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by Nathan S

There are a lot of metrics and data out there for online marketing professionals. With these metrics, it is possible to target in ways which were never thought possible in the mid-90s. This new era of targeted marketing has a lot of people excited—it is now possible to display an advertisement which addresses very narrow audiences with very specific wants and needs. However, all of these metrics and all of the data points in the world only ever help you decide who you want to reach with your product or service. What they don’t tell you is what to say to these audiences.

The truth is, the most targeted ad campaigns, as well as the broadest, succeed or fail based primarily on content. Whether it is a billboard on the interstate or a Google AdWords campaign, knowing your audience is half the battle. So what is all of this targeting and analytics research about? Knowing your audience. That means, necessarily, that all of this targeting and analytics research is half the battle at best, and that assumes that this is the only thing you use to identify your audience!

What’s the other half, then? The other half, I would say, boils down to making a connection with your audience. I would contest that there are two general things rolled up into this—actually being seen and making a connection when you are seen. The first part is about location, media buys, and the like. The work to be found is certainly not small, especially in crowded industries. However, most people have an understanding already of the importance of being seen, and are therefore willing to put a lot of money into making sure they are seen.

The second part—making a connection when you are seen—often falls to the wayside as a result. However, this piece of the puzzle is by far the most powerful. A company can get the other two parts of a successful ad campaign down—they can be seen everywhere, and have an incredibly clear idea of who they are addressing with this ad campaign. However, if this idea does not come out correctly in the content, they are not connecting with their audience. When the whole goal of marketing and advertising is to generate interest in your company, not connecting with your audience means a campaign with meager success at best.

So, what creates that connection? Content! The actual words, images, and layout which your audience sees are what determine their reaction to your campaign. The consumer does not care that you learned all about their hobbies, location, and favorite color (and in fact might be disturbed to find out you did so). Learning these things are great; having a great location for your content is great; but if you don’t have great content, your campaign is going to miss with consumers. Content is king. Even in an era where we have more data than we know what to do with, content is what markets companies.

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