Subscribe to get updates sent to your inbox!
Whether you run a school and need to increase enrollment or run a business and need to sell more products, there’s a role for digital advertising to play.
We often hear, “But our audience is so unique and specific, we’ll never be able to find them!” Unlike traditional print or broadcast advertising that reaches the masses, digital ad campaigns can hyper target specific people – and even their devices.
And with these more selective digital targeting tactics, you prevent wasted ad dollars and can often stretch your budget further! Digital advertising campaigns can produce a ROI with budgets ranging anywhere from $500 to $50,000 per month.
One of the primary keys to a successful digital advertising campaign is to uncover who your target audience is and how best to reach them. While some digital targeting tactics may be straightforward, there’s also an opportunity to get creative with how you find the people most interested in your product or service.
Digital Ad Considerations: By Channel
Paid Social: Companies may want to lock in an audience on LinkedIn, while Facebook may allow you to get more personal in your bid to build an audience. In addition, leveraging combined Facebook-Instagram campaigns enables you to build a single audience and run your ads in both places, resulting in a more efficient and effective ROI.
Paid Search: Unlike all other digital ads where you’re jumping in front of your audience trying to capture their attention, paid search ads show up for people who are actively searching for your product or service. This makes them the most cost-effective and critical tactic to pursue. Start with popular keywords or phrases that don’t have lots of competition, and that you don’t currently rank organically for in search engine results.
Digital Outdoor: Static billboards may be seen as a more traditional, old-school form of advertising, but employing digital billboards can be highly cost effective. They allow you to target an audience at select times of the day when you know they are likely to be physically driving by vs. running your ad 24/7 year-round.
Streaming Platforms: YouTube, Hulu, Spotify and other streaming platforms are typically more expensive, but can also allow you to refine your audience based on demographics, as well as budget and campaign length. If you know this is where your audience spends their time, it’s smart to at least run a test campaign to see how it performs and gauge your ROI.
How to Map Out and Build Your Audience Profile(s)
When creating a “profile” of your audience, it’s best to use a combination of anecdotal and hard data to confirm and define who you want to reach. It’s possible you’ll have multiple audiences – for example, a school may have profiles for prospective students, alumni and donors.
If you start by gathering anecdotal data, make sure to involve people who know the audience best. This may be a member of your sales or customer service teams. Or, for a school, it might be your teachers, the admissions counselors and the registrar.
Once armed with anecdotal data, validate the information with hard numbers from your database and also through qualitative/quantitative interviews with your target audience, e.g., potential customers or parents themselves. This helps ensure you’re on the right track with your targeting parameters.
When you’re on the hunt for this customer or prospect data, aim to create a well-rounded audience profile by answering the following questions:
- Demographic (Who are they?): age, gender, family, education, ethnicity, income, job title/industry
- Psychographic (What are they?): interests, attitudes, values, beliefs (e.g., religion, politics)
- Geographic (Where are they?): location (e.g., local, regional, national, international)
- Behavioral (What do they do?): hobbies, entertainment (TV, movies, music, sports), travel
With the answers to these questions, you can find ways to target these niche audiences on one or more digital advertising channels with the right digital targeting tactics.
Audience Targeting: Examples in Action
Industry, job titles and company size
For B2B advertising, targeting can be based on a specific industry, select job titles, a company’s size or by the skills someone lists in their LinkedIn profile. Sometimes it makes more sense to do exclusion-based targeting. For example, when a company who launched an online community wanted to drum up memberships, but didn’t want to target their current clients, they excluded people who worked at both small businesses and giant corporations, as well as the names of their key accounts.
With Paid Search ads, you can bid against your competitors’ names. If you know your audience is likely researching you and a few other options, you can have ads show up for your organization when they search online for your competitors.
A defined geographic area
Finally, if you really want to get down to targeting a niche group, you can do it through “geotargeting.” If, for example, you wanted to get in front of IT managers attending the industry’s biggest convention, you could have display ads shown on their smartphones and tablets while they’re physically at the convention center or hotel. Technology also exists to capture their device ID in that moment and then send them ads at a future date, no matter where they are geographically.