5 Surefire Ways to Alienate Your Target Audience (And How to Avoid Them)

No brand really wants to alienate potential customers. And yet, marketers do occasionally make decisions that don’t have the consumer’s best interests in mind.

What follows is a five-step guide to common campaign pitfalls – and solutions for escaping them.

1. Go Where Your Audience Is Sure Not to Be

One of the core precepts of digital media buying is this: know where to find your customers. Most Baby boomers aren’t on Instagram, just as teens aren’t routinely using Vine. If you want to ensure that your messages don’t reach prospective customers, then by all means, jump on platform bandwagons and follow the trends. If, however, you want to make a connection, use industry and customer data to inform your placement decisions.

2. Be Irrelevant

We’ve all come around to the value of ad personalization, and striking a balance between being useful and making consumers uneasy. But new research shows that customers who don’t receive relevant content aren’t willing to overlook the gaff. If you’re deploying ads that don’t address your customers’ individual wants and needs, you’ll be out of the game – fast.

Customer identity management company Gigya reports that close to 20 percent of the consumers it polled get more than 10 irrelevant messages a day. Of those receiving such communications, 60 percent unsubscribed from an email list, 45 percent ignored subsequent messages from the offending brand, and 24 percent stopped visiting the company’s mobile app or web site. To avoid all of the above, assess behavioral and browsing patterns to make messaging more personal.

“The most successful brands are able to deliver relevant offers and personalized ads because they leverage permission-based, first-party data, and have established meaningful relationships with their customers based on trust,” says Patrick Salyer, CEO at Gigya.

3. Offend Your Customers

When Starbucks launched its “Race Together” campaign in March, the company hoped to get its customers talking about a delicate subject: race. While some did take part, the effort ultimately spawned such a backlash on Twitter that Starbucks’ senior vice president of communications felt compelled to delete his account.

Brands can’t please everyone. But they should be aware that labeling themselves as activists – particularly if the move is a marketing ploy – is bound to generate some amount of reproach. Before you run with a concept, chart all foreseeable outcomes and weigh them against what you stand to gain. In many cases, a potentially offensive campaign isn’t worth the risk.

4. Limit Your Communications to a Single Channel

Whether you choose to place your ads on mobile sites, employ point-of-purchase ads, or invest in email, your customers will get the message, right? Wrong. Unless you’re using a cross-channel strategy that makes your brand visible at every point throughout the purchase process, consumers aren’t getting a complete picture of what you have to offer and you’re missing out on the opportunity to convert them.

Recent data from cross-channel marketing company Signal found that 35 percent of marketers worldwide confess they don’t understand the customer journey. In order to build loyalty and drive sales, brands need to be able to identify intent signals and create cross-channel messaging that’s powerful and consistent. For this, programmatic media buying will its precision cross-channel targeting capabilities can be ideal.

5. Stick with mobile banners

Mobile will account for 72 percent of all digital ad spending within the next five years. Consumers are now spending close to 3 hours a day on a mobile device. If you plan to stick with the mobile banners you’ve been using thus far, though, you could be making a mistake. Instead, look to mobile native ads, which aren’t as affected by banner blindness and can offer a more engaging user experience on a small screen. With major media companies like Yahoo slowly moving away from traditional mobile banners, the time is right to reassess your mobile plan.

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