Digital marketing can’t really be effective without proper targeting. What is digital marketing targeting? Digital marketing targeting is a formalized method that identifies and then intentionally aims created content, connections and the use of platforms toward a specific demographic, psychographic and/or geographic audience, their needs and concerns.

You see, no matter how good the messaging and content that you create is, if it is not specifically designed for the target audience that you need to reach, it will miss.

Misconceptions About Target Audience

Over the last several years I have heard many of the industry “experts”, authors and speakers condemn the terms target audience and targeting. They say things like, “Don’t target, these are people not numbers” and “It’s about building relationships, not targets.” etc. While I agree that you must be human and engage with customers and prospects as real people, it is completely foolish to think that you can be effective within digital marketing without 1) knowing who you need to reach and 2) what their specific interests are.

You can be foolish with your own marketing, but to incorrectly instruct others to be foolish with theirs is irresponsible in my humble opinion.

Why Do You Need To Target Your Audience?

Let’s present a few analogies that will help you get your head around the importance of targeting the proper audience in your digital marketing.

Target Audience Analogy:

Imagine that you are a police officer and you are going to a shooting range to practice your marksmanship. You will want to go to a shooting range that has specific designated targets, so you are able to practice your aim in various scenarios and also measure how well you are shooting, and the improvements you are making. By having various targets to aim at, you are able to focus your effort toward something specific and hit it. Your very life may depend on your ability to properly hit a target, so knowing what target you might need to hit is crucial for your survival.

The Importance Of Targeting Your Audience Online

As a business, your survival depends on how well you know and target your audience with both the products and services you offer, as well as the marketing you conduct to sell them online. If you don’t know exactly who you are trying to reach, you will not be able to reach them effectively.

Here are just a few key audience targeting points that you need to consider about your digital marketing:

1- You need to know exactly who you are trying to reach. We do this for our clients using personas. Personas allow you to understand the 3-5 types of individuals that you are trying to reach with your digital marketing and all the interests, needs and concerns that they have as a person. For more information on personas read Personas – Do B2B’s Know Their Target Market?

2- Just as with the analogy we discussed earlier… If you do not have a target, you can’t aim properly and you certainly won’t be able to measure your efforts.

3- Does your core marketing messages address the needs, concerns and issues that your target audience has? If you know your audience, your message should focus on their interests and the solutions you have to their specific problems.

How To Use Audience Targeting In Digital Marketing?

There are several specific ways that audience targeting is used within digital marketing. In order to target your audience, you first need to correctly identify who exactly they are and as much information about them as you kind find. This involves a considerable amount of time and research that entails searching for and uncovering real data to support your beliefs and assumptions.

Guessing on the age, location, income, position and personality of the people that truly have a need or interest for your product or service is a major mistake many brands make. Intuition and assumptions should only drive your research, but never be used as your targeting method. Only research and data that supports your beliefs will help you effectively marketing your brand online!

How much research? Here’s something I wrote on marketing research that should open your eyes a bit.

Let’s cover a few of them many ways target audience is used in marketing and the specifics surrounding their use.

Paid Media Targeting – If you intend on using paid search marketing or paid social media marketing, you had better be really sure that your audience targeting is accurate. If you spend money on digital media advertising, using messaging, an offer or content that is NOT specific to your proper audience target, you are throwing money out the window. Proper audience targeting is what makes paid media advertising effective. The formation of the ad is a distant second!

Content Creation – When you know exactly who your target audience is, you are able to determine their interests, needs, concerns and desires. From this information you are able to create content that speaks to those issues, which in turn gets traffic to your content, your website and your message.

Website Messaging – If you don’t know who your target audience is and the specific solution that your product or service addresses for them, your website will be less than effective. Research shows that you only have a few seconds to capture a new visitor to your website. If your messaging is targeting the wrong audience, you are going to struggle to retain their attention and earn their business.

Content Sharing – Knowing the interest of your target audience allows you to share content that focuses on them. Sharing content that interests them creates affinity and connection and opens the door with your prospects. Providing content that interests your audience, that might not even have anything to do with your industry or what you do, can provide value and thereby remove barriers that get the customer to look at what it is that you do. By targeting the correct audience with the correct shared content, you will open opportunities to what your business provides.

Audience targeting in digital media marketing is beyond important. It is the foundation of every marketing component you will ever implement. When your target audience is dead on correct, the likelihood that your messaging, content and effectiveness will attract, retain and convert connections to customers dramatically increases.