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5 Ways to Leverage Matched Audiences

Get More from Your Database

The power of digital marketing is its ability to maximize the efficiency of your marketing spend through precise targeting. Yet not enough marketers or agencies take advantage of the most efficient target, their own database. 

Current, past, or prospective customers are all significantly more likely to purchase than even the most finely targeted new audience. This is why re-targeting is so powerful: it targets prospects who’ve already indicated their interest by visiting certain pages of your website. Well, why not take that concept one step further?

What Are Matched Audiences?

Digital platforms like Google (Customer Match), LinkedIn (Matched Audiences), and Facebook/Instagram (Custom Audiences) will match your database records to their platform’s users to allow you to target ad messages to the matches. It means you’re not targeting demographics or psychographics or interest groups, but specific people who you’ve already identified in your funnel. Doesn’t get much more targeted than that.

Here are 5 strategies for employing matched audiences to improve the efficiency of your digital marketing.

1: Middle of Funnel Conversion Marketing

For any industry that requires a considered purchase, matched audiences provide a terrific way to remind prospective customers of the reasons they are considering you in the first place. Give them more information specifically relevant to their stage in the customer journey, and prompt sales by driving calls to action like scheduling an appointment, applying, or making a purchase.

At 5HD, we use matched audiences to influence prospective students for our graduate and continuing education clients. There can be a significant consideration period in education — especially when targeting working professionals who may have varying degrees of urgency to go back to school.

Using matched audiences allows us to continue communication with leads on an individual level as we nudge them down the funnel. Our ads highlight application deadlines, admissions events, and app fee waivers, with calls to action ranging from scheduling a 1-on-1 with an advisor to starting an application.

These messages are highly targeted to the prospect’s specific stage in the sales cycle while accounting for demographic and psychographic data. This tactic provides a real lift to sales efforts and usually costs only a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the size of your data base.

2: Exclusion Audiences

It can be as important to exclude the right audience as it is to include. Our second most frequent use of matched audiences is excluding specific database lists from marketing efforts. This may include a Do Not Call/Mail list, but can also be a list of prospective customers who have been deemed as “suspects” based on poor conversion behavior in the past.

In a graduate and continuing education context, we are often uploading lists of prospects who we know are inadmissible and excluding them from all advertising. 

In order to keep lists like this fresh, some platforms like LinkedIn offer a data integration to eliminate manual uploads and wait time while the platform matches your list.

3: Qualifying an Uploaded List

Many brands may buy or otherwise acquire large lists of potential customers from sources like a preparatory test (LSAT, GRE, GMAT), trade show, or conference. Rather than spraying and praying cold emails or phone calls, creating matched audience campaigns allows members of your large lists to engage with your ads and identify themselves as “warm” prospects.

This tactic also amplifies an email, outbound phone, or SMS text campaign to large lead lists by providing additional brand touch points, key messaging, and an overall warmer environment for outreach.

4: Incentivizing Seasonal or Return Purchases

We’ve spent some space discussing strategies for considered purchase industries, but if your brand focuses on seasonal sales or return customers, matched audiences can be useful for you too.

Upload everyone who bought last year, last quarter, or last month, depending on your particular brand, and incentivize them to buy again with a specific offer. This strategy can also be useful when wanting a customer to re-buy within the same season. For instance, destination hotel and resort clients at 5HD utilize vacation records from their customers to incentivize a second trip for those who visited early in the season.

5: Re-Engage Suspect or Long Term Nurture Lists

Everyone has junk leads. Folks who filled out your inquiry form then pretend they’ve never heard of you. Or maybe they ask a bunch of questions, suck up a ton of resources, and never convert. Or maybe someone was ready to buy, but something came up and they put the whole consideration on the back burner. 

Matched audiences give you the opportunity to reach back out to long-forgotten audiences with relevant messages that just might get them back into the active funnel.

We Lied…There Are 6:
Lookalike Audiences

This is a post about using matched audiences to better convert your database into paying and returning customers, but your data is also a gold mine for prospecting new leads.

By properly segmenting your data by prospects vs. suspects, new customers vs. returning, or by product or service line, you can create strong bases for creating lookalike audiences. What are lookalikes you ask? Well, a lookalike audience is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a targeting algorithm that takes certain attributes about an audience you know to find other online users who have the same or very similar attributes.

Facebook/Instagram has a terrific lookalike algorithm that we’ve found effective for lead generation or interest campaigns. LinkedIn has a very limited product now, but promises a more robust offering sometime in 2019. Google Ads offers a “Similar Audiences” option on its display network that works similarly.

The Fine Print

So now you’re psyched to start leveraging matched audiences. Fantastic. But you should know the success of your matched audiences strategies rests singularly on the quality and quantity of your database.

Quality matters. Clean data is key because it helps accurately segment who gets what message. With a clean, robust CRM, using matched audiences will be a cinch. With a rat’s nest of incomplete, incongruous records that the sales team has promised to clean up some day, you won’t see the same results. Devote time to examine your data collection process and clean it up. Again, the cleaner the data, the more relevant the targeting and messaging can be.

Quantity matters. Small data sets are very difficult to scale. Optimally, you’d have 5,000+ records in any segment where you’re trying to use matched audiences. This is due, in part, to data minimums. For example, LinkedIn requires a 300-match minimum to run Sponsored Content or InMail ads. But mostly if there aren’t enough people in your pool, you won’t be able to serve enough impressions to be effective. This is a low-cost media tactic that requires time and effort, so you want to make sure there’s enough scale to justify the labor cost.

Now go forth and match your audiences, have more relevant conversations with your leads and customers, and grow your revenue. Good luck!