Audience Targeting: What It Is and Why You Need It

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Kayla Carmicheal
Kayla Carmicheal


Do you ever feel like your favorite companies just get you sometimes?

Marketing team working on audience targeting.

For instance, I really enjoy how Netflix has different Twitter and Instagram accounts dedicated to their popular categories like Netflix Is A Joke (Comedy) and Strong Black Lead (African American audiences).

Netflix's comedy account is my favorite — it incorporates memes and updates about new stand-up specials, comedy series, and employs user-generated content (UGC) to engage with Netflix followers. And I think it's hilarious.

Netflix is a Joke homepage

These social media accounts demonstrate that Netflix knows its audiences to the point where they can target them based on themes and market accordingly.

Ultimately, it's a fantastic way to integrate audience targeting in social media and engage their micro-audiences.

Here, let's explore what audience targeting is, and how you can use it in your own marketing strategy.

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What is audience targeting?

Audience targeting is the method of separating consumers into segments based on interests or demographic data. Marketers should use audience targeting to formulate campaigns that will align directly with their consumers' lifestyles.

Helpful demographics to consider would be age, average income, interests, location, and gender. Other considerations that can be helpful are psychographics — values and motivations that impact a consumer's buyer's journey.

To reach the right people for lead generation, you can use audience targeting, which ensures you're using your marketing resources and time in the right places, and for the right people.

Another benefit? You won't have to waste ad spend on audiences that won't deliver high ROI.

When segmenting your audience, think of the type of audience you want to reach for a particular campaign or product, and which demographics you need to focus on.

Initially, you'll want to refer to your existing buyer persona(s). However, it's important to note that your existing buyer personas aren't always the same as the audience you're trying to target for a specific campaign or product.

For instance, think about the possible buyer persona of one of your favorite companies. For the sake of this example, let's use LinkedIn. Their buyer persona is probably a professional adult, aged 22-40, looking to expand their network and advance their career.

Now that you know a bit more about audience targeting, let's dive into a couple more tips to keep in mind.

Audience Targeting Tips

1. Look at your analytics to learn more about your target audience(s).

Did you know that Google Analytics has a section that lets you know the interests of your website visitors? This section breaks down what your users are into by category. For instance, it can tell you whether your audience is made up of travel buffs, cooking enthusiasts, or music lovers.

Once you've explored your analytics, you can tailor your content for specific demographics. For instance, you might notice a large majority of your core website visitors are music lovers — can you bake the concept of music into some of your marketing materials, even if your product or service is unrelated? Alternatively, should you try putting ads on Spotify or Apple Music?

Of course, it's equally important you keep the goal of your campaign in-mind. If you're trying to increase brand awareness, you might want to create content that aligns with the interests of a broader group of people and limit the amount you hyper-target groups.

2. Engage with audiences by conducting focus groups.

If you're feeling stuck regarding how to target the interests of your audiences, and research isn't working, it's time to engage with your customers. One way you can figure out how to market to them is by asking them!

Reaching out in an Instagram poll or a marketing email gives the power to your customer. Additionally, you might try holding focus groups to ensure your marketing campaign is truly targeted to the right demographics before you officially launch.

3. Create useful content on social media to appeal to your target audience.

Your content should be something your audience can use. If you find that your audience engages well with certain types of content, be sure to think about that when planning out your content calendar.

For instance, if you've found that Instagram is where you have the most engagement, the platform should be a primary focus of your marketing efforts. Here, you're targeting interests by meeting audiences where they prefer.

Posts about discounts, upcoming launches, and re-posting favorable reviews are all ways to use social media to create useful content.

If you're interested in learning about how you can create targeted content, take a look at Smart Targeting: The Better Way to Reach Audiences & Customers.

Alternatively, if you're interested in diving deeper into targeting specific audiences on certain platforms, you might check out:

4. A/B test your targeting to ensure it's impactful.

If you're new to A/B testing, it's a good one to add to your arsenal of marketing techniques. This is because it's a way to test your content before actually pushing it out there, and helps mitigate risk. A/B testing is an experiment that splits your audience into two groups, A and B, who will participate in a test run of your content and provide useful feedback that can help you improve your marketing content before officially launching it.

For instance, if you have a variation of tweets for your product launch and want to know which tweet will perform better, you can set up an A/B test to help you choose. This technique ultimately ensures you're reaching your goals with targeting, and helps you keep note of which marketing messages that are better for your audience.

For a more comprehensive look at A/B testing and how they can help you target your audience, click here.

5. Run one creative ad, but personalize for various audiences.

Here's a cool way to diversify content: run personalized ads. If you have an ad that's pretty general, see how you can alter it slightly for various audiences. Mixing the messages can be an easy way to ensure your audiences feel targeted.

Let's say you're posting an ad on LinkedIn about a product launch. You have the ad for marketers queued up and ready to go. But can your product impact sales people and customer service reps as well, and can you switch up the language to reflect that?

Alternatively, if you send out newsletters or marketing emails, you might try diversifying similar content to appeal directly to a certain audience. Starting out an ad with, "Hey, HR Managers …" goes a long way.

Targeting audiences is important, especially in the digital age.

When you target audiences, remember to keep your buyer persona in mind. They should be at the heart of targeted ads and content, so your marketing materials can drive a high ROI for your business.

Learn how to run effective A/B experimentation in 2018 here.



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