Targeted Internet Advertising

Successful marketing depends largely on targeted Internet advertising to reach specific consumers. The worldwide web has changed the way advertising agencies and marketing professionals approach prospective customers. Instead of a local, regional, or national market, the Internet brings the world to your doorstep. But just because the world comes to your doorstep doesn't mean that they will buy. Advertisers must target, or narrow down, the sector of a global population for whom goods and services are best suited. In multimedia advertising, a strong message or visual communication is designed to appeal to a specific audience. Advertising targets potential buyers according to age, gender, income, ethnic group, or activity. That's why a well known skin care conglomerate recently modified its message to sell soap to a more diverse group of women. Instead of featuring wraith-like females with long, thin torsos; the company's creative group introduced a campaign using women of different shapes, sizes, ages and complexions. The message was clear: their soap was suitable for every woman.

However targeted Internet advertising is much sleeker, faster, and much more direct than slow-absorption media, such as magazines, or a flash-in-the-pan 30-second television spot. The time it takes for Internet shoppers to point, click and take a second look at products and services is really subjective. Digital media lends itself to the Technicolor temptations of big movie screens, only in a smaller, more intimate framework; therefore targeted Internet advertising tends to present an intimate, interactive message to one browser at a time. Flash animation graphics grab the eye, diverting it away from other frames on the web page to compel browsers to follow specific links to point of purchase pull down menus that make it easy to ultimately part with credit card digits and clinch online sales.

One rule of successful promotion: If you want to sell to a specific audience, feature a compelling picture of that audience in the ad. Happy, smiling faces attract happy, smiling consumers. As in other print or electronic media advertising, targeted Internet advertising features visual images which mirror those consumers advertisers are trying to reach. Colleges and institutions of higher learning portray young students prominently on home pages. Electronic technology sites not only feature the latest gadget, but techies using their products to lure other techies to buy them. Establishing a rapport with the audience is essential to getting the right response; and it's just as essential in winning souls. In I Corinthians 9:19-22, the Apostle Paul shared how he "became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews." "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without the law, as without the law, (being not without the law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."

Not all websites are targeted solely toward consumers of products and services. Christian oriented sites target individuals from a global audience with a similar belief system. The goal of Christian business advertising is to not only sell a product or service, but to promote Biblically-based ethics. Many faith-based websites use the Internet to witness to the un-churched as well as edify the Body of believers in Jesus Christ. And because faith-based websites realize that they have the potential to target a global audience for Jesus, much of the content will be geared toward evangelism, or winning souls to the Lord.

Believers can benefit by interactive sites that include links to all things Christian. From online shopping malls that feature clergy and choir robes, home schooling resources, and fundraising ideas; to job searches, blogs, and health and nutrition articles, Christian business advertising focuses on meeting every conceivable need believers have. Faith-based self-help books, articles, and resources lead browsing believers to a more comprehensive spiritual walk. Churches and Christian organizations can shop for furnishings, buildings, and vehicles. Ministries can find the best buys on audios, CDs, and electronics; while entrepreneurs can get the latest advice on financing, budgeting and investing. Christian business advertising literally targets an entire community of consumers who have a common interest: to grow and develop into more mature followers of Jesus Christ. The advantage to targeting a faith-based audience is that Christianity is not just a denomination, but it is a lifestyle; and that lifestyle encompasses an infinite number of interests: from concerns about health and nutrition, money and insurance, missions and ministry, modern ethics, and current events from a Biblical perspective. Christians are consumers, too; but a common belief broadens opportunities for faith-based businesses to prosper by selling to an audience that needs little persuasion. Most Christians love all things Christ-like and tend to be loyal and supportive of faith-based businesses.

