Use Ad Nurturing to Drive More Conversions with Your Ad Budget

By August 29, 2020October 2nd, 2020advertising, conversion-optimization
Ad Nurturing

Are conversions on your mind? You’re not the only one.

According to HubSpot, only around 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.

For all the effort a business puts into attracting new audiences to their websites, it seems that the results don’t really live up to expectations.

And expectations run pretty high, considering that most businesses will focus on a variety of methods to optimize their conversions, from SEO strategies to paid ads, email marketing, and more.

For this article, I want to focus especially on the paid ads you may be running to drive sales, whether it’s on social media platforms like Facebook or PPC ads on Google.

And to start, I’m going to tell you exactly why your ads could be delivering better results, and what you can do to fix them using Ad Nurturing to increase your conversion rates (we are seeing an average 8.9 ROAS).

Here is the video overview of what Ad Nurturing is and how to use it.

The Way You’re Setting up Your Ads Is Flawed

Paid advertising is an effective way for businesses to reach their goals, but anyone who’s ever even so much as boosted a post on Facebook knows there’s a lot more to paid advertising than meets the eye.

Let’s consider your typical Facebook ad campaign, and go by the steps the platform asks us to follow.

First, we decide we want to create a new campaign, with the overall goal “Conversions.”

Facebook Conversions

Then we optimize our campaign based on what we want:

  • Choose the spending type
  • Set up our budget
  • Select the audience
  • Add the creative, like the ad image and copy and conversion action

A few moments later our campaigns can be up and running, with different ad sets and single ads that are shown to our target audience, all with the same goal in mind: Conversions.

That was easy.

By choosing this campaign goal, we are essentially telling Facebook what we want to get out of our ads experience. Even if we do an amazing job at targeting the right audience, we still need Facebook to use what they know about its users in our favor and take our ads to the people most likely to act the way that we want.

And in this case, the way we want them to act is taking a specific action that converts them, like buying something.

This principle, on its own, it’s pretty sound and will deliver results.

Instead of showing your ad to all Facebook users that fit your description, the platform only delivers the ad to the people who have a chance to act on it.

But let me ask you: who do you target with your Facebook ads, Google ads, or any other paid advertising for that matter?

I’ll tell you: you target new audience members, people who may have not even heard about you all their lives.

Here’s Why That’s a Problem

Imagine you get this ad in your newsfeed:

This is an ad JD Sports started running in the US in August 2020. It’s a carousel ad that pushes the sales page for Reebok sneakers.

Now, this is the kind of ad you can easily run for a wide audience because:

  • JD Sports has been around for over 30 years and has good brand recognition;
  • Even if you don’t recognize the brand name, clicking on the page you’ll find they have gathered over 3 million likes and follows – a MAJOR vote of confidence;
  • The product they are promoting is recognizable in its own right, as Reebok is a well-known sportswear company.

Put all these pieces together, and you can easily target a new audience with this kind of ad.

As long as you target an audience interested in these kinds of sneakers, you have all the chances of making a few sales (though even in this case it’s not the best strategy, but we’ll get to that in a second).

But for the second argument, consider you’re getting this other ad in your newsfeed:

If you haven’t heard of this particular brand ever before, and are only meeting it for the first time through this ad, what would you do? Would you buy the product?

You technically get most of the must-know information right in the ad, such as a view of the product itself, and how much it costs. But, you’d likely have loads of other questions that you’d have to research yourself:

  • Who are MOBS Sneakers?
  • What kind of materials are their shoes made from?
  • Do they make the sneakers, or are they just the vendor?
  • Is there an offline shop in my area I can visit?

Going to a completely new audience with this type of ad won’t likely end with many sales, even if you do use the “conversions” goals.

And that’s because a new audience is not warmed up to you yet.

New brands and smaller companies usually do not have the brand recognition needed yet for someone who has never heard of them before.

In other words, their trust has not been earned, which makes getting a conversion very hard.

What do you do?

Ad Nurturing to the Rescue

The concept of nurturing potential customers is an essential part of every online business’s marketing strategy because it helps you improve the way you advertise.

As marketers, this is one of those marketing 101 things we have to do.

Ad Nurturing is the idea of warming up your new audiences to who you are using paid media.

Think about it. These are people not yet in your database, so they have to be brought up to speed on just how awesome you are before they will trust you and commit.

