Thursday, April 27, 2017

Five Steps to Successful Audience Targeting in Online Ad Campaigns

Five Steps to Successful Audience Targeting in Online Ad Campaigns

Marketers today face many challenges, no matter their industry. With competition coming from all angles and unshakable consumer "ad blindness," brands must find ways to reach niche audiences with the right messaging at the right time.

Audience targeting is synonymous with online advertising today. If you aren't sending your message to a specific audience, you are "spraying and praying"—a technique that works well if you have an unlimited budget and no one to answer to for campaign performance.

After you've implemented an audience-based tool, such as a data management platform (DMP), and started segmenting your customers and prospects into audiences, what's next?
Here are five steps for successful audience targeting, enabling you to pair audiences with the right messaging to communicate in more personal and meaningful ways, ultimately allowing you to reach your business goals.

Pixel your campaigns
Before you can start targeting your ads, you need to place a pixel on your properties (including your website and campaigns) to gather data about the audience. Pixels are small blocks of code on a webpage that allow websites to read and place cookies, which then passes anonymous information back to you about the person's behaviors online, including what pages they viewed.

For digital marketers who have used Google Analytics, this process should be fairly straightforward. Google Analytics uses pixels to track the path to conversion of your audience.

Most marketing technologies offer their own pixels to collect different types of data. So whether you are working with a DMP, a demand-side platform (DSP), or an exchange, talk to your vendor and make sure you are gathering the most information available.

Identify your clickers or converters
Pixeling your campaigns enables you to build an audience of "clickers" or "converters"— highly engaged audience members who are more likely to become your customers.

Once the audience is built inside your DMP or DSP and you have allowed a few weeks for data collection, to learn more you should dive into the analytics or audience profile about this valuable audience.

Most marketers have a good idea about who their target audience is. But the insights gathered based on your customer's online activity may tell another story. Until you get information on who your online audience really is, you may be targeting the wrong people. And that won't get you anywhere.

For example, you may think that your target audience is something like soccer moms, so you have spent your targeted advertising on women age 25-44. But the audience profile report may tell a different story. Maybe those most likely to click on your ads are people (not just women) with an interest in financial products.

Whatever insights you glean can be used for the next campaign. So instead of targeting soccer moms, try targeting a financial audience the next time around to see whether your clickthrough rate increases.

Personalize your messaging
In digital marketing, one size does not fit all. Not every customer responds to the same message. The goal of any campaign is to get the most bang for your buck, and send a message that resonates most effectively to your audience to drive sales or leads.

The insights gleaned from your audience can be used to customize your messaging for further enhanced engagement, or to find more of those people who may also become customers (known as "lookalikes").

For example, if you learned that those most likely to click on your ads are women who also love dogs, to resonate with your audience you may want to consider including dogs in your next marketing campaign.

Identify lookalikes
Once you have identified your ideal customer, you can purchase third-party data to reach more of your target audience that hasn't already visited your site or interacted with your brand.

Lookalike audiences are new people who are likely to be interested in your product, because they are similar to your important customers. You can base your lookalike audience on a variety of sources, but the clickers and converters mentioned above would be a good place to start.

For brands that need to increase the size of their audience for a targeted campaign, lookalike modeling is used to create reach. It uses third-party data available from a data provider or a DMP to enrich your "seed" audience (i.e., the base, in this case your clickers or converters) so you can fulfill your campaigns.

By targeting people who "look" or "act" like your target audience, you can focus your ad spend on those most likely to engage with your products and services.

Retargeting is the most basic use case of audience-based marketing: You target ads to users who have previously visited your website or have shown some interest in your product or service. Retargeting refers to targeting those people again, in the hope of bringing them back to your site.

Amazon is one example of a company that is great at retargeting, as I'm sure we have all noticed. Whenever you shop for something on Amazon but don't complete the purchase, you'll find an ad for that item on another website the next day. Such ads are great at reminding you that you forgot to buy, so why not come back to the site to finish the job?

Retargeting can be based on previous interactions, such as a product search or an ad click-through. If paired with cross-device technology, retargeting can also happen across screens, so you can reach your audience on mobile and desktop, for effective, continuous messaging. Cross-device targeting is very powerful, but it's a little more advanced than traditional retargeting.

Those are just five ways to put your audience data to good use to increase customer engagement and improve the efficacy of your digital campaigns. You already have mountains of audience data at your fingertips. Are you using it to its fullest potential?

