Back to Blog
minute read
November 6, 2019

Which Audience Targeting Method Is The Most Effective?

Written by
Internal Results

So, you want to use data to target the most relevant audiences for your product or service. You're in the right place. In this article, we're going to show you the most effective audience targeting methods out there. All of these data targeting strategies are highly relevant to B2B companies. We'll look at the different types of data you can use in your campaigns, as well as the different types of audience targeting you can do.

Targeting options we'll cover include contextual, demographic, affinity, firmographic, technographic, and targeting by intent. All of these are viable audience targeting strategies, but some are more effective than others depending on your needs. By the end of the article, you'll know which strategy is right for your current business needs.

Without further ado, let's jump into the article.

What is Audience Targeting?

Audience targeting is the act of using data to segment people into groups that you can then target with relevant and timely messaging.

You can target audiences based on a range of factors. You can target based on factors such as:

  1. Demographics
  2. Location
  3. Company industry
  4. Technology stack
  5. whether they're in the market to buy or not

As you'll see, there are many different strategies you can use to target audiences with the most relevant content and ads for them.

To start, let's take a look at the various types of data you can use in your audience targeting.

What Type of Data Can I Use?

There are three main types of data we'll look at in this article. Those are:

  1. 1st party data
  2. 2nd party data
  3. 3rd party data.

You can target audiences using all of these. Let's take a look at what they are.

What is 1st Party Data Targeting?

First-party data targeting is when you target an audience based on information that you have access to because people interact with your website content and brand. This could be data from your Google Analytics, CRM, or anything else that collects user data on your website. The major benefit of having first-party data is that you can generate ideal customer profiles based on real data that you can verify at the source.

What is 2nd Party Data Targeting?

Second-party data targeting is the least common of the data targeting types here. Second-party data is collected in the same way as first-party data but becomes second-party data when two parties decide to share it for mutual benefit. So, you would need an agreement with another company directly to access and target their audience, which can be complicated particularly if you have audience members where the GDPR applies. Even if you don't end up using second-party data, it's worth mentioning here.

What is 3rd Party Data Targeting?

Third-party data targeting is when you use data from a third-party vendor to target an audience. This is a common strategy, and you may have already used it. Examples of third-party data targeting would be instances such as targeting new audiences with Facebook or LinkedIn ads, or working with us to target audiences based on firmographic or technographic requirements.

6 Data Targeting Methods You Can Use

In this section, we're going to look at the different data targeting strategies you can use to target your ideal audience. They'll help you show your message to the right audience, at the right time. Experienced B2B marketers will be familiar with the first few, but the later targeting types continue to advance and are still in the adoption phase for many marketers. Let's jump into it.

1. Contextual Targeting

The first type of data targeting is Contextual Targeting. When talking about contextual targeting the easiest way to think of it is that you're putting your content where your audience is. In traditional advertising, contextual targeting manifests itself in ways such as having your content displayed on billboards in locations that customers would drive past or running TV ads during ad breaks of a show your ideal customer would watch. As you would expect, there are now more advanced ways to do contextual targeting than the aforementioned methods. You don't need to rely on billboards or prime time TV. But, the fundamental concept remains the same.

You can contextually target users using Google Display Network. Google will match the content of your ad to websites that focus on similar content. For example, this could mean your ads get shown on an industry news website, or in a popular forum that's centered around your business niche. Another example of contextual targeting would be you sponsoring a popular newsletter or podcast that your ideal customers consume. Is contextual targeting still relevant? In some ways, yes. There are more advanced data targeting methods available, but you can still see good results with contextual targeting.

2. Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting is another common method of behavioral targeting based on demographic data. This could be data about someone's gender, age, lifestyle, location, income, and more. You can target by demographics on advertising platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Ads, and almost any other ad platform. Demographic targeting can be effective, particularly for B2C brands. It also works well for local businesses because you can target a local community rather than a whole country, ensuring only locals see your ads.

However, for B2B businesses it can be slightly less useful. While you can certainly see good results from demographic targeting if you spend time to create a detailed buyer persona, it's harder for B2B businesses to see amazing results. Why? Well, there is always going to be an element of generalization in demographic targeting. You can never quite target people based on their true interests, pain points, or motivations. That's one of the main reasons why there has been a shift away from demographic targeting in recent years.

3. Affinity Audience Targeting

A step up from demographic targeting is affinity audience targeting. Rather than simply assuming people of a certain age, gender, nationality, or other demographic characteristics will want to see your ad, you can get even more granular. In a way, it's similar to contextual advertising.

Affinity audience targeting is based on interests. For example:

  1. Productivity
  2. Startups
  3. Health
  4. Tennis

Affinity audience targeting is growing in popularity because advertisers have seen amazing results with it. When compared with traditional demographic targeting, affinity audiences have show increases such as a 79% higher CTRs, and 67% higher conversion rates for some advertisers.

Brands can see big results using affinity audience targeting

With Google Ads, you can get hyper-targeted with this by adding in URLs of sites that your ideal customer would be visiting.

