By Ryan Shenefelt / Guest Column

In a world aflutter with marketing buzzwords like gamification, hyperlocal, omnichannel, big data and storytelling, it’s important to keep the No. 1 component of marketing in mind: your customer. How can we reach them, where can we reach them and how do we make them “convert”?

Enter data (another overused, and recently demonized, word). In the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the #DeleteFacebook movement, Facebook’s user base and monthly active user metrics have actually grown. Users are still giving their data over to the digital marketing behemoth hand over fist: current job, cousins, children, education level, etc.

Each “profile element” is a targeting demographic point. Other marketing methods are stepping up to give that ever-important customer data to marketers, but don’t forget about your existing customer information and how it can be used to better understand your customer personas.

Email lists

Do you have email lists of your existing customer base (or employee email lists)? Those lists can be used to create targeting lists for digital advertising and similar audiences. Creating “lookalike audiences” allows you to target your ads to those who have similar demographic information or online habits as your existing customer database.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the ethics and regulations behind these targeting practices. If a user “unsubscribes” or “opts out” of your email marketing, you need to then remove that user from your targeting audiences. Industry standard email marketing platforms, like Mailchimp or Constant Contact offer options to handle this for you.

Data appending

A successful marketing campaign has two major components: the quality of your creative and the accuracy of your customer information. Creating a full and accurate profile is important to learn more about your personas and customers. Having an email address or a home address means that you can find out a wealth of information about your customers.

Completing customer profiles allows you to heatmap locations to find your prime prospects, reach your customers in more ways, and find customer similarities you may not have known existed. For example, heatmapping your own data may show that a majority of your customers are from the same neighborhood or a segment of a community. This data is powerful information for potential mail campaigns.

Suppressions

Knowing who your customer isn’t is just important as knowing who your customer is. Email marketing used to be validated through a series of Send and Suppression (or don’t send) lists. This similar concept can be used for targeting digital marketing. Instead of setting who your ideal customer is, you can also “anti-target” with other information.

Interested parties

Cookies are more than just a delightful snack – they help marketers track potential customers who view key pages of their websites. The same way a sale may take multiple meetings or phone calls to result in a deal, cookies help us capture those who leave our pages before conversions.

Set up advertisements targeted at those who “view” but don’t buy. Best practices say to keep your cookie targeting set at seven days. That means if a user views your website and doesn’t return, after seven days the ads will stop. While cookie-based advertising isn’t as strong as it once was in a desktop-only world, it is still a cost-effective way to reach those who are already interested in your services.

Realize that the “D word” isn’t inherently bad. It all comes down to how you are using your information and if you are following your personal ethical guidelines as well as the guidelines of the networks you are using. Don’t overlook using the important customer information you already have for your marketing objectives.

Ryan Shenefelt is an account manager and digital strategist at de Novo Marketing in Cedar Rapids.