importance-of-targetsWe’ve all seen them. Email messages that seem to have no correlation to our interests or demographic background. This shotgun approach to email and other forms of digital marketing is perhaps the most wasteful thing that a marketer can do. When you send a message that has no connection to the recipient 99 times out of 100, they will simply just discard the message. That’s not exactly a quality ROI. Enter targeting.

Think about the most effective marketing campaigns you’ve seen. While some might be on the list because of their humor or cleverness, most are probably successful to you because they somehow speak to you and your interests. That’s what targeting does. It separates out the wheat from the chafe to give you the most relevant message possible. Let’s talk a bit now about how targeting works in the digital marketing world and how to best leverage it.

When you started building your database, what sort of information did you collect – names, email addresses, city, state, etc? Hopefully the answer was “as much as possible” because the more data you collect, the more you have to work with when it comes to targeting. Savvy marketers know this and try to cull as much as they can from their subscribers. They will ask not only basic demographic information but also psychographic and behavioral questions as well, such as asking for their favorite type of drink, music, movies, etc. All of this data can then be segmented into targets, enabling the marketer to send highly specific email campaigns to any number of chosen groups.

At its most basic level, targeting is about making sure that content is relevant to the receiver. For example, if you are a national restaurant chain with a special item that is available only in the Midwest, you don’t want to send that message to people living in California. Instead, you need to send the campaign only to residents in the Midwest. This is a targeted campaign.

Targeted marketing is also important to help minimize your spam/abuse complaints. If you are constantly sending out campaigns that don’t resonate with the receiver, chances are high that they will report you as spam to their respective ISPs. Too many complaints and you will find yourself blocked from certain ISPs, rendering your hard fought database practically useless – never a good thing for a marketer. While you still need to follow basic best practices (LINK /email-best-practices/), targeting your email campaigns will also help minimize potential delivery issues.

Targeting can also be used with other digital messaging forms, such as text messaging, voice and fax broadcasting, even RSS feeds. The principals are the same. The more information you are capturing, the more targeted your message can be. This is especially important for voice, fax and text messaging as the cost per message tends to be much higher than email campaigns. Targeting in these cases will help reduce your overall costs and will yield better results for you in the end. After all, why waste a call, fax or text charge on someone who will never reply or want to receive your message?

In sum, targeting is an essential piece of effective digital marketing. Not using this simple yet powerful method can hurt your database and reduce the impact of your email campaigns. Make sure that you are capturing as much data as possible from your subscribers and get started with targeting today!