Why understanding your audience is so important with online advertising campaigns

The Internet is a fantastic platform for advertising. When you consider how granular the targeting can be when you set up an online advertising campaign its easy to understand why: In traditional advertising mediums like newspaper advertising for example it is very difficult to target a specific user base. These forms of advertising tend to go out to a very broad audience in terms of demographic and interest. Sure you might be able to target a general market such as home owners but after that you could be putting your advert in front of just about anyone.

With most online advertising mediums its totally different – you can target specific users based on may different factors such as their location, their age, gender and even their interests. Take Google Adwords as an example, with this advertising platform you can target users in a specific area – for example within 10 miles of your location and then you can target only users that are actually searching for your product. So you might show your advert only to people that live within 10 miles of your office and who are searching for “Blue widgets”. This gives you a much better chance of putting your product in front of the right audience.

Imagine if you could do this with a newspaper advert – you put a full page spread in your favorite newspaper but then you divide the cost of the advert by all of the people that read that paper and you only show the advert to, and pay for, the people that are actually thinking about buying blue widgets. That makes it sound pretty amazing, and in fact this is exactly what you can do with most online advertising platforms.

So why isn’t online advertising easy?

Even though online advertising offers so much more control for the advertiser and a far greater ability to get your product or service in front of the right audience before you even pay a dime, it is by no means an easy form of advertising to master.

To understand this you need to understand the mentality of the typical Internet user. Internet users are used to the way that the Internet works, they are used to being able to find absolutely anything and everything online and as such they have a very short attention span. Just like we compared online advertising to traditional advertising, we can do the same thing again – this time imagine that you are reading a newspaper and you come to the classified ads section. Instead of half a dozen companies, you se a list of ten thousand companies, all selling the exact same thing that you are looking for. That’s basically what the Internet is like for the consumer – they have everything they could possibly want at their disposable and even better in an easy to use format that can be searched through and filtered at will.

This is why, as an advertiser, you really need to understand your audience very well – you need to think about the following things when you are profiling your target audience:

  • Who are your target audience?
  • Where are they located?
  • What type of sites do they visit online?
  • What sort of experience do they want to have online?
  • Where are they in the buying process?
  • What product or service are they looking for?
  • How, when and where are they likely to buy?

After you have thought about all of these things you should have a better understanding of how your target audience shops when online. After this you can think about how to capture them at the stage they are currently at in the buying process, when they visit your website.

For example, if you are selling cars then your target audience might be men and women in their twenty’s that are looking to buy their first family car. You might think straight away – right, they are looking to buy a car, so I will put a landing page up with a selection of cars, a buy now button and then link the advert straight to that page.

Then you wonder why you don’t get any interest at all. In actual fact you should try to understand your customer a little bit more – the process of buying a car is a long one, it involves lots of research and in the end the buyer is far more likely to visit the car showroom before making their purchase.

So now think about the mentality of that buyer when they click on your advert and visit your car sales website – they are in the midst of researching cars, they are looking at lots of different cars, the specs of those cars, the reviews and they are then probably cataloging that information and then having an offline conversation about it. So you need to capture their details whilst also appealing to that mentality and that process that they are currently involved in. Based on this information it might be far more appealing to your typical audience if you have a newsletter signup form on your website promoting a full car report that can be received by email – sign up to receive a comparison report of the latest cars we have in our show room. Or perhaps sign up and receive a weekly update as new models or new deals become available.

This way you are appealing to the type of customer that is likely to click on your advert and visit your website rather than trying to appeal to a “buyer” who in reality is never going to land on your website – because by the time they are actually at the buying stage it would be too late and they would be in a show room somewhere rather than clicking online advertisements.

Know your audience for more success with online advertising

In summary – if you want to succeed in online advertising then you must spend time to understand your audience and to think about the individuals that are likely to click on your adverts and visit your website.

the better you understand them, the more likely your advertising campaigns are to succeed.