Build a High-Impact Targeted Marketing Strategy

The best targeted marketing strategies blend real-time quantitative and qualitative data to minimize future disruption.

Download Guide: How to Target the Right Audience

Build actionable, data-driven segments that inform your strategy and support your success.

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Hone segmentation and enhance your targeted marketing results

Four out of five consumers in Gartner’s 2021 Personalization Survey say they want and expect individualized experiences from brands. Yet digital marketing leaders typically only develop channel-based segments that lack depth and dimension.

Download this strategic guide to discover how to:

  • Integrate the critical components of an actionable segment

  • Create segments that are easy to find, relatable and profitable 

  • Bring greater precision to your targeted marketing efforts

Key steps to master the art and science of targeted marketing

In a disruptive climate, identifying and targeting ideal customers require an ongoing balance of data and human insight. Three practices can help shape a highly effective targeted marketing strategy.

Use segments and personas to strengthen your targeted marketing strategy

Targeted marketing segments and personas are often developed from different, complementary perspectives and are sometimes used interchangeably. But there is a distinct difference: Segmentation brings structure and logic to your targeted marketing — while buyer personas bring an empathetic dimension to customers’ needs and expectations. By setting your targets where customer and commercial needs intersect, you can generate more powerful segments and integrate the pre- and post-acquisition journeys more effectively. 

CMOs acknowledge that customer understanding remains a top three capability gap and that finding better ways of integrating and drawing insights from their data is a critical need. While there are a number of ways that organizations group their customers, the end goal is the same: to identify patterns that enable your brand to target and build relationships with the right customers.

Recognizing not just why your ideal customers engage and buy, but also what they do and think, can help build stronger, more lasting relationships. Your targeted marketing strategy should weigh toward gleaning needs-based insights from your existing customer base to reveal how and why customers make decisions.

Focus on the “differences that make a difference” 

When looking for patterns and themes within your customer base, the most natural places to explore are drivers of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Also consider exploring the touchpoints along the journey where customers make decisions. For example, look for themes around what customers need help with, customers’ mindsets around making a decision or external stressors in their environment. 

Once you have these insights, partner with teams that own VoC, customer research and insights, and marketing analytics to create groups of customers based on the value your brand can deliver to their unique set of needs.

Draw the connection between buyer personas and segments, and business priorities and targets

Personas are often dismissed by stakeholders when they are regarded as a creative exercise instead of a resource rooted in data. Linking personas back to segmentation research and assigning customer profiles to unique segments or personas will position you to:

  • Measure whether an initiative tied to a specific customer group drove value back to the business

  • Measure whether that initiative increased satisfaction for a real set of customers

  • Accurately test and learn from new marketing campaigns or customer experiences, because you can see how customers respond based on the persona they belong to

For example, if a group of customers provides negative feedback about receiving a benign “Happy Birthday” email, consider doing research to gauge these customers’ sensitivity to how their personal data is used. Then use the insights gained about privacy preferences to enhance relevant personas, create targeted content and adjust messaging.

Guide your target audience with a balanced, data-informed journey

Creating personas and journey maps for a target audience takes time and expertise, which is why many marketers turn to agencies and consultants for help. Whether you build these assets in-house or seek the help of outside vendors, it’s critical that you start with your company’s existing data. 

These four steps can help you develop more powerful personas and journey maps with existing customer data:

  • Step 1: Define your archetypes and personas. To optimize your targeted marketing campaigns, cluster customers into archetypes with similar expectations and requirements. By identifying audiences with common needs and expectations, you can develop personas that drive better adoption, and align your targeted marketing strategies to specific customers.

  • Step 2: Build data-informed personas and journey maps. Once you identify your archetypes, merge the personification of a persona (the imaginary “person” who best conveys the persona) with hard data from the archetype. By bringing the qualitative and quantitative data together, personas become the basis for identifying the customer journeys that each persona needs and wants. 

