Why Targeted Marketing is So Important

Getting consumers' attention is now harder than ever. We share insight into how our brains filter info, and how Targeted marketing gets by the filters.
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At the Red Arrow Blog, our weekly blog posts come from real life experiences. Sometimes they evolve from questions from our customers. Sometimes we write to share knowledge people will find useful. And sometimes our topics address shocking statistics that affect our business and yours. Today I want to share some information I learned that should make you sit up and take notice of digital marketing, and just why targeted marketing is so important in today’s advertising scene.  

This 2017 Forbes article cited statistics saying that people encounter between 4,000 to 10,000 ads on a DAILY basis. It seems an absurd number at first, but they challenge readers to consider what brands you encounter throughout the day. I personally counted over 40 brands I’m interacting with right now, simply by sitting at my desk. From my Microsoft computer to my Apple iPhone to my Swingline stapler to the Smoothie King I can see from my office window (beckoning me over for their $5 Friday promotion, no doubt).

Which is to say that we are constantly bombarded by branded information, even when we think we’re going about business as usual. The influx is so great that our brains have learned to do what they do best, which is develop coping mechanisms to filter out the noise. That may sound great for us—better focus, less time wasted, and who really pays attention to the brand of their stapler anyway? …But remember that your company is a brand too. What happens when you actually need people to notice you, and not discard your info before clearing the filter? How do you stand a chance at being seen through all of it?

Our brains have learned to do what they do best…filter out the noise. So how do you stand a chance at getting through?

First, know what you’re up against.

These are the statistics I’m talking about. Technology is evolving faster than it ever has, making it easier to access (and display) information on an exponential scale. The affect this is having on viewers’ attention spans is measurable, and continues to change on an accelerated timeline. 20 years ago in the year 2000 (jeez, really?) the human attention span clocked in at around 12 seconds. Today, it’s nearly half that at only 8 seconds. For comparison, people cite the common goldfish which has an attention span of 9 seconds. Effectively, your pet fish is more engaged than you are at any given moment.


Learn to bypass the filter with targeted marketing.

No, this isn’t another goldfish reference. If you have a brand message you need people to hear, you have to stand out in a way their brain will mark as useful instead of filtering away. And if you’re counting on wrapping your vehicle in advertising to stand out, or banking on that little league sponsorship to pay off, think again. It’s important to understand that it’s not just that our attention spans are shorter—we’ve gotten better about filtering information down to just what we deem interesting or relevant in the moment. If someone is driving, they’re more concerned with their destination than the phone number on your bumper. If they’ve turned out to watch their kid play ball, they’re focusing on third base, not your logo on the t-shirts. Time is more precious than ever before, and the tried and true traditional advertising methods aren’t able to keep up.

That’s why targeted marketing is your best bet.

The idea behind targeted marketing is to put your brand or service in front of only the people most likely to buy it. Your marketing team will identify key characteristics, needs and values of your ideal customer, and develop advertisements geared toward what that demographic wants. Then they promote those ads digitally where your potential customers are most likely to see them. Digital marketing makes it possible to position your business in front of people when their brains are most receptive to seeing it.

Say your company offers the most amazing coffee in the world. Thousands would still manage to ignore your 30 ft billboard if they pass it every day. It becomes part of the background noise. But consider the usefulness of a digital ad that targets people when they have your product on the mind.

Like Susan who lists good coffee and good books under her interests on Facebook, so your ad pops up in her feed when she’s browsing. Or Mike who hates making grocery runs as much as he hates being under-caffeinated. Ads in Google searches target him exactly when he’s looking to buy coffee. If your $3,000 billboard converts 5 people in a day, and your digital ads do the same but only cost you $5, it’s hardly a contest. (Also, Bones really does make amazing coffee. Designer-approved.)

So keep in mind…

Essentially, our brains have become experts at focusing on what we care about and discarding the rest. They are ruthless when it comes to shutting down uninteresting and irrelevant information and protecting our interests. It’s the job of a good marketer to know how to bypass that filter with engaging content and well-timed placements. The most direct and controlled way of marketing in this new landscape is through targeted digital marketing. Keep this in mind next time you’re assessing your marketing budget—consider how effective your current strategy really is, and whether your dollars are better served going toward targeted marketing instead.

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