A much more specific form of market segmentation is possible today, as opposed to the generic profiling of consumers that erstwhile marketers used to conduct. This provides impetus to micro targeting- personalized marketing tactics relevant for a small, well-defined group, in contrast to large-scale campaigns for broad segments.
The need for narrower segmenting, and coming up with well defined groups in order to streamline your marketing efforts, has made micro targeting gain increasing prominence.
The Crux of Micro targeting
With its original roots in the political arena of tracking, segmenting and subsequently influencing individual voting behaviors in major election campaigns, micro targeting has come a long way.
The crux of micro targeting lies in the fundamental concept that the more precise you are in tracking the needs, wants and attitudes of your potential customers, the wider are your chances of reaching out to them exactly when and how they want you to. In line with this requirement, the recent years have witnessed a rise in the micro targeting options provided by social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, that include Reach Blocks, Page Post Links, Promoted Posts, Geo targeting, Sponsored Updates and so on.
For instance, if you are an e-commerce store selling anti-ageing products for women above the age of 40 years, creating a micro targeted Facebook ad would be a powerful way of reaching out to your target audience. Apart from specifying the location ( a cluster of cities, 10-50 miles in the vicinity of each other can be chosen for one ad), age (40 and above), gender (female), general interests (Health and Well Being) and precise interests (Beauty Products/Cosmetics/Beauty Tips/Anti Ageing), you also have advanced targeting (http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/4127-How-to-Target-Facebook-Ads-to-your-Audience ) options like custom audiences and lookalike audiences.
In 2013, Twitter introduced TV Targeting which is yet another powerful way of targeting specific groups, by channelizing real time content and ads to target the increasing number of consumers who watch TV on their smartphones or tabs. Aptly categorized into TV Ad Targeting and TV Conversation Targeting, a number of brands like Adidas, Jaguar and Holiday Inn reaping its benefits. (https://business.twitter.com/tv-targeting )
Owned Media: Micro Targeting for Long-Term Relationships
There is often a very thin line that demarcates micro targeting and intrusive marketing, and this can be understood better by clearly defining your short-term and long-term marketing objectives, validating your data, and paying genuine attention towards what your customers really want. The basic principle is to understand when and where the potential customer is actually looking for information, and reaching out to them only then.
Marketers tend to cross the line and become intrusive when they try to force their offerings upon customers when they are not looking for it. So no matter how alluring an offer on a random, unwarranted pop-up ad might be, it will in all probability be found to be intrusive (and annoying) by a potential customer. On the other hand, putting your best foot forward where the end-user is actually looking for a good offer, is the way to go in micro targeting. For instance, the behaviorally targeted ads of Amazon and EBay, based upon the search history and browsing patterns of users have enabled thousands of e-commerce stores to reach out to the right consumers, at the right time and right place.
As far as cost effectiveness, control, versatility and establishing a long-term rapport with a nice audience is concerned, your owned media channels will always provide you with an upper hand. In fact, the right use of owned media micro targeting techniques can work wonders for your marketing campaign. And with all the clutter that customers finds around themselves today, it is equally important to create high-impact, engaging and personalized content to stand out in the sea of mediocrity.
Stepping out of the realm of social media, even online communities offer vast potential for micro-targeting. The Geo-Educator Community formed by National Geographic has been pivotal in increasing the brand’s engagement levels with the teaching community across the world. Even the simplest of features in your owned media channels can be harnessed for targeting specific groups. For example, you can customize your Facebook pages with different custom banners or cover photos for different groups, rather than having a standardized banner for all. So if you are selling a product for pre-teens and teens, and you want to drive a message across to parents as well, your customized banners will enable you to micro target these groups separately, and in the most effective manner.
Paid Media Micro Targeting: Broadening Your Horizons
Very often, well-charted and high-budget marketing campaigns fail to bring in results, because it failed to reach the right audience at the right time. For reaching out to the group that is most relevant to your organization, opting for paid media micro targeting options, such as display ads, paid search sponsorship, or even outsourcing your requirements to an established digital marketing company, is necessary.
While owned media has its own significant role to play in projecting your brand, its scope will always remain limited. Take for instance, the significant role of micro targeting in movie promotions, as opposed to the kind of promotional activities that were conducted a decade earlier. With teasers and trailers going viral on YouTube, and content being directed towards key audiences groups on Twitter and Facebook, digital micro targeting has been instrumental in the success of many movies today. Who would have thought that a limited release, $5-million budget movie like Spring Breakers, would gross $31 million purely on account of its social media campaign, intensively targeting teenagers and youngsters on Twitter and Facebook.
The magic of micro targeting is also evident in the realm of book promotions. In the words of renowned Author Amish Tripathi, who is accredited with the fastest selling book series in the history of Indian publishing, it was the digital media that came to his rescue, when the mainstream media ignored his books. By providing the first chapter of ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ for free on his Facebook page generating instant word-of-mouth, and targeting YouTube users by creating a short, high-impact YouTube trailer based on his book (the first of its kind in the history of Indian Publishing), he was successful in selling 1.7 million copies of the book, and has paved the way for other Indian writers to follow similar digital marketing techniques today.
The Way Ahead
The key to success in micro targeting lies in focusing on the relevance of the parameters that you use for categorizing your target groups. Once you get the basis of your categorization or profiling right, it becomes easier to focus on your audience, thoroughly understand their needs and sensibilities. Leveraging multichannel campaigns with a combination of owned and paid media channels, is what comes next. For all the digital marketing professionals who haven’t started their journey in micro targeting, the time is ripe to commence now!