What is Targeting: definition and types

Targeting, also known as multisegment marketing, is a marketing strategy that involves identifying specific personas or markets for specific content. Companies use target marketing to learn more about their consumers and thus create advertisements for specified groups to maximize response.

This strategy is much more effective than mass marketing, as it targets the consumers most likely to interact with the brand or product, based on a buyer persona. There are many key targets, these are the most common:

Demographic targeting

These targets are based on age, gender, ethnicity, race, income, education, religion, economic status and more, and are extremely commonly used in all types of marketing.

Using demographics is a tried and true marketing technique, a foundation for target marketing. By combining different segments, say age and gender, specific consumers can be targeted for specific products in a myriad of ways, from ads to product placement and more. 

A common known trick using demographics is the selling of kids’ cereals. The cereals will be advertised on tv during children’s show using exciting cartoon characters, then when taken shopping, the cereal boxes are placed lower at eye level of a child (as opposed to where an adult would be looking), so the child asks for the cereal they saw on tv, and the parent buys it for them. Knowing the age and interests (and height) of kids leads directly to sales. Demographic targeting at its finest!

Knowing demographics also helps push sales if a certain product is not performing as well as wanted. If a product is selling great in the 25-40 male demographic, but isn’t in the 25-40 female demographic, ads specifically targeted at those women can be created to boost sales. Conversely, if a product is for women aged 25-40, the ads will focus on just women 25-40. An example of this is birth control commercials, which are often shown during shows popular with women in that age range, so as to reach the target audience.

Geographic targeting

This targeting is based on a certain location and can be as broad as a country or region, or as specific as a city or neighborhood.

Also known as geo-targeting or geofiltering, gathering geographic information (such as city, state, IP address) and then targeting consumers within certain locations has proven to be a very effective marketing strategy, as it results in ads being sent to exactly the right people in the right place. 

An example of this would be sending ads out for a local-to-the-consumer car dealership vs ads for the brand in general. The general ad may entice interest, but a local ad will have a greater chance of resulting in a sale.

Geographic targeting also uses the information on where the consumer goes on a regular basis or has been to in the past to create interest and habit profiles, which can be very valuable in choosing what group the consumer belongs in. On a more practical level, knowing the consumer’s geographic location ensures they are within the area of the product or service you are offering.

Psychological and behavioral targeting

This targeting uses personality traits, previous purchases, favorite places, shopping habits, “Likes” on Facebook or Twitter, opinions, etc.

Knowing the consumer’s personality can greatly enhance the efficacy of a marketing campaign. Are they introverted or extroverted? Depending on which, word choice can be everything. Are they an impulse buyer or someone who makes thought out decisions? Think about how to best pitch a sale to them. Have they already bought the product? Time to sell them that product a second time or offer something related to it. 

Using data gathered about the user’s psychological and behavioral patterns using website cookies gives more than a one-up in figuring out how to sell a product to them, as you can also influence them and predict their response better. Facebook Ads algorithm is perhaps the best-known use of behavioral targeting. It seems sometimes the second you even think of a product, that product suddenly shows up in your Facebook feed. By examining your previous interactions, interests, and personality, their program can match ads to their target audience almost perfectly. Who hasn’t bought something you totally didn’t know you need until you saw it in a Facebook ad? 

Taking into consideration a person’s opinions is very important too. Political views, entertainment preferences (even something as simple as tablet reader vs. paper book), what types of blogs they follow can all make a big difference in how a marketing initiative is received. Targeting the correct group or not is the difference between a hit and a miss when opinion is involved. People hold their opinions, preferences, and beliefs very dearly and it will cost you very dearly to not respect that.

Targeting comes in many shapes and forms – any group you can put people in is a potential target group. Using one of the above is a sure way to improve your marketing, but there’s still plenty of opportunities in areas like brand awareness and loyalty, in which you target people who are already your customers differently than the potential future customers

Ultimately, demographics, geographics, psychological and behavioral tactics are at the root of success in target marketing. Knowing who you want to convert and then aiming your content at the specific consumer can carry you a long way towards successful marketing endeavors. 

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