top of page

Targeting | Digital Marketing for Digital Dinosaurs.

Welcome back, we discussed about the setting objectives for our marketing activities (I call it "the WHY"), it’s time we turn our attention to the WHO: target

Now that we have defined why we need the communication we want to define who we want to talk to: the target, the critical dimension of any promotional activity

This has become even more important now with digital advertising. Why? Check out the slide below, I have taken those ads from a normal day advertising on my FB page.

Look at this, what does FB know about me from those ads. They know I like to travel, they I’m not business , I like to trade stocks, I’m obviously and handsome man in the middle of a mid life crisis helping health with herbal products/ The even know my wife snores…how do they know? Because this is the core business of FB. They are in the business of profiling people to sell the information to advertisers/ and let me say, there’s nothing wrong with this as long as we know it.

Now, because they know us so well, we can use this information to buy advertising from FB that will hit the right target, reducing costs for us and allowing for better quality

Back to our topic, targeting is the main topic of today marketing and communication and I would add, it has always been.

In the broad picture why target is so important?

Deciding on target is important because this decision has clear impact on 3 important areas: WHAT, HOW and WHERE to tell our story:

- WHAT - INSIGHT & MESSAGE: What we will say in the communication depends on what we know about them

- HOW - TONE OF VOICE: How we will tell the story depends on who are we talking to.

- WHY - CHANNELS: Where we will tell the story depends on who we are talking to

In this section we will specifically talk about target in the context of digital communication

In specific in digital marketing target is usually called Digital persona


What is a digital persona?

The digital persona is a description of a specific target and its behaviour in the digital landscape under the framework of the category of products we are looking at.

  • What is the normal consumption of digital of this target when it comes to this category of products? What to they do online? What type of things they normally try to accomplish?

  • What are the platforms and touchpoint they interact the most with?

  • Are they actively engaged or passive receivers of digital communication when it comes to this category?

  • What is their decision process when they use digital in relation to our category of product? This is called “digital journey” and it is a crucial tool to understand what is the role of different digital touch-points to influence their decision process when buying a specific category of products.

Will come back on Digital Journey very soon, now let’s look into this persona.

First the description.

As brand marketers I am sure you’re super familiar with defining targets, so just like we have done for the past many years, a digital persona can be defined by several dimensions:

  • Geography: where do they live? We might need to address the specific needs of a specific area

  • Demographic: gender, age, life-stages, Birth Era (Gen Y, Z), life-stages (example parents with kids).

  • Socioeconomic: income, education, occupation.

  • Psychographic: personality (example: extroverted, ambitious), values (achievers, gregarious), attitudes (rejectors, lovers)

  • Behaviour: heavy or light users of a product, loyal, non-users

  • Lifestyle

I know, so far nothing new, a fancy name to describe something we know very well, the target. However there are some fundamental differences that we need to stress here.

When its comes to digital communication, differently from traditional communication, we have access, directly or indirectly, to a huge amount of data that track consumers behaviours online.

We call them fist party data, data that we as a brand collect directly with the approval of the owner and third party data, which we have access to through third parties.

All this data is anonymous and in majority of the cases we have access to them indirectly through the targeting capabilities of the advertising platforms we place or ads in from FB to YT and google etc.

Think about this in this way, everything we do online leaves a trace.

Our behaviours online are a clear signal of some form of interest, for example an interest for a specific product.

Watching a video of how a product works, is a signal

Reading a review of an hotel is a signal

Calculating how much is the mortgage instalment is a signal…and so on…we leave millions of signals online every day.

So the main difference with traditional targeting is that we can somehow have access to those signals. Of course the quality of this access depends on several factors, we can have access to a very granular details or at an aggregated level, through first and third party data, anonymous or not. But this doesn’t change the logic, all those data allow for better and more precise targeting of the right message to the right people

Second big important implication, when it comes to targeting online we must keep in mind that not everyone who buys the same product, will complete their journey to purchase in the same way or in other words, they won’t leave behind the same signals along the way.

This implies a big difference with traditional marketing where we had to assume a “one-size-fits-all” type of approach to advertising.

Here on digital, we realise that there might be 3 or 4 different and most relevant persona. Each of one is the representative of a group of people that arrives to the same end point (final purchase) from different paths.

