Learn about targeted marketing for better campaigns

As a digital marketer, you’re likely always looking to up your game. Perhaps it’s proving difficult to reach some audience segments, and this is causing your overall ROI to suffer. Targeted marketing could be your answer for getting back on track.

Targeted marketing has become a key strategy in any digital marketer’s playbook. Technology has advanced to make it easier, and consumers have come to expect it — so much so that when brands don’t use a targeted marketing approach, buyers often look elsewhere. But there’s good news: Targeted marketing is a simple concept, and tools are readily available for you to drive stellar targeted marketing campaigns and keep your business sharp.

In this targeted marketing guide, you’ll learn:

What is targeted marketing?

Targeted marketing is researching and understanding your prospective customers’ interests and needs so you can focus your message — and your marketing budget — on the specific audience segment most likely to purchase your product or service. This process is part of business planning, and that makes it more than just a one-time event. As long as you’re in business, you need to be constantly working to understand your ideal prospects better.

Although the name makes it easy to lump in with other marketing principles, targeted marketing is unique from similar-sounding terms.

“Targeting in marketing” is the broader practice of dividing your audience into specific markets. It can greatly increase the success you have in connecting with potential customers.

In “targeted advertising,” businesses send ads to web users based on their online behavior, demographics, and buying history. This includes information users have explicitly shared, as well as data that can be inferred about them through behavioral or demographic attributes.

A “target market” is an audience segment around which a marketing team strategizes its efforts. Understanding customer behavior and knowing how a product or service meets customer needs is a key to increasing sales.

Targeted marketing is part of business planning, and that makes it more than just a one-time event. As long as you’re in business, you need to be constantly working to better understand your ideal prospects.

Do I need targeted marketing?

The short answer? Yes. Let’s talk about why.

  1. Everybody’s doing it. While this isn’t always a good reason to do something, in this case it is. Whether you’re selling a product or trying to reach an audience, if you have a customer or a prospect today, you have to use targeted marketing because your competitors certainly are.
  1. Engagement improves. It’s one thing to drive traffic to your brand, but it’s another to get users to stick around once they get there. With the rise of social media and consumer fragmentation, it’s no longer enough to just put content into the digital sphere. Targeted marketing helps you create ways to keep audiences interested and engaged.
  1. Higher ROI for the win. Because it’s focused on the ideal audience, targeted marketing is an effective lead generator that helps you move high-value customers through the sales funnel with ease. Plus, you’re only spending on what works.

How are target markets defined?

As mentioned before, a target market is a specific group of people with shared characteristics to whom a business promotes its products or services. Because they help businesses craft compelling strategies for successful growth, it’s important to define target markets clearly and well.

Demographic segmentation

This approach describes who consumers are and groups them by specific attributes such as:

Firmographic segmentation

Firmographics are akin to demographics, except they focus on business characteristics rather than on people. Used exclusively for B2B marketing, this approach groups by attributes such as:

Behavioral segmentation

This type of segmentation focuses on consumer behavior and provides a look into how consumers interact with businesses. It classifies consumers by their behaviors with products or services such as:

When an email marketing campaign is well-targeted and well-executed, the audience might not even realize they’re the focus.

How do I run a targeted marketing campaign?

Targeted marketing campaigns rely on data — a lot of it. Whether you’re fluent in data or not, there are some tools that make it really simple for marketers to take advantage of this important aspect of targeted marketing strategy.

Here are a few tools and platforms that help with targeted marketing campaigns:

Marketing automation

Marketing automation comprises the software platforms and technologies designed to automate repetitive tasks necessary for marketing in online channels effectively. It lets companies streamline marketing workflows and tasks so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster. Many modern marketing practices — such as lead generation, segmentation, lead nurturing and scoring, relationship marketing, cross-sell and upsell, retention, ROI measurement, and account-based marketing — are enabled by marketing automation.

