The most successful digital marketing campaigns do one key thing: They deliver the right message to the right people. Naturally, there are a number of factors to this, like timing, segmentation, targeting, and positioning. Ultimately, what you end up with is a custom audience for your specific campaign. In this article, let’s take a look at what it means to define a custom audience and the 3 most common ways to build one.
What Is a Custom Audience?
First, let’s define a custom audience.
A custom audience is a target group you build using a mix of demographic and behavioral data.
Let’s look at an example.
Picture your ideal customer. Let’s say she’s a practice manager and veterinarian. She’s passionate about surgery and promptly reads about the latest techniques. Her small animal practice is located in the northeast US. Also, her state veterinary medical board allows online CE, which she prefers because it’s tough for her to get away from the practice for conferences.
In the example above, we’ve used a mix of demographic and behavioral data to highlight our ideal audience persona. Now, let’s apply it to a campaign.
Say we’re running a digital marketing campaign to promote a new surgical device. First, we design an online CE program as the hub of the campaign. Second, we create a webinar that will provide both clinical skills and business-building insight for small animal veterinarians. And thirdly, we decide to pilot the content in the northeast US before we roll it out nationwide.
The more specific our audience, the higher our conversion rates will be. Now, a more specific audience may mean a smaller audience. Be that as it may, a smaller audience means our campaign is much more likely to land in front of someone it actually applies to. Although high traffic numbers are nice, they can lower our campaign ROI. An engaged custom audience can mean the difference for our conversion rate.
How Do I Create One?
When you’re creating a custom audience, look at some of these key factors.
- Individual Demographics
- Job title
- Years of experience
- Educational background
- Clearly expressed interests/experience
- Account-Level Demographics
- Geographic location
- Corporate vs. private practice
- Size of clinic
- Practice type (eg, small animal, mixed, exotics)
- Behavioral Considerations
- Educational preferences
- Content engagement
- Website visit frequency
- Level of engagement (eg, time on site)
- Platform preferences for contextual targeting (social, email, website)
Now that you have an idea of what a custom audience looks like (and where to start building one), let’s look at the technology side.
3 Platforms for Building Custom Audiences
As technology advances, we discover new (and better) ways to build custom audiences, from Facebook to your in-house list. Here are our best tips for veterinary B2B marketers building custom audiences.
Building One from Your In-House List
If you have a CRM, email marketing, or marketing automation platform, you should be able to make basic custom audiences. Ideally, every email you send should not go to your master database.
At minimum, consider creating 2 audiences: one of your prospects and one of your customers. That way you can customize your message for each of those groups.
With this in mind, you can divide even further for better results. Try sorting customer and prospect groups by sales representative. That way, you can send personal messages “from” your sales reps, which can be helpful for regional promotions.
Most marketers will have access to individual and account-level demographic data. Use that as a starting point to develop the custom audiences that matter most to your brand.
Here are a few ideas for sorting your list.
Sort prospects by:
- Specialty (eg, rehabilitation, emergency, surgery)
- Job title
- Regional geography
- Answers to common qualifying questions
Sort your customers by:
- Product purchase history
- Job title
- Regional geography
Moreover, if you are using a CRM for campaign history tracking and prospect/customer engagement by campaign, you may also be able to generate custom audiences based on historic behavioral data.
With this in mind, think about campaigns you’ve done in the past and re-target your message to those who engaged with similar content before.
Using Facebook Custom and Lookalike Audiences
First, make sure you have the Facebook pixel set up on your website. This is key for creating custom audiences on Facebook.
Within the Google Ads Manager tool, there is an audience section that allows you to create custom audiences. Most marketers are familiar with creating Facebook audiences from basic demographic information.
If you haven’t tried the pixel, you’re missing out on a great way to improve your targeting.
Here’s how custom audiences work on Facebook:
- Identify the sources for your custom audience: Website activity, your customer list, app activity, offline activity, or your Facebook sources such as lead form submissions, page followers, etc.
- Add people to your audience: For example, you can select anyone who visited your website within the last 90 days. You may decide to get as specific as targeting people who spend a long time on your site, those who visited a specific page, and much more.
- Create a Lookalike: Based on the custom audience you created, you may find others who act the same way by creating a lookalike audience. This is a great way to expand your network and reach those more likely to engage with your message.
Working with a Media Partner
Don’t have a good in-house email database? Or maybe you have one but you don’t have a way to sort it? Consider working with a media partner. They can typically generate a custom audience based on your needs and distribute your message. This is a good way to go if you’re just getting your social media channels up and running.
Most media companies have a good handle on behavioral data from their website visitors. They can help you customize an audience as broad or as narrow as you want. Not to mention, their social campaigns often perform better than in-house campaigns due to their high follower numbers and high engagement from those followers.
If you are running your campaign through a media partner, consider a cross-channel campaign. Serve your message to your custom audience via email, website, and social channels.
Advanced Digital Marketing Concepts
If you’re working with a media partner, ask about some of the advanced digital marketing concepts related to custom audiences, like retargeting and nurturing campaigns.
- Retargeting: Extend your campaign’s reach with additional message impressions through retargeting campaigns to your target audience. This includes serving your ad on pages that sell display advertising.
- Nurturing Campaigns & Automation Sequences: Based upon campaign behavior. Enter your prospect into automated nurturing sequences designed to convert MQL’s (marketing qualified leads) into SQL’s (sales qualified leads).
- Contextual targeting is based on the specific preferences of your custom audience. With their preferences in mind, you’ll be able to display your message where your target audience spends their time.
The most critical factor to successful marketing campaigns is whether your message is getting to the right people. Think about your target market. As shown above, there’s more to your custom audience than veterinarians.