A Guide To Online Targeting – Which Works For Your Business?

by | Target Marketing

A Guide To Online Targeting - Which Works For Your Business?

Online targeting is a process that refers to creating advertisement elements that specifically reach out to prospects and customers interested in your offerings. A target audience has certain traits, demographics, and other characteristics, based on the products or services the advertiser is promoting.

With targeting, your goal is to reach consumers interested in what you are offering. You approach them with relevant messaging, and decrease the odds of ad waste that normally brings uninterested viewers into your marketing strategy. The more relevant you can make your advertising, the more profit you can add to your bottom line. Business growth is the ultimate goal.

Of course, what can be written in a couple of sentences is much more difficult in practice. There isn’t one specific way to accomplish all of that for every industry, every product or service sold. Too many businesses generalize this process, creating one path for all targeted traffic. You lose out on potential because people are finicky at best. With their own agenda in mind, they have a one-track mind and are looking for a solution that best fits their needs. And rarely does generalized marketing do.

Instead, start by defining individual targets. Think one customer at a time – their online behavior, purchase history, loyalty factor, longevity with the product or service. The more data you collect, the deeper you dive into behavior, the more specific you can get with your targeting mechanisms. Once you have that data, you can move channels easily with similar results.

Where should you put your focus?

Geographic Targeting

Geographic targeting refers to any information you gather based on user location. If you have a local experience, it doesn’t make sense to push content to people that can’t take advantage of your offerings. If you have a local coffee shop, you want to attract people looking for places in your geographical location.

It expands out from there too. If you focus on snow ski equipment, why push your information out to warm locations that never see snow? By targeting based on location, you can be selective about who sees your offerings, and give them more relevant information within a defined area.

Demographic Targeting

Only you know your prospects and clients. You know who they are, what they like to do, what activities they participate in, and what their preferences are.

Don’t let the concept of “everyone is my customer” take away your ability to define your marketplace. Deep dive into who they are; be specific.

  • Is your perfect client male or female?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • Do they rent or own their own home?
  • Do they have kids?
  • What shops do they frequent?
  • How do they spend their time?

With every question you ask, you get a deeper look at who your client really is. This automatically makes your message clearer because you see them from different angles. You can be specific in the way you speak to them.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting tracks how consumers spend time online. It follows what they search for and how they interact. It builds a profile of their daily actions, and makes logical guesses about their next steps.

Have you ever searched on Amazon, only to find that search results follow you from place to place? That’s behavioral targeting at work. It makes the assumption that if you’ve spent time searching for something, you’re more likely in the market for that product or service. If you keep that item in front of them, in their consciousness, you have a better chance of conversion and completing the sale.

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Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting creates advertisements based on past behavior. It builds a profile based on how you search over time, and provides you with new offerings that closely align with your past search performance.

If you regularly search for golf clubs, get your tee times online, and have bookmarks to your favorite local golf store, you might be targeted for future golf tournaments, or the latest golf magazine. Because you search for things about golf regularly, it assumes you’re more likely than the average consumer to take advantage of something golf-related in the future.


Retargeting takes behavioral targeting to the next level. It’s an effective way to reach out to prospects based on behavior they’ve already displayed.

Let’s say someone visits one of your landing pages for an upcoming seminar. They leave the site without signing up. Retargeting allows you to continue to display that information on other pages they visit on non-related sites. It keeps your information in front of them, even if they head to your competition, comparing your offerings.

See your customers in a new light

Targeted advertising is something we all see every day. If you look at search results in Google, visit your Facebook feed, or read your favorite online publication, you’ve seen one or more of these online targeting methods at work.

But which is best for your business?

See your ideal customer in a new light, and you’ll be better able to reach out and connect.

Start by building user personas. These are avatars depicting your ideal customers. You use data from your existing customer base to create a model of your perfect client. You can do this by talking with your customers, sending out surveys, or relying on key pieces of information you’ve collected over the years. This is a work in progress – always build deeper demographics to get your messaging more succinct.

Then remember the 80-20 principle – roughly 20 percent of your customer base will bring in 80 percent of your sales. Treat your customers well, and they will build a strong, powerful business for life.

How are you using online targeting to grow your business?

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