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Ads Are Not Enough: Why You Need A Customer Engagement Strategy

By September 27, 2016Advertising, Digital Marketing

Digital marketing, mobile technology, and social networking have opened up powerful new advertising channels. It is possible to target like never before–by demographics, real-time location, and behavior, likes and dislikes, and just about any other preference people identify on their social networking accounts.

That’s great–a direct channel to very specific customers that you can use to offer the things you already know that they like!

But it’s not enough. You need a customer engagement strategy. Here’s why:

  • Buyers are in control: 90% research online before clicking on an ad
  • Shoppers are skeptical of ads: 97% think ads are exaggerated
  • They act on trust: They want endorsement from known customers
  • They don’t want to be sold: They respond to helpful information, not sales pitches
  • Clickbait is punished: Google measures ad user experience as well as content user experience
  • Clicks don’t matter: There is decreasing correlation between clicks and ad effectiveness

Buyers are in Control

You probably already know that the way people shop for and buy products have changed dramatically due to the perfect storm of mobile technology, search, and social networking. People don’t mind ads that add value to their shopping experience, but they don’t typically behave as advertisers would like them to.

Shoppers are Skeptical

A 2013 report from Mashable found that 90 percent of buyers research products online before making a purchase. That means that when they see your ad, they won’t necessarily click on it right away. They want to validate your claims from someone else. That’s because 97 percent of shoppers believe ads are exaggerated. In other words, they are not inclined to believe what advertisers say about themselves.

For example, 87 percent think ads for cleaning products are photoshopped, and 96 percent think weight loss ads are photoshopped.

Building Trust

The most trusted source of product information is referrals from known sources, second only to opinions and reviews from unknown customers.

You may not be able to control whether someone you serve an ad to will know someone that has used your product. You can, of course, build social networking communities of users and fans to provide opinions and reviews.

Help, Don’t Sell

So people aren’t necessarily likely to contact a company or buy its product based on an ad.  Linking ads to nurturing campaigns that offer people helpful, educational information about the problem they are trying to solve will make digital advertising much more effective.

Search engine optimization with links to webpages and downloads that validate your product claims can also be very helpful. More than 40 percent of advertisers saying that SEO is their most effective advertising investment.

Clickbait is Punished

Today’s buyer is not going to be tricked into buying something due to a catchy message or great creative. They might click, but it’s what happens after the click that is more important. Clicks should lead to options that engage shoppers and that help buyers find what they want and help businesses understand their buyers’ journeys.

Google punishes ads that trick people just as it punishes SEO designed to trick people. Quick exits from ads are just as important as quick exits from SEO links. Google’s advertising policy states, “We want ads to be useful, varied, relevant, and safe for users when serving them across the Google Network.” Among the ads Google doesn’t even allow are “ads promoting sites or apps that offer little unique value to users and are focused primarily on traffic generation.”

Declining Correlation Between Clicks and Ad Effectiveness

Marketers often measure ad effectiveness by clicks, but that’s changing. “Now, we are increasingly stepping away from measuring online ad success based solely on clicks or impressions and moving toward a more comprehensive understanding of the consumer journey,” says Michele Potts on “We’re moving from the ‘Click Web’ to the ‘Attention Web,’ where overall interest and engagement matters, even when they’re not clicking.”

In fact, a study by comScore found that a low click rate does not mean an ad is not effective. It found ads can raise web visits by 40 percent, without a direct click on the ad itself. “Not only was there a significant impact within the first week following exposure to an ad — low click rates notwithstanding — but past the 1st week, there was a significant lift that would have been overlooked by relying on clicks or by using cookies to track consumer behavior.”

Advertising alone is not enough. Web content, landing pages, and calls to action connected with connections to ad campaigns will spur engagement that leads to increased conversion and retention.

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