As states continue to ease shelter-in-place restrictions, business owners eager to tap into pent-up demand are grappling with a chicken-and-egg problem — should they wait for foot traffic to increase before they open shop? Or do they have to fully spin up before a swell in demand will follow? Getting this balance right is important — opening too early could be costly while opening too late may mean missed opportunities for sales.
If you’re a business owner looking to capture some of the pent-up demand while trying to minimize the risk of a premature open, you may want to consider ad targeting on digital platforms. Ad targeting can help you connect with your regular customers to let them know you’re open again as well as to connect with new ones eager to spend after months of lockdown.
What is ad targeting?
The internet has provided a platform for businesses around the world to share ads and content with specific audiences. This is typically done through social media or search engine software designed to place ads in front of your desired demographic. Ad targeting allows businesses to share their message with those most likely to be interested in their product or service.
When using ad targeting software, you can set certain parameters for the groups you’d like to direct your message towards. The filter options are worded differently across platforms, but they can generally be defined as the following:
- Location targeting: Location targeting allows you to focus your reach to a single city or
- Demographics: Whether it’s age, gender or language, your target audience likely shares some specific traits or commonalities you’d like to zone in on.
- Interests: When marketing a specific product, you want to target consumers with related interests. This can be found through the social media pages they follow and the searches they conduct.
- Keywords: If there’s a specific phrase or word you want to target, you can do so via ad targeting. This is especially helpful when ad targeting via search engines.
Who should I target?
Ad targeting can help small businesses find new customers as well as let old ones know they’re up and running. To tap into pent-up demand, you may want to consider targeting customers in areas that have more recently emerged from lockdown.
You can further refine your targeting by demographics. This can be as broad or specific as you’d like, but narrowing it allows you to reach qualified leads, those who are most likely to become buyers. Think about the demographic that would be most interested in buying your product and focus on trying to reach those people. Consider use cases and different groups’ shifting circumstances as you try to anticipate those most likely to convert.
Which platform should I use?
Each available platform has unique strengths and weaknesses to consider when planning an ad targeting campaign. This should be taken into account when you’ve decided on your target audience to figure out how best to reach them.
Social media is typically associated with younger generations who keep up with modern trends. Each platform has a unique posting style that accompanies its major demographics:
- Facebook: With a broad age range, Facebook is compatible with images, videos, messaging and an ever-growing community of groups.
- Instagram: Primarily used for sharing unique photos, this platform is popular among those ages 18 to 24.
- Twitter: Those who access Twitter, typically the 18-24 age group, are often looking for real-time updates from their favorite stars and brands.
- LinkedIn: With a stronger adult population, LinkedIn is the go-to social media platform for business professionals looking to connect. Articles and text posts are frequently found here.
- YouTube: Almost everyone has gone to YouTube for one reason or another, but the growing popularity of YouTubers has drawn in huge audiences of young kids and adolescents. With targeting, however, you can reach almost any demographic, thanks to the wide variety of video content.
Your target audience and the type of content you hope to put out will help you determine which social media platforms you want to focus on. Each of these platforms has targeting software to help you reach the right customers at the right time.
In addition to social media, search engine ads can put your business at the top of web searches so consumers searching for your products or services can easily find you.
Some of the most successful projects require a lot of experimentation. Experimenting with ad targeting brings the best out of your campaigns, increasing your ROI as you refine your formula. Pre-testing can help increase an ad’s effectiveness, which lowers costs and increases revenue.
Variations of ads can be made and tested to see which types of content and targeting filters work best. Trial-and-error and A/B testing can lead to strong combinations you can fully launch to maximize your ROI. Launching an ad campaign without testing it may provide results, but they likely won’t be as cost-effective.
Ad targeting can help small businesses find new customers as well as let old ones know they’re up and running.
Given the challenges stemming from COVID-19 closures, ad targeting can be one way to get your business up and running. Learnings from an experimental campaign may even help you better understand who your customer is and what they want, allowing you to further refine your marketing strategy to better target those eager to spend to help get your business get back on track.
Photo: Getty Images
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