Targeted Marketing 101: What Is It, How Does It Work, and Examples

Mark Huber

Targeting is arguably the most important part of a marketing campaign. 

We often say that a bad campaign targeted at the right people will outperform a great campaign targeted at the wrong people — and for good reason. No matter how eye-grabbing the creative is or how big the budget is, none of it matters if you don’t have the right target audience.

And that’s what targeted marketing is all about — knowing your demographics, finding a target audience, and igniting a marketing campaign that turns potential customers into actual customers. 

In this blog, we’ll help you find your “who” by going over need-to-know audience segments and five of the best targeting tactics.

what is targeted marketing

What is targeted marketing?

Let’s face it: Marketers collect tons of data about their target audience. This can include basic demographics like age, gender, location, income level, and interests. 

Smart marketers then use this information to segment audiences and create unique advertisements tailored to each audience segment.

Targeted marketing is highly specialized marketing

It also means you can do more with less — less time, fewer resources, and less money. Yet you still get the lead quality and the revenue you need.

You should already know the characteristics of your current customers, and these traits can be mapped over as you target potential customers with similar attributes.

With this insight, you can send out finely-crafted messages using channels where they’re most likely to be found.

Piece of cake, right?

Well, not always. There’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re getting started. And a lot of ad spend dollars that can get wasted along the way. 

Before your targeted marketing can take off, you first need an understanding of your audience segments. Only then can you create a marketing campaign to reach out and convert those target customers into current ones.

Difficult, yes — but not impossible if your marketing team takes advantage of all the digital marketing tools and apps available today.

The results speak for themselves.

Targeted marketing is a proven, effective method of attracting new customers, generating additional revenue, improving ROI, and helping your business grow.

So, let’s talk about targeted marketing in action and look at a few strategies that might be worth incorporating into your marketing plan.

The 4 major consumer buckets

The first part of a targeted marketing strategy is the target — the “who.” Do market research to identify and describe your ideal customer.

This gives you an understanding of who is most likely to buy your product or service (your buyer persona). The last thing you want to do is shell out a ton of money sending ads to people who have no need for your product or service. 

Of course, everyone is different, but we can group people together who share similar characteristics. This market segmentation usually breaks down into four buckets: demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral.

There is no specific “right audience,” but this process can get you closer to understanding which specific group of people will most likely benefit from what your company offers.

Your marketing strategy can then focus completely on the specific needs and interests of these smaller groups of consumers.

Your consumer buckets will be unique to your company, product, service, and customer base. They define and organize your specific audience and can be broad or super-specific to match your individual needs. Let’s dive into each consumer bucket on a deeper level.


Demographic segmentation focuses on completely understanding your customers. For B2B marketing, demographics include industry, company size, title, and time in position.

With B2C marketing, demographics might include age, education, gender, occupation, marital status, and income level. If you have a niche market, your demographic range might be even narrower.

Demographic information lets you create a solid picture of your target audience, which makes it easier to create campaigns that resonate with them.


Geographic is pretty much what it sounds like: Where is the customer located? The thought is that people in the same region are likely to have similar tastes and needs.

For B2C markets, determining geographic location is pretty straightforward, but it gets a little more complicated with B2B markets where target businesses might have offices in various locations or countries.

Geographic location helps you determine where you might be able to use your marketing resources most efficiently.


Psychographic segmentation looks at your audience based on personality factors: lifestyle and attitudes, interests, and core values.

A B2B audience may need more segments such as buying preferences or business goals. Some business buyers value efficiency and productivity, while others search for creativity and flexibility with partner companies.


A targeted marketing strategy works best if you understand the end customer’s buying approach. Some traits within behavioral consumer segmentation might include product knowledge, previous purchases, business awareness, and relationship satisfaction.

Some prospects might want a steady stream of information before they buy, while others might want to get right to the point.

You can use this market segmentation information to help your business make more informed marketing decisions.

5 effective targeted marketing strategies your business needs to try

Does it seem like your marketing efforts consist of doing the same repetitive tasks over and over (and over) again? You try to target the right audience, reach out through mass marketing, and scratch your head to figure out what is working.

But it just feels like you’re throwing people and money at the problem, and never coming up with a better solution.

Fortunately, today’s digital marketing capabilities and social media platforms are very effective for audience targeting. Try these strategies in your next targeted marketing campaign, and get better results with less tedious effort.