Ad Nurturing is a way of telling stories through ads, over a period of time which works best for converting them to new fans.

Simply running static, blast out to everyone ads, like the shoe ads above, is only effective if you happen to reach the user when they’re in a buying mood.

Even if Facebook or Google takes the ad to the people most likely to take the action you want, it doesn’t mean they will.

Your ads may be reaching them at the wrong time, you may not have good brand recognition yet, or the product itself isn’t interesting enough for them to stop what they’re doing, click the ad, and then convert.

Some people need more time than that, especially for brands they’re not familiar with. And in some industries, even brand recognition won’t overrule their hesitation to think more about your offer before they act. It can take months to turn a user into a customer, and even more, to make them a loyal, returning customer.

But through ad nurturing, you are able to take it slow and move the user through all the stages of the conversion channel. It’s the repetition that gives them enough time to get to know your brand and product and get to make the final decision on their own terms.

This idea of nurturing the user isn’t new, in any sense, and you’ve probably been doing it through emails. In fact, most businesses believe that the only way possible to nurture customers is through sending messages to their inbox, but when you use ad nurturing, that’s no longer the case.

Email Nurturing Is Good But Not As Great as Marketing Thinks It Is

Controversial, I know, but hear me out.

Emails are… complicated.

I personally don’t know any brand who’s NOT doing some form of email nurturing, which brings us to the first problem:

1. Your Audience Is Being Bombarded with Emails

Seriously, have you opened the Promotions tab in your Gmail recently?

How often do you check this tab specifically, and how likely are you to click on the offers presented here?

The truth is, it’s really difficult to make your email stand out when it’s literally crammed between loads of other offers, some of which may be giving something similar to what you have.

With this strategy, unless you have a secret recipe to create the most compelling subject line time and time again, your messages get lost in a sea of very sad unopened offers.

And that brings us to issue no. 2 of email nurturing:

2. Abysmal Opening Rates

You really can’t nurture anyone if they’re not willing to hear what you have to say. Because there’s such an overload of information in people’s inboxes, potential customers don’t jump at the chance to click on your message and see what you have to say.

They kinda know what you’ve written there: an amazing offer they can get their hands on in just a few clicks. Awesome, just like 5 other brands. Users know these offers come and go, so they’re not in a hurry to open any promotional email unless they really (and I mean really) want your product.

And if your MailChimp dashboard shows okay opening rates, look at the clickthrough rates. Not very promising, are they?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying email marketing is a waste of time. Email nurturing is still very valuable, and you can get some good results from it.

But I am saying that if you only nurture through email, you’re not fully leveraging what the notion of nurturing your audience can do to your conversion rates. You should add the concept of ad nurturing to your marketing strategy as well.

You can use your paid advertising efforts to improve how you nurture your potential customers.

What Is the Power of “Ad Nurturing”?

At a high level, Ad Nurturing works the same way as email nurturing. It simultaneously checks your marketing nurturing strategy boxes and improves the way to run your campaigns by:

  • Increasing brand awareness;
  • Providing real-value for your potential audience, right in the ads they see;
  • It builds trust and allows you to anticipate and counter any objections potential customers may have.

If you adopt an Ad Nurture-first approach in your Facebook or Google ads, you’ll ultimately be providing users with something valuable first, and not just a “buy now” button they may not even be ready for.

Remember, most people engaging with these ads are probably not familiar with your brand… yet.

And even if they are, Ad Nurturing is still better at generating conversions than any single ad.

Ad nurturing involves leveraging the conversions funnel and slowly taking the user through each stage with your paid advertising so that by the end you get them to a place where they’ll happily convert.

With ad platforms like Google and Facebook, you have the ability to move people between audiences at certain times.

A Typical Ad Nurturing Campaign

So you could start with a general welcome ad over the first ten days which identifies with the problem you solve. They may not interact with the ad, but they have seen it which builds up equity in their mind.

In the second ten days, you move them to the next audience which shows the next ads which highlight could highlight the benefits of solving the problem which you solve.

Then you could move them into the third audience which has ads that provide a financial incentive or offer to convert.

You could do this for any time period and change it up as often as you want. Each step does have a conversion action they can take in case they have been convinced.

The goal is to build brand awareness and trust so that you convert MORE people using your ad spend.

And thankfully, paid online advertising services to make room for some pretty decent ad nurturing efforts.

