Reducing Your Ad Spend to Get Ahead in 2023

Team Braze By Team Braze Mar 29, 2023

The volatility of the current economic climate is making just about every marketer anxious these days, forcing leaders and operators alike to rein in ad spend and double down on efficiency. And they’re not alone. In fact, a reported 60% of US consumers are highly concerned about the state of the economy.

To add insult to injury, in many ways the deck was already stacked up against marketing teams, with increased stringency around privacy and security cutting into brands’ ability to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. How are businesses supposed to navigate these choppy waters? And what will that mean for their bottom line when it comes to curbing ad spend?

The answers to these questions aren’t straightforward. But at Braze, we believe that there’s plenty of opportunity to be had for businesses that prioritize resilience, cost savings, and the sorts of strategic bets that will generate long-term growth. To make that easier for marketers, we’ve been hard at work building new functionality on the product side. Say hello to Braze Audience Sync, a high-impact feature that enables you to launch a cohesive experience directly within Canvas Flow, our customer journey orchestration tool.

To walk us through the major trends companies should watch out for when thinking through their ad spend and to dive deep into how Audience Sync can help, we spoke with Diana Kim, Senior Product Manager at Braze, at FORGE 2022, our annual customer engagement conference. Read on to learn what Audience Sync means for businesses looking to cut costs while boosting acquisition rates in 2023 and beyond.

3 Tailwinds Businesses Should Factor Into Their Engagement Strategy for 2023

#1: Channel siloes only hold businesses back

To truly engage consumers throughout your paid and owned channel ecosystem, you need to make a point of breaking down organizational silos. “In my previous time as a marketing manager, there was a real division between paid acquisition managers optimizing for Meta, Google, you name it, and CRM on the other side of the house that’s optimizing internal channels like push, in-app messages, and more. These conversations should have happened sooner,” Diana shared.

Brands that fail to embrace a cross-functional approach to communicating with their customers can find themselves facing significant downstream inefficiencies, especially when it comes to activating new users or communicating with specific audience segments. To avoid this pitfall, companies should assess their team structure and ensure they have technologies that can talk to each other, allowing them to stay on budget and avoid over-indexing on retargeting.

#2: Consumer expectations continue to rise

Lean times call for leaner teams and budgets, but that isn’t slowing down consumer expectations. Today, customers, regardless of industry, are savvier than ever. They expect messages that are timely, relevant, and personalized to their specific needs and interests. What’s more, they expect these experiences to be delivered across a host of channels, meaning companies that are slow to adopt a cross-channel marketing approach are more likely to fall behind the performance curve. Meanwhile, marketing teams across CRM and growth are having to do more with significantly fewer resources.

In this kind of environment, ensuring your organization is clear on its acquisition and retention goals can be just as important as the tools you use to reach those goals. Take the time to align with other teams that touch the customer lifecycle and make sure you’re investing in tools that can help you meet your company’s needs in this area without creating operational tech debt that could slow you down.

#3: Privacy mandates are here to stay

When it comes to data privacy and security, a good defense is your best offense. While consumers now demand real-time, personalized experiences, businesses need to balance those expectations with a privacy landscape that will only become stricter in the years to come.

Accordingly, adopting a compliant approach to customer engagement should be top of mind for every marketer. Since Apple’s mobile app-tracking updates in iOS 14 sent shockwaves through the industry in 2020, there have been rumblings that Google might follow suit, something that would fundamentally reshape the advertising landscape.

Even if that doesn’t come to pass, it’s clear that, as Diana says, “We’re moving toward a cookie-less world.” This shift can make it harder for businesses to understand what’s happening at the top of their funnel and can slow teams down if they don’t prioritize making strategic adjustments to get ahead of this shift. Having the right solutions for customer engagement makes it possible to get the zero- and first-party data you need when you need it to power your marketing efforts.

3 Ways Braze Audience Sync Can Reduce Ad Spend

If you read the forecast above and felt the sweat gathering on your brow, don’t fret. The Braze platform’s Audience Sync feature makes it easier to break down silos and tie together your owned and paid channels to support more cohesive, more impactful customer engagement. Curious how it works? We asked Diana to walk us through this key feature and how it can help support better business outcomes.

#1: Audience Sync unites your paid and owned strategies

In today’s market, marketers and other customer-facing teams alike are concerned with efficiency. Audience Sync unites your paid and owned channels within a single, streamlined experience that can extend the reach of your customer journeys.

