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Marketing is more than just getting your brand or your product in front of your audience- it’s about making sure that your customers are getting the right message at the right time. Sequential advertising can help you created a tailored experience for customers.
But what is the right message, and what is the right time?
When I first began my growth marketing career, I thought you just come up with a message, find an image, slap it together- and there you go! It’s an ad!
Maybe you have a designer put it together for you, maybe you do it yourself using a simple growth marketing tool like Canva. Maybe you come up with two ads and you A/B test them to see which one works best.
Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a good start. And if you work at a startup, you know that just getting started is better than not getting started at all.
But if you’re finding yourself in a place like I am, where you’ve graduated from hastily throwing shit against the wall and hoping something sticks- you might be looking to get a bit more sophisticated with your advertising and how you’re sequencing your messaging to customers.
What is sequential advertising?
Sequential advertising is the process of being thoughtful about your customer’s journey and how they’re interacting with your ads.
We live in a digital world where people are constantly in front of two, three or even four screens at a time. They might first see your ad on their mobile device while scrolling through Facebook, and later see it again on their desktop. You want to be there at every touchpoint, but you don’t want your ads to get stale.
Instead of showing the same ad across platforms and across devices, you actually create a story so that each time a customer interacts with your ads, they’re learning something new about your offering.
Keep in mind, sequential advertising and the principles behind it can be applied to almost any channel:
- Facebook ads
- Email marketing
- Display ads
- Retargeting ads
- Podcast advertising
- Radio advertising
- Video ads & more
How to create a sequential advertising story for your customers
There’s certainly more than one way to skin this cat, but you’ll generally want to follow the guidelines below when thinking about each touchpoint with your new potential customer, and what messaging will be most compelling to move them through the funnel at each step along the way.
Touchpoint #1: Aspirational
This is where you paint a picture for your customer of who they could be if they purchased your product. What is their ultimate goal in life? Who do they want to be? What does it look like once they’ve achieved that goal?
Let’s pretend we’re creating sequential advertising for Emory University (where I went to school).
An example of aspirational messaging might be “Open doors to endless opportunities” or “Invest in your future” with an image of a young professional on an interview.
We’re painting a picture of the ultimate goal that the customer wants to achieve- getting a great job. And we’re implying that going to Emory University will help you achieve this goal.
Video ads tend to be a highly engaging & low cost way, to achieve your first “aspirational” touchpoint and expose the customer to a variety of images that you can use again later on to “remind” the customer of this first touchpoint and of your offering.
Where should you send aspirational ad clicks?
- Blog posts
Since they’ve now visited your website, you can pixel track them so that you can target them further down your sequential advertising funnel.
Touchpoint #2: Feature Benefits
This is where you explain what features differentiate your product and how the customer can benefit from it.
For example, “Get a degree in psychology, business, philosophy and more,” “Access to world renowned professors,” “Newly renovated dormitories.”
In this ad, we’re providing more tangible benefits for the customer and explaining what makes our offering unique compared to others who might be offering similar things.
As far as imagery, you want to show the customer using or interacting with your product. In this case, showing students and teachers on campus would work well. You might even want to use a still image that was pulled from the video you showed in your first aspirational touchpoint as a reminder to tie the two ads together.
Where should you send “feature benefit” ad clicks?
- Lead magnets
- Landing pages
Touchpoint #3: How it works
This is where you want to show the customer exactly how easy it is to get started by signing up for your product.
This means showing imagery of what getting started with your platform looks like. Can you show someone taking the first step?
For example, if the college application was online, you might show a picture of a student at their computer with the application open on their screen. “It’s easy to apply online. Get started today.”
You may want to include more than one message in this section, further nurturing your customer so that they fully understand what their journey will look like from start to finish. “Apply online, answer 4 short essay questions, and click send. You’ll get an email with your application status within 2 weeks of applying.”
Where should you send “how it works” ad clicks?
- Instructional videos
Touchpoint #4: Humanize
This is where you want to showcase what other people are saying about your product.
People trust other people and want to hear about their experiences, especially before making the decision to spend their own money.
The last thing I do before walking into a restaurant is look up the reviews on Yelp or Google. I want to hear what other people have to say about the experience, and more specifically, which dishes they liked and didn’t like. What I read in those reviews will heavily influence whether or not I decide to walk in, and if I do walk in, what I end up ordering.
You want to make sure you’re placing the most encouraging reviews in front of your customer right at this impactful moment as they’re making a decision about whether or not to move forward. Highlight real customers and the results you’ve helped them achieve.
At this point, they already know a lot about your product from touch points 1-3. Now it’s time to push them over the edge with a testimonial.
You can also use this point in the journey to humanize the people behind your company. Showcasing the company culture and the story.
Where should you send “how it works” ad clicks?
- Case Study
- 1 on 1 call scheduler
Sequential Ads now go one step further
With Facebook’s latest targeting update- you can now target your website visitors based off frequency.
This means you can get even more sophisticated with your sequential advertising by offering special discounts and promotions to your most engaged website visitors, for example, people who’ve visited your site 3 or more times in the last week.
Sequential messaging doesn’t end there
Even once you’ve gotten your customer all the way through the funnel to making their first purchase, you still want to be thoughtful about their continued customer journey with you, as it likely doesn’t end there.
If you want to retain this customer for repeat purchases and loyalty, your messaging will need to evolve throughout the customer lifecycle.
For more on customer lifecycle messaging, check out my Automated Customer Journey Playbook.