If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.

John E. Hornyak

X2Media, LLC

Eight Simple SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Marketing

Eight Simple SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Marketing

Search engines help you get new readers, viewers, and listeners for your content, but all too often you yourself are the reason search engines hold your content back from prominent positions in their search results pages.

Search engines want to show the world your content, but not if you've made mistakes that undermine the user experience and search engines' guidelines.

So give the search engines what they want by avoiding the following common mistakes that content creators make.

1. Short Content
Google likes long-form content because it gives searchers enough information to satisfy their needs. Generally, the more in-depth the content is, the more likely it solves the searcher's intent or question, and that is what Google wants.

A SerpIQ study found that content shown in Google search results in positions 1-3 had around 2,400 words, on average. In short, long-form content ranked better in Google.

Does this mean you should be writing long for the sake of long? No, but you do want to make sure your content is comprehensive enough to answer searchers' questions.

A good approach for each piece of content you plan to produce is to determine the main keyword phrase. Then google that phrase to see how long the content is in the top 3 search results. Make sure your own content is longer, more in-depth, more concise, and more well-thought-out. If you do, readers as well as Google will think more highly of your content.

2. No Imagery or Design Elements
No one likes stale websites that look like they were put up in 1999; new, modern-looking websites simply perform better. Content is the same: If you have pages of text with no imagery or design elements, then readers—and therefore Google—will not favor your content over your competitors'.

Design elements that break up text keeps readers on the page longer. The longer they are on the page, the more likely Google will boost the content's rank due to dwell time.
Basically, the assumption is that the longer they are on the page, the more likely it's meeting their needs, which means a better chance to be shared on social media, linked to, or be visited again.

3. Misspellings/Content Errors
Misspellings and other content errors are not, technically, SEO factors, but they hurt your credibility and your chance to be linked to. Acquiring links is one of the best ways to get content to the top of the search results. If you want to know more, Google's Matt Cutts discusses the issue here.

4. No Content Breaks
The average reader's attention span is very short—shorter than even than that of a goldfish, apparently. Hence the importance of recapturing the reader's attention continuously, throughout an article.

To do that, break up the text. Using subheads, lists, and images to break up the content will keep the readers reading and on the page, which, again, will help with getting the content noticed by search engines.

5. Using Long Paragraphs of Text
Similarly, using long paragraphs is a good way to get your readers to leave immediately from your page. The shorter your paragraphs, the better you can get, and keep, the attention of readers—and keep them reading.

Pauline from has written a good piece on the benefits of shorter paragraphs:

6. No Outbound Links
Readers want credible content. If your content is merely you doing the "talking" and does not link out to other content (to cite sources, for example), why would the readers find it credible or want to link to you?

Google also recognizes this. A few SEO experiments have discovered that pages with outbound links generally do better in the search process. Is that because content that has outbound links is just generally better, more well-researched content? Absolutely!

Reboot Online did an experiment to see whether outbound links improve ranking in organic search results, and found that they do make an impact. The experiment couldn't determine how big the impact was, but there was an impact nonetheless.

7. No Promotion
Just because you create content and make it better than everyone else's does not mean it will go instantly to No. 1. There is a reason SEO takes a while. You have to wait for people to come to your content and give it positive SEO-ranking signals, such as links and social shares.

Those ranking factors could take hours, days, months, or even years. However, if you promote your content, you can get it to the right eyeballs quicker... and so get the ranking signals quicker.

Having a solid promotion strategy is key.

8. No Meta Optimization and CTAs
Another mistake is using the default options for your content's meta information—titles and descriptions. This may be the last of the SEO mistakes I've listed, but it's important; you can, and should, optimize the content title and description; otherwise, Google will use your header and the first two sentences, by default.

Instead, write unique meta titles and descriptions for each of your content. In WordPress, for example, it's easy to do by using the Yoast SEO plugin—or others.

You also want to grab people's attention with calls to action (CTAs) in the meta information. If you can grab the searchers' attention when they see your content in search results, they are more likely to click on it. And clickthrough rate is one of the largest ranking factors, according to Searchmetrics' 2015 Ranking factor study.

If you look out for these eight common mistakes, and make sure you avoid them, you will be much more successful with organic search traffic to your content. And not coincidentally, you will also be creating some solid content, which will help bring you additional traffic due to positive word-of-mouth and various other channels.