  • Step 3: Act on your journey maps. Mapping different customer journeys for different personas helps you to identify the standards that each persona may have for each touchpoint and uncover unique needs or gaps. Use your data archetypes of existing customers where possible, but also develop targeted marketing strategies for customers who remain anonymous — for example, by tracking website activity following a search term entry.

  • Step 4: Measure your CX performance. Collect and analyze marketing and CX performance data by customer persona to evaluate and improve your CX performance within each persona group. This feedback loop of directing actions to individual customers and evaluating success creates the means for constantly improving personas and actions.

By starting with existing customer data and then filling in gaps with outside sources, you can:

  • Build better, customized insights that match your brand’s unique customers and reflect its distinctive positioning and offerings

  • Make clearer connections between your actual customers and the personas you develop, making it easier to deploy targeted marketing strategies

  • Measure results and evaluate the impact of targeted marketing efforts and investments more easily

  • Align CX activities to the most pressing customer issues 

Grounding your personas and journey maps with a combination of customer data and feedback from existing ideal customers will help ensure your brand can identify and act on its most valuable targeted marketing opportunities.

Stay relevant by tracking the changes that impact target audiences

Deep consumer knowledge is critical for effective marketing strategy, execution and optimization. But truly knowing the consumer landscape and cultural context is complex, because both are rapidly changing. 

The most successful organizations track not only what’s happening to their customers and across their competitors, but also what’s happening in the cultural context of the organization. They examine the impact these events may have on the business. They decipher which emerging trends matter and why key consumer segments do what they do. And they understand how different consumers use digital tools to engage with brands and determine what to do as a result. 

To build a holistic understanding of how your target audience may evolve, focus on these three areas:

Consumer channels and platforms

A new set of consumer behavior norms is emerging across a growing number of digital channels and buying platforms. This presents a massive marketing opportunity. Customers’ relationships with smart technology and social media are inevitably tied to changes in communication and purchasing preferences across key sectors.

Successful marketing teams ask themselves:

  • How is the consumer embracing rapidly evolving communication channels that create new behavioral norms and marketing opportunities?

  • How is emergent consumer buying platform behavior rerouting traditional paths to purchase?

  • How is the use of consumer technology changing communication and purchasing preferences in my sector?

Cultural and societal shifts

A turbulent, often-divisive social environment can quickly reshape consumers’ brand perceptions and relationship expectations. Pay attention to cultural and societal shifts in the context of external factors such as the economy, technology and politics, and their impact on consumer behavior in key sectors.

Successful marketing teams ask themselves:

  • How are millennial, Gen Z and multicultural consumers’ distinctive values and behaviors leading the way in remaking the marketing landscape?

  • How do life stages and aging change my target consumers’ values and behavior?

  • How are demographic changes in the U.S. impacting purchasing priorities and reshaping consumer expectations in my sector?

Your future consumer

People are constantly moving and always evolving. Shifting attitudes and behaviors of key consumer segments like Gen Z, millennial and multicultural consumers are reshaping the modern marketing landscape.

Successful marketing teams ask themselves:

  • What are the differences between generations and life stages, and how do we use both in our marketing and communications?

  • How can my team identify meaningful differences between different segments of consumers?

  • What are the needs of our multicultural audiences, and how do we meet those needs?

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FAQ on targeted marketing

Targeted marketing uses audience segmentation to deliver highly relevant brand experiences. Marketers use data including demographics, psychographics, and buying and browsing behaviors and preferences to create an in-depth, multidimensional profile of the target audience, and then use that profile to inform their overall strategy.

Having the right consumer insights enables marketing leaders to understand the exact audience they need to target. This deep understanding fuels optimization across the marketing function — from go-to-market strategies, to messaging development, to channel selection and content. With the right targeted marketing strategy in place, marketers can execute more effectively, achieving higher customer engagement, responses and ROI.

To measure a targeted marketing campaign’s effectiveness, map out the various paths your target audience can take to reach a desired business outcome. Then create target metrics based on audience responses and the business value they generate — whether through action, engagement or changes in perception. Finally, calibrate your approach post-campaign by comparing projected outcomes with actual results.

Drive stronger performance on your mission-critical priorities.