A target audience is a group identified as the focus of your marketing campaign. A well tailored audience makes advertising easier and more effective because you have an idea of who you’re marketing to. Furthermore, by understanding the “who”, you can refine how you’re marketing to these groups to make even more impactful campaigns.

In the world of marketing there are two basic types of audiences: marketing to existing customers (remarketing), and marketing to potential customers (prospecting). And it’s important to understand that remarketing looks vastly different than prospecting. They each have unique selling points, objectives, and strategies. Understanding these two types will help you not only create a more successful marketing campaign, but it will also help you understand why it’s more successful. So let’s explore the differences between remarketing and prospecting audiences, and more importantly when to target each.

Reach Existing Customers: Remarketing

The purpose of remarketing is to strengthen your existing customer base and increase an individual customer’s value. On average, existing customers spend 60-70% more than new customers. So the focus of one of your first marketing campaigns should be retaining existing customers rather than acquiring new customers. After all, why invest money at all in attracting a new customer if you don’t intend on continuing that relationship? According to data collected by ProfitWell, a 5% increase in customer retention can boost revenue by 25-95%. 

So now that we understand how important it is to build customer loyalty, let’s explore the different types of existing customer audiences and how to successfully market to them!

audience targeting to existing customers

Remarketing to Loyal Customers

The most obvious type of existing customer is a loyal one. This is a customer you can depend on for repeat business time after time. This customer is guaranteed to show up for every product launch, sale, or company announcement. 

Marketing to this audience type is fairly easy and low budget. You can rely on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to connect with this type of audience on a regular basis. A great social media manager will know what type of content to post on what platforms and how frequently. You can also leverage User Generated Content (UCG) such as reviews, photos, and stories to build a more intimate relationship between brand and customer. Make them feel like they are part of the brand story and they will be much more likely to stick around.

Remarketing to Lost Customers

The least obvious audience and one businesses often neglect is the lost audience. These are customers who were once very loyal, but stopped conducting business for one reason or another. 

Marketing to this audience can be very rewarding if done well. The answer lies in figuring out what triggered the loss of their business. Email marketing is an excellent way to reach this particular audience. Market directly to this segment with a special discount or sale to determine if pricing was the trigger. Solicit review requests if you suspect customer service or product quality to be the problem. It doesn’t hurt to ask, you just have to be smart about how you ask. If you’re unsure about marketing to this audience, turn to an expert email marketing (EMM) firm instead.

Retargeting Non-Converting Audiences

This last type of audience we’ll discuss in this section doesn’t actually include existing customers. Instead this audience is composed of people who are aware of your brand, product, or service, but have yet to convert into a paying customer (AKA the ones who got away). These people have visited your website or store but ultimately never made a purchase. We like to refer to marketing to this particular audience as “retargeting”.

Retargeting as a marketing tactic can be fairly easy or incredibly complicated. Successful retargeting relies heavily on figuring out what ultimately dissuaded them from converting. Unlike your lost customer base, you can’t just ask why. You can, however, market directly to them using the power of cookies and algorithms. The best forms of marketing for retargeting purposes are display and programmatic marketing. These comprise any and all graphic, video, and textual advertisements that populate popular websites from the New York Times to niche recipe blogs. The major downside to display and programmatic advertising is that you can’t determine whether your ads will appear to quality candidates. Oftentimes the return on investment for these campaigns can be very low especially for small budgets.

audience targeting to prospective customers

Reach Potential Customers: Prospecting

While existing customers will account for the majority of your customer base, there will be a portion of your audience that will be consistently new. Returning customers do contribute the most to your gross revenue, but new customers still play an important role. After all, a customer has to be new before they can transition into a returning customer. So if you want to expand your loyal customer base, you have to not only nurture relationships with existing customers, but also reach out to more and more people. So without further ado, let’s look at different types of potential audiences: prospecting. 

