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Paid Social

Avoid These 5 Targeting Pitfalls: Common Mistakes in Paid Social Media Campaigns

Desiree Dileso

Desiree Dileso

In today’s digital landscape, paid social services are ubiquitous among marketing agencies, even those who don’t specialize in it. And it’s no wonder – getting an ad campaign up and running on social platforms isn’t exactly rocket science, and resources for hands-on-keyboard skill development are limitless. This accessibility has democratized advertising which has empowered start-ups, influencers, small businesses, and general marketing agencies alike to enter the feeds.  

Initially, the results of a paid infusion on social can be thrilling: impressions soar, traffic surges, and search volume increases. But all too often, this momentum fizzles out. Engagement rates dwindle, new users bounce, and conversion rates drop.  

While various factors contribute to performance, ineffective targeting is often the culprit. Obvious? Yes. An easy solve? It can be. 

Here, we dive into five of the most common targeting pitfalls and more importantly – how to avoid them.  

Incomplete Audience Research

Marketers set themselves up for failure when they rely on assumptions. While brands know their audience best, it’s an agency’s responsibility to delve deeper into who their audience is to add nuance and uncover new growth opportunities. For example, a beauty brand may want to target “Sephora shoppers, ages 18-44″ which may seem straightforward enough – but who, exactly, are these shoppers? Surely, they don’t all behave the same, they aren’t all interested in the same things, and certainly their purchase motivations differ.  

By taking a holistic approach to audience research, we unveil untapped demographic cohorts and interests.  

At Dig & Dig, we leverage a suite of ad tech tools to paint a complete picture of our audience targets. We combine a brand’s first-party data with third-party insights, revealing valuable opportunities. 

Growth happens when you take the blinders off. 

Overlooking Audience Segmentation

Social platforms are constantly refining their targeting algorithms to take the guesswork out of planning. Meta’s Advantage+ is certainly a prime example of this, using machine learning to dynamically determine your ideal audience. And while there are certainly advantages to automation (re: efficiencies), it’s often the well-researched audience segments that drive lasting business impact (re: SEO Land’s test results). 

When targeting too broadly, ad spend is wasted. Implementing a campaign architecture that balances segmentation with broad targeting allows for rapid learning and scalable growth. 

Ignoring Platform Specific Features

Social algorithms like it when you use their features. Each platform has unique targeting tactics tailor-made for the way their audience is engaging on the platform, and ignoring these platform-specific capabilities can hinder performance. To use Meta as an example again, not including Custom Audiences or Lookalike Audiences can limit your campaign’s ability to reach relevant audiences.  

Neglecting Retargeting and Exclusions

Fueling a strong retargeting campaign is imperative to any successful social plan to break through saturated feeds. Brands must plan with frequency in mind: 2-3x weekly exposures at minimum is recommended to boost ad recall. When we’re auditing social accounts, one of the mistakes we see in retargeting campaigns is failing to include all sources available. Most always retargeting web visitors is included, but its crucial to build audiences that have engaged with your other brand assets – videos, ads, profiles. Understanding that initial engagement is critical to know how to effectively drive follow-up engagement.  

To that end, audiences that have already converted – or who’ve expressed disinterest – should be excluded from your campaigns. Neglecting to exclude irrelevant audiences wastes ad spend, simple as that. 

Lack of Creative Optimization

Targeting mistakes aren’t limited to audiences, this also extends to ad creatives too. Using the same ad creative across different audience segments or failing to optimize ad visuals and copy for each platform’s unique audience can result in low engagement and ad fatigue. A well-structured content plan will reduce friction at each communication point to drive positive engagements. 

So, there you have it – five common targeting mistakes to steer clear of in your paid strategy. As paid media experts, our job is to ensure every dollar spent delivers maximum ROI. By avoiding these pitfalls and fine-tuning your targeting approach, you can be well on your way to driving more qualified leads, boosting conversions, and achieving your growth objectives. Happy targeting!  

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