Understanding The Shift Toward People Based Marketing

By Emma Welland | @emmawelland | Group Head of Performance, Periscopix. A Merkle company

Before we all became digitally savvy using multi-devices in an online world, one of the key methods of effective marketing was direct mail. Sending letters, brochures, and pamphlets with your marketing messages directly to consumers’ doors was the norm. The benefit of this form of marketing was that you could ensure the right person was receiving the right message at the right time, instead of using a form of mass marketing to communicate to your audience.


Image of mailbox


With the launch of the Internet, various different options of communicating with different users have become available. Think about these channels:


  • We can use search to respond to people who are showing intent for products or services
  • We can use display to show ads to people are reading content similar to our products or services
  • We can use email marketing in the same way we used to use direct marketing
  • We can use social media to target users who are talking about various products, services and interests


Image of users networking


Search has become much more than a responsive platform over the past couple of years. With the launch of Enhanced Campaigns, we gained the ability to use bid multipliers. These allow us to change our bids for users based upon the device they are using, the location they are in and the time of day they are searching. This means that if users are searching for “shoes,” we can say we want to bid more if they are based in a city that has a higher conversion rate or we have stores in. Or if they are searching at a profitable time and they are searching on a particular device. We can make the decisions as to what these bid multipliers should be based upon the insights we gain from our campaigns.


Google then enabled two additional features – Demographics for Search Ads and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads. Demographics for Search Ads allow us to use demographic data to further target users. This means we can increase or decrease our bids based upon Google’s understanding of a user’s demographic data or change our ad copy. For example, if we know a man is searching for “shoes” we could change the landing page to include men’s shoes.


When Google introduced us to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), audience-based marketing was taken to another level. Utilizing Google’s cookie system, we were now able to target users based upon the action they had taken on our website directly in the search results. The opportunities for RLSA are endless and with the introduction of Google Analytics data into RLSA, we are now able to target users based upon site activity. We can then choose whether these groups of users deserve different ad copy or a different bid strategy. Either way, we can then carefully monitor the behaviour of users and make decisions accordingly.


Image of users


This month, Google made an exciting announcement when it launched Customer Match. Customer Match allows us to bring 1st party data into our RLSA, YouTube and Gmail Ad strategies to ensure we can target our actual customers using their email addresses. This development is exciting, as we can now be proactive with our messaging to customers, ensuring we can make our ad copy as relevant as possible to users. For example, if you have an offer that would only be relevant to existing customers such as those on a loyalty scheme, you could push this message in your ad copy rather than generic messaging. This is just a basic example of how you could use your 1st party data to make the search experience more relevant to your customers.


Your customer match strategies can become much more complex depending upon how good your CRM data is. For example, you could separate out:


  • Users who purchase online vs offline
  • High value vs low value purchasers
  • Users based upon what they have purchased
  • Users based upon the frequency of their purchases
  • Users who have signed up for your loyalty scheme


You could then serve these users different messaging depending upon who they are or you could simply increase or decrease your bids for these users. Either way, this will allow you to gain insights into how these users behave on search and report separately. One item to bear in mind when you are choosing your strategy is that you need your audience to be a decent size. For example, if you have 1 million email addresses that you upload into the system, only a certain percentage of those users are going to actually search for the terms you are advertising. Therefore, you need to make sure the volume of email addresses you upload are significant enough for you to have the reach you desire.


This exciting move enables search marketing to link more cohesively with other marketing channels. We can use search to reinforce messaging that other marketing channels are promoting. A basic example of this tactic would be making sure all advertising has the same tagline for existing customers to ensure a company is providing a united front.


In addition, we can link our strategy with other people based marketing tactics allowing us to have a really tight marketing strategy. Channels such as display and social enable us to use 1st party data in the same way as search. This means we can create people based marketing strategies across channels to provide one overall marketing strategy for customers of which we have existing data.


The move in search to people based marketing is going to allow us to provide the most relevant, cohesive digital marketing strategies yet.