Digital advertising is a preferred method for advertisers since a brand can measure the success of their campaign and the ability to specifically target audiences, optimizing the advertising campaign for performance. In this article you’ll learn some tips on how to determine your target audience with free resources available to you.
What does all of this mean? With digital advertising, you can see exactly which ad creative generates the intended goal for the campaign. Common goals for digital advertising are:
- Awareness: Keep top of mind with your targeted customer
- New Customer Acquisition: Drive incremental direct sales
- Lead Generation: Bolster your email list for potential future sales
Before you start a targeted digital ad campaign, define your goals. In order to define your goals, it is important to really understand your business strategy, who you think your target audience is right now, and what other target markets you think might be interested in your business.
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Defining Your Target Audience
Target audience is more than just demographics. It can also be psychographics or lifestyle, income, location and more. The target audience is the group of people that might be interested in your business. There are several ways to determine your target audience with tools that are at your fingertips!
- Your website should be connected to Google Analytics. Login to your Google Analytics account, browse the left navigation to Audience, then click on Demographics and Interests. With this you’ll learn the gender and age group breakout of the visitors to your site. When you see their interests, you’ll learn what other topics they consume on the internet.
- If you have a Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or other social media account, in the analytics section there is always a portion that provides information about your followers.
- You may find that each of these sources of information is a little bit different, as they may attract different audiences. Compile all of this information. Are there some common threads across all platforms? Are there any new “ah-ha’s” in the information?
- Using this information, develop your initial target audience with as much information you believe is relevant. Be targeted, not general.
Developing Your Digital Ad Campaign
Next, think about your business strategy and your target audience. What type of messaging do you think might resonate with your target audience? Depending on the goal for your digital campaign, you will have different messaging. Develop 3-5 different messages for each goal of your campaign.
For each of the messages, find an image that helps communicate your message. If possible, take your own new, unique image. Do NOT just “find” an image on the internet – most images are copyrighted and should not be used without express permission.
To be able to track every ad separately, it is recommended to establish click urls with a UTM code*. It’s not hard. What the UTM code does is provide you with the specific information for each ad – even if they all go to the same page. Then you’ll be able to see which of the ad creatives or messaging performed the best for the goals that you selected. You can even run the same messaging with different images to see if it is the words or the image that performed the best.
*UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Urchin designed the technology that was acquired by Google in 2005.
HOW TO CREATE A UTM CODE: Use Google analytics campaign url builder to create the UTM code. Make sure you are consistent with the information in the form so that it will be easier to analyze the data: https://ga-dev-tools.web.app/campaign-url-builder/
Launching Your Digital Ad Campaign
Now you are ready to develop your digital ad! Most platforms allow you to create the ad within their platform. You just need your image, messaging and a call-to-action. (When a consumer clicks, where will they go?)
NOTE: The call-to-action should NOT be “buy now”, “click here” or “read more”. Be specific on what you want the consumer to do.
Each platform allows you to define what audience you want to present your ad to. You can set a daily or monthly budget for your ads. Most platforms ask for the goal for your campaign, and you can rotate through the different ads, having the platform optimize the ads for best performance. Make sure to use your specific UTM url for EACH creative. Even though the platform might optimize the campaign for the goal you specified, each platform doesn’t have access to your Google Analytics to see if the ad actually resulted in your goal(s).
Tracking Your Digital Ad Campaign
Each platform where you run your digital ad has reporting that can help you determine your target audience and optimize your campaigns. Review that information once your campaign has launched to make sure each of the ads is running as you expect. See which ads seem to perform the best on each platform. Before you make any changes, also review the ads on your Google Analytics account.
In Google Analytics, you can see any bump in traffic by source under Acquisitions / Source. To track by creative, by platform you’ll want to see the reporting by UTM code. That is why it is important to keep a spreadsheet or other tracking record for each one of the UTM codes that you set up. I like to have a spreadsheet that has columns:
- Campaign Name
- Key messaging
- Image description
- Click url
- Campaign source (this would be the platform where you are running the digital ad)
- UTM code
In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All campaigns. Here you can view more information such as how long did the customer stay on your webpage? Did they click and leave right away (high bounce rate)? Did they stay on your site and view more pages (Pages/visit)? Were they a new customer (New user)? If you have conversion goals set up in Google Analytics, you can see if they signed up for an email or purchased something from your website.
Which imagery and messaging worked best for your goals? Is it aligned with the reporting from the platform? It doesn’t always!
Next, take what you learned and then refine your ads to what worked best. Is there something else that is related that you think might work better? How can you adjust your imagery and messaging to increase performance? Test these new ads with the best performing ads to continually optimize your campaigns.
Are you ready to determine your target audience for your next digital ad campaign?
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