Why Targeting Will be Your Differentiator in 2021

Jason Widup

Jan 27, 2021

Your marketing focus for 2021 should be getting better at targeting.

My hypothesis is you can run campaigns with crappy offers, tuned to just the right audience, and they’ll perform better than campaigns with great offers tuned to the wrong audience.

Us marketers all understand that spending money on ads that get served to the wrong people is just a cost of doing business.

But with the rise of the availability of data combined with more scrutinized marketing budgets coming out of 2020, we no longer have the appetite to waste such a large % of our spend on people who will never become a customer.

Tightening belts and getting strategic

Before 2020 tested us all, marketing departments had more wiggle room.

New martech solutions would get purchased and agencies brought on to implement and manage them. New hires would get approved with little justification.

CMO’s got almost every dollar they asked for without really having to prove what the business was getting in return.

During this time, innovation and growth were prioritized much higher than efficiency and ROI.

CMO’s had more funds than they needed to deliver their goals, so they focused on the freedom to explore new approaches and experiment with new marketing strategies – but most did that inefficiently and wasted money.

It was 2020’s microscope that finally put a probe into where budgets were being allocated. That shift in the macro focus went from innovation and growth to ROI and getting the most out of fewer resources.

When you’re forced with that task, you focus on making every one of your dollars work harder for you.

And there are really only two main ways to make budgeting dollars work harder than they did before:

  1. Better performance of your marketing assets and campaigns. Coming up with better ideas for campaigns, optimizing conversion rates, clearer messaging and positioning, and better offers and content.
  2. Becoming more efficient with the money you have. Finding ways to reduce your cost per lead by trying new channels, new tactics and programs that provide double benefit.

And the best way to become more efficient with the money you have is to only pay for ads to be served to the right people at the right time.

That’s where targeting comes in and becomes the critical component to the campaign.

Quality vs. Quantity

I’ll elaborate a little bit more on why targeting is a double-whammy when it comes to getting better results from your campaigns.

The first whammy is obvious: it comes from narrowing the audience you’re targeting to not just companies and prospects that fit your ideal customer profile, but to those that also have some measurable amount of intent or reason to need your product or service.

The second whammy isn’t as obvious: as you narrow your audience, you end up communicating to a more well-defined group of people where you can now personalize the message.

You can now talk directly to a CMO and what they care about, vs. every person in the marketing department.

This is your arbitrage play for 2021 – tighten your audience and personalize the experience to that audience.

Availability of targeting data

Audience, offer and channel are three of the most important building blocks for any campaign.

Of these three, Audience is the only one where the breadth and volume of data is exponentially growing. It’s not like we have a bunch of new offer types to use – we have whitepapers, webinars, demos, etc.

It’s also not like we have a bunch of new channels to try – we have paid search, paid social, display, etc. But we DO have new data assets constantly coming available that can be used to create lists of accounts and contacts to pursue.

There are some targeting technologies that are decreasing in availability – mainly cookies and device IDs. But, if you’re using the right technologies (ahem, yes, Metadata is one of those), you get around this by focusing on people’s personal identities like email addresses.

In most cases, the data available to us to use to create segments and audiences is more rich today than it ever was.

The third whammy

Once you’ve narrowed down your audience and start personalizing their experiences, you’ve now opened up the ability to spend more money per prospect than you did before.

Take this example:

  • Let’s say I get NO budget increase between 2020-2021, yet my goals have increased by 15%.
  • Given the broad-targeting strategy I used last year, I might have only been able to spend $300 per lead in order to hit my goals.
  • This year, I’m only serving ads to relevant people, which gives me more budget to spend, per person, than I had last year.
  • So this year, maybe I can spend $600-$1,500 per lead because I’ve tightened my targeting enough that I’m only getting the right people in the door.

Imagine the kind of new and interesting experiences you can give your prospect if you can double or triple the amount of money you can spend per lead?

All in on targeting

Growth will be hard to come by as the economy scampers back to life. That’s why targeting will be critical for success.

In today’s world, a shotgun approach will not generate quality leads or the positive ROI needed to justify your marketing spend.

Using data to target those prospects with a need that your company can fulfill will move your product or service from being ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘must-have’ in 2021.

There’s no excuse for not knowing what your customers want. Modern marketing has definitely widened our reach, but at the same time demanded targeted accuracy.

You need to know everything about your users to fully optimize your campaigns. That’s why targeting will be crucial in navigating through 2021.

We don’t need to guess what people want. We just need to know where to look.

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