Add interests and even URLs to help target by affinity

Affinity targeting can come in handy for B2B companies, but, it's more likely to be used in combination with other targeting methods such as firmographic and technographic targeting. It's particularly useful when you have an existing campaign that's showing promise and you want to incrementally improve it.

4. Firmographic Targeting

Next, we have firmographic targeting. Firmographics are details about a company that you can use to decide if they're worth targeting or not. For B2B advertisers, being able to target based on firmographic data is powerful, and I probably don't need to explain why. Firmographic data enables you to target based on factors such as:

  1. Industry
  2. Company size
  3. Revenue
  4. And much more!

It's perfect for B2B companies who want to target companies that are qualified for your solution. By targeting based on industry and revenue (among other options) you can pre-qualify anyone who sees your advertising. You will already know they'll be able to afford your solution, and you know it should help them with a common problem in their industry. LinkedIn is an ideal platform to target based on firmographics as it has data on a huge amount of companies as most companies already have a profile on there.

You can target ads based on firmographic attributes using LinkedIn

Firmographic targeting isn't foolproof, particularly for smaller companies that may not have much publicly available information. As well as that, LinkedIn does have a relatively high CPC compared to other platforms, but the granular targeting can be worth it.

5. Technographic Targeting

Technographic data targeting is a way to target accounts based on a company's technology stack. There is a range of amazing use cases for technographic targeting, and it's ideal if you're targeting B2B businesses. It provides you with an opportunity to personalize your content and campaigns beyond what would be possible otherwise.

For example, if you have a solution that works well for companies using Salesforce you can use technographic data to discover qualified companies for your solution. Despite growing in popularity over recent years, technographic data is still vastly underutilized by many B2B marketers. Common objections are that it's difficult to obtain, or too expensive. It's easier than you would think.

As more and more marketers want to target based on technographics, more solutions are becoming available. Using tools like BuiltWith any company can discover what companies use different web technologies. Other companies like us at Internal Results offer technographic data to help your campaigns in the same way.

6. Intent Data Targeting

Finally, we have intent data targeting. Access to buyer intent data is a game-changer.. You can use it to discover companies in their buying cycle, what pain points they have, and what type of content they're looking for.

Only one-quarter of B2B companies use intent data in their sales and marketing, but with more and more proof of its effectiveness, that number is on the rise. One of the main challenges to using intent data is having a reliable data source. You can use first-party intent data, sourced from your existing analytics tool, or access intent data with a third-party intent data provider like Internal Results.

Ideally, you should use both. This could mean you use third-party intent data to discover brand new opportunities, such as companies who are in the market for a solution like yours. You can use first-party intent data to create a lead scoring system and qualify leads as they enter your sales and marketing funnel. Once you know the companies in their buying cycles you can target them in your account-based marketing campaigns and use messaging that will agitate their pain points and show why your business is the ideal solution to their problems. If you want to cut wasted ad spend and target qualified accounts who are searching for a product or service like yours, you need to start using intent data targeting.

Working with Internal Results to Target Ideal Buyers

One of the main challenges to successful audience targeting is having access to high-quality data. It's time-consuming and expensive to source data in-house, and working with an experienced team who can supply you with the data will give your team the time to focus on what matters: executing on your intent data marketing campaigns and talking with qualified leads. At Internal Results, we help B2B companies discover new opportunities for sales growth using buyer intent data to target those showing a true interest in your solution.

You can use our data to find the best accounts to be targeting in your ABM campaigns, segment and personalize your messaging to resonate with target accounts and to prioritize your marketing resources to focus on the opportunities most likely to convert. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help, we'd be happy to walk you through our service!

Wrapping Up

Laser-focused audience targeting is key to any successful marketing campaign. If your targeting is off, the wrong people will see your ads and you'll see very little results. Luckily, with the right data sources, your targeting will be near-perfect. Your ads and ABM campaigns will be more likely to get seen by your ideal customers, and you can be sure that your messaging will resonate with them. Having accurate data that you can use to target audiences will eliminate the uncertainty when launching new campaigns and will help drive qualified leads into your pipeline.

There are different types of data targeting you can use, and they're only getting more advanced. To give yourself the biggest advantage over your competitors we'd recommend using combinations of them and maybe consider content syndication to ensure your campaigns aren't wasting budget on unqualified audiences. We'd love to help you create winning campaigns that drive measurable ROI for your business. Just get in touch here to learn more about how Internal Results can help.

Newsletter Sign-Up

Never miss a minute.

Subscribe to our newsletter if you want the latest industry and company updates. We also provide tips and guides that are based on the best experiences of our most successful customers in terms of generating new leads, creating and distributing winning content, understanding how to better act on buyer intent signals, and so much more.

Stay ahead of the competition with us today.

We will never share your email address with third parties.

Ready to transform your B2B content into actionable leads?

Get in touch today to find out how Internal Results can boost your lead generation.

Get started