In my 16 years working in digital media buying (a span that encompassed multiple advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 companies), I have learned the one, consistent key to reaching your audience: You have to be everywhere.
Whether you’re a mom-and-pop restaurant or a $10 million e-commerce brand, there are steps you can take to successfully reach your niche — even if you’re not a Fortune 500 advertiser.
Fortune 500 Versus Smaller Advertisers
Let’s first establish the difference between Fortune 500 advertisers and smaller advertisers. This will help you determine what resources you have at your disposal based on your size and output. Fortune 500 advertisers have tens and hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on advertising, and they usually need to reach a large audience to drive their business. They often have access to top tools like The Trade Desk, MediaMath and Vistar for ad buying, in addition to more widely-available platforms like Facebook and AdWords.
By contrast, smaller advertisers have substantially fewer funds for advertising. They may not know that sophisticated ad buying tools are available to them through ad agencies and that fewer customers are needed to drive business results. There can be advantages to working in a smaller niche; for example, those targeted agencies may be able to adapt faster to emerging business trends.
Here’s how to reach your audience.
1. Know Your Customer
Before you consider the nitty gritty details of your campaign, you need to make sure you have a firm understanding of your preferred customer. Are there specific websites they visit, locations they frequent in the physical world or publications they read?
For example, if you’re trying to target the high earners in New York, find out if they are reading Fast Company, Forbes or Entrepreneur. They may hold C-suite job titles like CEO. They may live in high-end, residential areas, and they may frequent places like The Peninsula Hotel and Soho House.
Focus on compiling the most detailed, well-rounded sketch of your “model customer” possible.
2. Use Data To Identify Them
As you’re working on that sketch, don’t forget that you have plenty of data at your fingertips. There are thousands of data sets, and there’s a segment for everyone. You can use hyperlocal data, including latitude and longitude coordinates and device IDs, to pinpoint which users went to specific locations on specific dates. If your audience can be defined based on keywords, target people on web pages that utilize those words. This is called contextual targeting.
Say you have a product for people who own Dodge Chargers. Set up the targeting so that a page on the web mentioning “Dodge Chargers” will run your ads. With custom contextual keyword lists, these ads are turned on in 24 hours. You can also deliver ads to people who search for “Dodge Charger accessories” and people who visit pages about Dodge Chargers.
3. Know Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Before launching an ad campaign, know what success looks like. Properly track key pages where a lead comes in or a sale is finalized. Ensure your Google Analytics is set up for conversion tracking. How many clicks, leads, sales, video views or other actions do you want to happen as a result of the media buy?
Take into account past activity, lifetime customer value, closing rates on leads and product profitability on sales. These are baselines that can then be compared to your advertising results.
Existing customer data is some of the most valuable data you have. This information should be deployed liberally. Site visitation, email addresses (from a purchase list or an interest list) and physical world visitation are all data sets that define existing or very interested potential customers. This data is generally captured by pixel ― activated with remarketing ― and in my experience shows some of the highest return on investment (ROI) in the market.
Another valuable use of your customer data is creating look-alike models. These models find people who have similar characteristics to the ones in your original data set and deliver ads to them across the web.
5. Drive Addressable Media Results To Your Key Audience
Be sure to set up key performance indicators to track your campaign progress. Use those results to effectively surround your niche audience. Remember: A Fortune 500 advertiser may target 20 million-30 million users. A smaller advertiser may target 1 million-5 million users or people in a single geographic market.
Regardless of size, the goal is to deliver robust, impactful advertising messages that make the consumer think: “Wow, this company is everywhere. I see them on Facebook, my favorite blog, on the billboard on the way to work and when I watch TV. They must be doing really well.” The consumer may not actually verbalize this, but their actions will reflect that you reached them, made an impact and appealed to something inside them that caused them to give you a sales opportunity.