Why You Should Consider Journey-Based Ad Campaigns

Look. The advertising industry has been around much longer than I've been alive. Technologies and platforms change and influence how we buy, but there's something pretty fundamental missing from the media and creative strategies that look to attract these prospects.

What I find really interesting is the fact that smarter people than me (and more creative ones) come up with these brilliant creative campaigns. They then place that same creative campaign on billboards, on television, on Facebook, on Google Ads.

The problem with this strategy is that it doesn't consider how people actually buy things.

How People Actually Buy Things

Stop and think about how you buy a camera, for example. You see that brilliant creative campaign on Facebook and think to yourself...

"I think I'd like a camera sometime soon."

You click the ad, look at the landing page, grab some information about the camera. Let's say this specific camera is $600.

In the moment you clicked on the ad, you hadn't thought about spending nearly a month's worth of groceries on a single item. Nor have you decided you even wanted to buy a camera. So you leave. You need to think about it, right?

Then, you go to a friends house for dinner. He has a similar, but different camera. You ask him some questions about what he thinks about it, and you find out that his camera is actually $100 less than the one you saw the ad for. He informs you that it's got all the same features, and works really well for him.

You're scrolling on your Instagram feed and you see a retargeting ad for the original camera, and that ad has the same message as last time. Meh. Not inspiring. This moment triggers you to do a Google Search for 'Best Camera Reviews'. You read some reviews, then you learn more about your options.

A few weeks go by, and you've saved the money for the camera. You want to do one last comparison, so you do a few more Google Searches, this time for specific brands so you can compare 1:1.

With no additional compelling message from the original manufacturer, you decide to go with the camera your friend has. You make the purchase.

The Key Make-or-Break Moments

During your purchase journey, there were a few key moments that can make or break your decision to go with a specific brand:

Stimulus - That first ad you saw triggered you to think about purchasing a camera.

Discovery - That moment at your friends house (this can happen on social media, as well) was a key make-or-break moment. Your friend introduced you to the possibility of another brand, that is less expensive. This also applies to the second ad you saw on Instagram that you scrolled by.

Research & Comparison - The moment you Googled and searched for some information about different brands, the reviews those brands have, and different value-for-cost models.

Active Purchase Mode - That final moment where you look more in-depth at brands on Amazon, or at point-of-purchase.

So, What Now?

It's always amazing to me when brands think that one creative direction and/or one media strategy can reach people at each of these stages of the purchase journey. Here's how the different phases can help you to understand how to target people:

Stimulus - Lean heavily on creative. You need to catch someone's attention here and validate the need or desire to purchase (this is a soft-sell approach). This lends itself well to Display, Social media, and traditional ad campaigns.

Discovery - People need a lot of information here, they want to feel validated, but more importantly they want to be educated about the purchase they're about to make. The more they can lean on your brand for education at this point, the more likely you will be seen as a trusted resource. Long-tail Google Search, and aptly targeted Display and Social media campaigns focused on education will do well for you here.

Research & Comparison - During this phase, you can lean into the harder sell. Assuming most people have completed the two-above phases, you want to focus on value for money, and value above competitors.

Active Purchase - Lean even more into the hard sell here. Discounts, promotions, etc.

The key to winning the hearts, minds, and wallets of your ideal consumer is right message, right time. This likely means you need different messages at different times. You do not control the customer's funnel, they do.

Some people will enter at the beginning and be pushed down to the end. Others will enter somewhere in the middle, or even at the last phase. The most important thing is that you advertise to the needs of the customer and their make-or-break moments. This is more expensive, more resource intensive, but it makes a huge difference in performance, and can be measured using linear or position-based attribution modelling.

The above also doesn't take into account the many other possible touch points that happen with your sales team, with marketing automation, and the many other possible interactions someone can have with your brand. So it's definitely best to incorporate these into your overall marketing and sales strategy, so they can compliment your campaigns.

At the end of the day, crafting your campaigns around humans and their behaviour is a formula for even more and diversified success. Outside of money put in, these efforts also require time to be successful and drive the results you want.

About the Author

Marissa Homère

Marissa is Soshal's Marketing Director responsible for the launch, management, and evolution of our performance marketing and media practices. She also helped found the Telfer Digital Marketing Certificate, where she teaches several courses.