As a premier data partner with robust third party data capabilities, we work with advertising agencies everyday, helping them execute effective digital and email campaigns for their clients. We’ve learned that many agencies expect far less from their data partners than they should, especially in the area of transparency. We like to start our conversations with advertising agencies with a series of probing questions that include:

  • Are you engaging the right audiences in digital campaigns for your clients?
  • Do you know who is buying your clients’ products?
  • Do you know who you are reaching with your digital advertising efforts?

Amazingly, we often find that agencies can’t answer these questions. If they can’t answer them for us, the scary truth is that they may not also be able to answer them for their clients. A recent campaign we conducted with nearly 200 retail stores revealed answers to all of the above questions and provides insight into the kind of open relationship and transparent information every advertising agency should expect from its digital partner(s).

The Campaign and Its Outcomes
We executed an ongoing digital campaign with prospects over a period of time that exceeded six months. We sent two communications a month on one channel. Discounting opt-outs, which are exceedingly rare, three outcomes were possible from the campaign:

  1. Open and click
  2. Open and read
  3. No measurable action

As any good CMO will ask its ad agency repeatedly, we were asked most often about the first bucket of respondents by our client. The first group that “opens and clicks” on campaign communications has long been considered the gold standard of digital campaign efforts. We all tend to place less value on those who “open and read” and largely consider the third group wasted effort. The problem with this value grid is that it supposes those in the third category aren’t engaging with the brand, let alone buying a product or service, at all.

“This third and largest group is a marketer’s silent majority,” says AcquireWeb President and CEO Albert Gadbut. “We all tend to discount them because they don’t advocate for all or some of the brands they purchase, but that doesn’t mean they don’t buy goods and services. If the true metric we care about at the end of the day is sales that can be tied back directly to marketing efforts, then we need two things – data transparency and focus on the silent majority.”

In our campaign, 93% of the targeted audience comprised the third category of respondents, and made no measurable engagement with our campaign communications. Just over 5% opened communications and a mere 1.2% opened and clicked. Yet, when we looked at who bought products at the retail stores we were advertising for, we found that overall, our targeted audience outperformed the general population by an average of 4 to 1. Stunningly, we found that the audience segment who bought the most products overall was the third segment; the silent majority out-bought the general population by 8 to 1 over the time span of the campaign.

“What we saw was that as a percentage of cohort, the open and click engagement rate was dramatically higher than any other group,” says Gadbut. “Yet the people who bought the most product overall were those audience targets who took no measurable action.”

The key to these results and interpreting the data hinges on the fact that we were able to provide our client transparency about who we targeted and who fell into each category. When our client compared that information against internal sales records there was no doubt about the overlap. We were able to tell exactly who we reached, how, when and see the results of those efforts.

“These results illustrate what agencies should expect from their data partners,” says Gadbut. “For us, it speaks to our capacity to identify a buying audience and to our transparency. Without that, and trust, we wouldn’t have access to these kind of deterministic outcomes.”

Marketers cannot and should not base marketing and channel selection or spend solely on how a specific audience engages or does not engage with a specific channel. In reality, more sales are generated from audiences who show no engagement with a given campaign. Most marketers will choose to not continue targeting that audience segment when in actuality, they represent the biggest opportunity for sales growth.

What are your thoughts on audience engagement?

What do you expect from your data partners?

Can you tie sales back to campaign results or is your marketing more ‘mystery and magic?’