Audience targeting: a primer
Big data comprises the zeitgeist of modern marketing, and marketers should utilize their data to target more efficiently. Here are some ways to segment and target your audiences more effectively.
"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” John Wanamaker famously said — and that was true. But Wanamaker was advertising in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before the days of analytics. A newspaper ad or radio ad could target the appropriate audience in only rudimentary ways.
We’re now in the era of big data, which gives advertisers so many more tools to pinpoint the exact audience for their products and services.
Like Wanamaker, advertisers waste some of their money when blanketing broad print pages and the internet with ads seen by the masses. When audiences are targeted with messages specifically intended for them, the return rate increases, as each audience member is a prospective buyer.
How to target your audience
Today's advertisers are fortunate to have such specific information available when choosing their advertising attention. That may be more difficult in the broad consumer products field, but in healthcare, companies typically know their targets. Here are ways that data tools are increasingly sophisticated in healthcare, and can be used to reach the identified audience:
Specialty and subspecialty: Those reading medical journals in print or online have already identified not only their medical specialties, but also their subspecialties. Not all healthcare products and services are appropriate for a general surgeon as opposed to a vascular surgeon, for example.
Marketing lists: Organizations sometimes sell use of their membership lists for targeted advertising. Whether it's a degree-granting institution, a specialty society or regional networking group, organizations can serve up access to your market for a fee. This way it's easier to differentiate between a radiologist, a radiology tech or radiology administrator.
Target job titles: Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook offer ways for advertisers to home in on specific professions, if the user has that in their profile. LinkedIn is a natural fit for using this method, as the business networking site includes not only titles, but degrees attained and certifications.
Disease area: Advertisers can also drill down by focusing on specific disease areas and medical conditions that a physician treat. That way, an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer doesn't encounter ads better suited to a physician treating gastric cancer.
Online behavior: Audience behavior is tracked online, which is the reason you can search for a pair of shoes and then soon afterward see shoe advertisements in your sidebar. Online metrics can track what people are reading, what topics they’re following and their engagement in email. Are they clicking certain links? Are they opening emails with specific subject lines? All of this information is available for audience targeting.
Geography: Many companies want to target a specific geographic area, whether that’s a country or just a region. Marketers may want to increase their presence in a certain area, whether they're introducing a new product there or they recently added a local sales force to serve that territory. Locations can be narrowed down to zip codes associated with a user’s IP address. Targeting by location is a great method for many companies.
Specific ID: It’s possible to target healthcare providers by NPI or HCP. There’s no way to get more specific than that.
Contextual: Advertising on web pages that use certain keywords and topics is another important way to target an audience.
This is all possible because these days data comes from many sources — both the publisher sites and third parties like state licensing, medical society memberships and other sources. Matching that data is a science, and it leads improved accuracy in finding the right audience.
Testing your campaign
Comparative testing is worthwhile for companies not yet convinced of the value of targeting their audience this deeply. Earmark some of your advertising budget to continue with current advertising methods and divert some to experiment with the various targeting methods mentioned here. Compare the results to see what brings in more leads and sales. Advertising specialists at most print or online publishers, or those selling membership lists, can ask the right questions to help a company determine its goals and ideal audience information for setting up this type of campaign. Part of that campaign test, for example, might be to discern whether print or internet ads do better with your audience, or whether social media sites bring in superior results. It’s smart try several options, as you won’t capture all the target audience with one method.
Research shows that repeated exposure to advertising leads to action and sharing your message with your audience in multiple ways increases the ways they interact with your brand and think about your product. When they see information in publications or websites highly appropriate to their interests, the audience associates that brand or product with their profession or specific field.