What is Targeted Advertising?
Targeted ads allow marketers to advertise to shoppers based on their traits, interest, and behaviors. Learn more about the value of targeted advertising for your brand here.
Knowing your brand’s target demographics can help you create better audience profiles and reach potential customers on the platforms and in the places they frequent most.
This group of people, known as a target audience, is often the focal point of marketing campaigns. Understanding the importance of target audiences can reduce costs, inspire confident decisions, and drive results. This means your brand needs to know not only whom to target, but also how to find your target audience in the first place.
A target audience describes a group of consumers or people you want to influence with your marketing. A target audience is similar (and related) to the target market, but they’re not identical concepts. A target market is the entire group of consumers a company wants to buy its product or service. A target audience is a smaller subgroup of a target market who often share traits, values, or other demographic qualities.
What does this look like in practice? For example, a target market might be “digital marketing professionals aged 25-35.” The narrowed-down target audience example could be “digital marketers aged 25-35 who live in San Francisco.”
The first step in targeting your audience is identifying your desired customer characteristics. A company can segment a target audience via various factors, but some are more common than others. The most popular types of target audience segmentations tend to come from the following places:
Buying intent, such as looking for specific products
Shared interests, including hobbies
Subcultures, including the types of content/entertainment they consume
Other forms of segmentation include age, gender, and location.
How you target your audience might differ depending on their information and the goal of your campaign. For example, some target audiences might respond better to email campaigns or social media ads. Other audiences might prefer an in-person event.
How can brands find their target audience in the first place? There are many ways to dig into the demographics of your current visitors and your target audience. In fact, you may already have tools installed to start mining this data for valuable insights.
Here are seven tools you can use to learn more about your current visitors, customers, and the audience you want to attract.
If you’ve already built a social media following, Meta’s Business Manager tool offers tools to view insights about your audience on Facebook and — if linked — Instagram.
If you prefer to view those metrics separately, you still have that option.
On Facebook, you can go to your business page, and under the “More” drop-down menu, click on “Insights.” Then click on “People” on the left side of the page, and you can view basic demographic information like age group, gender, and location for fans, followers, people you’re reaching, and people engaging with you.
On Instagram, go to your profile page and click on the three bars in the top right corner of the screen. Then click “Insights.” If you go to the “Audience” tab, you can see the location, age range, and gender information for your followers.
This demographic information tells you what kind of viewers you’re attracting with your content — and you may be surprised by the results. For example, some brands may think their primary audience is Baby Boomers but learn it’s mostly Gen X-ers who follow their Facebook page or Instagram feed.
This information can help you tweak your messaging to appeal to your ideal customer profile (or ICP) and make your marketing more effective. Partnering this knowledge with other tools like Connected Social Ads can increase your ROI exponentially.
Your website analytics can also provide valuable information about your current audience, which you can use to learn more about your brand’s target demographic.
For example, Google Analytics has an entire audience tab that provides the basics, like your visitors' geographic location and language. Under “Demographics,” you can see the age range and gender of your visitors.
But it gets better. The “Interests” tab provides data about what your visitors are interested in:
Affinity categories like shoppers/value shoppers and technology/technophiles
In-market segments like home & garden/home décor and apparel & accessories/women’s apparel
Other categories like food & drink/cooking & recipes
You can dive deeper into these categories to understand your ideal customers better: what they like, what they buy, and where they shop, for example. This information can also help inform new products or service offerings and where to sell them.
As with demographic information, your users’ interests may come as a surprise and present opportunities to improve your marketing. For example, if you sell camping gear, you may learn that 30 percent of your visitors are technophiles.
Knowing that these visitors will likely buy the latest gadgets, you can serve up ads for camp stoves that also charge devices or cell phone signal boosters through retargeting ads.
Storing information about your customers in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform offers an excellent jumping-off point for analyzing their data.
Direct-to-consumer brands often have a leg up on the competition because they own all their customer data and don’t have to rely on a go-between like a reseller. Even if you don't use a CRM platform, you can leverage customer data stored in your e-commerce platform. Your customers’ wish lists, abandoned shopping carts, loyalty program data, and net promoter score (NPS) help you identify customer behaviors and satisfaction. You can combine this information with cookie data or third-party marketing insights to learn about the type of neighborhoods they live in, how they find your brand, and how they interact with your website.
For example, as a home goods retailer, you may learn that many of your highest-value customers live in suburban neighborhoods with a median annual income of $70,000. Based on this information, you can target audiences in similar locations.
You may also learn that your customers tend to place smaller-value items, like jar openers or garlic presses, on their wish lists as they shop for more expensive things like slow cookers or bread machines.This kind of data can help you when creating promotions, like a “buy a stand mixer, get 25 percent off spatulas” deal.
With a marketing tool that integrates with your CRM or e-commerce platform, such as Shopify, you can easily turn your customer insights into targeted marketing campaigns.