Audience Targeting with Demographics

So the most basic of prospecting audiences is audience targeting with demographics. Since the dawn of marketing, this was the go to audience across industries. Demographics targeting involves marketing to your ideal customer based on qualities like age, gender, and race. With time, the available demographics expanded to include education, income, career industry, marital status, children, etc. to create an even more exact customer profile. More importantly, thanks to internet browsing data, now we can target potential customers by their spending habits, browsing history, location, and other much more technical qualities.

While audience targeting with demographics seems straightforward, it can quickly turn into a mess if you don’t know what you’re doing. This type of prospecting works best for companies who have a very clear understanding of their various customer profiles. That is, they know both their ideal customer AND their actual customer. So if your company has gone through the exercise of creating customer profiles and know these profiles to be accurate, audience targeting with demographics is the way to go.

Audience Targeting with Interests

Similar to audience targeting with demographics, interest targeting is very hands on, but is considerably less complicated. Interest targeting focuses on defining your audience by, you guessed it, their interests and hobbies. For instance, an outdoor recreational equipment manufacturer would market to customers interested in outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and mountain climbing. 

Because audience targeting with interests will encompass a much larger and diverse audience, there are some downsides to using it versus demographics targeting. First, people’s browsing history is not always indicative of their real interests. Second, someone may be interested in something such as sports equipment, but they might not necessarily participate, such as the case of sports enthusiasts. Third, although a potential client meets all the necessary criteria for interest targeting, they may not be in a position to purchase such as the case of a new mother, someone from a lower income bracket, etc. Because of these gaps, you will have less control over marketing to a high value prospect versus a low value prospect.

Defining Lookalike Audience Targeting

The easiest of prospecting audiences is undeniably the lookalike audience. As its name implies, the audience is modelled after your existing customer base. Advertising platforms use existing customer data and algorithms to identify and target users who look similar to pre-existing customers. Because these potential customers look like existing customers in terms of interests and demographics, we get the name “lookalike”. In other words, lookalike audience targeting incorporates the best parts of demographics and interest targeting without the hassle of setup.

Despite being the easiest audience to set up, lookalike targeting is the most handsoff. Algorithms do the work of picking and choosing characteristics to focus on. Lookalike audience targeting works best for companies who have a consistent loyal customer base composed of similar individuals.

Defining Contextual Marketing

The last prospect audience we will look at is contextual marketing. Context marketing is like demographics targeting in that it is also very hands on. However, unlike demographics targeting, it relies on search intent. Contextual marketing differs from other audience types because it doesn’t use a customer profile. Instead, contextual marketing depends on where you place your advertisement. In order to successfully market to new prospects with context targeting, your company must have an accurate picture of how customers discover you. 

While contextual targeting may seem simple, this type of audience targeting is perhaps the most underestimated in terms of complexity. The premise is very straightforward. You choose the industry platform on which you want your advertisements to appear. For instance, continuing with the outdoor recreational equipment manufacturer, this company might advertise on travel blogs, national parks websites, or sports platforms. Simple enough. However, this can backfire because you have no control over the type of individual your advertisement will be shown to. Someone visiting a travel blog might be interested in visiting Paris. Therefore they would have no need for tents or outdoor equipment. 

Therefore contextual marketing works best for companies who have a very precise understanding of how customers discover them. If you already have a good idea of where your customers come from, then this is a great opportunity. For instance, a savvy webmaster will track which platforms direct the most traffic to your website. You could then tailor a campaign to advertise specifically on those platforms since you already know your typical customer visits them.

Digital Advertising with West County Net

The world of marketing can be a downright mess without the right knowhow. Although we’ve covered the basics of remarketing versus prospect marketing in this article, there are many other layers that compose a successful digital advertising campaign. And these layers include concepts like purchase behavior, stages of a customer’s journey, customer psychology, and more. Rather than divert your precious time away from important matters like production, customer service, and business management, let the digital marketing professionals at West County Net take care of your online marketing needs. With over 20 years of service in Santa Rosa and the greater Sonoma County area, we have the skills, time, and experience to get you closer to your business goals.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.