Advertising and customer experience – those two concepts may sound mutually exclusive.
When marketers today consider their customer experience initiatives, they rarely think about the impact of advertising.
And that’s a big problem.
According to a recent study, nearly 70 percent of consumers maintain they don’t trust advertising. Another 42 percent say they distrust brands – and for a good reason.
Unfortunately, all too often digital ads fail to fully take into account the user experience, and thus, are often seen as self-serving and even aggressive, instead of relevant, timely, or helpful for consumers.
Now feeling alienated, potential prospects often ignore ads or make use of ad blockers to prevent them from appearing at all.
Perhaps surprisingly, the advertising experience doesn’t have to end like this for your customers – or for you.
And it shouldn’t for digital marketers looking to increase reach, ROI, and profits.
To avoid this common pitfall, businesses that want to develop a relevant, sustainable and scalable advertising strategy need to prioritize customer experience above all else.
Here are five key areas marketers can focus on to optimize digital advertising initiatives with the customer experience in mind.
1. Take Full Advantage of Targeting Opportunities
It’s well established that one of the biggest mistakes an advertiser can make is targeting irrelevant ads to the wrong audience.
To avoid this pitfall, advertisers have a wide range of available targeting features at their fingertips, all aimed at helping them reach the right people with their ads.
The standards for Google advertising are:
But even advertisers that optimize for these factors are missing out on copious ad targeting opportunities – underscored by the fact that more than 70 percent of marketers fail to target consumers with behavioral data.
How consumers behave online can provide unique, granular insights aimed at boosting ad targeting efforts.
To that end, Google’s in-market audiences can help advertisers target people who have recently shown interest in certain topics.
A travel agency, for example, could target ads to people who recently searched for something travel-related or who browsed websites related to that topic.
Ad targeting can become even more sophisticated when you use third-party behavioral data, garnered by publisher networks that rely on data aggregation tools such as:
Additionally, user intent data can also help advertisers identify new relevant leads to target, as well as provide insights about consumers at various stages in the buying cycle.
Strategically leveraging these third-party data insights can help you better personalize and optimize your marketing message, and find more ways to appeal to the right audiences at the right time with the right ads.
2. Offer Understanding & Emotional Appeal
It’s no secret that many consumers fail to see digital ads as a means to help or serve their own needs.
In fact, many see digital ads as something aimed only at serving the needs of a business attempting to get one more sale.
And, in many cases, they’d be right.
However, advertisers that speak to the interests, needs, and emotions of their audience are much better positioned to help potential consumers rethink any gut-level, knee-jerk reaction that prevents them from being open to ads, and might even upend or altogether change their perception.
Perhaps not surprisingly, advertisers can effectively use powerful, universal emotions use to better target audiences by depicting love, desire, ambition, adventure, family community, and a sense of purpose.
That said, your message shouldn’t be one-dimensional because your audience isn’t one-dimensional.
For example, weight loss ads regularly speak to people’s need to not only look and feel desirable, but to lose weight easily and with minimal effort – all of which address the multi-faceted and complex needs and emotions of a broad and diverse audience.
While PPC advertisers have less real estate to work with in their ad copy, there are still plenty of opportunities to offer understanding and emotional appeal.
Consider ad copy in which an advertising manager asked the question: Why would people search for information about buying a new car online?
The answer: Because they want to both make an informed decision and get a good deal.
And they want to be validated that their purchase was the most intelligent decision to make – countering any feelings of buyers’ remorse that will likely occur with a major purchase.
Thus, a headline like “The smart way to buy a new car” speaks well to the emotions and needs of their audience.
Instead of focusing on product features and sales, marketers can and should create more emotional advertising copy by turning to their buyer personas.
To really get a strong and accurate sense of the emotional needs of your target audience, responsive search ads (RSAs) allow you to create adaptable ads that align with your text to show a greater range of both emotional and promotional messages while also determining which resonates best with various audiences.
Once it’s determined what their audience not only needs, but wants to be, do and feel – it’s on advertisers to accommodate these needs in every facet of their campaigns.
3. Deliver Exactly What They’re Looking For
All too often, advertisers spend a lot of effort creating targeted, even dynamic ads that speak directly to the needs of searchers, only to direct their clicks back to generic landing pages that fail to deliver the same targeted and relevant message.
It might go without saying, but landing page relevance is another big issue that affects the customer experience.
Relying on generic landing pages for your ads impacts the customer experience, the effectiveness of your ads, and your ad revenue.
So how do people react when they click on an ad and reach a landing page that isn’t exactly what they were looking for?
