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Creating advocates of your brand vs finding new customers

October 26, 2010

I found an interesting Comscore report on the IAB Australia site that reminded me what social media is all about. In my book, getting consumers to advocate your brand or your message for you because they genuinely enjoy what you have to offer is always going to be the most effective way to win new customers. It makes no difference if you’re a publisher, if you’re a government department looking at Gov 2.0 strategies, or if you just have a product you’re trying to sell.

This particular Comscore report looked at 6 different strategies for online advertising and evaluated them for effectiveness on a range of variables, ultimately trying to determine the future of where the digital advertising dollar will or should be spent. They were:

Audience Targeting: Targets consumers based on past interest or interaction with related products/content, but who have not yet visited the advertiser’s site.

Contextual Targeting: Targets sites with related, page-level content

Efficiency Pricing: Based on cost-per-click engagement with creative

Premium Pricing: Based on high-visibility placements on premium publishers

Retargeting: Based on data that confirms users have previously visited an advertiser’s site

RON (Run of Network): Includes ads that appear anywhere in the network, often optimized by conversion

Of the 6 strategies reviewed, ‘retargeting’ was not only the most, but the only effective strategy for driving audiences to the site over an extended period of time. Contextual, premium and RON strategies demonstrated a more significant spike in achieving short term gains in site visitation for the advertisers, but over the longer term this was less effective at actually maintaining that level without introducing more consumers to the advertising.

‘Retargeting’ however delivered a more than 700% increases in site visitation over four weeks in the study. Importantly, while other strategies such as efficiency and Run of Network capture consumers who are more likely to click on an advertisement, a ‘retargeting’ strategy speaks to customers who are interested in the content the advertiser / publisher has to offer because they have seen it before.

So as a publisher or an advertiser you might ask yourself how you get people there in the first place (to your site, that is). Typically most business people would think of these as acquisition and retention strategies. There’s still elements of those other acquisition based strategies involved in order to keep new blood coming to your site, but importantly, if you’re reading this, then you know the answer already:  Social media and online communities give you a tool that is highly cost effective and highly contextual, whereby – if done well – your own consumers will advocate your product for you.

Sounds like I’m selling something, I know, but it’s the truth. I don’t spend any money to promote my blog (it’s entirely recreational), but like most bloggers I do promote it via my Twitter feed, my LinkedIn profile, and my Facebook profile. The first two are largely where my blog readers come from. Effectively – I’m engaging with people who have read my blog before, and they in turn are sharing it with those they think might be interested.

‘What’s the skinny?’ you might ask – well here it is:

Publishers and advertisers are spending a fortune in advertising to acquire new customers, but at what cost?

Consider spending your digital advertising dollar on speaking to and re-engaging with your existing readers, your existing customers, and turn them into advocates of your brand. In time, they and the associated ‘word of mouth’ they convey to their social networks, will be the best customer acquisition channel you’ve ever seen.

Just wait and see.

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