%) of the marketers surveyed said they expect their programmatic ad budgets to increase or stay the same during the year, and 32% of marketers spend more than 50% of their online advertising budgets on programmatic ads.
So what? Programmatic advertising empowers marketers to make smarter, more profitable decisions by serving ads to target demographics and consumer groups in specific locations. The programmatic space is also evolving rapidly. While the trend began with standard display, marketers can now automate advertising across social media, mobile, video and TV. Needless to say, you should definitely allocate some of your marketing budget to programmatic as you plan for the holiday season and 2017.
2. Retargeting Ads Are Crucial
Very few consumers convert the first time they visit your website. In fact, AdRoll says it only happens 2% to 5% of the time. Retargeting can help you keep track of the people who visit your site and publish display ads to bring them back. Think about it: How many times have you seen a Facebook ad promoting a product you were just looking at? It might feel a little creepy, but it’s a money-making touchpoint for brands.
So what? Retargeting ads can pack a powerful marketing punch, especially if you use the right calls to action, the right product and deliver it at the right time. AdRoll says that retargeting “offers many cross-device advantages, such as the ability to re-engage desktop visitors as they move to their mobile devices, or vice versa.” Look at your list of marketing goals and determine whether retargeting is the best way to reach consumers and which channels you should focus on.
3. Brands Still Need to Crack the Mobile Code
Unsurprisingly, mobile has become a key channel for brands’ retargeting efforts. The number of marketers retargeting via mobile increased from 54% to 82% in 2015. Through the rest of the year, 87% of marketers plan to increase their investment in mobile.
But that doesn’t mean marketers have completely cracked the mobile code. When asked to share their top mobile advertising challenges, respondents pointed to lack of attribution transparency (41%), poor conversions (37%), lack of analytics tools (24%) and poor integration between mobile and other channels (24%). Some brands say they can’t even invest in mobile retargeting because they don’t have an app (34%) and they don’t even have a mobile site (27%).
So what? We can’t stress this enough — YOU NEED A MOBILE SITE OR APP. More people are using smartphones and tablets to research and buy products — from concert tickets, to apparel, to home goods and even furniture. Take a close look at the role mobile plays in your consumers’ shopping journeys and determine the best way to reach them. If you’re just getting started with mobile advertising, start small and build your way up.
4. Engage Across the Entire Customer Life Cycle…But Loyalty is Key
Shoppers today are using a variety of different technologies and sources to compare products and prices, and ultimately make buying decisions. To remain top-of-mind, brands and retailers need to consistently engage and market to target audiences throughout their journeys. AdRoll found that marketers are spending their budgets somewhat equally on prospecting for new customers (31%), converting prospective customers (27%), activating or up-selling customers (22%) and retaining customers/driving loyalty (20%). However, the percentages indicate that marketers are focusing more on prospecting than engendering loyalty.
While we understand the desire to win new business, marketers need to focus more time and attention on their existing customers. In fact, it can be five-times more cost-effective to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one — and existing customers can drive ongoing, recurring revenue.
So what? Marketers need to prioritize their budgets and determine effective ways to engage their current customers. Respondents to the AdRoll survey cited social media, programmatic display advertising and paid search as the top-performing channels, but marketers should also add mobile marketing and email to the mix to create a comprehensive brand experience. In fact, respondents said email was a great channel to drive loyalty (40%), customer retention (24%) and cross-sells and up-sells (24%). Experiment with different email messages and create compelling content that truly captivates them.