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Trading Up Media Blog

Journey Based Advertising: The Paid Strategy You Need To Know About




What is Journey Based Advertising & Why it Should Be in Your Ad Strategy

When you arrive at the store or hop on an e-commerce website, you usually do not start randomly buying things. There's usually a lot more thought that goes into your decision to what to purchase, why and when. In fact, there is a cognitive process that all buyers go through that leads them to a purchase, especially when there are a lot of options, or the product is expensive. This is called the buyer's journey. 
Buyer's Journey

Buyers don't just wake up in the morning and decide to buy something on a whim. Especially in the B2B world. They go through a process to become aware of a problem, consider and evaluate a solution to the problem, and finally make a decision to purchase a new product or service to solve that problem. Did you know that the average B2B buyer's journey takes 192 days?  This is why you want to build a marketing and paid digital strategy that accounts for the full sales cycle. A great way to do this is through journey based advertising.


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Journey based advertising is a paid advertising strategy that nurtures your buyer personas with targeted messaging, content and resources based on where they are along the buyer's journey.  With this strategy,  you guide your prospects through each stage and help them move closer to a decision with each ad. When you focus on the buyer's journey in your ad strategy, you will give your prospects a more appealing and personalized experience.


What you Need in Place to Start Journey Based Advertising

To successfully implement journey-based advertising, you will first need to understand both  your buyer personas and your full buyer's journey.  A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer that helps you understand and relate to the audience that you want to market and sell your products and services to. Journey based advertisements should blend into your buyer's day rather than interrupt it because it was so well crafted for them.

To properly gauge your buyer persona, you will need to research and collect data about your target audience. This can be done through demographic information such as sex, age, location, and education level. This can also be done through psychographic information such as interests, goals, challenges, and fears.



Once you understand who your buyer is, you must also understand how they think in order to target them. How they think will depend on what stage in the buyer's journey they are in. The buyer's journey consists of three cognitive stages: awareness, concern, and decision. Depending on the stage they are in, advertisements can better target buyers. 

We always recommend mapping out your full sales cycle and understanding the different touch points you make with a prospect during their buyer's journey. The better you understand this process, the better messaging and experience you can make for your prospects as they become a customer. 


What Kind of Messaging Should be Shown at Each Stage?

Different ads should be used for the different stages of the buyer's journey because at each stage, your prospect has different goals and hesitations. Once you determine what state of mind your buyer is in, you can use that to target them. When you take the time to do this work, you’ll provide the best user experience for your leads and optimize your return on paid ads at the same time. It is about nurturing your leads.

In the awareness stage, your buyer identifies a problem, so they start to investigate it further. The goal in this stage is to educate buyers to better understand their problem, but also make them aware that there are solutions to their problem. Simply, we want the buyer to see and engage with our solution. This can be done through video display ads, search words, sponsored posts, newsfeed ads, blogs, etc. 


In the consideration stage, buyers have clearly defined goals and challenges and have made commitments to addressing them. The goal in this stage is to help the buyer pursue their goals, get rid of their fears and solve their challenges by showing them why one brand is a better solution for them as opposed to another brand. This can be accomplished with comparative ads, social media ads, display ads, skippable video ads, and retargeting campaigns/ads to buyers that have previously engaged with your brand. 


In the decision stage, buyers are interested but still want to know specifically what you have to offer, so feel free to talk about the particulars of your product or service. The goal in this stage is to show the buyer why your product is the right choice and how it will help them achieve their goals so they can feel good about their purchase. This is done through ads with pricing and product features, coupons or discounts attached, retargeting, emails, phone calls, newsfeed ads, social media ads, videos, free trials, consultations, and using search words that include “near me” or “buy now”.


Why Does Journey Based Advertising Work?

It works because it makes sense. If you show somebody in the awareness stage a call-to-action ad to request a quote and they have never heard of your brand or even fully understand their needs, they probably won’t engage with that ad. Historically, ads were thought of as something to be seen and engaged with and then its job was over. Now, with advancements in technology, ads can track the buyer from the awareness stage all the way through to the decision stage. No more one-size-fits-all ads. Targeting buyers along their journey and personalizing the experience as much as possible allows advertisers to change their messaging strategy in order to guide a buyer closer to the decision stage. This way rather than an ad interrupting the buyer, it is aligned with where they are in the sales cycle.


Journey based advertising is about finding the buyer where they are, not where you think they are. It is a hybrid of the most effective marketing tactics to empower your buyers with the most relevant and customized content. When you serve the right message at the right time, people are not only more likely to pay attention, but also more likely to retain the information. This helps to bring better ROI for the money invested in advertising and have a better conversion rate. Applying the principles of inbound to your paid ad strategy gives you the power to step in and help buyers make their decisions.

Cynthia Zych

Cynthia Zych / About Author

Cindy is an avid writer, singer and current student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University!

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