Let’s look at some of the best ways you can start using ads for nurturing purposes.

1. Know Your Audience and Audience Segments

It’s a cliche at this point, but it bears repeating: if you don’t really know your audience, it will be almost impossible for any sort of marketing campaign to lead to conversions.

Note that I’m not just talking about broad details like the age group or the location where the audience lives. For ad nurturing to work, you have to give your audience relevant content (more on that later). To do that, you have to know them.

So researching your audience is the first step to ad nurturing. If you want to run Facebook campaigns, you can use the social network’s Audience Insights Tool to find out everything you can about your audience:

Once you choose the details of your audience that you want, you can start discovering who the people you’re about to target are:

Or they’re relationship status…

Top categories they’re interested in…

Even what kind of device they use:

Once you figure out who your target customers are beyond their age and gender, you can move on to the next stage of the ad nurturing strategy:

2. Segment Your Audience

Using this tool, or any other audience researching tool for that matter is essential because it gives you amazing insights into who these people are. Your product or service ultimately must address a certain need of the target audience, but to convince them to buy your product you have to create a story.

To create that story, start with the principles in the Grunt Test so that you can capture their attention quickly.

Now, you can create a broad story that fits most of the people in your overall audience, which is fine, or you can be more strategic and go beyond this principle.

I’d recommend you go for the latter option, for one key reason:

People want and respond MUCH better to personalized content.

They want to feel like businesses and brands are addressing their specific needs (solving a problem) and creating offers that feel just for them.

With email, personalization is easily achieved by just adding the person’s name at the beginning of the email copy and segmenting audiences to deliver customized email.

With paid media ads, personalization also comes from creating audience segments. Specifically, you need to look at your audience and see if there are certain common interests or criteria that you can use to segment them:

You never know what brings your audience together, but you should make note of it and move on to the next item on this list:

3. Personalize the Content and Choose the Right Format

After you create audience segments, you can start thinking of the ads that will appear in front of them, and link the copy and visual to the defining qualities of your segments.

This allows you to create personalized ads even if technically paid online advertising platforms don’t have the same personalization options as email platforms do.

For instance, your product could be perfect for both a mother of three and a 20-year-old college student. But the way to get to them is different, as they are worlds apart in terms of priorities, finances, or even just time on their hands.

Remember to also choose the right ad format to really get people’s attention. Newsfeed and Google search may not be as crowded as a person’s inbox, but you’ll still be going head to head with a lot of competitors for the same users’ attention.

Choose an ad format that complements your product in the best way, preferably one that’s also suitable for the specific goal your ad is trying to achieve.

4. Using Remarketing in an Ad Nurture Campaign

As I’ve said, ad nurturing is all about telling a story of your brand and product and taking the potential customers through different conversion stages with your ads.

But, if you just go by the default way of targeting in Facebook or Google, you won’t get past funnel step no.1 very often.

That is why you need to dive into the amazing world of retargeting (powered by Ad Nurturing), and you can only do that if you’re using some form of tracking.

For Facebook, you’ll need to install the Pixel on your website to allow the platform to follow a user from the moment they click on your ad to your landing page. This will help you with your retargeting efforts later.

In Google Ads, this is called the “global site tag.”

In both cases, you’re essentially dealing with a piece of code that has to be copy-pasted into the <head> </head> tags of your site to allow the services to track what users are there.

Once you have these codes installed is when the fun begins, because you can set them up to follow a specific action like, say, “add to cart.”

When you follow the “add to cart” action, you have two retargeting and ad nurturing options: go back to the people who did not complete their purchase, and give those who did, a little something extra.

For the first category, it’s the “you’ve left something in your cart” equivalent in email nurturing, only you’re going back to the user’s Facebook feeds to kindly remind them to finish their purchase via ad nurturing.

As for the people who did buy from you, you can offer them personalized offers over time, based on the things they’ve bought, such as:

  • Complimentary products
  • Discount codes
  • Exclusive deals
  • Thank you perks, etc.

Retargeting allows you to reach out to the people who’ve interacted with your ads through different stages of the conversion funnel, without pestering them with the same ad.

Each subsequent ad you present (nurturing) is connected to the previous experience they’ve already had, like in the case with the abandoned cart.

5. Repeat with New, Similar Audiences

Lastly, you can repeat and improve your ad nurturing strategy on a lookalike audience!

