Mastering audience targeting: 5 tips to help you get it right

by | Nov 22, 2021 | Marketing, Public Relations

Audience targeting is the segmentation of prospective and existing customers based on various data points. The technique is mostly used to enhance digital ads.

However, the benefits of proper audience targeting go well beyond serving personalized ads. It can also help you deliver more value to your customers, build stronger customer relations, etc.

So, in today’s post, we’ll discuss five tips on how to do audience targeting correctly to reap its full benefits.

1. Segment your audience

Every marketer will tell you about the importance of creating a customer persona. But what most of them usually fail to mention is that it’s almost impossible to have one customer persona for your entire audience.

Unless you have an extremely laser-focused business, your audience will never be uniform across the board. That’s why it’s critical to analyze your customer database and group your audience into smaller segments.

That means going beyond the basic demographic data used by most marketers. You need to look at intent data, personality insights, purchase or usage data, etc. All this data will help you create unique audience segments that you can target more efficiently.

For example, intent data provides both topic and context information. It shows you which topics a user is interested in. That topic could be relevant to your products, in which case the user will be a potential lead.

But that by itself is not enough. For example, a lead could show interest in email marketing. However, the lead could be an email marketing analyst, which means they are not looking to buy any software. The context is critical.

You don’t want to waste your time and budget targeting unsuitable leads. But you won’t know that unless you have the topic and context information from intent data.

In summary, the use of multiple data points to segment your audience gives you a more holistic picture of who your potential customers are. That should help you minimize the wastage of your campaign budget.

2. Find common points between different segments

Audience segmentation is critical when running targeted campaigns. However, creating too many segments can increase the cost of your campaigns. That’s because you might be forced to create multiple campaigns targeting each segment.

To avoid that, you need to identify common points within your segments. That way, you’ll be able to run fewer personalized campaigns that appeal to a bigger chunk of your audience. You’ll essentially optimize your ROI without compromising the quality of your targeted campaigns.

This technique is especially effective with long-term customers or super-engaged segments. Your business should have tons of data on its oldest customers. Review this data and identify the common elements in each group. Then, exploit those elements to enhance your campaigns.

For example, MAPFRE, a global insurance company, realized that mass broadcasting of generic content was no longer working. Modern consumers want special attention when interacting with brands.

To improve their messaging, the company partnered with a digital marketing agency and used consumer intelligence tools to segment their consumers through three stages.

First, they did customer identification and segmentation. The company was particularly keen to segment its audience based on major life milestones, e.g., graduating, getting married, buying a home, getting a kid, etc.

Using that criteria, the MAPFRE audience was placed into six segments. In the second stage, the company tracked interactions with each segment. This produced unique insights on personality traits, values, needs, interests, etc. That made it possible to profile their audience accurately.

In the final stage, they did audience activation through data-informed campaigns. They created targeted messaging showing relevant services and products to each group. They even had separate images and other types of content uniquely designed for each audience personality.

The result? They noticed increased engagements on Facebook and Twitter. Cost per click (CPC) and cost per engagement (CPE) also decreased.

Finding commonalities in your segments requires a bit of research and investment, but it is worth it.

Sometimes the common element is something as simple as limited finances. If the data shows most of your customer segments have a limited budget, create a marketing campaign offering an affordable solution. In other cases, you may find commonalities in finer details like the level of education.

Or, you could look for social commonalities like what MAPFRE did.

3. Use audience intelligence tools

About 54 percent of senior marketing leaders say marketing analytics do not produce the expected impact. That’s according to a 2020 survey by Gartner.

Mastering audience targeting: 5 tips to help you get it right


The same study reported that 46% of marketing decisions are not influenced by analytics. Perhaps it’s because the analytics are not meeting the leader’s expectations.

The respondents also explained that poor data quality is another reason they don’t use analytics as much as they should.

That’s the challenge of traditional market research. Besides producing low-quality data, traditional research is also subject to confirmation bias and a host of other challenges. All these issues make it really hard to come up with actionable data.

But there’s some good news. Audience intelligence technology is helping businesses gather rich and real-time data. The tech extracts and analyzes public data to produce accurate and in-depth insights into a target audience. It shows the authentic opinions, interests, affinities, behaviors, and other characteristics of your ideal audience.

With such tools at your disposal, segmenting your audience and building effective campaigns gets much easier.

For example, FOX Sports used Audiense to analyze football fans and run a targeted campaign (#18ToWin) in preparation for a new Bundesliga season. They segmented the audience based on multiple data points, including location, language, and engagements with football clubs. These factors influenced the type of content users would see.

The results of this campaign were nothing short of staggering. The initial goal was to reach 300 million fans, but they reached 600 million fans in two weeks!

Over half of those reached did not follow any Bundesliga team initially. That means Fox Sports acquired a massive new audience that they can target with additional marketing efforts.

That’s the power of using great audience intelligence tools.

4. Track audience data for the long-term

Effective audience targeting is a continuous process. Don’t expect the same elements that helped you segment your audience and run successful campaigns to remain constant. Market dynamics change. And so do consumer preferences.

Therefore, audience targeting has to be a long-term commitment for your business. That’s the only way to maintain a competitive edge and stay ahead of the curve.

Additionally, continuous audience targeting, especially with the help of audience intelligence technology, will enrich your customer database tremendously. This is helpful in so many ways. It can, for instance, show you recurring market trends which you could exploit to your advantage.

5. Look beyond traditional research methods

There is still a place for traditional research methods in the modern market. However, these methods can blindside you quite easily.

It’s hard to get accurate data from someone who knows they’re part of a research. Consumers can quickly change their behaviors and opinions when they know they’re being observed. It’s the Hawthorne effect.

That’s why your business should not rely on traditional research methods alone. You have to explore other strategies to get “organic data” from consumers in their natural setting.

Let’s assume you’re conducting a survey to determine how effective your PR campaign is. Where are you more likely to get accurate insights? From people and interviewers who know they are part of a survey or observing and analyzing your target audience when they’re talking about your brand with their friends?

You need the latter to get honest answers. You can then use traditional research to understand the why.

Bottom line

Proper audience targeting is a game-changer in the PR industry and beyond. It gives businesses a clearer picture of their target audience. The insights facilitate informed decision making which makes it easier to scale a business efficiently.

But more importantly, audience intelligence helps you cultivate valuable relations with your audience. By understanding your consumers’ behaviors, affinities, and interests, you can align your operations and campaigns to meet those needs.

Carlos Serra
Carlos Serra is Head of Corporate Development & Strategy at Audiense, where he is responsible for managing partner and integration channels ensuring seamless commercial expansion. Prior to Audiense, he was the Director of Finance and Corporate Development at Fits.me, a virtual fitting room. He was also an investment banker at Strata Partners and Co-Founder of iPling Inc.


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