Owning your audience: Why should you care?


We all know the difference between owned, earned and paid media – but why are so many marketers making noise about the value of owned audiences right now? Why are owned channels so important for online retailers, and, ultimately…

Why should you care?

Brands will always need to embrace the marketing cocktail of owned, earned and paid media. However, many brands can fall into a cycle of over-prioritising paid channels, and somewhat neglecting their owned ones.

While Facebook and Google aren’t going away any time soon — nor would we want them to! — they aren’t the be all and end all. Owned channels, such as email and text message, offer a cost-effective and scalable way to engage customers, and they can make a real impact.

Research suggests Google Ads have an average click-through rate of around 3.17%, while for Facebook it’s closer to 1.1%. Across industries, the average click-through rate for email is 11.3%, and when those emails are personalised, that percentage is significantly  higher. In fact, Wunderkind data has found that personalised emails can generate 24x the revenue of generic ones.

And the costs associated with paid ads are rising. A recent piece in The Drum noted that digital ad prices are on the rise ‘across the board’, while a Business Insider report found that price for advertising on TikTok, Facebook and Google increased year on year, while the cost for sponsoring a product on Amazon also grew.

Insider reported that Meta’s cost per thousand (CPM) increased by 61% YoY, reaching an average CPM of USD $17.60, while TikTok’s CPM increased by 185% YoY. Google also saw programmatic display CPMs increase by 75% YOY, while search ad cost-per-clicks (CPCs) went up by 14% YOY.

While it’s certainly useful to harness these platforms and make use of their incredible reach, they should form part of your customer acquisition mix, rather than be the entirety of it.

With third-party cookies on the verge of being consigned to the history books, it’s likely that marketers will see a significant reduction in the reach, effectiveness – and revenue performance – of 1-to-1 retargeting via typical paid channels, including  search, social and display. This means there’s never been a more business-critical time to focus on capturing and owning your customers’ first-party data. 

An owned audience puts the power in your hands. You choose how often customers see your messaging, what information they’re presented with, via which medium, and, importantly, you can measure the impact. Owned audiences let you build one-to-one relationships with your audience, and are key to giving loyal customers experiences and rewards that’ll keep them coming back. Also, the data is very much yours and will live within your CRM and analytics platforms, making it both tangible and actionable. 

Building an owned audience

Building an owned audience starts with getting people to come to you, which is where paid media still plays an essential role. Then, once they’re on your site, the process of capturing — and ultimately ‘owning’ — their data begins.

There are various ways of capturing data once a visitor comes to your site, so let’s run through five of the main approaches:

  • On entrance
    This is, more often than not, the best performing data capture strategy. Quite simply, an ‘on entrance’ campaign pops up immediately when a consumer visits a brand’s website. The user will be presented (generally speaking) with an introductory offer — 10% off an initial purchase, for example — in exchange for their email address or mobile phone number.
  • On exit (exit intent)
    An ‘on exit’ message will, as the name suggests, be shown to a website visitor when they are on the verge of leaving. Once it appears that a user’s intent is to veer away from the website, they will see an offer or discount, similar to those that are presented on entrance. Because a user is already engaged with the website, this approach is a powerful way of capturing data.
  • Native deployments
    This approach is about capturing user data in a manner that is in keeping with the brand’s overall digital aesthetic. It’s seamless and logical. This option could allow a web visitor to sign up for a newsletter, or could be a button on a product page that offers a discount in exchange for a visitor’s email address.
  • In checkout
    This approach is how brands capture their highest intent users on-site. Because they will only see this method of data capture if they’ve made it all the way to the checkout page, it’s highly likely that they’ll be willing to hand over an email address or mobile phone number, especially if they’re going to get a discount. 
  • Persistent deployments
    Rather than simply confronting a user as soon as they land on a website, or hitting them when they’re just about to leave, persistent deployments are used by retailers when they want to be a little more subtle. They sit in the corner of a website — usually in the form of a non-intrusive button — and follow the user through their website journey, ready and waiting to be clicked on when the customer is ready. Like most data capture approaches, this deployment tends to offer a discount code or reward of some kind.

All of these are viable and useful, and though they operate at different stages of the user journey, are all designed as value exchange propositions.

Once you’ve done enough to get someone to hand over their data, the next — and much bigger  — job is understanding what they like, what they don’t, when they tend to buy, what messaging resonates, and how they like to be interacted with. 

An owned audience is one that will be receptive to your content and overall offering, will likely go out of their way to promote what you’re doing (as long as you’re doing it well), and can be reached directly with messaging that you know from prior experience they’ll engage with.

Key takeaways

  1. Brands need loyal customers. The consumers who will convert time and time again, and are likely to promote your brand to friends, have to be kept happy. Reward and encourage brand loyalty.
  2. Don’t underestimate the value of personalisation. Personalisation has been a marketing buzzword for years, and that’s because it keeps delivering. Personalise your messaging and give customers experiences they’ll value.
  3. Cookies are on the way out. With third-party cookies on the verge of extinction, brands need to find other ways of reaching customers and pushing out messaging. Gathering first-party data and building a marketable database takes time, so the best approach is to start doing it now.
  4. Make use of various touchpoints. There are numerous ways of enticing a consumer to hand over their data once they visit your website, so make use of as many as possible. Once they’re on your site, capturing their data is arguably just as important as getting them to commit to an initial purchase.
  5. Put the power in your hands. Obtaining personal data directly from customers and being able to provide them with tailored, relevant content is powerful. Increasingly, people expect personalised experiences, and owning your audience allows you to provide what they’re looking for. Relying on third parties isn’t the way forward.

Author: Cian Agnew, Executive Director, Client Partnerships, Wunderkind International