news / tech talk


by Lee LeClair
As seen in Inside Tucson Business

Microtargeting is a term used most often to describe a method of targeting voters in recent elections, but it could be an effective way to advertise for any size business. It refers to a variation of direct marketing in which large and sophisticated databases are analyzed to segment groups of likely customers and tailor a message for each group that is most likely to “sell” that group. In election form, microtargeting takes voter specific data (e.g., party, voting frequency, contributions, etc.) and combines it with commercial data to create an individual profile. Similar profiles can then be segmented into groups most likely to respond to specific tailored messages.

As I mentioned, this is simply a variation of known direct marketing techniques but the interesting thing is that in some ways, political microtargeting improves upon traditional direct marketing. Traditional direct marketing uses data analysis to target population segments and then delivers a tailored message via radio, TV, print ads, and telemarketing. Political microtargeting does that too but also mobilizes volunteers to physically visit people using Geographic Information System (GIS) data.

This is where the political microtargeting variation can be re-incorporated into commercial use: application of data analysis to identify targeted user demographics, creation of tailored messages based on the grouping, and then including physical mapping data to pinpoint target groups with various media advertising. Rather than spending resources on broad target messages, tailored messages targeted to the most likely to be interested consumers provides more efficient marketing dollars spent and greater return for the investment.

What does all this advertising and market-speak have to do with technology? At base all direct marketing systems rely on skillful data mining and analysis, slicing and dicing that data into useful profiles and targets, creating tailored messages, providing follow up (more information and support if requested), and finally providing an easy action for the consumer to complete. To be effective, a business owner needs to be able develop or obtain services to accomplish ALL of these steps or the process won’t be as effective as it should be. Keeping up with technology also keeps a business in the lead with innovative ways to distribute information. For example, allowing users to easily request a text message with your business address, email, and telephone numbers is a great tool now that sophisticated phones and text messaging are so pervasive. Easy access to GPS or GIS coordinates will probably be next.

While it’s tempting to hope that a slick advertising firm can do everything you need, we urge our clients to participate in the process. Consultants may tell you otherwise but few people know your customers and your business as well as you do. Let service providers offer advice and best practice for their areas of expertise, but stay involved and provide as much input as possible about your experience with your business and customer habits.

Lee Le Clair is the CTO at Ephibian. His Tech Talk column appears the third week of each month in Inside Tucson Business