Entrepreneurs promoting Christian business advertising may consider targeting a faith-based audience via the Internet. Nearly 80% of the population in the United States professes to practice Christianity, making Christians one of the most affluent target audiences in the world. Internet advertising on websites with a clean, wholesome appearance will appeal to most believers. Family oriented sites which refrain from derogatory or defamatory content and promote family values also appeal to Christians. The most successful targeted Internet advertising will consist of promotions that are not just thinly veiled attempts to draw one of the most influential markets in the world, but one that sincerely models the principles and ethics of the Christian lifestyle. Faith-based consumers will gladly support those advertisers who advocate wholesome ethics, family values, and a high standard of moral excellence.

Targeted Advertising Techniques

Targeted advertising techniques are used by every advertiser online, in print, and on TV to reach the audience most likely to be interested in a seller's product, or request the nonprofit's services. A person selling cars will not gear his advertisements to appeal to school children, just as someone selling toys will not advertise in a way that will bore the kids and appeal to adults. While these ads can actually be seen and read by any age group, those most interested will stay while the others will find something else to do. Teenagers will look at car deals, but when the application form says they must be adults, they're stopped.

The first step in spreading the word about a business online is to create, or have created, an attractive and accessible website. Next is a link to products, i.e., an online catalog, and a shopping cart for ease in purchasing. Targeted audience advertising means bringing certain people, in the market for buying certian products, to a website that offers what they want to buy. Tag lines and key words will attract the attention of potential customers and will go a long way toward making a sale. Of course, it takes more than the website to do business online.

Keywords are another part of the targeted advertising techniques. Keywords are chosen to describe a business and to draw in customers. One has to guess what keywords potential customers will probably use to find a product, and meet that probability. When one product is concerned, that is easy, but when there are multiple products being offered, the process becomes a bit more complicated. The better the description, the higher placement a business will have with a search engine. Following the keywords that first draw a browser's attention, there is a description of what will be found if they click on the website. This is very important for successful targeted audience advertising. No matter how much work has been put in to make the website attractive and functional, strangers have to find it through a search engine. Friends and family will have the website address and can go there directly, any time they want to.

There is software available for a website owner to do his own targeted audience advertising, without the help of any of the so-called experts in the field. This takes time though, and sometimes time is one thing the business owner doesn't have. Then he turns to a reputable firm that knows about search engine optimization, keyword choices, and descriptions. Care must be taken in doing this, because there are companies that will overcharge by substantial sums, and it doesn't make sense to squander hard-earned business dollars this way. A search on the Internet will help the businessperson find a reputable, moderately priced company that is expert in targeted advertising techniques. They will be available to clients any time, to correct glitches to the system and minimize downtime. And their fees will be reasonable.

Even where a business owner thinks he has just the targeted audience advertising he believes will do the most good for his business, a few of months down the road it will have to be done again. Frequent changes keep the website fresh and appealing. Repeat customers don't want to see exactly the same thing each time they enter. That's boring. Fresh slogans, colors and graphics will keep customers interested. Seasonal changes are one good way to update a website. Just as the windows of a department store or boutique are what draws shoppers inside, so does the website.

The Internet isn't the only place for targeted advertising techniques. Newspaper ads with graphics and a couple of well-worded paragraphs can draw customers to an establishment consistently. Having a sale of one or two particular items is a good example of targeted audience advertising. If it's a department store before a holiday, anything connected with that holiday is going to sell well. Even buying special items not usually found in the store will be an excellent draw when it's holiday related. Decorations for President's Day, St. Patrick's Day, or Easter always do well, and before school sales will make most mothers smile. Much like advertising, Jesus had targeted audiences also. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised," (Luke 4:18)

If a local or national television station spot is available and affordable, it is among the top targeted advertising techniques. Music can enhance a message, a good presenter speaks directly to the audience, and it reaches a large number of people. In actuality, the Internet reaches even more, but not with quite the splash TV makes. Magazine ads will reach the audience that the publication is geared for, so by finding a magazine, whose audience matches the customers a business is seeking, the owner creates an optimum opportunity for himself.

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