1. Highly targeted email marketing

According to Forbes, “Email marketing is still the most powerful tool to take your business to the next level.” Highly targeted email campaigns can get information about your product or service directly into your target audience’s inbox.

You don’t have to use mass marketing to send a generic message to a wide audience in the hopes of getting a hit.

Use the information about your consumer buckets to create a powerful email subject line and send tailored messages directly to specific groups of your potential customers.

Cost-effective email campaigns provide product education, build relationships, drive website traffic, create brand awareness, and increase conversions.

Example of highly targeted email marketing

A Digital Marketing Institute case study focused on its email campaign to reactivate prospects in their CRM system, reignite interest, and drive business revenue. Content included a free short course for members of the target group who purchased within a specified timeframe.

Clicking on the CTA brought readers directly to a separate campaign page with a short contact form. Delivery was timed for 11:00 a.m. in the recipient’s specific time zone.

The results? A 38% open rate, 3.5% click-through rate (CTR), and 85 reactivated leads. All of this resulted in additional revenue for the Institute.

2. Personally tailored SMS marketing

Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is marketing with text messages. Almost everyone now knows how to send thousands of texts at the flick of a thumb.

But it takes a truly creative marketing team to target just the right recipient and send a personally-tailored message.

The key here is relevance — sending the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Cold messaging people’s phones is a surefire way to turn them away from your brand. 

Example of personally tailored SMS marketing

Even though its vastly-popular “Game of Thrones” averaged over 18 million viewers per episode, HBO still wanted to give fans a more immersive experience.

They used the power of SMS to send personally tailored text messages through their Three-Eyed Raven campaign. The marketing effort gained 70,000 subscribers within the first two months of launch.

3. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn targeted marketing

These three social media platforms are the dynamos of targeted marketing.

They all invest a ton of energy into collecting information on their users, so advertisers can zero in on a specific subset to reach their target customers using perfectly-chosen keywords.

Example of social media targeted marketing

Making an impact through paid social can get costly and competitive quickly, especially for B2B businesses on LinkedIn. So Automation Anywhere, a robotic process automation platform, set their sights on Facebook as their next major B2B ad channel. They partnered with Metadata to make it happen.

The Automation Anywhere team picked out audiences and ads to try, then Metadata took it from there, automatically testing 700+ combinations and redirecting dollars to the top-performing campaigns. The results? Automation Anywhere’s cost-per-lead dropped by 21% and their cost-per-opportunity dropped by 68% while lead quality and average deal size rose.   

4. Content marketing 

Content is anything you use to present information about your product or service (or the problem it solves). It can take many forms that inform and educate, but the ultimate goal is to drive conversions while gaining recognition from search engines using strategic SEO keywords.

We like to bucket content marketing into two distinct categories: 

  • Content that creates new demand: This content builds your target audience’s awareness and interest in your product (not to mention, building their trust in you as a source of content). Here, education is the major focus. You want to discuss the problem(s) your audience is facing (which your product solves) and explain how they can fix them. 
  • Content that captures existing demand: This content speaks directly to the members of your target audience who already know they need a solution like yours, but haven’t decided which one is best for them. Content formats like comparison blogs, tutorial videos, and use-case pages let you build your case. 

Example of content marketing

Deloitte is a professional services business for taxation, consulting, and audit assistance. To communicate directly to its target audience (senior execs), the firm developed its Business Chemistry system, which determines a leadership style and provides resources to broaden a particular skill set.

To promote the system, Deloitte developed content including a podcast, blog posts, Harvard Business Review articles, surveys, manuals, and webcasts. An easy-to-understand infographic breaks down leadership qualities into four types, with tools tailored for each particular style.

5. Powerful Google Ads targeted marketing

Google works hard to help users get the most out of its Google Ads audience targeting opportunities.

Marketers can add audience segment targeting to reach people based on who they are, their interests and habits, and what they’re actively researching.

Example of Google Ads targeted marketing

The Ad Digest posted its Best Google Ads Copy Examples list in 2022. Leading the pack is Upwork, a freelancing platform, for their clear call-to-action, site link extension, and effective second headline.

Run powerful and effective targeted marketing campaigns with Metadata

Think targeted marketing is a great idea but don’t know where to start?

Metadata has your back. Our demand generation platform lets you easily automate paid campaigns and drive more revenue. 

You’ll spend less time on tactical execution and more time on high-value work like strategy and creativity. Don’t wait another day to see results — let’s talk about your targeted marketing campaigns.

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