Back to Basics: What Is Sequential Messaging?

March 4, 2019

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In an increasingly connected world, people are bombarded by marketing messages almost constantly. Today’s consumers can encounter up to 10,000 brand messages every day, far too many for a single person to remember or even notice.

Customers receive advertising messages through several different channels — ads appear on television, social media, the radio and even the sides of buses. In such a media-saturated landscape, successful advertisements must cut through the noise to grab an audience’s attention.

As consumers grow more accustomed to advertising, marketing strategy will necessarily become more sophisticated. One way you can create conversions as a marketer is to capture audience attention through sequential messaging.

What Is Sequential Messaging?

What is Sequential Messaging?

Sequential messaging, otherwise known as sequential advertising or sequential retargeting, is a marketing technique which uses a sequence of ads to tell a story. These ads appear across multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers to guide a target audience member seamlessly through the conversion process.

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Sequential messaging cuts through the noise of general advertising and creates a connection with the user that evolves over time. High-quality leads are shown a sequence of marketing messages specifically designed to resonate with them and persuade them to convert. As a result, sequential messaging is highly personalized.

Sequential ads appear in order for every prospect regardless of the platform they use. This means that someone may encounter one advertisement on their smartphone and a related ad on their laptop the next day. In sequential advertising, it’s the user and not the device that matters.

The term “sequential messaging” can apply to any marketing content shown in a purposeful order, including banner ads, search engine ads, social media posts, television commercials, blogs and other forms of organic content marketing.

Why Is Cross-Platform Marketing Effective?

Why is Cross-Platform Marketing Effective?

Cross-platform marketing plays an essential role in successful sequential advertising because most consumers today use multiple digital devices before making a purchase.

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To understand cross-platform advertising, think about how you use the internet. If you’re like most people, you frequently shift your attention between devices. Around 77 percent of Americans own smartphones, and 73 percent own a laptop or desktop computer. Other devices such as tablets and e-readers have also grown in popularity in recent years.

It’s safe to assume that most people use more than one device to access the internet. To maximize conversions from sequential marketing, brands need to send targeted advertisements to consumers across platforms. After all, you want prospects to see sequential ads in order, without repeats, regardless of what device they happen to be using.

Cross-platform marketing allows advertisers to efficiently reach audience members wherever they’re browsing. In fact, successful marketers are 35 times more likely to advertise across channels. Here are a few specific benefits of using a cross-platform strategy:

  • Visibility: People notice a brand more when its ads appear on multiple devices.
  • Consistency: Advertising across platforms allows brands to present a unified image and cohesive marketing strategy.
  • Personalization: Cross-platform advertising allows users to interact with your brand through their platform of choice.

How Does Sequential Messaging Work in Practice?

How Does Sequential Messaging Work in Practice

Brands use sequential messaging to tell a story that convinces an audience to convert over time. Let’s take a look at how sequential messaging works in practice.

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Generally, a sequential marketing path leads prospects through three stages of advertising content. In the first stage, users see an ad that introduces them to the brand and appeals to their beliefs and aspirations. In the second stage, the user sees advertisements that elaborate on the first ad, explaining the product and how it works to satisfy the user’s wants. Finally, in the third stage, the user sees an ad with a strong call to action, an invitation for the user to act.

Ideally, the consumer will feel ready to buy once they reach the final stage of messaging — the first few ads will have led them to the conclusion that purchasing the product or service aligns with their goals and self-image.

For example, let’s consider a woman browsing an apparel website on her tablet. She has previously purchased items from the online store, so she’s a high-quality lead with a high chance of conversion. She watches a video advertising a new brand of sportswear which shows several successful women engaged in healthy activities such as yoga, running or working out at a gym. The video introduces the brand and appeals to the woman’s lifestyle aspirations.

When she visits the site again, she’s on her smartphone. This time, she watches a video which tells the story of one woman who gets in shape and reduces stress by practicing yoga. The video doesn’t strongly push the new sportswear brand, but the woman in the video is wearing clothes from the brand’s yoga line. This message builds on the last ad by elaborating on the benefits of an active lifestyle and showcasing the brand’s products.

The consumer visits the site a third time on her desktop computer, and she sees a banner ad featuring a call-to-action to buy yoga-wear from the new brand, offering 25 percent off her first order. She likes what she sees and places an order. This call to action worked because the previous ads familiarized the customer with the brand and showed her the appeal of the product.

From this example, you can see that ad sequencing works by telling a personally relevant story before asking the consumer to convert.

Technology Is Critical in Sequential Advertising

A sequential advertising campaign creates a story which speaks to a particular consumer whatever device they use. It targets the right person at the right time and delivers the right message. Marketers design sequential marketing campaigns by using technology to gather data about what appeals to different audiences.

Here a few things you can do by analyzing user data:

  • Identify high-quality leads: Use data about a lead’s behavior to determine whether they have a high chance of converting.
  • Develop effective messages: Use information about your audience to craft messages that appeal to their core beliefs, aspirations and needs.
  • Determine when to show messaging: Track user interaction with your ads and optimize the timing of messages to maximize conversions.
  • Target specific devices: Understand how prospects access your website and adjust campaigns to target most-used devices.

The data required to perform campaign actions are available through the internet. However, in addition to user data, brands also need powerful technology to collect, manage and analyze their information and obtain actionable insights. For this reason, Lotame has developed a Cross-Device solution to enhance our data management platform.

