The definition of audience targeting is exactly what you’d expect: It’s the practice of using data to segment consumers by demographics or interests in order to find the holy grail that is the right person on the right device at the right moment.

With audience targeting, you’re more likely to reach consumers interested in your products or services with relevant messaging. It also decreases the odds you’ll waste ad spend on uninterested eyeballs and help move potential customers down the proverbial funnel.

And it yields results. According to Tammy Duggan-Herd, director of marketing at digital marketing firm Campaign Creators, for example, after shifting to a content strategy with audience targeting in 2016, her agency saw a 744% increase in organic traffic within 12 months.

If you’re looking to better target your prospective customers—and stop wasting ad spend on people who just won’t convert—you’ve came to the right place. Today, I’ll walk you through eight tried-and-true audience targeting strategies—straight from the minds of digital marketing experts.

But, before that, you need data …

Data management is key to audience targeting

Heather Jackson, sales and marketing manager at digital advertising firm JAC Advertising Consultants, pointed to data management platforms like Lotame and Neustar, which track consumer behavior online with cookies.

“Based on their online behavior … these aggregators can, with extreme accuracy, decipher the demographics, interests and preferences of an individual,” she said. “Marketing giants, such as Facebook and Google, use this data to pinpoint an exact audience for their marketing clients.”  

A word of caution: Stephen Yu, chief product officer at predictive marketing automation platform Buyer Genomics, said cross-platform/channel strategies can yield disappointing results as “targeting by definition must be individual-centric, not channel- or product-centric.”

Instead, he said to start with the individual target, including demographics, online behavior, purchase history, repeat purchases and loyalty.

“All of this information should be collected through every engagement channel … and resultant data must be consolidated around the individual target first,” Yu added. “Then, marketers can decide whom to target based on data profiles, segments and other model-based targeting mechanisms.”

And once you have figured out your target audience, you can start thinking about channels.

“Too many organizations mix channel optimization and target optimization, but those are two equally important endeavors: the former to determine where the marketing dollars should go, and the latter to determine whom to target,” he said.

But you’re not finished yet! Audience targeting has to be refined regularly because “you’re basically hypothesis testing,” said Cynthia Kazanis, digital marketing analyst at internet marketing agency Pure Visibility. “Especially in digital marketing, you should never think of anything you create as permanent or done because then you lose the advantage of your platforms’ agility.”

Instead, keep asking questions about your audience targeting:

Are we reaching the audience we want?

If not, who are we reaching?

Is the intended audience responding the way we want?

Is there a similar audience the target can help us find?


For his part, Tim Brown, marketing insights manager at marketing agency Pacific Digital Group, recommended using psychographics—values, affinities and motivations—as a more accurate targeting goal than demographics.

Reference 2021. 8 Audience Targeting Strategies from Digital Marketing Experts. [online] Available at: <> 

[ 8 October 2021].