Another way to get more demographic information in your CRM platform is by conducting surveys of your highest-value customers.
Beauty companies are fantastic at this kind of data collection. They ask about hair color, eye color, and skin type so they can recommend certain cosmetic shades and products, for example. Surveys that collect information specific to your brand can provide even more insights into your target demographic that can help you recommend products and generate more sales.
If you survey your customers regularly or encourage them to update their information, you can also get ahead of any marketplace trends. For example, your home goods customers may start indicating that their preferences for room decor are shifting from earth tones to bold jewel tones. Having this kind of survey data allows you to re-prioritize the products you promote accordingly.
If you use an advertising platform, look for a tool that provides a way to find customers with a “lookalike” feature. These tools analyze your current customers in order to target people who are similar but are not yet familiar with your brand/products. Some will offer interest-based targeting that lets you use the information you’ve gleaned about your existing audience to find new visitors that will likely become customers.
A lookalike targeting tool eliminates most of the guesswork when finding new customers. Instead of having to come up with demographic information for your ideal audience, the tool can use your existing data to serve your ads to visitors who are most like your current customers. AdRoll’s lookalike tool, for example, also features an act-alike technology that looks at how visitors behave online, including what products they’re viewing, to help you target and tailor your message to them.
Your customer insights and demographic information can help you better serve your customers and give them what they want, boosting your revenue. Start using the information you already have to learn more about your target demographics. This can help you refine your messaging and marketing to reach your audience, turning visitors into customers. If you’re not using one of these tools, it might be time to take a second look.
Social listening is a valuable tool to help you learn more about your target market. It differs from social media tracking because it tells you why your audience says certain things about your brand or related businesses on social media.
Through social listening, you can learn more about trending topics your customers follow, the brands they interact with most and why, and where they spend their time engaging. With this information, you can learn more about your audience and structure your marketing campaign messages to reach and engage them better.
Social listening tools let you monitor multiple social platforms from one dashboard, where you can check brand mentions, keyword searches, tags, and DMs.
Finally, market research is valuable for learning more about your target audience. Identify industry competitors with the same target audience as you and spend time researching their strategies. Start on their social media pages and evaluate their techniques and methods. What is their brand tone and messaging? What types of advertisements are they serving their audience? Most importantly, is what they’re doing working?
Suppose your ideal audience is engaging with a specific brand. In that case, you can learn more about your audience — their demographics, interests, and behaviors — by researching how and why they engage with your competition. On the other hand, if your competitors don’t see success, research to find out why and tailor your marketing to do the opposite.
Social media isn’t the only place to learn more about your target market via industry competition. Take your market research a step further and dive into case studies, psychological analyses by marketers in your niche, and examples from successful businesses like yours. This information can give you a broad understanding of your audience insights, which you can then use as you dive into specific customer data details.
Taking the time in advance to nail down a target audience for your marketing campaign is a worthwhile investment that can pay some major dividends. Before you embark on a campaign, consider the following benefits of establishing a target audience:
Targeting a specific audience helps businesses maximize their time and resources by focusing their marketing efforts on the people most likely to be interested in their products or services. This saves money and increases the impact of their advertising and outreach.
Additionally, understanding the behaviors, preferences, and pain points of a target audience enables businesses to design products and services that meet the target’s needs more effectively, thus maximizing the return on their investment.
Digital marketing offers significant advantages over traditional models, and reaching the right audience is one of them. By targeting the proper audience, your content or campaigns end up in front of the people who need to see them most. Contrast that with a billboard approach that costs more to reach customers without concern for demographics or buyer intent.
With a target audience in place, you’ll be able to make confident choices about what kinds of campaigns to run and the messaging you need to succeed. Target audience segmentation relies on data that you likely already have.
Knowing your target audience is essential. Many business owners with limited marketing experience might struggle with it. AdRoll can use your data to help understand your target audiences and how to segment them. If you’re struggling to maximize your marketing budget, learn more about our tools and how to reach the right people for your product or service.
There are various ways to reach your target audience, depending on who they are and what channels they frequent. Effective marketing campaigns often use multiple channels to ensure their message reaches the right people.
These channels might include digital methods like email, social media, or search engine optimization (SEO), or traditional offline tactics such as print advertising or direct mail. Additionally, engaging in targeted influencer outreach or sponsoring relevant events or conferences can be helpful in reaching your target audience.
Target audiences can generally be divided into two categories — demographic and psychographic. Demographic target audience categories include age, gender, location, family status, occupation, and income level.
Psychographic target audience categories focus more on behavioral traits such as interests, attitudes, and lifestyle choices. Identifying which of these characteristics best defines your ideal customers is the key to developing an effective marketing strategy.
Use available data and tools, including your CRM, social media insights, website analytics data, surveys, and social listening programs to gain insights about customer personas. These information sources can surface critical details about your customer base that you may not have previously considered.
Last updated on March 10th, 2023.