Those paths are called journeys and they clearly define the personae we are talking about.

Those paths are driven by some specific characteristic of the personae, like specific triggers and barriers towards our product or brand.

Let’s play with an example, let’s say we are on a mission of buying a moisturising cream.

When someone uses a specific touchpoint related to this mission, they are implicitly signalling an interest.

However, different people might have different ways to solve this problem.

The crucial point is that they are signalling those different ways every time they turn to digital for assistance.

Those different ways define different groups of people with different journeys that are triggered by different messages.

Some of them search a lot for promotions before buying a moisturiser

Some of them might be particularly interested in knowing if the product is made of natural ingredients.

Some of them might be interested in hearing what experts and influencers say about it.

If we follow their journeys, we can cluster them in relevant groups (digital perosnae), understand what triggers them and once we will create advertising we will be able to calibrate our message on their expectations. Moreover we can use media dollars to target them with our now more relevant message.

Those last two points (the fact we leave signals online and different digital journeys) are the two most important differences when we look at the activating of defining targets online

In fact Each persona (now we know is an archetype of buyers) is different on a number of different aspects, from attitudes to interests to online behaviours to the digital touch-points.

Lets talk about all those element starting from triggers barriers and touchpoint.


Once defined the persona we want to understand what is the key motivator that triggers them in their decision process.

This is somehow related to the type of persona that we have defined.

This is called a trigger.

To be a little more academic we could call a trigger in marketing as the reason why someone tried a product in the first place. When did people try your product for the first time? How?

Why? Who did influence them?

How can you use those triggers to attract more users? What about new target groups?

Examples of Triggers: needs, product benefits, new ingredients, performances, innovation, new trends

Now those triggers can be different for different persona as i mentioned before

Back to our example with moisturization

If they search a lot for promotions before buying a moisturiser, most probably are promotions freaks, they are triggered by the challenge of finding best promotions.

Another persona might be particularly interested in knowing if the product is made of natural ingredients as opposite of full chemicals, they are triggered by specific messages like organic or no testing on animals or zero chemicals.

Another persona might be interested in hearing what experts and influencers have to say about moisturisers. In this case the influencers can be the trigger herself.

In all those cases we can plan with our agency partners what are the messages that will trigger their interest in order for us to produce relevant content.


Barriers are just the opposite of triggers.

What are the crucial problems that people might experience with our product and that can limit consumption or, if we are looking at non users of the brand, what are the barriers that stopped them from trying the product in the first place?

Following the example of moisturiser, perhaps one key barrier for someone who’s into a moisturiser made of natural ingredients, is the presence of harmful chemicals in the product

A barrier for someone who’s very much into watching reviews could be negative comments by their favourite influencer, and so on

Understanding barriers and triggers leads us to produce messages that are more meaningful and as consequence more effective. This has a direct impact on next section we will talk about: WHAT. The message

Following on digital persona, once understood what motivates them, we want to understand what are the relevant digital touch-points where we can meet them.

In other words, we are looking at what that specific type of persona will do online. What type of social media platform, why those ones, to do what? What website, what youtube channel and so on…

The digital persona who’s into promotions and discount, before buying the moisturiser in our example, will most probably check in some facebook page that’s dedicated to promotions, discount coupons etc

The one who’s into influencers, will check reviews and watch video about that specific product and so on

While understanding touchpoint is not exact science and we will never be able to really follow and group all the touchpoint a specific persona visits, defining what they might be through examples, is priceless to inform our media strategies.

So far we have discussed about 3 topics when talking about digital persona:

  • demographic (including geography, interests and socioeconomics)

  • attitude towards our products: triggers and barriers

  • touchpoints

Demographic will help us define who they are, where are they located, what interests them. All those info are useful for digital platforms to help us focus our media budget and communicate only with specific groups.

Look at how FB asks us to decide our target when we wan to buy ads

Attitude towards our product (triggers/barriers) will make it easy for us to define what message is relevant for them. This combined with demographic will make our digital communication very powerful because it will be tailor made on specific segments

Lastly touch-points, this is about understanding what types of media outlets are more important for our target in different stages of their journey.

And here is where we need to introduce the concept of consumer journey.

Hope this material is useful for you, stay in touch!


Featured Posts
Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page