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The personal touch, by Netizency’s Fadi Khater

Use digital media targeting to show some interest in your customers’ interests, writes Netizency’s founder and managing partner Fadi Khater. You might be surprised by the results.

The beauty of digital marketing is its ability to specifically target different groups of people.

This allows you to always be relevant and on-point, should you choose to use this superpower.

Yet the opportunity to use this superpower seems often to be squandered by lazy advertisers, for lack of a better word. They would rather just create one ad or a post targeting everyone, versus creating 20 unique versions to target 20 unique audiences.

But this pay-and-spray approach is riddled with pitfalls. People are becoming very choosy, and brands are trying very hard to accommodate them. People can now build their own anything from a Starbucks coffee to a credit card, poke bowl, car, frozen yoghurt, laptop, burger… They can even design their own villa a la carte at Damac Hills.

So why aren’t advertisers customising their ads to match different interests and behaviours? Why are they still making one-size-fits-all social media posts and promoting them to everyone between 18 and 50 in KSA? Why have so many brands shifted their spend from traditional to digital, only to use digital media in the same way they used OOH? There are undoubtedly many exceptions, but this still applies to most brands.

There are two extremes of how you can spend your monthly content and production budget on digital or social media: You can create one new post every day and have each post promoted to everyone; or you can create one social media post with 30 variations so that it is customised to different audiences.

Most brands are closer to the first option. But in my experience, and based on a wealth of data, option two is far more likely to pay off. You are talking to people in their own language, giving them content that resonates with their context, and ultimately making them feel like you care about connecting directly with them.

We have done a lot of A/B testing, and time and time again we’ve found that customised content performs better. We once achieved a 20 per cent higher conversion rate when we showed our telco ad in an iPhone to iOS users and in a Samsung to Android users, versus a generic, unrecognisable phone. In another instance, we achieved a 200 per cent higher conversion rate when we promoted a streaming service to a niche audience who were interested in a specific show, as opposed to promoting the wide range of shows that it offers.

Here are just some examples of specific targeting groups that you can customise content for, and once you do that you will notice the difference in people’s reactions to your advertising:

1. You can target IT decision-makers who work in real estate companies on LinkedIn.

2. You can target people who have an upcoming birthday in one week on Facebook.

3. You can target people similar to the followers of a specific handle on Twitter.

4. You can target people who clicked on “Shop Now” in the past week on Instagram.

5. You can target people searching for a specific product, topic or activity on Google.

In many of the above cases, the targeting can be a significant part of the message; by telling IT decision-makers that you can help them make the best IT decisions for the highest ROI in the real estate industry. Or you can tell people to pamper themselves with your product for their upcoming birthday.

Other platform-targeting capabilities include:

Custom audiences: This is a custom list that can be a database of users that you have or people who visited your website. It can also be people who engaged with a specific post, people who bought a product, or people
who left products in their cart without checking out.

Look-alikes: These are people who are similar to your custom audience. Social platforms can identify people similar to a specific list based on their online behaviour.

Behaviour targeting: This is based on specific behaviour like buying online, frequent travel, recently promoted, recently married, etc.

Super Audiences: This feature identifies the right audience from their unique characteristics by digging into a social platform’s historical archive. Asics used Super Audiences to identify users most likely to buy new running shoes by creating a custom algorithm to analyse public Twitter data, including such characteristics as marathon runners or those who had recently followed specific athletic brands.

The traditional advertising rule has been to spend 20 per cent of your budget on production and 80 per cent on media. Re-emphasising an article, It’s time to rethink the 80:20 split of production versus media”, in this magazine back in 2016, this needs to change, as the quality of social content is likely to have its own inherent media value because people are more likely to share it.

Allocating more from your media budget towards production for the purpose of contextualising content to different users is likely to generate a much bigger bang for your media buck. Here’s a roughly seventh-grade-level mathematical way to illustrate this: If you have an $80 media budget, a $1 cost per click, and a conversion rate of 5 per cent, you will get four customers. However, if you use $30 from your media budget to create contextual ads for different audiences, and switch your media spend to niche targeting, you are likely to increase your conversion rate to 10 per cent, and this will allow you to get five customers from a media spend of $50.

As a final note, I would like to invite you to try customising your content to very specific target audiences and look at the difference for yourself. It can be as simple as mentioning the district they live in, or as complex as identifying at what point in the customer journey they dropped off.

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