Group Vice President, Client Services

Reducing Audience Overlap to Improve Omnichannel Conversion Rates

Developing a strong, cross-channel media strategy can be a challenging puzzle. Without the right team and technology, serving the right message to the right people at the right time can feel nearly impossible.

At Rise, we strongly believe in the power of a data-driven, audience-first approach to digital media. Using data to define your target audiences and their propensities to buy is core knowledge for driving explosive growth. However, efficiently reaching them, and only them, is a whole other story. We are sharing how we do just that with a hyper-relevant audience overlap strategy that improves results.

What is audience overlap?

Let’s take User A as our example. 

User A entered your funnel in a prospecting campaign and subsequently visited your site last week. While browsing, they added items to a cart and abandoned the page before confirming their order. User A, along with others exhibiting similar behaviors, belongs to three distinct audience segments positioned across various stages in your marketing funnel. 

As you’re building out a media strategy, you’re likely segmenting users by their unique behavior and designing messaging to speak to those interests and funnel stages. You probably have more aggressive messaging to recent Cart Abandoners than, say, to your remarketing pool of 7-day lapsed users. User A, however, is part of both of those audiences. Users belonging to multiple granular segments based on their behavior or demographics is called audience overlap.

If you’re implementing creative variations or conducting tests across different funnel stages (if not, it's a missed opportunity!), audience overlap leads to users being exposed to both top- and bottom-of-funnel campaigns. Consequently, your marketing budget might allocate significant resources to serve User A with top-of-funnel, brand awareness creative, instead of the messaging most relevant to them.

Is audience overlap a problem?

Yes. Audience overlap is a problem because it leads to lower conversion rates and wasted spend. If your customers are receiving creative and messaging that is aligned with where they were in the consumer shopping journey two weeks ago, they are less likely to convert. Plus, that top-of-funnel spend could be better allocated towards bottom-of-funnel messaging, such as a special offer or discount code to push conversions. 

Audience overlap happens on a large scale every day with your audiences. Without granular insights to see these varied audience segments and paired creative, you’ll waste hard-won budget in careless ways, and you’re not meeting your audience where they are in the funnel with your messaging and creative.

To be successful in reducing audience overlap, the targeting in your audience-first strategy should include what we at Rise call “waterfall exclusions.”

What is a waterfall exclusions strategy?

In Rise’s waterfall exclusions strategy, strategic audience mapping and messaging is leveraged to reduce audience overlap and accomplish multiple, simultaneous goals:

  1. Cut wasteful spending
  2. Increase engagement 
  3. Drive conversions

This strategy requires marketers to segment audiences and retain users in their lowest-funnel grouping. Waterfall exclusions prioritize audiences depending on their maximum marketing funnel placement, and removes them from everywhere else. Audiences displaying the highest propensity to convert should have a minimal amount of exclusions. 

Continuing with the example, a waterfall exclusion strategy would keep User A in the Cart Abandoners segment and exclude them from all other top-of-funnel audience segments. 

With this approach, we can guarantee that brand messaging served to this user (and related users) will indubitably speak to their highest propensity to convert.

Driving Omnichannel Revenue with Waterfall Exclusions

An effective, data-driven waterfall strategy involves a detailed analysis of which tactics yield the highest return, within prospecting and remarketing alike. Let’s think about User A again. We excluded them from the 7-Day Lapsed Remarketing and March Prospecting audiences so they only remained in Cart Abandoners. But in this example, what about the users who visited the checkout page more than 7 days ago? 

They have a higher propensity to convert than many others in your remarketing list because they made it to the final page in your customer journey, but they’re not as warm as your cart abandoners from yesterday. How do we make sure these consumers are not lost? Answer: Data.

Using data to quantify the user-intent for each audience type across all channels allows you to build an optimal waterfall strategy. Prospecting tactics tend to yield the most new users throughout the year (e.g., CPM, CTR, Visit Rate, etc.). While many marketers would turn right to channels that typically excel in prospecting, a truly curious marketer delves deeper to analyze those numbers and audiences across all channels.

A comprehensive, omnichannel understanding of the precise tactics capturing high-intent prospecting and remarketing audiences is a treasure trove for a highly profitable audience strategy. Utilize this cross-channel data to engage with your audiences during peak seasons, drawing them into your funnel. Employ an evergreen waterfall strategy to guide them toward conversion with tailored creative that resonates with their stage. Our proprietary technology, Connex®, is designed to empower marketers just like yourself to make smarter business decisions with granular insights across audiences, ad units, messaging, and more.

Demonstrated Waterfall Success

1. ColourPop

When ColourPop deployed a waterfall audience strategy, the improvement in efficiency and relevancy boosted their results up and down the funnel. In addition to these wins, the strategy aided out-of-stock and product management by designing agile audience transitions where remarketing pools could be cross-leveraged for related new product launches while fueling further lower-funnel growth.


Increase in AOV


Higher Prospecting ROAS

2. Global Sneaker Brand

This global sneaker brand removed all remarketing pixels from their site when news of a 3P cookieless world first dropped. In order to build a like new waterfall strategy across channels, we partnered with the client to integrate automated CRM lists that dynamically updated audiences into the platforms in near real time. This allowed us to activate a waterfall strategy that included as close to traditional remarketing as possible, and garnered even better results.


Increase in ROAS YoY


Higher Revenue YoY

Let’s get your brand these results. If your audience strategy isn’t as savvy as your team, reach out to Rise

Originally published in 2021; updated in 2024.

02/21/2024 at 09:46