Targeting: How To Find The Right People

Happy family looking at recipes on the laptop and spending time together in the kitchen at home as an example of targeting audience

It’s hard to target a message to a generic 35-year-old middle-class working mother of two. It’s much easier to target a message to Jennifer, who has two children under four, works as a paralegal, and is always looking for quick but healthy dinners and ways to spend more time with her kids and less time on housework.

—Elizabeth Gardner

The worldwide web has enabled the world to become more and more connected. It has allowed businesses to learn an ever-growing amount of information about their customers. And it is this close connection and detailed data that is enhancing every company’s ability to digitally market to targeted consumers. In other words, digital marketing campaigns can be designed that specifically cater to certain people, making the marketing more effective than ever. The following takes a dive into the details of what this is and how to successfully accomplish it:

Where Targeting Fits Into Marketing’s Big Picture

At its core, target marketing is marketing to a specific, desired market. This type of precision requires two steps:

  1. Detailing who the target customer is and what market segment they are in.
  2. Designing a campaign that markets the appropriate product at the ideal price with the most lucrative promotions in the marketing channel that will most likely reach the target customer.

It is essential to keep in mind that targeting is just one portion of a marketing strategy. Marketing, for most companies, encompasses much more than laying out a target customer and then designing a targeted campaign for that niche audience. Similarly, marketing is far from the only element that a business should concentrate on when attempting to increase product or service sales. Every aspect of a business’ operations must be refined and optimized. This includes the product or service itself, as well as the supply chain, the customer experience, the back-office operations, sales, and so much more.

The ‘Right Person’ Defined

As previously mentioned, creating a detailed client persona is the first step in developing a successful targeted marketing campaign. The best way to begin fleshing out this persona is through research, interviews, and surveys. This can be done with the target customers in your current customer base, but it can also be helpful to include individuals who are not customers but still fit the target customer description. If available, competitor customer information is also a great tool to use for reference. The interview or survey you conduct should include at least three people and should include questions that cover the interviewee’s professional role, their goals, their challenges, their personal background, their shopping preferences, and how they prefer to network and communicate. And to really get quality information from the interview or survey, ask ‘why’ after just about every question.

Once you have all the details, it is time to start piecing together the persona. There will be four major pieces that you should put together.

  1. Basic demographic information, such as their career and family background, their income, location, gender, and age demographics, and a few personal identifiers of their communication preferences and demeanor. An example of this portion of the persona is ‘male, 30-35, academic (professor, researcher, etc.), $50,000, northeastern United States, married with young children, prefers to communicate via email, straightforward and professional demeanor’.
  2. Motivations, which should include their goals, their challenges, and ways they can be helped to achieve those goals or overcome those challenges. An example of this portion of the persona is ‘subscribes to a magazine with the goal of understanding more about a new subject area, yet struggles to find time to read as much of it as desired’.
  3. Real customer quotes from their interviews and some of the objections that they have to use the company’s service or product. An example of this portion of the persona is ‘“I like to purchase items that I know will improve my life…I just don’t know if this monthly expense makes sense for my family’s budget.”
  4. Marketing messaging for how the product or service should be described to the customer persona, along with an elevator pitch for them. An example of this portion of the persona is ‘Everything you need to know, just boiled down for your convenience’.

Targeting Platforms

Berlin, Germany - May 21, 2016: Social media application. Apple iPhone 6s screen with social media applications Facebook, Instagram, Google, Youtube, Twitter, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumbl etc.


LinkedIn is a unique target marketing platform in that it is arguably the best social platform for business-to-business marketing. On LinkedIn, there are four major routes for targeted marketing. To set up any of these ads, LinkedIn will guide you through a process that helps you target your audience based on location, age, gender, profession, and even email address matching from an import of your contact list.

