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Amy Post
by Amy Post
on September 19, 2018

You’re hearing time and time again how “personalization is everything” and if you don’t get the right message in front of the exact eyes, you’re bound to waste precious energy and resources on, quite frankly, the wrong people. Maybe you’ve even tried some targeting to some of your ideal prospects you’ve been after, and it didn’t work, leaving you to wonder if targeting is all just another piece of marketing “fluff” that’s all talk and no action.

The good news is, it’s not fluff. Targeting in marketing does work effectively, but you do have to be careful about how you go about it. And, always keep in mind, there's not a single marketing and advertising strategy that's going to be 100% perfect. 

“Targeted advertisements are, on average, almost twice as effective as non-targeted ads.” Source

How Targeting Goes Wrong

Stanford researchers found that personalized ads are less effective when the customer has reason to feel like they were led down a path that resulted in something that didn’t meet their expectations. For example, if a company selling plus-sized women’s clothing says in their ad, “Click here, we have business suits for women of ALL sizes” and they sell everything plus-sized except business suits, that ad resulted in unmet expectations and frustration for the clicker. It’s really pseudo-targeting, so-to-speak.

Modern advertising today includes the right kind of ad, to the person of interest, at exactly the right time. Not just massive, personalized targeting with a bait-and-switch approach in hopes the clicker will change directions. There’s simply too much available online to keep them beyond that initial frustration. They’ll go to someone who won’t deceive them with any click bait.

Additionally, there are some lines that shouldn't be crossed when it comes to targeted advertising. We call it pretty basic tact, but here are a couple of examples of the right and wrong ways to go about targeting:

  • •Wrong: Advertising a 12-pack of Miller Lite to a list of people who are in Alcoholics Anonymous social media groups.
  • •Right: Advertising that 12-pack to someone who RSVP'd on a social media event for the next U of M football tailgate.

Targeting Effectively

Today’s digital tools provide the ability to customize and personalize in new and interesting ways by showing ads based on data we know about that specific person, their gender, or their specific needs at any given time. For example, after you share a post showing your excitement about going to an upcoming Rolling Stones concert, you might not be surprised to see ads for Stones t-shirts you could potentially wear to the concert. Afterward, you might still see similar ads for awhile because you love them even more since the concert, but they will likely fade away as the excitement of the event wears off.

“If you manage to get the proper balance between personalization and customer experience, you won’t cross the creepy line and your content will be relevant.” -Andrew Busby, CEO of Retail Reflections

If you don’t find the balance Andrew is talking about, it will likely begin to result in customers who do not report a great customer experience. The truth of the matter is, customers are more willing to switch to competition more than ever before if they feel undervalued. For example, if I was the Marketing Director for a diaper company, and I continuously try to advertise a sale on Size 1 diapers to a customer who bought a few boxes of them them 6 months ago, I’m likely going to fail miserably at the customer experience because they likely don’t need size 1 anymore, they need the sale on some that are much larger. If I had been advertising based on more personalized data, I’d likely have a much more satisfied and repeat customer for all sizes of diapers as the child grows. My competitor with the advertisement selling size 3 diapers at 50% off might just win that business over me simply because they targeted by the size. Even if all sizes are 50% off.

While targeting isn’t the only approach to marketing, it’s also something that shouldn’t be ignored. Customers and prospects today use a variety of efforts to conduct online research about a product or service, from your business’s website to social media, with a staggering 43% of 16-24-year-olds using social media as a primary source for that research. Today’s marketers must do both nurturing of existing customers and targeting of new ones through these new, digital mediums if they are going to deploy marketing efforts with a measurable ROI.

To learn more about how to create targeting strategies that actually work to grow your business effectively, click below. We'd be happy to chat with you about it.  

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