Imagine that you want to build a win-back campaign. You might use the Braze platform’s Canvas Flow customer journey tool to build out an action path that automatically groups all the customers you’re looking to target based on their preferred messaging channels (i.e. users who prefer SMS to email or push will receive the corresponding message in that channel). But what happens with users who haven’t opted in to your owned channels? With Audience Sync, you can now engage these users by extending your reach into the Facebook, Google, and Tiktok advertising platforms. “If someone’s unreachable by Braze, we can retarget them there,” says Diana. “Audience Sync sits side by side with your other channels, so as soon as the customer reaches this step in your canvas, we send them dynamically into Facebook and it does it’s thing.”

What does that look like in practice? Take leading restaurant booking and discovery platform TheFork as an example. Their team suspected that the search campaigns they used to acquire new users were sometimes hitting existing users instead, causing an increase in cost per acquisition (CPA). To avoid this issue and maximize the number of net-new customers coming in, TheFork used Canvas Flow to create a list of active customers, then leveraged Audience Sync to share that list within the Google platform, where they used Google’s audience manager to exclude these users from future acquisition campaigns. By ensuring that ads were only directed to net-new prospective users, TheFork lowered their CPA by 12% and boosted the number of net-new customers by 21% while also driving significant operational efficiencies.

“I know in my marketing days when I had to do pull lists like this, they were very static,” Diana adds. “Someone had to pull that data, that data then had to go and be reformatted into whatever Google needed, and then we would upload it, but by that point the data’s already stale.” With Audience Sync, you’re able to do all of that work swiftly and at scale in a single flow.

#2: Audience Sync makes staying compliant easier, and helps with acquisition and retention goals, too

What is a relationship without trust? When a consumer engages with your brand, they’re entrusting you with sensitive zero- or first-party data like their name, phone number, and location identification. At Braze, we take that trust very seriously. Our customers rely on our platform to receive that data and use it to optimize their campaigns, from how they orchestrate a customer journey to how they personalize the content individual consumers receive. But did you know Audience Sync can help you use that same data to inform your paid acquisition and retention strategies?

With the extensibility of this new feature, you can create lookalike seed audiences that mimic your most valuable customers on leading ad networks in ways that respect privacy rules. Let’s say you’re a food delivery service, and you want to target consumers who have ordered food three times, and who’ve invited their friends to use your app; Audience Sync allows you to identify similar individuals to these high-value customers while also utlizing Braze Predictive Suite features to dial in on those who are less likely to churn. Further, Diana noted that “you can add in another filter for ads tracking,” which serves as an additional resource that can help ensure compliance with applicable privacy policies.

#3: Audience Sync delivers relevance in real time

Braze Canvas Flow offers significant flexibility when it comes to creating your user journeys—which makes it possible to deliver on the demands of today’s consumer without bloated ad spending or wasting precious time and team resources. And because Audience Sync makes it possible to stitch together your owned and paid channels, you can use that flexibility to support more responsive experiences for your audience across channels.

Diana calls out suppression lists as a key way for marketers to use these tools to support a better, more relevant experience. “You might use an action path step determining whether or not someone’s made a purchase,” she says. “If someone has already made a purchase, we don’t want to retarget them and waste ad dollars on them, right? So we can simply remove them from the promo audience on Facebook, really ensuring that we’re only targeting those customers that have not made a purchase. For the omnichannel experience, we can also give everyone else a nudge with an email saying ‘Hey, there’s a promo code.’” This kind of efficiency and granularity does wonders for teams looking to rein in spending without sacrificing customer journey quality.

One real life brand who’s doing this right? Same-day online grocery delivery platform Everli. To cut down on ad spend and test the effectiveness of their CRM campaigns and Facebook retargeting, the company built out a user propensity model to determine which individuals would be acquired within the first 15 days of engagement using model attributes like average time on site and the number of site visits. Then, using Braze, they crafted CRM-only Canvases targeting each propensity cluster and hit the middle segment of medium-propensity users with email, push notifications, and in-app messages. As part of this process, they added Facebook ads for retargeting this segment to see if it had an impact in conversions, resulting in a 9% increase in conversions compared to their control group. By excluding high- and low-propensity customers from that retargeting, Everli focused their spend on the group where those dollars went furthest, reducing their total blended CPA by 43%.

“As a marketer running ads like this on Facebook and other platforms, the things you can really control are creative, copy, bids,” says Diana. “But using your first-party data, we can clearly see our measurable results of how you can empower your campaign strategies with the data you already have in Braze.”

Ready to experience the power of Audience Sync yourself?

By connecting your messaging strategy with your paid efforts, it’s possible to take a more holistic and more cost-effective approach to your marketing—and this kind of strategy is the path forward for brands looking for smart ways to deal with this year’s challenging headwinds. Looking to learn more about how to break down silos between your teams to drive results? Check out how to Build More Relevant and Cost Effective Ads With Braze Audience Sync.

Team Braze

Team Braze

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