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Targeting Online Customers

By Geoff Caplan
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Targeting Online Customers requires a highly strategic and disciplined marketing approach
Although generating online traffic is an important goal of any website, attention should always be directed to the very first and most important issue in website marketing: targeting online customers.

It's important to remember that the definition of your online customers always comes from your customers' basic needs and preferences. Your customer's needs define your online business. If you define your customers based on their requirements, you will know what direction to follow based on your understanding of their needs. As a result, you won't necessarily sell your products or services to a specific demographic group, but rather to the people who actually need your products or services.

The web site should be based on the premise that your customers need information to make intelligent, informed buying decisions. This type of thinking should guide strategic and daily decisions regarding further development and marketing of the site. Never lose sight of the target audience.

Most of the time, targeting means targeting customers as a whole group, whereas real targeting is based on online market segmentation. It is always important to consider targeting market segments instead of the whole market.

I often see web marketers evaluating web sites to assist in targeting customers through online demographics. Unfortunately, targeting customers online through demographics is often not an ideal situation. First, ask yourself these questions:

*Can I find a web site that targets my customers through demographic information?

*Once the site is found, how accurate are the demographics?

*If comfortable with the demographics of the visited site, how long will it take to deliver enough impressions?

*How much will it cost for online demographic targeting?

One-to-One Targeting

Once you successfully identify your potential customer's past online behaviors, it is possible to accurately achieve one-to-one targeting.

One-to-one targeting depends upon: 1) the ability to collect enough information about past buying behavior and 2) whether the person's past buying behavior has a clear pattern. Most of the time, these two conditions are not met.

Targeted venues are especially useful to achieve one-to-one marketing on the Web. Business-to-business strategies are especially well served with this type of approach.

About the Author
Geoff is a professional online marketing consultant and writer with nine years of continuous experience. His diversified background includes search engine marketing, e-commerce strategy and online public relations. He has lectured extensively on subjects related to online marketing and has worked for some of the Web's highest traffic brands, including eDiets and myTravelUSA.


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