By Caroline Taylor

Now that membership duration has more than doubled on search audience lists how can this help you to engage with your customers at key moments?

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Even when we have an account structure that is working like a well-oiled machine we are always looking for ways to enhance what we’ve already got. A key part of this is the use of audiences. These can inform our strategy in a number of ways as we show ads only to a certain group of users, bid differently for different groups or exclude some altogether. Audiences offer the perfect way to make our strategies more sophisticated, so when it was announced in September that we would be able to increase the membership length to 540 days on the Search network, it’s safe to say we were a little bit excited.

540 days amounts to 1.4794 years. That’s just under a year and a half, blowing the door wide open on the opportunities for using audience lists. After previously being limited to 180 days - approximately 6 months - on the search network, we now have the chance to re-engage with users at key moments that may fall over a year away.

Seasonal Moments

The first obvious benefit of lists that last over a year are their use in the strategy for events that occur once a year. For many industry verticals Christmas, Black Friday, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and many others are key opportunities for engaging with their customers. These longer lists mean that we can now create a list of users who purchased from the brand during these key moments and use them to create a well-rounded strategy for next year. This could take a number of formats such as:

  • Bidding more for those users who purchased during that period last year, as these users are likely to engage in a similar way.
  • Only bid for those users who purchased last year – this may help with a brand that wants to partake in Black Friday activity but on a smaller budget.
  • Using the Similar Users list created from your original list – this could either be overlaid with an increased bid adjustment based on an expectation of better engagement from these users or used on target and bid to set some boundaries on the reach of a generics campaign.
  • Using these lists at other opportunities - users who interact with the brand at one gifting opportunity are good to target at another. For example, if a user purchased gifts for Mother’s Day they may be good to target with Christmas gifts for mums.

Customer Buying Cycle

Many customer journeys take a matter of days. If you break your phone charger and go online to buy a new one you are most likely to make the purchase that day, even if you do browse a number of sites for the best price. If you find a new dress that you want but it’s a little out of your price range, you might take a few days to consider the purchase, maybe going away to work out which meals you could forgo that week to make up the cost. Whatever your thought process, ultimately you will come back within a fairly short period of time to make your purchase.

However, there are some buying cycles that can take many months, potentially even over the original 6 months we had to play with. If you are looking to buy a new kitchen or a new car the lead time is going to be a lot longer before a purchase is completed. The length of these lists mean that we can now be present for these users when they reach the conversion moment.

Re-purchasing

In many instances, particularly in retail, just because a user bought from you yesterday or last week doesn’t mean they won’t purchase from you again today. However, there are certain verticals where once you have paid for the product or service you won’t be returning to purchase again until this needs to be updated. A prime example here would be with a magazine subscription. You’ve just bought a year’s subscription to PPC Weekly so other than to contact customer services there is probably very little reason for you to re-visit the site where you made the initial purchase. This provides the opportunity to do two things:

  • Bid more for users who are coming to the end of their subscription to make sure that they re-subscribe with you instead of competitors
  • If you are working with less budget you can now exclude these users until a couple of months before their subscription ends so you are not paying for those information based visits such as looking for contact details

Messaging and User Experience

So far the focus has been strategy in terms of data manipulation – looking for the opportunities to bid more or less for certain audiences. However, another way to use these lists is to speak differently to your customers. By creating these lists you can incentivise these more engaged users with exclusive offers or change their user experience by taking them to a different landing page. Here are some examples of how you might want to change the customer’s experience based on these lists:

  • Change copy to include offers that are exclusively for these loyal customers who shop at key moments
  • Equally you may decide these customers are already on board and don’t need more incentive to interact with your brand and instead show offers to users who aren’t on these lists
  • Use more call to action based messaging – these users have already engaged with your brand at a similar moment so you might decide to side step the branding piece and go straight for the conversion
  • Take users on your list to a different page – for your customer who purchased on Mother’s Day you may take them straight to the ‘Gifts for Her’ page at Christmas rather than the generic gift page

Your Own Strategies

These are just some examples of the ways in which you can adapt these 540 day lists to enhance your account strategy, however these will differ drastically depending on the industry you are working in. It would be best to map out the key moments at which a user may interact with your brand and use these to influence what lists you build and how you can use them to boost performance. And remember - there is no harm in overlaying lists to gather insight!

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