Customer data platform (CDP)

A CDP is a software package with a centralized database that collects, manages, and activates data from multiple sources to inform the digital customer experience. A powerful CDP will collect and integrate all forms of customer data to create a profile of a single customer over time that can then be used to align business efforts around that source of customer behavior. CDPs also help brands comply with emerging data privacy regulations, like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Customer relationship management (CRM)

A CRM gathers customer interactions across channels and allows businesses to drive growth through improved customer experience, satisfaction, retention, and service. CRMs are mainly designed for sales, marketing, and service teams, but they also help organizations manage relationships between team members, vendors, partners, and collaborators. A good CRM provides one place to manage your team’s voice, chat, and email touchpoints. CRMs also track leads, customer needs, offers, and conversions while helping you optimize your website and run ad campaigns. Overall, this behind-the-scenes mechanism improves your business by increasing visibility to your team, customer base, and the broader public.

Data management platform (DMP)

A DMP gathers data from a range of sources, organizes it to build a profile of each individual customer, and shares it with other marketing technology platforms — like digital ad platforms or in-house marketing channels — so the right content can get to the right place. It also collects information on ad performance to improve future advertising strategy. A robust DMP allows marketers to design targeted ad campaigns, extend their reach to prospects, and drive more personalized customer interactions across channels. The result? More customer purchases and more efficient ad programs public.

Examples of creative targeted marketing campaigns

When an ad campaign is well-targeted and well-executed, the audience might not even realize they’re the focus. Now that we’ve discussed some of the backstage players in targeted marketing, let’s look at a few examples of what happens when the data and technology come together with smart copy and sharp design to make targeted advertising magic.

1. Shopify, “Let’s Make You a Business” campaign

This campaign’s goal was for anyone to believe they can have their own business and grow it with help from Shopify. The focus was on the ability to improve a business without a lot of effort, just the right platform. Shopify broadcast its message through many channels like TV and online ads, billboards, and social media spots in order to keep it at the top of a potential customer’s mind whether they were on their phone, on their bike, or on a walk.

2. Oracle, “Digital Bank of the Future” research campaign

The Oracle campaign offered two gated, in-depth reports on the disconnect between banks and modern-day customers. The reports included a benchmarking survey for audiences to temperature-check their own banking processes and see how well they were meeting today’s digital-first consumer needs. From there, participants could enroll in Oracle-sponsored tutorials, making the reports both engaging and useful. The key to their lead-gen success was offering a customer more from gated content than just a static report.

3. IBM, “Every Second Counts” mixed-media campaign

The IBM campaign used short films and a social media format to direct users to its landing page while also giving the customer something more interesting to look at and interact with than an expected image. Using a variety of content all at once gave the audience an engaging, unique experience while allowing the company to push content forward.

Get started with targeted marketing

Targeted marketing is the modern way to attract high-quality leads, deepen customer loyalty, and make your brand stand out. Using this segment-specific strategy, your organization can connect directly with a distinct audience and improve the products, services, and communication your customers expect in today’s digital marketplace.

Adobe Marketo Engage can help you make a smooth transition to targeted marketing. By giving companies the complete toolkit to deliver winning lead-based and account-based marketing, Marketo Engage will power your marketing innovation across channels, teams, and customers — every step of the way.

Adobe Marketo Engage

Here’s how Marketo Engage boosts your marketing efforts:

Next steps

When you’re ready to jump into targeted marketing, it helps to know where to start. A good entry point is to make sure your target segments are well-established. Here are six steps to help you get started:

  1. Look at your current customer base. Who buys from you? Why? And who brings in the most business? Look for commonalities.
  2. Check out your competition. Who do your competitors target? Who are their current customers? Try to find a niche they might be overlooking that you can exploit.
  3. Analyze your product or service. Examine each feature of your product or service. Then make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills.
  4. Choose specific demographics to target. Figure out not only who needs your product, but also who is most likely to buy it. That’s the group to go after.
  5. Consider the psychographics of your target. Determine how your product or service will fit into your target audience’s lifestyle. How and when will they use it? What features of it are most appealing to them?
  6. Evaluate your decision. Don’t break down your target audience too far. If you find there are only 50 people who fit your criteria, think about reevaluating to broaden your focus.

Defining your target market is the hard part — but once you’ve done that, it’s much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach the target and which marketing messages will resonate with them. You’re on your way to saving money and achieving a better ROI once you take this next step on your targeted marketing journey.

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