Paid Advertising at Each Stage of a Buyer’s Digital Journey

Paid Advertising at Each Stage of a Buyer’s Digital Journey

In today’s digital marketing space, it’s becoming more crucial than ever to hone in on a potential customer’s journey through your funnel. Each stage plays a key role in influencing the ultimate goal, a purchase, and even a repeat customer.

HubSpot defines three stages to the buyer’s journey; awareness, consideration, and decision. It’s important to not only know what the buyer’s journey looks like for your products or services, but also to know how to treat each within your paid media campaigns. If you’re like most companies out there, your paid media efforts of paid search, paid social, and display advertising are all operating in their own silos. They may even be accomplishing different goals that are not necessarily working together.


In a perfect world, paid media channels should be applied in a holistic strategy that are moving the prospect through the buyer’s journey to becoming a high-ROI, loyal customer. In fact, according to a study by Google, 65% of revenue comes from purchases made in more than one channel. That tells us that if you have a multi-channel presence, you’re more likely to maximize ROI with valuable customers. The question then becomes: how should you set up multi-channel campaigns that target these types of valuable customers at the right time during their journey?

Don't silo your paid media. Understand the customer's journey & how paid impacts them in each stage. Click To Tweet

Start with a top of funnel content marketing strategy

One of the main mistakes we’ve seen advertisers make is targeting only bottom of funnel leads throughout all of their campaigns. Targeting your audience at the top of the funnel is vital.

Example: A new home builder directs their entire target market to schedule a tour. A prospective home buyer may have just started their research (awareness stage), and may not even be as far along yet as knowing whether they want a brand new home to be built, move-in ready home, or resale home. Worse yet for this home seller advertiser, they don’t even know if their prospects want to rent or buy a home. The first interaction with this prospect is neutral, since they weren’t ready to make a decision when they were simply trying to research their home buying options.

Instead, you should follow the example set by New Home Source, a business that created a top of funnel piece of content with information on buying a new home versus a resale home. This is a good piece of content that provides the pros and cons of both – while leaning towards recommending a new home, which is their sole business.

new home source

Considering those in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey is extremely important to reduce wasted opportunities on these types of interactions, and instead focus on how to move them towards the decision stage.

Utilizing paid media at the awareness stage is a great way to get in front of your target market with content that softly introduces your products or services as well as your brand. Those in the awareness stage just became aware they have a need or a problem and are researching potential solutions. They may be in your target market, but are not quite ready to purchase. Treat them in a way that matches them where they are in the funnel by promoting an engaging piece of content through a display campaign or paid social campaign.

Here are some interesting insights from Google’s study on what interactions either assist or convert customers at different points of their journey.


Target prospects in the awareness stage to softly introduce your brand before they want to make a decision. Click To Tweet

Paid search prospecting campaigns

In addition to utilizing paid social and display advertising to target those in the awareness stage, you can also use paid search to prospect new visitors for you. You’ll want to exclude previous visitors from these search campaigns to be sure you’re truly prospecting visitors who have never interacted with your site.

Also, think through your keywords carefully to ensure you’re listening for the right kinds of queries for this type of strategy. A keyword like “buy red running shoes” shows intent and is probably closer to the decision stage, and therefore should be treated differently. From here, you can start the conversation with these new visitors to your site through engaging and useful content, much like you did in the display and social campaigns.

#paidsearch for prospecting: think through keywords carefully so you listen for the right kinds of queries. Click To Tweet

What this now allows you to do is retarget these visitors since they’ve now interacted with you. You can then continue the conversation and work them down towards the next stage in your funnel.

Example: A new home seller could promote their overall market page listing all of their communities and price ranges to a prospective buyer in the awareness stage. This prospect knows they want to move, but haven’t yet considered their options, and the home seller just showed them all the options they have to offer. As the prospect continues their research, the home seller can stay in front of them by moving them further along the journey. They could do this by retargeting them with floorplans in their community, comparing their community with others, or providing a list of schools in the area. Eventually, the home seller can influence the prospect to visit one of their model homes, passing them off to a salesperson to complete the process.

