avoid overtargeting

Overtargeting isn’t something many people have likely heard of, because it’s such a new concept. It was brought about by retargeting gone very wrong. Nothing is great in excess and overtargeting people is no exception. The fact that it is happening to an egregious degree means it is being penalized now.

How To Avoid Overtargeting

Advancements in AI = Better Targeting

Artificial Intelligence has come a very long way. There are now home robots in many households and many people rely on AI on a daily basis. There have been vast improvements made which help with searching, when the algorithm is trained how to find that specific thing ‘best’. What defines ‘best’ is constantly being updated, causing machine learning to happen, which develops better search functionality.

With the ability to search honed to a fine point, it’s easier to get better analytics, and track traffic. These analytics have provided such specific details about site visitors that it has become possible to market to the same group of people, for a different item – which is the very core of retargeting. The point of retargeting was to sell a person a tie clip who has just purchased a necktie, or shoe protectant spray to someone who has just purchased a new pair of shoes. Instead, what has happened, is what usually happens to ruin a good thing. Bad practices by unethical marketers and businesses looking to turn people into data & dollar signs.

They have been overtargeting by selling anyone who has purchased anything, a second totally unrelated thing to their first purchase; the only common denominator is the merchant. This has led to email inboxes overflowing with spam from these businesses, and leads the customer elsewhere, because everyone is sick of being abused the moment the email address is given out. This sort of practice, will lose customers quickly in this social media marketing climate, where people’s privacy and more have been abused by those they trusted.

Branding & Building

Your brand matters more today than it has in the past, because people have begun associating brands with concepts, ideals, and they look more favorably upon businesses with whom they share something in common. What’s more, is that in today’s marketing climate on social media, having a voice and a distinct personality within that brand, is extremely powerful. People gravitate more toward companies which show them warmth, kindness, and overdeliver on their promises.

It’s for this reason Influencers became so popular, and work so well still. Influencers who share the same things in common with their audience, can help a whole new group of people see a business’ product or service, but it works best when the influencer has some relation to what the product or service is.

Before long, through the power of social media – a company’s followers will begin branding for that company through the use of hashtags, or buzz. They may post a photo of your product, or a review of your services, or even share your posts with family & friends. They help you market simply by having been good to them.

To build that brand, a company doesn’t need to rely on overtargeting schemes to try and net the most people possible, while losing most. Analytics, the very thing mentioned prior, are a set of tools to filter data about traffic directly related to marketing. By utilizing this data, and knowing how to read it, respond to it, and plan ahead – a business is well on its way to success without ever having to resort to less ethical marketing.

What Does Overtargeting Look Like?

If still unsure about what overtargeting is, perhaps it is best explained with a scenario that nearly everyone has had happen to them at this point.

Overtargeting Gone Wrong

“Joe” goes onto Google, looking for golf club head covers and purchases the covers through a website he trusts, and thinks no further of it because he had a want, he searched for what he wanted, found it, and bought it.

Later that nightJoe’s wife tells him about a post on Facebook she wanted him to see, so he goes looking for it and finds ten advertisements in his Newsfeed for golfing lessons, golf carts, trips to golfing clubs in far flung places, and other golf-related items. While creepy, Joe writes it off because he did just purchase golf club heads, and doesn’t give much thought to how Facebook ended up knowing this after a Google search, which is a totally unrelated company.

A day or so later Joe’s email inbox is full of emails from the company who sold him the golf club head covers, trying to sell him hunting trips, 4-wheelers, camp kits, hiking gear and other completely unrelated items. He opens two of these emails, before deleting the lot and marking it as ‘spam’.

Later that night he sees again, in his Facebook Newsfeed, advertisements aplenty, but this time it’s for hunting, fishing, hiking, 4-wheeling, camping, and a plethora of other outdoor activities that he has absolutely no interest in.

This is overtargeting, and the huge companies share data to such a degree that a person can expect these things to happen after a brief search, or reading an email thought to be independent of other online activities. Those days are no longer, and most everything is connected through data. This is why people have taken the reins back through regulations being passed, changing how they purchase, and what causes their brand loyalty, because nearly everyone has been grossly taken advantage of, in a climate ill-prepared to protect them from unethical companies and people.

The only way to grow a client base, keep them, and ensure their happiness is to stop treating them like data, and begin to treat them like individuals with stories, families, birthdays worth remembering, and a lot more. Putting the human touch into everything a company puts out there, can be felt by people, and is a balm in a world where everything is cold, impersonal, and untrustworthy. The last bit, is to ensure if retargeting is the aim, that it’s not being grossly abused.

Retargeting is about direct relation to something they purchased or showed interest in, not relation to a degree which requires explanation to make sense.