Which targeting option is good for which campaign objective?

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Targeting options position along the purchase funnelTargeting options, there are a great many of them. You’ve undoubtably used several of them in past campaigns and have your own opinion as to which is better than the other. But have you ever considered whether or not one option was even appropriate for a particular campaign objective?

Like website environments / editorial context and devices / screens, targeting options each have their own strengths and weaknesses and make them more appropriate to achieve a branding objective, engagement or direct response objective.

Universally applicable targeting options

Geotargeting and time bloc targeting can be of value across all campaign objectives. They are the only two that can just as easily serve at the top of the purchase funnel as they can at the bottom.  Bear in mind that time bloc targeting does not hold real value for all brand categories.

Branding targeting options

Those targeting options best suited to further along a branding objective are contextual, sequential, demographic, psychographic and behavioral.

Contextual allows the brand to associate itself with a sought after editorial environment. Sequential allows the brand to reveal its message one step at a time in proper order.

Demographic, psychographic and behavioral targeting allows the brand to identify and target traits common to their usual consumers to reach more like them.

Engagement targeting options

Behavioral, profile, lookalike targeting and retargeting (remarketing, remessaging = same thing) are all ideally suited to achieve engagement campaign objectives.

Behavioral (assumed knowledge of users) and profile (known knowledge of users) both allows targeting individuals based on their known interests and past behaviors. This allows an advertiser to target people who likely already know the brand with a message than can build upon that awareness with some type of engagement to affect some change in consumer attitudes or understanding of particular brand attributes.

Lookalike targeting builds upon a combination of other targeting possibilities to target individuals who look like a specific persona. Identified personas usually already know the brand, so again we can follow up with a more engaging message to lead the consumer towards a purchase of some kind.

Retargeting necessarily (almost necessarily) allows an advertiser to target an individual who already definitely knows its brand. This is done by retargeting people who’ve come to their website, been exposed to their ads online, made a branded search or received a brand newsletter (other methods are also possible). Retargeting is ideally suited for engagement campaigns for similar reasons as those explained above for behavioral and lookalike.

Direct Response targeting options

The following targeting options all work well with campaigns that have a direct response objective: retargeting, keyword, intent to buy and post purchase.

Retargeting can also be used for direct response, so long as you are retargeting a previous behavior that indicates the consumer is primed to make a purchase. It’s like bringing him back in the store to close the sale.

Keyword targeting, which isn’t limited to search engines is also great at reaching consumers who are in a shopping process, or ready to buy. This however needs to be properly tested ahead of time if you’re doing it outside of search engines.

Intent to buy targeting is in fact a form of behavioral targeting where the behavior in question cannot be interpreted any other way than as intent to buy. It is very much like retargeting cart abandonments from your site, but from everyone else’s, for the same product or service categories you sell.

Post purchase targeting is closer to profile targeting than it is behavioral. Here we look for individuals who have bought something for which your product or service is a follow-up of some kind. For example, if you sell kitty litter, you may want to target people who’ve bought cat food.

Bringing it all together

Below you will find exactly where specific targeting options are ideally suited against the consumer path to purchase.

Targeting options position along the purchase funnel

What do you think of this model? Have I missed anything important?

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