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Smart Marketing: Targeting Your Audience Online

Smart marketing (or “smarketing,” if you will) can be whittled down to understanding your target audience on a personal level. Beyond knowing your audience’s basic demographic information, you should have information about where they work, if they have kids, what magazines they read, what television shows they watch, and what frustrations they have. You need to know what makes them tick; you need to know more about them than just their gender.

Once you know and understand your clients, use the information you have about them to effectively target your audience online. There are a plethora of tools at the online marketer’s disposal, allowing you to put your products in front of people who ultimately need and want them. And if you’re not using these tools, you’re not “smarketing. Targeting creates more value for your potential customers, and you get the most out of your marketing budget.

Targeting Audiences: Go Past the Who, What, and Where

Effectively targeting your audience online does not mean producing a handful of annoying pop-up or sidebar ads in the hope that someone might click on them. Creating relationships and showing customers why your business is valuable to them establishes credibility. This credibility can propel the most effective online marketing.

Stop to think who your ideal client is. This will give you insight into how to best reach your audience and identify potential trends among the group. When you’re marketing a product or a business service, look past the typical who, what, when, and where to figure out more about your ideal client. What level of education do your clients have? Do they have hobbies or favorite books or magazines? The more you understand, the better your marketing strategies will work.

Studying other businesses that serve your ideal client is another great way to better your marketing strategy. Learn from them when you can. Looking at the success of other businesses can help you plan and streamline your own client interaction strategy. Above all, though, you should make building a relationship with your audience your main marketing focus. Strong business-client relationships will ensure future success.

Targeting Audiences: Using Your Information

There is a wide range of tools available to online marketers. These tools may help you learn how to target your desired audience, and they may also reveal to you how your audience works online in general.

Don’t just stop at finding your audience, though. You have to understand how that audience works with your business or other businesses. Websites like Alexa, Quantcast, or Compete allow marketers to understand consumer behavior online. These sites show you statistics, demographics, and other pieces of valuable information about online audiences. They will become your best friends if you are serious about understanding who you’re speaking or promoting to.

Once you know where and how your target audience is spending its time online, you can figure out where and how to target them. One of the most current and powerful online marketing trends is paid content on social media websites. Almost everyone has exposure to social media, so it’s a solid way to market and speak to your specific audience. By creating content (e.g., videos and images) and paying to promote these via promoted posts, sponsored stories, or direct ads, you can significantly increase the number of people using your service, buying your product, or spreading the word about your business. Each social channel handles paid content a little differently. Here’s how:

  • Twitter: There are two ways you can use paid content to target consumers via Twitter. A promoted account allows you to build your community by promoting your account in users’ “Who to Follow” lists. Promoted tweets allow you to get your message in front of more people who are interested in your business or industry.
  • YouTube: There are several ways you can use YouTube to target consumers, but the most powerful tool is Google AdWords for videos. This increases your video’s viewership among relevant Google searches.
  • Facebook: Much like Google AdWords, Facebook allows you to target using location, age, and gender. Facebook is different, though, because it has the ability to target based on interests. This makes it possible for you to target people who already show an interest in pages or products that are relevant to your business.
  • LinkedIn: The power of LinkedIn lies in the ability to target users based on the companies they work for, their job titles, and the groups with which they are connected. This is a more professionally-oriented tool to use, without some of the interaction features that appear on Facebook or Twitter.

Understand the Client to Understand “Smarketing”

If social media channels don’t fit your target audience, it’s not a dead end for your marketing strategy. There is a seemingly endless list of networks businesses can tap into that increase online visibility. Regardless of the website, the key is finding out where your audience is spending the majority of its time online, and then leveraging online advertising within that channel.

If you want to be a great “smarketer,” you need to understand the broad range of online targeting tools available to marketers, and then use those tools to your advantage. Learning about your target audience’s online and personal activity is the first step to understanding which online channels best fit your audience. Once you understand your audience’s online personalities, you will be able to target them more effectively. With the help of online targeting tools, you’ll become a smart marketing pro.


Owner of Division33, AJ Roberts is widely considered one of the go-to guys for all things digital marketing. His unique ability to understand what consumers are thinking better than most of them understand themselves has allowed him to master the process of turning online prospects into paying customers for his clients. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.