  1. PPC advertising enables companies to use video, images, and text to reach targeted audiences. It is a great way to enhance brand awareness, up a number of website visits, and generate leads. These ads are essentially like the ads businesses run on AdWords, just more targeted. If you want marketers at small businesses to see your latest marketing software, you can use a PPC video advertisement to show them how simple the software is to use.
  2. The InMail targeted advertising option is a more personal way to reach out to a target persona. It delivers personal messages to LinkedIn mailboxes of the niche you are interested in reaching. If you are wanting to entice C-level execs with one of your services, you can send them an InMail ad with a code for a free trial.
  3. Display ads are similar to PPC advertising, however, they are for even more specific content—the type of content that you would update your LinkedIn company page with. If you are hosting a conference on the latest SEO techniques, you can advertise it to the professionals in your area.
  4. Sponsored posts are posts that LinkedIn puts up on users’ home feeds so that users see it as soon as they log on. When you want to show off your newest product, this is the ideal method for that.


Facebook is on the other end of the spectrum from LinkedIn. It is best for business-to-customer targeted marketing. For marketers, it is a dream platform to use because of how easy it is to use and how effective it is. Just as LinkedIn walks marketers through the ad setup process, Facebook does the same.

  1. Ads Create Tool is a tool on Facebook’s platform that enables marketers to develop an ad that meets specific marketing criteria. Not only can the developer choose an action that they want the potential customer to do when they see the ad, but they also have specific targeting abilities and creative options.
  2. Facebook Offers are a way to show your targeted customer when you are having a special discount just for them or a raffle that they can participate in. Facebook also allows the targeted individuals to share it on their Facebook walls or privately with friends so that the marketing value is expanded.
  3. Boosted Posts are a great way for businesses to reach far beyond customers who have liked their Facebook page. For a small fee, any Facebook page post can be promoted and end up on the Facebook Newsfeed of the targeted customers. This is an excellent way to promote new products or special events.

Based on a myriad of metrics, marketers can define their target persona and while most digital advertising platforms reach 38% of the targeted audience, Facebook manages to get ads to 89% of the intended audience. It does this through boosted posts, where companies can pay for posts on their page to be placed on users’ newsfeeds, as well as allowing companies to post special Facebook offers.

Other excellent targeting platforms include Instagram, Google, Bing, Pinterest, Twitter, Spotify, and Pandora. All of these platforms allow both very generic targeting as well as incredibly specific targeting, creating freedom for all of your various marketing campaigns.


In simple terms, remarketing is simply re-engaging customers. And these are not just any customers. No, they are the customers who have shown a great deal of interest and have the potential to be even more involved with the brand. This re-engagement could include everything from lifecycle marketing and shopping cart abandonment reminders to cross sell or upsell ads.

How this works is through connecting a company website to a digital marketing platform. Pretty much all of these platforms enable this type of connection so that when individuals visit your website and leave, advertisements for your company will begin to appear on their Instagram, Google searches, Facebook and more. The platform will provide you with a few lines of code to embed in your website and this simple measure ensures that your company will keep popping up in the minds of recent visitors. For example, if an individual visited your website and was viewing the various purses you sell, you could have the code automatically select the purse that was viewed the longest and have that purse advertised on other webpages that the individual visits, whether it is the news, Instagram, or the local weather. There has been significant research from the likes of MIT that shows just how successful these types of targeted campaigns can be at getting potential customers over the finish line.

For Example…

If a business sells kitchen appliances and they want to begin target marketing, their first step would be in designing the persona. They could design a persona for contractors who build new homes, for those who restore or renovate older homes, as well as home owners or potential home owners who are looking to build, buy, or sell. The target persona for contractors could be used on LinkedIn, where marketing campaigns, such as InMail advertisements could be used to directly reach out to contractors in the business’ region. The target persona for home owners who are looking to sell could be used on Facebook. The business could target these individuals with a Facebook offer for a discount on a purchase for those who need to renovate their kitchen before putting it on the market. The same concept would also work well on the previously mentioned targeting platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram.