Wouldn’t it be astounding if your product or service could stand the test of time and have infinite success? I mean, if your ads are doing great and your product is amazing, why can’t it last forever?
You worked so hard to get to a point where you felt you’ve made it, but good things don’t last forever do they.
One of the hardest things in business (and in life) is the ability to be self-objective. In many of the consultations I do for online businesses, I never get called when business is booming. It’s usually the same call for help that sounds like “Our business was doing so great until now, then ROI started to drop. Now we are at a point where we need an expert to examine our marketing campaigns and try to identify why they are not profitable anymore”.
In reality, the reason goes beyond their marketing campaigns. I call it “The 15 minutes of advertising fame”. The laws of supply and demand teach us that nothing is infinite. It doesn’t matter how good your ads are performing and how much money you’ve made, there will always be an invisible cap that will affect the growth and profitability of your ads which will eventually lead to a drop in return on investment.
I am not claiming that your profits will decrease, I am stating that unless your business transforms into new markets with new products, your return on every dollar spent will gradually decrease.
The term “audience bank” is a theoretical term that I use to describe the size of the potential users/people that are likely to be interested in your product or business over a lifetime.
The best way to explain it is in the following way:
Imagine having a savings account. That savings account can be your Instagram followers, your FB followers, your email list, or your target audience on platforms like Facebook or Google. Imagine that every time you advertise to this group, you use your savings account.
The more you advertise to them the more immune they become to your posts or ads and the less effective those posts or ads will become. Like a stimulus that initially grabs your attention, you find that after a few times, you pay less and less attention to it. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, you can grow your audience bank just like you can grow your savings account as more people could be added to your audience through such methods as gaining more followers, more people being added to your target audience, etc. However, what happens when the reach to your audience exceeds its growth? Meaning, the more you post or advertise to them, the higher the number of posts/ads a user in your audience group is exposed to, which can negatively affect the response rate from the audience. Think of how a user might respond when he sees one post from you per month vs one post per week. Results will suffer.
What’s Your Real Audience Size Anyway?
There is a difference between your existing audience and your potential audience reach.
Existing audiences include your customers, followers on social media, website visitors, and people who are familiar with your business.
These existing audiences are easier to measure because their estimated numbers are tracked. However, it’s important to consider what part of that audience is likely to convert into a customer. Not all followers have value beyond social proof that can be converted to a dollar amount.
That’s why it’s important to understand that your existing audiences don’t represent the size of actual potential customers.
Potential audience reach refers to the audiences that advertising platforms estimate might be relevant to your business. Depending on your targeting selections a good estimate for this group will be anywhere from a few hundred thousand to 500 million. That depends on if you just target domestically or worldwide, etc.
On Facebook it looks like this:
On Google it looks like this:
The point here is that these are just wildly broad estimates. From the above estimates, how much of the estimated audience do you think are actually relevant to your business? How many of those people shop online? How many of those people might be interested in your product compared to your competitors? How likely are they to be purchasing from you?
As soon as you start breaking down the numbers, the figures become much smaller than you initially expected. That exact number will be later classified as your audience market share, which is how many of those users end up being your customers.
The break-through period, also known as the peak, is the period where your product disrupts the market and performs at its highest levels.
This happens when new businesses introduce innovative products that are new to the market or existing products are promoted on platforms where direct competition is low.
Product niches are a terrific example of this as these are usually innovative products that explode during their launch as competition for that specific audience is low and they temporarily own a large part of the audience market share.
Eventually, competitors tag along and nurture off the same audience bank and you find that your performance starts declining. That explains why products that sold incredibly well last year, don’t perform the same this year. During the break-through period, businesses experience their most profitable period and, after the market starts getting saturated, they are able to leverage the massive growth into sustainable performance with decreased return on advertising spend but increased profits because of the scale of their marketing budgets.
How to grow your audience bank and avoid audience saturation
Understanding that your audience will eventually be saturated and is not limitless is the first step to growing your audience.
Have you ever noticed how even the most niche companies evolve to larger and broader businesses? Whether it’s a mattress in the box company that starts selling furniture or sheets, or a workout gadget that becomes a fitness store, successful businesses understand that in order to grow you need to evolve.
If you are able to achieve a proof of concept and sell a product online to someone profitably you can’t stop with just one product. You have the audiences and you know how to sell.
Expanding your products or the service offered will not only help you regain more revenue from existing customers, but it will also help you gain other customers as well who might have an interest in your brand but who might not have an interest in your specific product. It’s important to understand the correlation between your marketing efforts and business development.
The more you spend on your advertising and reaching your audience, the more products or new services you need to introduce to the market. By evolving your brand and the products you sell, you will open opportunities for more revenue per lifetime from each customer as well as establishing long term growth.
Maximizing beyond the 2%
In order to make the most of your audience, you need to go beyond the “easy to reach” conversions, also known as the lowest hanging fruit.
Most online stores have an average that sits around 2% depending on what and where they sell.
In addition, on platforms like Youtube and Facebook, a decent click-through rate (total clicks from ad impressions) is somewhere around 2%. That means that in a given scenario, many advertisers are competing for the same golden audience that converts fairly easily.
In order to convert them into customers, no heavy lifting is required. That’s why when advertisers reach these customers, they think that their ads are good enough and put less effort on converting a bigger chunk of the audience that requires more work, more creativity, and more sophistication.
I always imagine it like an oval egg where the majority of advertisers focus on the lowest hanging fruits.
It’s not just advertisers, platforms like Facebook and Google also push advertisers towards this audience group as they want to deliver the lowest cost to advertisers.
In return, it can create a reverse that can increase ad cost since more competition means higher cost. The audience that is relevant, but is harder to convert, might have less competition as they might be more selective on ads they click on and what they purchase, but they can hold a large share of your audience bank.
In many cases, they might be sitting on the fence and you’re not aware. Maybe they are questioning your ads credibility, or maybe they saw one of your posts or ads and kind of liked it but not enough to click, sign up, or purchase. That’s where the holistic marketing strategy of showing these users more than just your ads comes into play.
Combining a full set of ads that showcase your brand’s story, different creatives than the one you normally use and understanding that many of these users see a large number of your ads, means that the story the ads make together could make a bigger difference than showing the audience repeatedly the same winning ad.
Although I am a marketer, I also buy online from ads that I see on Facebook and Google. I consider myself as part of the harder to convert group and one of the things that impact my decision making is when I see a rich creative storyline of ads where, instead of showing me the same ad repeatedly, advertisers target me with a different type of ad, each showing a different angle, story or even ad format which ignites the feeling of “ok this is a serious and thoughtful brand”.
They really put a lot into their marketing and I am curious to learn more. And it’s not always about the number of ads that I see per day from them, in some cases, it’s a brand that targets me for weeks and I end up purchasing after a few weeks. That tells a lot about the efforts that some brands take in their advertising and their understanding that it’s not just about showing users ads, it’s about showing them a story.
An audience bank consists of not only your existing customers but those potential customers who may have an interest in your product or service yet haven’t been exposed to your brand. As you extend your advertising reach beyond those who are already familiar with your business you open up an opportunity to access the wider audience who could possibly convert over to you.
As your audience becomes saturated, consider expanding your products and services so that you can reach a fresh segment of your target audience. Also, by putting thought into your creatives enhances the credibility of your business as well as increasing the chance of converting your target audience.