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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Marketing to the cross-platform consumer: The art of sequential messaging

June 14, 2018 | By Michel Benjamin, Director of Marketing—Lotame@micheltben

In today’s fast-paced world, it takes consumers mere seconds to form an opinion of a brand or product. At the same time, most consumers own multiple devices, and they move from one to the other seamlessly. In terms of advertising, this means that it has become extremely challenging to attract—much less hold— consumers’ attention. One strategy holds great promise, however: sequential messaging.

These days, we have access to vast amounts of data about reader preferences and behaviors. Sequential messaging offers the ability to harness this data to create high-performing campaigns. But how do you turn the marketing tactic of sequential messaging into an artform?

What Is Sequential Messaging?

First, let’s define what we’re talking about. Sequential messaging is a technique in which consumers are targeted with a series of ads across various devices. To engage the reader, the ads are shown in a particular sequence. These messages can come in the form of banner ads, social media posts, emails, TV ads, native, or content marketing, and beyond. In short, the goal is to tell a story over the series of messages. And this is where the artform comes into play

How Does Sequential Messaging Work?

For illustrative purposes, let’s start with an example. Let’s say a consumer is browsing a site that is running a women’s fashion ad campaign. She is shown a video ad for a new brand of women’s sportswear that happens to feature women’s yoga gear. And she watches it to the end. The video shows several busy women leading a healthy lifestyle and taking time for themselves as they practice yoga, play soccer, go running or workout at the gym.

The next time the consumer visits the site, she’s on her iPhone. She’s immediately shown a video that tells a story about a woman who becomes less stressed and gets back into shape thanks to yoga. Of course, the woman in the video is wearing clothes from the brand’s yoga line.

The third time the consumer visits the site, she’s on her desktop computer, and she’s shown an ad with a call to action to purchase yoga apparel. It could, for example, offer 25% off all yoga pants for the coming week. The consumer likes the clothes and purchases some yoga gear.

In this example, the consumer has been drawn in by a series of messages that go from general to more focused based on her initial action, which was to watch an ad featuring yoga gear. She’s been successfully targeted across a range of different devices with a series of related ads, resulting in converting into a customer.

How Do You Succeed with Sequential Messaging?

Sequential marketing campaigns are designed to tell a story that speaks to a specific consumer persona, regardless of what device is uses. In other words, they target the right person with the right message at the right time on the right screen.

To succeed, you need to be able to:

  • Recognize high-quality leads: These are consumers whose behavior indicates they have a high probability of converting.
  • Know what messaging to use: A campaign must present stories that speak to specific consumer personas.
  • Figure out when to show what messaging: Any successful campaign brings the lead through the sales funnel appropriately.
  • Target devices: It’s crucial to understand what devices the same consumer uses to access a website.

Data-driven Control

By syncing the insights gathered from your existing audience data, such as preferences and behaviors critical to informing sequential marketing campaigns, you can optimize your sequential messaging, enhance engagement, and improve your overall ROI.

Publishers only have so much control over the creative provided for any campaign. However, they do have access to data that can be passed back to the advertiser to help them succeed. The beauty of this technique lies in providing a cohesive message and experience, regardless of what device the consumer is using. Just as consumers want access to buy anytime, anywhere, your campaigns need to be able to reach them whenever and wherever they’re ready to engage. Having access to accurate cross-device technology can help make this a reality, for cohesive cross-platform messages.

Sequential marketing provides a cohesive and comprehensive customer experience. It also helps connect with consumers, because you can use the resulting data about them and what they respond to and give them more of the same type of content.

Overall, sequential advertising enables marketers to make a lasting impression and generate higher-quality leads because consumers are more engaged. For publishers, this means you can enhance campaign performance, leading to happier advertisers and a bigger ROI.

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