As we’ve discussed, today’s consumers use multiple devices to access websites and conduct business online. Lotame’s Cross-Device solution collects data per type of device and maps different devices together using signals transferred between those devices. This process enables you to accurately pinpoint audience segments across devices.

When used with Lotame’s data management platform, you can mine data from the Cross-Device solution for powerful insights into consumer preferences and behaviors. You can use these insights to optimize your sequential messaging, engage audiences more deeply and improve your overall return on investment.

How to Tell a Story Through Ads

Once you know who your target audience is, you need to craft a story that resonates with them. Though people don’t always think about advertising as a medium for storytelling, narrative is a powerful marketing tool. In today’s media landscape, a strong narrative can help get your sequential ad campaign noticed.

Storytelling in advertising is similar to any kind of storytelling. In general, stories contain characters who attempt to overcome obstacles to obtain something they want. Advertisers can use a sequential story to engage an audience and offer their product as the solution to a problem.

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To create a compelling story, you need to understand your audience and cast them in the role of the protagonist. What does your audience want? What challenges do they face? By tailoring your ad campaign to your audience, you help ensure a successful outcome. Here are five other tips for telling a story through sequential ads:

  • Know your audience: Identify why the lead may need your service or product. Examine your target market and use data to determine what motivates your lead. Discover what challenges they face and what inspires them to act. When you understand your audience fully, you can tailor your story to fit their unique perspective.
  • Target the lead’s pain points: Your lead’s pain points are simply the driving factors behind their need or desire. To effectively persuade your audience, target their pain points by acknowledging the reasons they might want your product or service. For example, if you’re selling tax preparation services, you might refer to the confusing nature of taxes. Use pain points to establish conflict in your story.
  • Present a solution: In a narrative context, your brand’s product is the solution to the audience’s problem. They can use your product or service to overcome an obstacle and obtain an appealing reward. Present your solution by explaining how the product relates to the audience’s problem or desire. Additionally, show the audience what life will be like with the reward. In our women’s sportswear example, the reward involves a fashionable look and an even more fashionable active lifestyle.
  • Use a strong call to action: In the final step of your sequential messaging, you’ll want to invite the audience to act. A strong call to action makes the next steps easy for the audience. Including positive customer testimonials or offering discounts could help give prospects the final nudge they need to convert.
  • Keep it authentic: Narratives that highlight your customers or your company can connect with audiences. However, people are also skeptical about advertising and notice falsehoods and exaggerations easily. Keep the details of your story authentic to create a positive brand impression.

By using sequential ads to tell each part of a story, you can gradually guide prospects through the conversion process and inspire them to act.

Steps for Implementing Sequential Advertising

Steps for Implementing Sequential Advertising

Craft Sequential Messaging with Lotame

Successful sequential advertising requires research and thoughtful campaign creation. This effort pays off by increasing conversions and providing valuable data about your audience. You can follow these steps to make sequential messaging part of your brand’s marketing strategy.

1. Identify High-Quality Leads

Before you can start designing a sequential messaging path, you need to determine who makes up your target audience. Usually, you’ll want to identify and target high-quality leads, people who are most likely to take action in response to your advertisements.

You can define your audience using a variety of criteria. Marketers often segment audiences according to age, gender, interests and online behavior, among other things. You can target one demographic quality or a combination for more specific results.

2. Determine the Best Messaging

Once you’ve identified high-quality leads, you can determine what messaging will appeal to them. Consider your demographic’s values, aspirations, experiences and life challenges. These factors will inform the tone and content of your messaging.

3. Target the Right Devices

A successful campaign targets the right devices. Determine what devices your target audience uses and plan to place ads on those platforms. You can also target certain ads in your sequence to specific devices. For example, you might place a search engine ad with a call extension to appear only when a user is on their phone. Some types of ads perform better on certain platforms.

4. Tell a Compelling Story

The purpose of a sequential marketing campaign is to tell a story through your messages. Use the storytelling tips provided above to craft a campaign that engages your target audience and leads to conversions. Pay particular attention to the order of your ads, moving from broad brand messages to a specific call to action.

5. Track Your Success

Once you’ve launched your campaign, it’s critical to track its performance. Collect data throughout the campaign and use that information to make adjustments. For example, if you find that users aren’t engaging with your call to action, you might consider adding a few more sequential messages that lead up to it.

Collecting and organizing campaign data can help you optimize your current and future sequential ad campaigns.

Benefits of Sequential Marketing

Sequential marketing provides several distinct advantages. It conveys your brand’s personality across a range of devices and screens, creating a cohesive experience with a lasting impression. By reaching customers on multiple devices, sequential messaging also increases brand visibility and drives conversions regardless of where users encounter your ads.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of sequential advertising is its ability to tell a story. Showing users sequential messages that tell a story significantly increases engagement and conversions — message sequencing increased click-through rate 87 percent, according to one study. Stories speak to people in ways conventional advertising cannot.

Overall, sequential advertising enables you to make a lasting impression and generate higher-quality leads through high audience engagement. By collecting and analyzing data about your audience’s interaction with your ads, you can enhance campaign performance and generate more conversions.

Craft Successful Sequential Messaging With Lotame

Craft Successful Sequential Messaging

When done well, sequential messaging is a technique that can greatly amplify your marketing efforts. Collecting user data and optimizing your ads for viewing across devices can help your story reach more people.

At Lotame, our data management platform provides the technological power you need to collect, organize and activate data segments for targeted sequential advertising. As an independent platform, we’re dedicated to helping meet your brand’s unique needs.

Contact our team of specialists to learn more about how Lotame can help you implement sequential messaging that captivates audiences.

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