Pro Tips: Powering Consideration with Programmatic Advertising in Email

One of the trickiest stages of the funnel for brands to manage is Consideration.

It sits in a nebulous zone between Awareness and Conversion, making it difficult to measure and attribute – especially if you’re a brand that doesn’t actually sell the product you produce, like Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) or Personal Electronics retailers.

In a presentation I gave during the AdWeek NextTech conference, I had the opportunity to discuss these challenges and tell the story of one brand that (I believe) has been remarkably successful at bridging that gap, Penguin Random House. The book publisher knows that capturing email addresses is key to building relationships directly with book buyers and can help commerce partners increase sales.


Penguin Random House creates products that they don’t sell directly to their customers. Instead, they drive people to make purchases in stores and on ecommerce sites like Amazon. But even though the purchase occurs outside their purview, they understand the value of being able to speak directly to their customers and in having insights into their path to purchase. Which is why they focused on email acquisition as a strategy.

To build their email database, they ran a sweepstakes campaign designed to attract prospective fans of their fantasy book series. In this campaign, they used their existing CRM database to create lookalike models and targeted readers of third-party email newsletters they believed to be contextually relevant. They also suppressed existing subscribers to prevent wasted marketing spend.



This combination of targeting and efficiency helped drive more than 200,000 new subscribers in a year at an average click-through rate of 0.2%. That’s about ten times more effective than a normal web display. And with these email addresses, they were able to more accurately map a customer’s journey from the initial ad impression, to signing up for the sweepstakes, to the eventual purchase.

The best news? Any company can replicate Penguin Random House’s success and build its own highly engaged, hyper-targeted email list. Here’s how to get started.

Pro tips for the consideration-stage in email advertising

One of the reasons programmatic email advertising is ideal when building an email list is that email readers are… well… more likely to engage with email. That may seem obvious, but it’s an important fact that many marketers overlook.

When buying media programmatically within the email channel, an ad is only served “on open” – which means you’re only paying to reach people who have subscribed to, opened, and engaged with email. Guess what kind of customers make the best targets for email lists? Those who have subscribed to, opened, and engaged with email.

Now that you’ve got the audience is right, here are three tips for getting the marketing right.

1. Keep your CTAs soft

Remember that when you’re in the consideration stage of your marketing funnel, calls to action should be soft. If you use a hard ask, you risk scaring people off before they’ve engaged – and, more importantly, before they’ve given you their email address. Create a simple, compelling offer to capture their data. This establishes the relationship and allows you to nurture them through the funnel.

2. Use simple and clear creative

Likewise, consideration-stage customers can be scared off by creative that’s too busy or complex. Keep it simple and make sure you’re adding value with your offer. Almost every customer would agree with the statement that their email address is a personal thing, and something that has real value to them. Acknowledge this reality by making sure your offer is valuable and personal too, so it’s an equitable trade.

3. Suppress existing customers

Don’t forget to suppress your existing customers so you aren’t paying to reach people already in your funnel. This is an easy action to take because email is a logged-in channel. Suppressing on a one-to-one basis is simple, quick, and helps ensure you’re spending your budget as efficiently as possible. It also keeps you from annoying existing customers with ads or offers they’ve already opted into.

Move back up in the funnel and check out Awareness tips here. 

Want to learn tips for other stages of the funnel? Watch Nick’s presentation here.