Know Thy Audience: The Importance of Targeted Marketing

September 13, 2017

Don't Market for the Sake of Marketing

Socialnomics' Erik Qualman is becoming something of a favorite around here for Friday roundups—I can't help it if he posts the most interesting stuff! This week, he offers some free marketing advice to Boeing, whose ongoing advertising campaign as a sponsor for Meet the Press makes it, Qualman says, a poster child for old-school marketing. He points out some of the mistakes they're making, not the least of which is poor consideration of audience:

Is a television or iTunes media buy really the best way to target the airplane buyer? As my wife shouts every time the commercial plays  – “Honey can we buy a Boeing Today?” There are only a handful of airplane buyers, why would you spend $100,000 plus on producing a commercial and then 10x that on the media buy in the hopes of reaching one of 50 buyers? This commercial screams of someone in marketing at Boeing wanting a fancy commercial, and why not, it’s fun and easy. After all, what’s easier than producing one commercial over the course of a year and then having your agency buy media spots? Unfortunately, this is called marketing to yourself my friend.

Advertising isn't cheap, and it's a total waste of money if you're not getting ROI. So you need to put your message in front of the right audience—that is, people who might actually be interested in buying what you sell.

This was true in the days of "old-school marketing" (don't put your Kool-Aid commercial on during 60 Minutes), and it's every bit as true when it comes to search marketing. In search, finding the right audience comes down to bidding on and optimizing for the right keywords. That's why we advocate:

  • Ongoing keyword research and keyword expansion: The more extensive your research, the better your understanding of your audience.
  • Taking advantage of the long tail: Long-tail terms reveal intent. It helps to know the difference between a third-grader researching jaguars for a paper and a middle-aged dude looking to buy a classic Jag.
  • Making use of negative keywords: Don't bid on keywords that are irrelevant to your business and won't result in clicks or sales.

Search Engine People's Angie Haggstrom touched on the same point this week (synchronicity!) in a post on theming keywords for your target audience. She notes the importance of focusing on "paying keywords that attract buying visitors": "For example, 'SEO copywriting' is more likely to attract writers wanting to learn the art of SEO copywriting, so if I want to attract paying clients, 'SEO copywriter' would be much better."

Awesome ad! I'd never buy that crap!

Great marketing or great product?
Along similar lines, Nathania Johnson of Search Engine Watch reminds us, in a post called "The Number One SEO/PPC/SMM Marketing Tip You Will Ever Learn" (SMM Marketing? Is that like ATM machine?), that in the end it's all about the product. Solid SEO and great marketing are all for naught if your offering is shoddy. "The goal of SEO isn't SEO," she writes. "The goal of SEO is sales."

This reminds me of the argument going around a while back that links from Twitter are worthless since they're no-follow and therefore "have no SEO value." This ignores that fact that the whole point of SEO is to drive traffic and get more eyeballs on your site. If Twitter is driving lots of traffic, who cares if those links aren't directly increasing your PageRank? That traffic still has value. (Especially if it converts, obviously.)

Besides, I'm not convinced that links from Twitter and Wikipedia don't carry some value—see this old post from Rae Hoffman titled "You Don't Need SEO to Rank in Google," where she makes the case that "traffic can have a direct impact on your indexing and rankings," even in the absence of traditional optimization. (In addition, Tom talked using Wikipedia as part of your link-building strategy yesterday.)

In sum, when it comes to search marketing, don't put the cart before the horse. And don't drive the cart into the wrong field. Or something.

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream's Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.

Sign up to get our top tips and tricks weekly!