The importance of niche targets

In yesterday’s version of the ClickZ E-Marketing Strategies they reposted a column (Sept 21st, 2009) from Robin Neifield, who highlights the advantages of a diversified and adaptable online strategy that is constantly reviewed to ensure the company is able to respond to new market needs and opportunities. Diversification yields several advantages such as easier scalability, relevance through catering to niche interests, finding a balance between objectives, easier optimization, learning about different audiences, consolidating the consumers’ perception, and being prepared for shifting consumer patterns.

Robin herself already points out that this holds not only true for e-marketing strategies, but also for financial portfolio and even any other strategic endeavor in quickly changing environments, independent of its size. Whether you are planning to diversify your product range, your marketing channels, your target audiences, or your google keywords, the same principles apply. What changes is the importance you place on one over the other.

For online marketing, my guess for 2010 is an increased importance of being able to cater to niche audiences. Online advertising spending has not only declined, because companies cut costs due to the recession. The receiving end of the advertisement is also getting tired of being spammed with irrelevant content. Thus, the metrics have changed from impressions to clicks to conversions and beyond. The quest for 2010 is thus to serve relevant content to the right people. The challenge lies in “imagine you could only serve one ad a day”. What would you serve to me? And the guy who works in the office building over the street? And to your neighbor? And her husband? Even within one household interests can be very different and thus you need to know what you want to serve to whom.

This is especially true for ad banners, slide-in ads, splash pages and any other format that interrupts the users’ browsing experience (Sidenote: especially with slide-in ads you face the serious risk that people abandon the site altogether, not just the ad. Not good if you work with the site owner.) Hence: go niche – stay relevant. If you use networks for your advertisings, don’t just divide your ad material into “travel” and “household appliances”. Be more specific, and expect your network to be specific as well. Instead of having one ad for your travel category, prepare a different add for flight tickets, hotel offers, spa weekends, and all-inclusive. For household appliances you could divide the ads into washing machines, dishwasher, tumble dryer, other big household appliances, and small appliances. And then make sure that your network can cater to these niche channels, so that the next potential customer sees a washing machine when he is looking for one.

Remember: what if you could only serve one ad a day?

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