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How to use effective targeting to reach your social media advertising audience

One of the foundational components of any great advertising campaign is a firm understanding of the audience you are hoping to reach. The same goes for any noteworthy social media advertising campaign-to conduct one worthy of your ad dollars, you first need to know who it is you are trying to reach.

Some questions to ask (and answer) include:

  • Who is your very best customer?
  • How would you describe them?
  • How old are they?
  • What gender(s) should you include in your targeting?
  • Do they have kids? Or, are they empty-nesters or adventurous singles?
  • What is their degree of education?
  • What motivates them?
  • Where do they spend most of their time?
  • Why are they interested in your product?
  • What will convince them to buy?

Sounds great, right? But where do I find all of this information?

If you are a small business owner or your organization maintains detailed customer records, then you are in luck, as most of the information is either in your head or your CRM software (or both!)

To gather the data, you can:

  • Look through your contacts database.
  • Speak with your sales office to glean insights.
  • Create forms or surveys to collect information directly from your customers – but keep it short and specific to demonstrate that you value your customer’s time.
  • Interview customers and prospects. This can be done formally, through a third-party firm, or informally by engaging people whenever and wherever you meet.

Next, condense the information to create two-to-three customer personas. A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data retrieved from an organization’s records. Personas bring your ideal customer to life and paints a mental picture upon which to build a narrative for the brand. This step ensures everyone is focused on the ‘who, what and why’ of your target customers and allows you to construct effective, integrated messaging across all marketing channels.

Get granular with your targeting

Once you have established personas of your very best customers, go deeper with your insights by getting granular. Granular refers to highly specific and accurate targeting. For example, instead of wealthy grandmothers, think rich widowed grandmothers above 75 who live in New Haven Connecticut. Okay, maybe it isn’t that specific, but you get the idea. Essentially, the purpose of granular targeting is to help you deliver your ad to the most precise group of consumers possible.

How to get granular?

First, determine your targeting options by selecting the devices, location, demographics and interests that you want to target. Remember, it is standard practice to focus across devices (desktop, tablet, mobile) and operating systems.

With interests, you can select a target audience based on pre-set categories ranging from gaming to sports and fashion to beauty. Your ad will be shown only to those most likely to be interested in your offering.

Finally, does your brand currently advertise on TV? If yes, you might want to consider custom affinity audiences which allow you to extend the reach of TV to the digital world at an economical price. You can create custom affinity audiences two ways: free-form interests entered as keywords or referencing the URL from a website which is frequented by your desired customer.

For example, say you have created a video ad to be served on YouTube, and you want to target avid hikers; you could enter the website URL for Backpacker. AdWords would then determine from the URL that the website is about hiking gear, hiking trails, road trips, and survival skills. Next, AdWords concludes that people who search for the above words would be interested in your ad, titled, the best boots for winter. And finally, your video ad would be shown to people who have actively searched for the identified words.

Without the proper research and preparation, you may miss the target group you are trying so hard to reach in the first place; but by understanding the behaviors and attitudes, plus gaining clarity into the demographics of your very best customer, you set your advertising campaign up for success.


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