Want to hit more targets? Aim better with hyper-targeting.

Hyper-target to find your prospects

OK, so you’re targeting your direct mail, print, and local broadcast by zip codes or subscribers to magazines or newspaper readership or cable channel zones. That’s what you – and most other small and medium size businesses (SMB’s) – have done for decades to generate traffic and awareness that your doors are open.

The problem is that you know it’s so 20th Century and you have a sense about moving into the Digital Age, but you’re not sure where to begin.

Start with what you know: good marketing still means getting the right message in front of the right audience. Internet marketing offers clear alternatives to some of the massive dollars still being spent on direct mail, print and local broadcast.

With Internet advertising, your ad dollars are spent more efficiently by reaching more precise targets.

First and foremost, recognize that the Internet can gather better targeting information than the static traditional methods. Digital data is so widespread in our lives that it’s coined the term Big Data because of the volume, variety, and the velocity at which it’s generated.

Secondly, the best targeting begins with 100’s of millions of individual data profiles. The more characteristics/data points in each profile, the more precisely profiles can be selected and aggregated into targeted audiences with the means of reaching them based on their histories of where they go online.

The data is gathered from sources like your online registrations, cookies, and click/visit activities, plus what’s compiled from social platforms, blogs, sharing sites, Tweets, retail apps – even those cards you swipe at check-out for discounts – are analyzed and modeled for aggregation into very large hyper-targeted audience files for online display advertisers.

These huge troves of data are much more extensive than what search engines like Google or Bing can gather from user search histories. Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing is effective for reaching audience members that are specifically seeking something at the time, but that only scratches the surface of targeting.

Data-driven Online Display Marketing allows advertisers to create campaigns that serve their ads to large audiences, where and when the users that meet their customer profile will most likely see it.

The two strongest types of targeting are Behavioral Targeting and Contextual Targeting.

Behavioral Targeting uses profile information that is based on an individual user’s viewing behavior to target ads specific to their interests.

Contextual Targeting serves advertising messages based on content being viewed on an individual Web page. Contextual targeting can often be hyper-targeted geographically (Zip code, neighborhoods, cities…) because the content is often of a local context. Contextual targeting based on the Web page being viewed is also an excellent means for real-time targeting based on the viewer’s interests; e.g., vacation, sports, health and wellness…

If your advertising spend on print, direct mail, TV and cable is 10’s of thousands of dollars annually, you owe it to yourself to move some of those dollars into Internet display. Then you’ll have a mix of marketing channels that blends the new with the old.

Purposeful social media

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The blogosphere is bloated with the pros and cons of social media for businesses. Everyone has a point of view, but a lot of them are so wrapped up in their advocacy that they miss the point.

Namely, “Why are we doing this?”

It seems like businesses spend way too much time thoughtlessly devoted to participating in social media because it’s popular or “experts” say it’s important as a channel or your competitors are “in that space” or because that’s what the big brands do….

Yes, organizations should use social media. But the hidden cost of social media is the time it takes to sustain your presence. Your organization can go small, medium, or large with a commitment as fits your budget, but without that commitment, your strategy will fail.

So start with “What are we trying to achieve to advance the mission of our organization?”

Then you can create a strategy that devotes resources that are appropriate, sustainable, and within your budget of time and money.

Non-profits and social action groups, for example, need to spread the word to grow their community to advance their overall mission. That’s a very strong alignment with what social media can deliver. With that purpose front and center, even smaller ones can devote significant personnel resources to the social media channel on a daily or weekly basis.

For profits, on the other hand, might want to be more incremental in their social media purposes considering they have other dollars working in other channels.

For example, if yours is a smaller business, your purpose can be as simple as maintaining a current Web presence so those that visit your site will see current information rather than having a negative impression from seeing a site that obviously hasn’t changed from the day it was started.

You can start with a Web site you can update yourself. And choose a single social network that has the members you want to reach to view your site. As you update your site with a sale or new product or service, you can send a tweet to followers and/or post to your social network.

And think about a blog for your site. It’s not that hard (or time-consuming) to create more than one short new blog post each month. It not only engages your audience, it’s one of the best SEO tactics to increase your ranking on the major search engines to bring new viewers to your site.

Most importantly, start with purposes that you can comfortably sustain. You can always add more resources and personnel devoted to a more complex strategy.