Iterative Marketing Podcast Episode 19: Aligning Digital Media To Your Buyer’s Journey

Marketing personalization doesn’t stop with content. It also extends to digital media. Listen to learn how to target digital media based on your audience’s buyer journey state.

Episode Show Notes

Introduction to Aligning Digital Media with the Buyer’s Journey

(0:00 – 2:43) Introduction to the Iterative Marketing Podcast: Welcome to the Iterative Marketing Podcast, where, each week, hosts Steve Robinson and Elizabeth Earin provide marketers and entrepreneurs with actionable ideas, techniques, and examples to improve marketing results. 

The topic of this episode is how to align media with your buyer’s journey, focusing primarily on digital media due to the vastness of the topic. We recommend listeners revisit Episode 18 to fully grasp the relevance of aligning media.

The resources discussed on the show can be found at, which includes a blog and a LinkedIn group for community interaction.

(2:43 – 4:08) Why Media Alignment is Important: Aligning digital marketing channels with the buyer’s journey is crucial for successful marketing strategies. Each digital medium has unique targeting mechanisms and content expectations. Some channels are more suited to certain stages – See, Think, or Do – of the buyer’s journey than others. By understanding the dynamics of each channel and aligning content appropriately, marketers can reach the right audience at the right time, leading to increased engagement and improved conversion rates.

Banner Ads

(4:08 – 4:33)  Beginning With Banner Ads: The world of digital marketing often starts with a staple: banner ads. These visual, attention-grabbing elements are the first thing that springs to mind when we talk about digital advertising. The key to effectively targeting banner ads lies in understanding the state of the buyer’s journey and utilizing data – both first-party and third-party – to reach potential customers.

(4:33 – 6:20) First-Party Data: First-party data is information that you collect directly from your audience’s interactions with your brand. It includes data gathered from cookies, CRM systems, and other direct interactions, such as email sign-ups, form submissions, or website behavior. This data is extremely valuable as it provides direct insights into your customers’ behaviors, preferences, and stages in the buyer’s journey.

In comparison to third-party data, which is collected by other entities and purchased for use, first-party data has consistently proven to be more reliable and effective. The reasons for this are twofold.

  1. Trust and Clarity: With first-party data, you know exactly where the information is coming from and what it means. It’s based on your audience’s interactions with your brand, giving you a clear understanding of their behaviors and preferences.
  2. Precision: First-party data allows you to precisely pinpoint where a buyer is in their journey. This degree of accuracy is crucial when crafting tailored marketing messages and targeting efforts.

(6:20 – 8:59) Leveraging Website Interactions: How your audience interacts with your website can provide valuable insights into their current state in the buyer’s journey. For instance, a visitor browsing pricing pages or checking out shopping carts can be inferred to be in the Do state of the buyer’s journey, indicating that they’re ready to make a purchase.

On the other hand, visitors consuming content like guides or white papers are likely in the Think state, showing interest but perhaps not quite ready to buy. These observations can guide your retargeting efforts, ensuring you present the right content to the right audience at the right time.

(8:59 – 10:04) Journey State Field: To make the most of first-party data, having a journey state field in your CRM or marketing automation system is crucial. This feature allows you to correctly identify and label the state of each site visitor. Once labeled, you can export this list and utilize CRM retargeting to reach your audience as they browse the web, ensuring your ads are seen by the right people at the right time.

(10:04 – 11:29) Third-Party Data: While third-party data doesn’t require you to gather the information yourself, its lack of precision is a notable drawback. This data is often pre-packaged, leaving you with limited insights into the exact stage of the buyer’s journey your audience is in. However, it can still serve a purpose when paired with the appropriate creative content and audience targeting.

Charity Outreach

(11:29 – 12:19) Charity Break:

Video Ads

(12:19 – 12:52) Targeting for Video Ads: Following our exploration of banner ads, we now turn our attention to another powerful tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal: video ads. While the targeting mechanisms for video ads are similar to banner ads, there are a few key distinctions and special considerations worth noting.

(12:52 – 13:21) Types of Video Ads: Typically, video ads come in one of two forms:

  1. Video HTML5 ads: These videos appear in place of a banner, requiring a user to click or roll over them to enable audio. Essentially, they follow the same rules as standard banner ads.
  2. Pre-roll ads: These are the videos that play before the content a user has selected. They have unique characteristics that set them apart from other forms of video advertising.

(13:21 – 14:51) Special Considerations for Pre-Roll Ads: Pre-roll ads offer an intriguing opportunity to capture the attention of consumers who may not be in the market for your product or service. Because they serve as a preamble to the viewer’s chosen content, they have the potential to grab the attention of an audience in the See state of the buyer’s journey—those who are not actively considering or ready to purchase. This makes pre-roll ads an excellent tool for brand awareness and exposure.

However, pre-roll ads are not necessarily ideal for targeting consumers in the Think or Do states. This is primarily due to their lack of an immediate call to action (CTA). When a consumer is ready to take the next step—either considering a purchase or ready to buy—having a clear and immediate CTA is essential.

Furthermore, pre-roll ads can be disruptive to the viewing experience. They can potentially leave a negative impression if they take viewers away from their chosen content. 

For example, if a viewer is watching YouTube on their television, asking them to take action—like pulling out their phone to click a link—can be a difficult and intrusive ask.

Social Media Marketing

(14:51 – 15:27) Complexities of Social Media: Social media platforms offer a unique avenue for digital marketers. The nature of these platforms, however, introduces certain complexities when it comes to targeting and reaching the desired audience. Here, we delve into both paid and organic social media marketing strategies, with a focus on how each fits into different stages of the buyer’s journey.

(15:27 – 17:18) Paid Social Media: Paid social media marketing provides more control over who sees your content. However, most social platforms base their targeting on profile information and user interactions, which might not provide precise insights into where a user is in the buyer’s journey.

What paid social media marketing excels at is persona-based targeting. By examining user profiles and interactions, advertisers can create detailed customer personas and target content accordingly.

Moreover, platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow advertisers to use custom or tailored audiences respectively. This allows you to use signals from your own database or website traffic to retarget content based on the user’s journey stage. This can be accomplished by uploading a list from your CRM, emphasizing the importance of maintaining detailed customer data.

However, it’s important to remember that social media is inherently interruptive. Users are typically engaged in other activities, and ads serve as interruptions. Therefore, your content must offer immediate value to the viewer to be effective. For See state content, this means going beyond mere brand exposure to deliver tangible utility. For Think and Do state content, the aim should be to engage without coming across as overly salesy.

(17:18 – 18:30) Organic Social Media: When it comes to organic social media, the targeting capabilities are significantly more limited. While some platforms, like Facebook, might offer custom audience targeting for organic posts, the effectiveness of this strategy is questionable due to the difficulty of breaking through platform algorithms.

As a result, it’s often recommended to focus on See state content with organic social media posts, which is generally more broadly applicable and likely to be shared, thus boosting its visibility.

Even with its limitations, organic social media is crucial in building your See state audience and collecting first-party data, which will be useful for future engagement, especially through paid content aimed at Think and Do states.

So, while organic social media may not offer as much targeting precision, it remains an essential tool for brand awareness, audience engagement, and trust-building.

Native Ads

(18:30 – 19:07) What is Native Advertising: Native advertising, a buzzword in today’s digital marketing landscape, essentially refers to those ads that blend seamlessly into the platform they appear on. These include articles and stories that surface in your news feeds or, at the end of other articles, subtly suggest more content that might pique your interest. These ads are predominantly placed through popular ad networks like Outbrain or Taboola.

(19:07 – 19:20) The Emergence of Retargeting: Outbrain has pioneered a new feature in native advertising known as retargeting. This function allows marketers to utilize techniques we’ve traditionally associated with content targeting, adjusting ads based on the user’s previous interaction with the brand. Taboola, although it hasn’t yet incorporated retargeting, is expected to introduce similar features soon.

(19:20 – 20:37) The Pitfall of Do State Content: One crucial element to keep in mind when implementing native advertising is its incompatibility with Do state content. This form of content is typically sales-driven and promotional. Its out-of-context appearance in a native ad can feel disruptive and off-putting to users, potentially driving them away rather than drawing them in.

Instead of Do state, marketers should concentrate on See and Think content for native advertising. See content aims to raise brand awareness among a broad audience, while Think content is designed to engage users who are already considering the brand or product. These strategies better align with the user’s expectations and enhance their overall native advertising experience.

Trust is a pivotal factor in the success of native advertising. If users are on a news site, for instance, they expect to encounter informative and newsworthy content. A native ad that tries to sell something can feel intrusive and inauthentic, undermining any trust the brand might have built.

In the realm of native advertising, marketers should prioritize See or Think content. This strategy respects user expectations, enriches the user experience, and, importantly, helps foster trust in the brand. Native advertising, when done right, can be a powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal.

Email Marketing

(20:37 – 20:59) Precise Targeting with Email: Email marketing is an essential tool for targeting audiences across all stages of the customer journey. By integrating with CRM or marketing automation systems, email marketing enables precise targeting and improved personalization.

(20:59 – 21:36) Personalization and Segmentation: With email marketing, you can tailor messages to each customer’s journey state and other key factors, ensuring relevant and timely content delivery. Techniques such as drip emails and newsletter segmentation help maintain this contextual relevance, enhancing engagement and conversion rates.

Paid Search

(21:36 – 22:04) Identifying Intent with Paid Media: Paid search is a distinct entity in the realm of targeted media. It stands apart from other channels due to its unparalleled ability to identify intent among unknown audiences. However, it’s important to note that paid search tends to be more expensive, which may factor into marketing budget considerations.

(22:04 – 23:00) Using Keywords for Intent: The true power of paid search lies in its ability to discern individuals who are in the Think or Do stages of the buyer’s journey. This is achieved by being selective in the keywords you bid on. Want to target those in the Think or Do states specifically? Simply add intent-indicating keywords to your product or service, such as “pricing,” “cost,” “best,” “alternatives,” or “comparison.”

When a user is actively shopping for a product or service, they’re likely to search for these terms. Placing an ad in front of someone in the Do state provides a fantastic opportunity to capture their attention precisely when they’re seeking what you offer.

(23:00 – 23:28) Practicality in Comparison: Consider a real-life scenario: you’re in the market for a new car and are comparing the Buick Enclave and the Toyota Sequoia. Your searches clearly indicate to marketers that you’re in the Do state of the buyer’s journey.

(23:28 – 23:50) Avoid Early Journey States: It’s important to avoid targeting the See or early Think states in a paid search campaign. You’re paying a premium to drive traffic to your site, and targeting those still early in their buyer’s journey can make it challenging to achieve a satisfactory return on investment (ROI).

Organic Search

(23:50 – 24:27) What is Organic Search: Organic search refers to the non-paid traffic that comes to your website as a result of unpaid search results. The organic search involves creating content to boost non-paid traffic. Crucially, an effective organic search strategy incorporates content that caters to all three stages of the buyer’s journey: See, Think, and Do.

(24:27 – 25:19) Cost-Effective Content: Organic search is cost-effective. Evergreen content once developed and initially promoted, continues to generate returns over time, creating valuable first-party data for future targeting.

By integrating Think and Do content with See content, you can drive activity on your site and promote progression through the buyer’s journey stages in a cost-effective manner.

(25:19 – 25:51) Effort Equals Outcome: Content creation isn’t an instant solution for improved search engine rankings. The benefits are directly proportional to the effort invested in creating high-quality content, conducting preliminary research, and effectively promoting the content.

Join Us Next Time

(25:51 – 27:52Conclusion: In this episode, we discussed how to align your content with your digital media channels based on your customer’s journey state. Next week we’ll delve into aligning traditional media.

Have a great week and we’ll see you next time. This concludes this week’s episode. For notes and links to resources discussed on the show, sign up to the Brilliant Metrics newsletter.

Iterative Marketing is a part of the Brilliant Metrics organization. If you would like more information on the marketing services provided by the expert team at Brilliant Metrics, reach out today for a free discovery call.

The Iterative Marketing Podcast,  a production of Brilliant Metrics, ran from February 2016 to September 2017. Music by SeaStock Audio.

Learn more about Iterative Marketing and listen to other episodes on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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