Utilize remarketing strategies

Now that you’ve got a pipeline for generating top of funnel, awareness stage leads, it’s time to help them move through your buyer’s journey to ultimately make a purchase. One of the ways you can do this is by utilizing Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, which allow you to retarget visitors to your site just like you would in a standard display remarketing campaign, but this time through search ads when they’re searching for your products again.

Since we already know that most revenue comes from multi-channel interactions, this presents a great opportunity to stay in front of prospects you’ve already interacted with and take them further down your funnel.

RLSA campaigns can prove to be extremely cost-effective, since you’re targeting those familiar with your brand as they search for keywords that are targeted more towards the consideration and decision stages. This is the type of campaign that allows the home selling example from above continue to have conversations with their prospects through paid media. Our home seller could utilize an RLSA list to retarget all visitors to one of their communities with ads that promote a contest for $25,000 in free upgrades in order to give their prospects the final push and messaging they need to take action.


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Another powerful way to utilize remarketing strategies is to influence repeat purchases. Utilize retargeting strategies to stay in front of all of your previous purchasers searching for similar products to influence them to become loyal, repeat purchasers. Maximize the ROI of your current customer base by retargeting them, ensuring you keep them as repeat customers and that they stay away from the competitors that may be bidding on similar terms.

Don’t forget branded campaigns

A lot of times the buyer’s journey may lead a potential customer to download your piece of content, come back for a free demo of your product, and then finally return during the decision stage and purchasing directly through your site.

What if they didn’t remember your website and searched for your brand?

You’ll want to have a presence there for one last push to complete the conversation and lead them to purchase.  You may think it’s a waste of money since they’ve already made their decision, but studies have shown that bidding on brand terms actually leads to incremental clicks. We recommend utilizing all the SERP real estate you can, and your branded terms are going to be very affordable. That makes this strategy extremely cost-effective to stay in front of those that are close to making purchase decisions and bringing them home with one last push.

Studies have shown that bidding on brand terms actually leads to incremental clicks. #paidmedia #customersjourney Click To Tweet

Stay in front of prospects

It pays to stay in front of your prospects and avoid a leaky funnel. Paid media provides useful tools to do so, but don’t discount the organic ways you should be trying as well. Ensure you have a solid foundation for website optimization so that you can drive incremental clicks to your website through organic searches.

In addition, utilize strong email marketing campaigns as another way to stay in front of your leads and nurture them through the buyer’s journey. Similar to the paid media tactics above, a good lead nurturing strategy can target prospects properly at different stages of their journey through your funnel.

As marketers, we have many tools available to us that can become overwhelming at times. The most important takeaway is that you utilize each tool and tactic in a holistic strategy focused on the buyer’s journey, rather than the specific channel you’re working in. Paid media, email marketing, and SEO should all be integrated into one strategy that focuses on taking your prospective buyer’s through the journey to become happy, loyal, customers.

If you could use help conducting a holistic paid media strategy such as above, please let us know and we would be happy to assist in maximizing your digital ROI!

It pays to stay in front of your prospects and avoid a leaky funnel. A combo of paid and organic tactics should be considered. Click To Tweet

And now, here’s an animated infographic that breaks down what can seem like a complicated process into a simple illustration of how to get started with your thought processes:


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<a href=""><img title="Paid Advertising at Each Stage of a Buyer's Digital Journey" src="" alt="Paid Advertising at Each Stage of a Buyer's Digital Journey" width="715" height="3962" /></a><br /><a href="">Infographic</a> by <a href="">Vertical Measures</a>


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Andrew Hollington

Andrew has found his knack in the pay-per-click side of internet marketing and enjoys the challenge of driving cost-effective leads for clients. He is a proud alum of the University of Arizona, where he graduated with a degree in Marketing. #BearDown