A large percentage of them will bounce and search for a competitor.
What’s more, a poor landing page user experience can also impact your PPC Quality Score, which in turn, affects your ability to rank for certain keywords.
So when optimizing your digital advertising efforts, make sure you consider how closely your landing page content matches your ad copy and query intent.
A good practice is to use similar words and phrases in both your ads and landing pages headlines, which helps reassure visitors that they’ve navigated to the right place.
And dynamic search ads (DSAs) can be utilized to ensure your search ads, search terms, and landing pages are congruent if you’re unsure which page performs best.
As an example, an ad with the headline “same-day emergency dental appointments” – the landing page copy needs to reiterate once again that customers can have access to “same day emergency dental appointments,” in order to reassure visitors that they’ve come to the right place and that their needs for a same-day dental appointment will indeed be met.
4. Improve Sitewide User Experience
To truly put the customers first, it’s important for advertisers to understand that customer experience optimization goes beyond their ad copy and landing pages.
Consider how people respond to online ads today – while some people respond to your ads by clicking on them, the vast majority end up reaching your website another way.
Thus, it’s imperative for advertisers to improve user experience across their entire website to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for, whether it’s a product, service, or company information.
Important user experience factors include:
Mobile optimization: Are your pages responsive to adapt to mobile devices? Is your content easy to consume on small screens?
Site speed: Do your landing pages, sales pages, and homepage load quickly? Are there any optimizations you can make to page elements to prevent them from loading slowly?
Navigation: Can users easily click through and find what they need on your site? If someone sees your ad, searches for your business, and finds your home page, can they easily navigate to the content they’re looking for?
Content: Does your site content answer questions and make it easy for people to take action? Do you use supporting visuals, calls-to-action, and other elements to help users access information and convert?
In general, improving the user experience throughout your entire site is just good practice for a lot of reasons.
But perhaps the most important is that your site is the gateway to your company, business practices, and brand.
If potential customers can’t easily and efficiently navigate your site and access the information they need, they will likely believe they will have a similar experience throughout the entire buying cycle.
5. Offer Value When People Need It Most
As with almost anything else, timing is a critical factor in ad relevance.
You not only need to offer a helpful, valuable advertising message, but you also need to do it at the right time to help inform your audience’s purchase decisions and perhaps put them over the edge for a conversion.
Using automation to target in-market audiences with Google Ads is a great place to start, but it’s often not enough.
By the time most people start searching for a product or service, they already have purchase intent and will probably buy quickly thereafter.
Thus, when your ads finally reach them, they’ve likely already converted elsewhere.
That’s where predictive advertising can help.
Using advanced data analysis and statistical algorithms, predictive technologies can help advertisers identify in-market audiences before they even show any signs of purchase intent.
With historical data and statistical projections contained in a predictive platform, advertisers can draw correlations between demographic variables, interests, and online behavior to drill down to determine the type of people interested in their products and services.
A powerful predictive advertising technology, for example, could analyze first- and third-party intent data and discover that women who read a certain genre of adventure novels are much more likely to also purchase a certain kind of hiking boot.
A shoe retailer could use these insights to target ads to potential buyers before they show any purchase intent.
Predictive advertising tools also utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to not only discover these data insights but act upon them on behalf of advertisers, thus improving ad targeting to offer value when people need it the most.
Perhaps it goes without saying that these capabilities have a huge impact on customer experience while also resolving major issues that advertisers face around remarketing on a daily basis.
So how do consumers feel when they’re served a display ad for boots 20 minutes after buying boots online?
The short answer is that they think it’s annoying.
Or at the very least they dislike the obvious evidence that advertisers are tracking their online behavior.
But by serving that ad to the right audience before they purchase – or even before they think about purchasing – you’re offering unique value that will you put leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors.
The Bottom Line
You put your customers first in so many aspects of the sales cycle – from customer service to help desk to shipping needs.
So it should stand to reason that you prioritize the customer experience with your advertising message as well.
Among other things, tactics – like using emotional appeal, improving website navigability and ease of use, and offering relevant and consistent landing pages – all go to propelling important campaign goals (e.g., clicks and conversions, higher ROI, and increased revenue).
But even beyond that, marketers today have a real opportunity to breathe new life into campaigns and change consumers’ negative perception of advertising.
Advertisers can use tools to deliver even more targeted and relevant ads to the right audience at the right time, giving them the ability to anticipate and accommodate buyer needs before they’re even fully realized.
The ability to use them to their full potential and truly improve the customer experience means, above all else, first thinking like a customer.
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