Despite the fact that digital advertising will account for more than 25 percent of global media spends for the first time this year, many online retailers are still struggling to grasp the best ways to directly engage their target demographics and successfully leverage digital advertising to reach their desired audiences.
While the depth and flexibility of the digital media landscape affords abundant opportunities to craft compelling creative messaging, develop and deploy effective strategies, and connect with key demographics, much of the potential in this space remains unrealized or underutilized by online retailers. Understanding the value of sophisticated digital marketing strategies—and understanding what specific best practices can best unlock that value—is essential for online retailers who want to find powerful new ways to connect with potential consumers and boost their bottom line.
THE DIGITAL DIMENSION
Today, new tactics and technologies that emphasize audience targeting and engagement are helping brands to clearly see the value of digital ad spends.
Precision targeting. Digital advertising allows brands to better target specific demographics and audiences by speaking to and connecting with consumers on the websites and online communities where they spend their time. Today, digital networks can be strong connectors to help brands leverage the value of common audiences.
There are networks in a variety of industries, but here at Carbon Media Group, we focus on outdoor enthusiasts—from hunters and anglers to farmers and adventure-seekers—so we’ll use them as an example. These groups are spending more time connecting online and sharing information, tips and best practices for their respective pursuits. By identifying the online networks where they are active and engaged, electronic retailers and direct marketers targeting this group can better pursue digital advertising opportunities through those networks and maximize their digital advertising strategies.
Flexibility. Precise geo-targeting and weather targeting can help bolster region-specific sales and effectively deliver content based on local activities or occurrences (such as extreme weather). Real-time optimization means that messaging and content can be adapted and refined as needed—delivering the maximum impact based on valuable information about click-through rates and audience behavior.
Retargeting. This allows for a continuity of messaging designed to capture consumers engaged in lower-funnel activities like product research or price comparison. If a consumer is browsing through hunting gear online, for example, a retailer can establish a digital ad cascade that retargets that consumer by presenting products the consumer has expressed an interest in on other websites and in a different digital context. Imagine every ad targeted to each specific user.
Metrics. Digital advertising provides unparalleled opportunities to provide keen insight into user engagement, allowing online retailers and marketers to alter their strategies on the fly to best reach their target audiences. Metrics can also provide valuable demographic data to retailers by showing them which audience segments respond best to their sites and even individual products.
BEST PRACTICES MAKE PERFECT
Online retailers should familiarize themselves with strategies and tactics for connecting with their audience(s):
Don’t limit your reach. The key to adding market share and boosting your bottom line is connecting with new and untapped audiences. For many companies, identifying those audiences is the greatest challenge. You think you know your target demographic—but who else does your product appeal to? If you are selling mobile electronics, for example, consider an audience such as outdoor enthusiasts—a group that may not necessarily be top of mind, but is among the most tech savvy and device-dependent demographics out there.
For instance, outdoor enthusiasts may use their mobile devices as a kind of next-generation multi-tool: hunters may use GPS to mark the location of deer blinds; cross country skiers may track altitude and distance traveled; anglers can use it to determine water depth; and bird watchers can easily identity a species they are not familiar with. Think critically about the broad uses of your product, and target the consumers most likely to benefit.
Diversify. One of the benefits of digital content is the way that it affords you almost endless possibilities for creative engagement. Consider sophisticated product placement and sponsorship concepts, diversifying your messaging and content by utilizing everything from static ads to multimedia concepts and YouTube videos to help increase your exposure and forge more connections. Then, use metrics and results to drive investment into the most effective tactics for your target audience. Once a campaign is launched, it can be changed at any time.
Get guidance. Find a media partner with audience-specific knowledge to help you craft, refine, and deploy your digital strategy. If your target demographic is a niche audience like hobbyists or sports or outdoor enthusiasts, try to identify a professional partner that understands how to layer in data, and can help you filter audiences and best target selected groups. When done correctly, an effective digital marketing and advertising strategy should consist of a full multi-channel digital ecosystem.