How Programmatic, Marketing Automation and Database Segmentation should be driving your sales funnel.

By Todd McPhee on Sep 16, 2016

I had an interesting conversation recently with the head of a very well respected, independent creative agency. Part of the conversation was me explaining how, 7 years ago we pitched a 5 year plan to a clothing retailer that focused on community/database growth via content and targeted communications, with the end goal being a much smaller reliance on TV advertising (‘hurry, sale ends this Sunday’!!). We even presented how that database could be monetised via inclusion of other business partners, making the activity self-funding. We lost the pitch. His response was, ‘You should go and re-pitch it now’! Maybe we were a little early with our thinking...

I still have that presentation and I’m not going to re-pitch it as that client still seems to be running ‘hurry, sale ends this Sunday’ TV campaigns.

We have a lot of conversations with people about the Programmatic, Marketing Automation and Database pieces and how they work together. The business case and numbers stack up, but it can surprisingly still be a hard sell.

So, how do we explain how we make it all work? Well, once we run through the diagram below, most people have their ‘Aha’ moment (others say that it’s creepy/stalky, but awesome…).

Here goes:


Programmatic (and other forms of advertising, but we are just focusing on Programmatic here)  drives the top of the sales funnel. It casts the net out to an audience we think will be receptive to our ad message and drives them to our clients’ site landing pages. Whilst we think we know a lot about these people (cookies/pixels..), we don’t. At this stage of the purchase cycle, they are ‘
unknown visitors’.

We can retarget them to stay top of mind, but that still doesn’t tell us any more about them. It usually only drives them back to where they were at some other point in time.

We need to find out about these people. We do that through Marketing Automation. Marketing Automation is the software we integrate into our client’s website and CRM that allows us to automate certain processes. Through this software, we offer content for download, ask visitors to sign up to newsletters and serve/swap out content that’s relevant to that particular person (that covers about 5% of its capabilities).

Once our unknown visitors tell us something about them (e.g., name, email, site topic of interest), they become a ‘known visitor’.

With known visitors, we can start serving them the content that we know they are interested in, both on our client’s website and through other marketing channels. Are they more interested in 3 bedroom apartments or 1 bedroom? Do they want to have a summer holiday or winter?

Read more about tracking website visitors and customising the user’s experience, click here.

While keeping this conversation completely relevant to the visitor, we have an increased chance of converting them with a sale (or whatever ultimate action we are driving them to). This turns them into a ‘customer’. They enter our customer database and are segmented according to what they purchased. With proper database segmentation, we can do things like offer products that are complementary with what they purchased, keeping the customer active.

Now, here’s where it gets fun. Our programmatic platform has what is called ‘Look Alike’ and ‘Act Alike’ targeting. Basically what this means is, the platform will go and advertise to people who have similar online behaviours to those who converted or became customers. So, person ‘A’ converted, there are other people out there with similar online behaviours to person ‘A’, so let’s advertise to them!

Why is this the fun bit? Well, it fills the top of the sales funnel with more potential customers, who are highly likely to want your product, and it all happens in real time.

When implemented correctly, Programmatic, Marketing Automation and Database Development are such hot topics, they find potential customers, serve them information they like/want and consistently increase the chance of conversion.

Now, I have to go as the sale ends Sunday and I don’t want to miss out!

Todd’s been in the media industry for over 20 years. He founded Engaging in 2009 because he saw how digital was going to be able to deliver exciting and measurable returns for his clients. He still has the knack for identifying new and emerging tech that will impact the industry. He’s an honest man who really enjoys direct contact with his clients.

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