Drip Campaigns for Programmatic Advertising, and How They Can Move the Needle in High-Consideration Purchase Decisions

May 17, 2018

By Ari Lewine

Mascha Tace/Shutterstock.com

Before making significant purchases, consumers tend to take a long, winding journey involving research, comparative shopping, and a lot of consideration. Think about the way you'd approach buying a high-ticket item, like a 60-inch curved-screen TV or a stainless steel smart refrigerator. Faced with these purchase decisions, consumers will often do their homework, scanning articles, reading reviews, talking to friends, and visiting showrooms before making their final choice.

Business-to-business marketers have long relied on drip campaigns to help consumers make these decisions. It's a tactic that's been proven effective for nurturing leads through longer sales cycles by sending marketing information to prospects repeatedly and sequentially, over longer periods of time. The only downside is that it's strictly limited to email, and not every retailer gets to capture a shopper's name and address to get them into a drip campaign.

Thanks to programmatic, marketers for high-ticket retail items can put drip campaigns to use in their digital advertising campaigns. High-impact ad formats can feature creative that is specific to each particular point in the customer's decision journey, delivering exactly the information or offer they need to make their product choice. Digital ads can tell stories now, as effectively as, or better than, more traditional storytelling media, like TV, where users experience a beginning (information about the category), a middle (how to evaluate one product versus another), and end (the call to action and promotion offer). Even better, storytelling in digital can be personalized to the consumer in a way no other medium can match.

So how would a drip campaign look in the world of data-driven advertising? It's based, like similar campaigns in email, on the concept of sequential messaging. This allows the marketer to be very thoughtful around what messages are sent to consumers at any given moment. A consumer may be shown a very personalized advertisement "A," but until they either engage with that ad directly or see it a certain number of times, they'll never see advertisement "B."

The content of ads "A" and "B" is carefully tailored to the buyers and where they are in their journey. For example, if the buyer is in-market for a high-end fridge, the first ad in the sequence might feature content about current trends in refrigerators, like climate control features and built-in smart boards. A second ad in the sequence could offer tips on buying a refrigerator with content about "The Three Questions You NEED to Ask When Buying a Smart Fridge." Subsequent ads might serve up content about warranties for particular models, before finally making a more focused effort on conversion by offering discounts and rebates. Because programmatic is data-driven, these final ads might feature personalized promotions and coupon codes, and could be redeemable at local resellers.

This is very different from the "sell, sell, sell!" tactics traditional ads take. Apart from providing content to the customer at precisely the right moment during their journey, the ads themselves can provide useful content, rather than simply linking to content. Using rich-media and native ad formats, advertisers can tell stories within the ad units, so consumers can engage and learn, without necessarily having to click through to a landing page. It's a perfect balance between the push of advertising and the pull of inbound marketing. Whether advertisers use a series of scrollable images, video, or other content types, these ads can work effectively on any screen.

For purchases that require longer periods of consideration, this new approach to data-driven digital could have a very positive impact on sales. It's far more focused on the customers, and in putting their need for information ahead of your need to close sales, it shows a respect for their journey that a lot of today's advertising does not. That, along with engaging, relevant creative, should help high-end retailers and brands stand out from the crowd.


Ari Lewine is the cofounder and chief strategy officer of TripleLift, where he leads the company's direction on sales, strategy, and product innovation.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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