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Best Practices for Building Cross-Channel Audiences

By Maria LaBrutto

It’s a great time to be a retail marketer. You now have more tools than ever at your disposal to acquire new customers and engage with existing ones.

From email and web to social and search, there’s no shortage of opportunities to launch new campaigns, test ideas and strengthen your relationship with consumers. Of course, using all of the available channels effectively and seeing the desired results requires a strategic approach.

Let Your Goals Take the Lead When Building Cross-Channel Audiences

To take a strategic approach to building cross-channel audiences, you need to start with your goals for each campaign. From there, you can layer in various customer attributes or behaviors to get more targeted with each group as you drive them to take your desired actions.

Let’s take a look at what that type of strategic approach entails by outlining best practices for building cross-channel audiences based on common goals.

Cross-Channel Goal #1: Acquire New Customers

If you’re like most retailers, you use Facebook’s lookalike models to power customer acquisition and do so by building an audience of your most valuable customers. But how do you know who your most valuable customers are?

The majority of retailers prospect on Facebook based on target demographic and interests and by uploading a list of past purchasers and CRM data. However, past purchase history alone doesn’t indicate what someone is likely to spend in the future.

Using a predicted customer lifetime value model can help you look beyond past spend to evaluate which customers will continue to be most valuable for your brand. This model should look at signals like frequency of site visits and behavior during site visits to make these predictions.

Once you filter your audience for predicted customer lifetime value, you have a strong base for acquiring new high value customers. But how will you entice those shoppers to make their first purchase? To get targeted — and therefore improve the performance of your advertising — you need to layer in affinity models, such as product or discount affinity. This filter allows you to create ad sets that are customized to a very specific group based on likely preferences. It’s the difference between showing a generic brand image and getting a potential customer’s next great find in front of them.

Ultimately, combining predicted customer lifetime value with affinity enables you to build smarter lookalikes and serve those potential customers with more robust ad sets to improve customer acquisition. For one office supplies retailer, this approach led to a 48% increase in ROAS.

Cross-Channel Goal #2: Retarget Shoppers

When it comes to retargeting, you might use a mix of channels to get in front of customers who recently engaged onsite, target customers who didn’t open or click emails or reach customers with a high likelihood to unsubscribe from emails.

The first step in building a cross-channel audience for retargeting is to determine exactly who you want to reach, whether it’s one of the groups listed above or another group entirely. Once you have that base audience, you can begin to layer in affinity models such as product, category or discount affinity.

Using product and category affinity models can help you get more targeted about what you promote to customers so that you don’t have to use a generic adset. Instead, you can retarget customers with the products they are most likely to be interested in and are therefore most likely to get them back on your site.

Meanwhile, using discount affinity can help you preserve margins and keep your full price buyers from associating your brand with heavy discounts. For example, if you’re having a sitewide sale, you might only promote that sale to recent shoppers with a discount affinity.

To get even more advanced, you can combine product or category affinity models with discount affinity so that you can target both discount and full price buyers with relevant content and offers.

Cross-Channel Goal #3: Activate Non Buyers

Non buyers represent enormous revenue potential, but activating that potential often eludes retail marketing teams. While there are several types of emails that prove particularly effective at activating non buyers, sometimes you need to look elsewhere to give those shoppers the push they need to make their first purchase.

When you’ve exhausted your efforts over email, try flagging non buyers who have a high predicted customer lifetime value (again, based on signals like frequency of site visits and behavior during site visits).

You can then target these shoppers through Facebook, search and/or display advertising with a special offer on their first purchase. Because you know these shoppers are likely to be valuable to your brand over time, providing a discount to get them in the door can pay dividends in the long run.

Cross-Channel Goal #4: Drive More Second Purchases

The one-and-done buyer problem is far too rampant in the retail world. Just look at apparel retailers, for whom 80% of customers are one-time buyers. This breakdown is a problem, given that crossing the chasm from one-time buyer to two-time buyer leads to the biggest increase in the likelihood of customers buying again and the biggest increase in customer lifetime value. But it’s a solvable problem.

Among the numerous steps you can take to increase your second purchase rate, many involve targeting your one-time buyers across channels. For example, you might build an audience of customers who made their first purchase within the past month and advertise to them through Facebook or display networks.

As you build these ads, consider how you can customize the products featured based on each customer’s first purchase and look for opportunities to weave in “come back” messaging. You might even add a limited time incentive on second purchases to create a sense of urgency, particularly around the holiday season.

It’s Time to Get Smarter About Cross-Channel Audiences

Whatever your top goals, the key to success in achieving them as you go across channels is to let those desired outcomes take the lead as you build your audiences.

How else can you get smarter as you take your marketing campaigns across channels? Check out our playbook on Facebook marketing for even more tips.

Maria LaBrutto

Maria LaBrutto

As a Principal Customer Success Manager at Bluecore, Maria collaborates with top retailers to help develop and execute impactful cross-channel programs that drive toward marketers' goals. Maria is enthusiastic about educating and enabling platform users so they're equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to power successful marketing programs. She has an extensive background in Direct Response marketing, both digital and print, and has been part of the Bluecore team since early 2015. Maria holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Elon University and received a post-graduate Digital Marketing Certificate from New York University.