How marketers can drive scale for niche audiences

It’s critical that marketers don’t rely on lookalike assumptions, but harness the data available to them to reach beyond their traditional audiences.

In this article Peter Birch, Managing Director, EMEA at Hybrid Theory an Azerion company outlines how the answer to this question lies in data, and while the human touch is critical, niche audience targeting also needs a clear data-driven strategy for the campaigns to really land. 

Combining both performance and scale for audiences is a challenge for many brands, especially those who really understand data, know exactly who their core target consumers are and where broad targeting simply won’t cut it. In times of economic pressure like these where lower funnel performance becomes more of a focus, and where every pound spent becomes scrutinised, more brands are coming to us to help them combine high performance and scale for niche or cookieless audiences in a way that minimises wastage while maximising their ROI.

Brands are tapping into more niche audiences to truly achieve efficiency, scale, and reach. Whether you’re targeting a hockey and fine wine-loving married business owner or a left-handed dog owner from Sunderland, it’s these types of drilled down, specific audience segments, that will help marketers to move the needle on their campaigns at a time when delivering real results is more important than ever.

Capturing the hearts and minds of specific audiences

Many marketers have been content with sticking with the audiences they’ve defined from broad demographics. But it’s important to go deeper than just these broad audience segments, because it’s more effective.

Targeting niche – or custom – audience segments enables brands to not just better target within their existing audience, but find new consumers that are interested in hearing about what they have to offer. It drives scale and leads to achieving those incremental sales that are key to growing the business.

Marketers should be trying to capture the hearts and minds of newer, more specific audiences, rather than oversaturating the group that they’ve been talking to for years. It’s about being more targeted and personal while, importantly, respecting consumer privacy.

In addition, brands want more transparency. They want to know the data sources of their partners and it seems this is more important than ever. Black box solutions are increasingly being avoided in favour of transparency.

Finding your niche

Acknowledging the need to target more niche audiences may be the first step toward reaching them, but key to actually achieving that goal lies in the data marketers use to arrive at that level of granularity.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is no need to use any data from the controversial identifiers or trackers that have cast a shadow over digital marketing. Instead, signals from browsing, search, sharing, social, and contextual data can be used to build custom audiences, and ensure that consumer privacy is put first. This is where we find consumers and scale in all markets as we target ads based on a combination of behaviour, interests and search usage, and we do so based on data that is refreshed every two hours so we increase the chance of reaching people in the moment of discovery… not after.

The application of this data within a marketing strategy begins with defining and identifying the niche audience(s) that should be targeted with a campaign. Audience insights can be used to dive deeper into those audiences and define the niche segments that should be targeted, then keywords related to the brand and social insights can be layered on top of the data to identify which consumers match that definition.

From there, those niche, custom segments can be built. And the reach of these can be reinforced by lookalike modelling to create a fully-customised audience strategy. These custom audiences can also be activated across the funnel, and tailored depending on the brand’s targeting tactics, messaging, creative, and measurement at the different stages of the funnel.

Success unlocked

As a result of drilling down deeper into audience segments, and taking a data-driven fully-customised approach to digital marketing, brands can continue to drive performance and navigate the tricky economic environment that’s facing everybody. Brands can unlock new audiences and, in turn, achieve the incremental sales that make the difference, while ensuring that only the most relevant people from previous, more broadly targeted campaigns are served ads going forward. 

For example, we helped a leading B2B tech giant understand their audience and the shifts in consumer behaviour during a time where economic pressure and the decline in consumer purchasing has dropped to an all time low. By understanding these consumer shifts, we were able to analyse the browsing behaviours behind intent and interests to create custom audiences to target. For this, price comparisons, review seekers and interests in end-to-end support worked well to drive purchase consideration and drive positive return on investment for the brand.

Marketers can harness data from a variety of sources to enable them to reach these niche audiences, and can do it all while being respectful of the privacy of both their potential customers and their existing ones.

The “obvious” audience segments can no longer be the answer for brands and those continuing to opt for that path will only see themselves lose ground to their competitors during this important period. Data-informed, relevant, highly targeted, privacy-first marketing is the only solution.

By Peter Birch

Managing Director EMEA, Performance