Facebook, for example, let’s you create Custom Lookalike Audiences based on existing audiences you’ve already targeted (with great success), or even a contact list of some of your most loyal customers.

With this option, you can start targeting another brand new audience pool that shares similar interests, demographics, and behaviors of the people who’ve already converted and bought something from you.

The idea behind this strategy is to go about the whole “reaching new people” goal using the built-in machine learning algorithms they have to find more high probability converters.

You can repeat the same ad nurturing principle with your new lookalike audience, and take them through the same stages of the story funnel.

What A Sample Ad Nurture Campaign Could Look Like

Lets say you run the marketing team for a small BBQ restaurant chain with 3 locations in Tennessee. Tennessee has some amazing barbeque places and people tend to not want to change from their favorite place.

So how do you change their minds and come try your lunch specials?

Of course, you want to attract new people in every day, but especially on those slow times when you’re losing money.

You’d first identify your different customer segments like family groups, those that have an interest in BBQ, maybe make a certain amount of money, live within at least 10 miles of your locations, and so on.

Your first ads to these new people who have never heard from you are your first introduction to them. Since you specialize in slow-cooked, smoked ribs, the “problem” you solve is getting amazing ribs now without all the waiting and hassle of doing it yourself. So you start with a video for the first 5 days.

Then you move them to the next ad group which focuses on all the other great foods you have available for lunch and dinner. You focus on the food to try and get them hungry. This goes on for another 3 days.

The last ad set is gearing up for a big weekend sale. You have a redeemable coupon for buying a half rack, get a half rack, but its only good for the next few days, so they better hurry in.

Of course, you have your remarketing going throughout the entire time so that if they visit your website, the next ad they get is special just for them to come in Tuesday for lunch and get a free dessert with any meal.

You get the idea. It’s all about building brand recognition and trust through your ad content.

Don’t be too pitchy. Try to deliver value, and use unique ads per audience whenever possible.

One final recommendation. Test ads. Don’t assume one ad will work for a given audience. Try different ads to find what messaging, ad format, and ad designs work the best to drive clicks and conversions.

One Hiccup with Ad Nurturing? Controlling Triggers

Doing ad nurturing in Google and Facebook is challenging, and I’ll be the first one to admit it.

It can be a nightmare trying to control when your next-stage ads get triggered in Facebook Ads and Google Ads, unlike with email nurturing methods where the platforms have perfected this idea.

Especially with Facebook, this strategy comes with the risk of showing the same ads to people over and over again, which as you can imagine doesn’t sit well with Facebook users because they no longer notice the ad, or they become annoyed seeing it over and over.

By default, Facebook may show your ads to people multiple times and we do want that. But what we want to avoid is that happening over many months.

On average, someone needs to see an ad about 7 times before they have a chance at taking an action.

A user that did not act on the ad the first time it appeared may act the second time around, so an ad frequency above 2-3 isn’t inherently a bad thing. We just want to avoid seeing the SAME ad a hundred times.

But there’s a fine line here that’s easily crossed.

So, how can you prevent this from happening?

Well, one option Facebook gives you is to cap the frequency, meaning you prevent the ads from being delivered to the same users more than a few times you establish.

The easiest solution is to move people between audiences on a schedule. That’s where smart Ad Nurturing comes into play. This can help ensure you’re still getting in front of your target audience, but not with the same ads on repeat.

Using our Ad Nurturing strategy, you present fresh content (in viewers’ eyes at least) on a defined schedule, which is a lot less bothersome than seeing the same video for the 17th time in your newsfeed.

While it can be tedious to do this process manually in Facebook, we built this Ad Nurturing functionality in Lumentis.io. It is a tool we’ve developed that can help move contacts between audiences to optimize your ad nurturing efforts and make it much easier.

Increasing a business’ conversion rate is by no means an easy task, and for it to actually happen you’ll have to employ several different strategies that work together for the same goal.

But at least when it comes to paid online advertising, adopting an Ad Nurturing strategy to guide you through how you set up your campaigns may just be the golden ticket you’re looking for.

If you want to get yourself noticed, you need to make sure your ads give something back to your potential audience and Ad Nurturing can tell a story that people respond to.

John Paul Mains

About John Paul Mains

John Paul Mains is the Chief Marketing Scientist at Click Laboratory. He loves all things digital, but especially SEO and analytics. If you're interested in learning more, his LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnpaulmains/.

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