What Is Targeting in Marketing?

Apr 1, 2024
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What is targeting in marketing and how can brands leverage it to achieve campaign goals?

Whatever the strategy, targeting techniques can make your campaigns far more effective

If marketing is about delivering the right message to the right person, targeting is the guarantee that you have the right person. In an age of digital communications, this step is crucial so brands can focus on audiences that drive the greatest returns. But exactly what is targeting in marketing and what tools make it achievable? In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what audience targeting means to brand marketers in our current era.

Want to dig deeper? Check out The Complete Guide to Understanding Targeting in Marketing.

What Is Targeting in Marketing?

Targeting is the practice of identifying and focusing on specific audiences who would be most interested in a product or service. For targeting to succeed, marketers must understand the needs, preferences, and characteristics of segments and tailor efforts to effectively reach and engage with them. These steps make it possible to allocate resources more efficiently and increase the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Segmenting the target audience is a crucial step in the targeting process. It involves dividing the larger target market into smaller groups or segments based on various criteria such as demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and preferences. This allows marketers to evaluate the specific needs and interests of each segment, and then tailor their marketing messages and strategies accordingly.

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Targeting Strategies

Now what does targeting mean as a marketing strategy? Two common approaches are multisegment targeting and concentrated targeting.

A multisegment targeting meaning divides the market into several distinct segments and develops unique strategies for each category. This approach recognizes that groups of consumers have varying needs and preferences, allowing marketers to effectively cater to diverse individuals within a broader group.

Meanwhile, concentrated targeting focuses on a single market segment and develops a specialized marketing strategy to meet their shared needs. This strategy allows for a concentrated effort to capture a significant share of the market.

Whatever the method, choosing the most effective targeting strategy is crucial for acquiring and converting high-value customers. Moreover, an effective targeting strategy helps to differentiate a company's offerings from competitors, which is particularly important in crowded marketplaces.


Geotargeting, also known as location-based mobile targeting, is a digital marketing strategy that delivers personalized ad content to individuals based on their location data. It uses a person’s location information, such as GPS coordinates or IP address, to determine their physical whereabouts in real time.

With the advent of mobile technology, geotargeting has become an effective method for businesses to engage with their target audience on a hyperlocal level. Companies can tailor their ads to be more relevant and impactful, enhancing the overall user experience.

Geotargeting enables businesses to deliver ads to users when they are near their physical stores or relevant points of interest. This increases the likelihood of conversions, as users are more likely to engage with ads that are contextually relevant to their current location. For example, a geofencing strategy would involve setting up virtual boundaries at specific areas or venues and targeting users who enter or exit these predefined areas.

Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting is the practice of tailoring marketing efforts towards a specific group of people based on their demographic characteristics. Marketers segment the target market into various groups according to attributes such as age, gender, income, and education level, and then customize the marketing messages and campaigns to suit each group's preferences and needs.

Age is one of the key demographic factors used in targeting. For example, a company that sells skincare products may focus its marketing efforts on younger individuals to promote products for acne prevention or target older individuals for anti-aging products. Likewise, gender plays a role in demographic targeting as companies may design different advertising campaigns to reach male and female audiences, for instance, in the case of fashion brands promoting their products.

Income and education level are other demographic variables that contribute to effective targeting. For instance, a luxury car brand may target individuals with higher incomes and educational attainment to market their high-end vehicles, while a discount retail store may focus on budget-conscious consumers.

Demographic targeting enables marketers to customize their messages and offers to specific groups, maximizing the chances of engagement and conversion. This approach allows companies to allocate their resources more efficiently by focusing on the most receptive audience segments. Additionally, by personalizing marketing efforts, companies can build stronger brand loyalty and establish a deeper connection with consumers who feel understood and catered to in their specific demographic context.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is a digital advertising technique that matches ad creative to user interests by analyzing the content they consume. Its purpose is to serve relevant ads based on the keywords, themes, and topics present in that content.

When a user visits a website or interacts with online content, contextual targeting algorithms scan the page's text and metadata to identify relevant keywords and topics. This analysis helps determine the user's interests and allows advertisers to show ads that align with them. By displaying relevant ads, users are more likely to engage with the ads and find them beneficial, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

By leveraging contextual targeting, advertisers can ensure their ads are displayed in the right context, maximizing the relevance of their message. As the algorithm learns more about users' preferences, it becomes more accurate in matching ads to their interests.

Contextual targeting plays a crucial role in enhancing the effectiveness of digital advertising by optimizing content relevancy and aligning it with users' interests.

Lookalike Targeting

Lookalike targeting expands a customer base by identifying prospects who share similarities with existing customers. It creates a target audience that closely resembles the characteristics, behaviors, and preferences of current customers before deploying promotions. Once the similarities between existing and potential customers are identified, businesses can effectively tailor their marketing messages and campaigns to resonate with the target audience.

The purpose of lookalike targeting is to reach new prospects who are more likely to be interested in a business's offerings, thereby increasing the chances of converting them into loyal customers. By leveraging the data and insights collected from existing customers, businesses can identify the key attributes that contribute to overall satisfaction, be it demographics, interests, or more.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting is a marketing technique that involves analyzing and tracking user behavior to display targeted advertisements. It works by collecting data on browsing history, search queries, app usage, and in-app purchases and comparing them to customer profiles. The insights gained during this process help marketers optimize ad creative to resonate with specific individuals.

One of the core elements of behavioral targeting is the use of browsing history. By monitoring the websites visited by a user, advertisers can gain insights into their interests, preferences, and purchase intent. This data is then utilized to display ads that reflect recent online activity.

Search queries also play a crucial role in behavioral targeting. By analyzing the terms users search for, advertisers can understand their intent. This approach is particularly effective as it allows advertisers to display ads that align with users' immediate needs.

Another important aspect of behavioral targeting is tracking app usage and in-app purchases. By monitoring the apps used by users and their in-app activities, advertisers can gather valuable information about their preferences and behaviors within specific contexts. This data is then utilized to deliver targeted ads that are based on the user's app interests and behavior.

Psychographic Targeting

Psychographic targeting is a marketing strategy that focuses on the psychological characteristics, interests, values, attitudes, and lifestyles of a segmented audience. Rather than simply targeting based on demographics or geographic location, psychographic targeting delves deeper into understanding the motivations and desires of potential customers.

By analyzing the psychological factors that drive consumer behavior, companies can better tailor their marketing efforts to resonate with their target audience. This approach allows for a deeper connection with potential customers by addressing what truly matters to them.

Psychographic targeting involves researching and analyzing various aspects of a consumer's life, such as their interests, hobbies, values, and attitudes toward certain topics. This information is then used to create marketing campaigns that align with the target audience's preferences and aspirations.

For example, a fitness apparel brand may use psychographic targeting to identify individuals who value an active lifestyle and prioritize health and wellness. By understanding the interests and values of this audience, the brand can create personalized content that resonates with these individuals and fosters brand loyalty.

Psychographic targeting offers a more personalized approach to marketing by focusing on the psychological factors that influence consumer behavior. By understanding and addressing what truly matters to their target audience, businesses can establish a stronger connection and drive greater customer satisfaction and engagement.

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