From Broad to Specific: 10 Targeting Mistakes to Avoid in Digital Advertising

Published on: July 7, 2023

Long gone are the days when you advertised and needed to set a budget solely for a billboard, magazine, or physical flyer, expecting that someone from your target audience would view your ad. 

When thinking back on how things worked, it was a little wild paying thousands of dollars for a billboard or a television ad just because thousands or millions of people would view it. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What about the millions of Americans that watch the Superbowl commercials? That must be a great investment. The issue, though, is that only a hand full of businesses are actually able to pay for a 30-second ad for Superbowl Sunday.  

In this day and age, digital marketing makes it possible to target a higher percentage of the audiences you need seeing your content, driving them to a landing page with a call to action to complete a goal that you have chosen as a success for your marketing strategy. 

Digital marketing makes it easier for a business to target specific audiences to help bring more traffic to their sites, ensuring a higher client base.   

With the increase of competition in every industry and the growth of new platforms to place an ad on, segmenting or targeting the right audience is key to reaching results (sales or lead generation). 

You might have the perfect product or service, but if you are not sharing content with the right audiences, it will be hard for those sales or leads to pour in, and QBRs will start to be even more stressful due to the low performance you might have. 

The design of a great ad is only half of the battle; placing the ad in front of your ideal customer will make you win the battle and see those returns. 

Today, I want to share 10 mistakes businesses make when targeting their audiences that can help take your digital advertising campaign to the next level: 

  1. Targeting too Broad of an Audience
  2. Targeting too Small of an Audience
  3. Testing only a Single Audience 
  4. Failing to understand that not everyone will want to buy your products
  5. Not Using the Facebook Audience Insights
  6. Not creating Data segments in Google or Analytics and looking at these insights. 
  7. Only focusing on demographic and not psychographic information.
  8. Ignoring your sales team’s feedback.
  9. Not knowing how your client uses your product or service.
  10. Not interacting with your audience.

#1 Targeting too Broad of an Audience

You might say that the phrase, “the more, the merrier,” is good for everything, but when you are spending thousands of dollars without seeing a positive return, you will quickly find out that this proverb is not true when targeting the wrong audience. 

Many times we tend to follow the strategies of big brands that have had great success over the years.  Brands such as Netflix, Cocal-Cola, Amazon, Budweiser, and McDonald’s invest millions of dollars a month in advertising. It seems that they don’t care about the cost; they only want their brand everywhere. 

Even though it seems that way, the truth is these big companies will only advertise where they know their targeted audiences are. 

Take into account that not everyone is looking for your product or service, not everyone is ready to buy your product or service, and not everyone knows that they need your product or service. 

Make sure you’re showing your conversion ads only to the audience that is ready to buy. Only 3% of your entire targeted audience is ready to buy, so thinking that showing more ads will equal a higher conversion volume, might only equal higher cost per conversion, and that will not look good on your next QBR. 

Remove your budget from all traffic that might drive unqualified traffic. Instead of creating one big audience, build many smaller ones so that you can test which one work best. 

Having smaller audiences allows your strategy to develop unique messaging for each audience, turning your ads more appealing to the segment you want as customers.

#2 Targeting too Small of an Audience

Yes, I know. I just told you not to target a big audience and now not to target a small audience. 

But wait, let me explain. 

It is true that 3% of people in your universe are ready to buy, but having too small an audience will decrease your traffic, will not use the entire budget you have for your campaign, and will not drive the results you are looking for. 

Make sure your audiences are at least more than 50,000 potential users to get enough data to optimize your strategy. You have to generate traffic to know what works and what does not work. 

Don’t only focus on age and location; make sure you select behaviors your target audience makes on social media, search engines, or any other online channel. Segment by type as if you were describing a specific person. 

Being too specific might decrease the reach of your ads, but also being too broad, might lead your conversion ads to drive unqualified traffic. 

#3 Testing only a Single Audience 

Even though you might be focused on specific products or services, your audience might use your offer differently than intended. 

People use a specific product differently! Who would think that the regular white glue kids use in school could be used in so many different ways? 

Parents use white glue for home projects with their kids or as part of the school materials their child needs to have. 

Woodworkers use white glue to bind pieces of wood together. 

DIY decorators can follow trends from TikTok and use white glue as a low-budget window frost solution to get more privacy.

One product–three different user profiles. 

In this case, one size does NOT fit all. Not only from a messaging perspective but if you put all of these profiles in one audience, it might get too big or too small if you only target one audience. 

Always test two to three different audiences to understand where the results are coming from. 

Digital marketing is all about analyzing data because data will tell you what is spending advertising dollars and what is driving a positive ROI.   

#4 Failing to understand that not everyone will want to buy your products

I have a secret for you, not everyone thinks your product or service is amazing. 

No, it is not because your products or services are bad, but it might be due to your audience not being aware that the problem they have can be fixed with the products you sell, or they might not need the product at the moment. 

DON’T focus only on conversion, on the buy now, on the let’s talk today, or the book today type of messages. 

Build different messages in your strategy that will allow you to attract new audiences and have them consider your product or service so that you can make them think of your product as a future solution. 

Use Remarketing to drive audiences from one stage of your buyer’s journey to the next. 

Not using remarketing to move audiences from one stage to the next will make you throw away all the effort and money you spent designing astonishing creatives. 

Build remarketing audiences to capture all engaged traffic and send them to the next step in your buyer’s journey until you make them convert.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a 100 mts. sprint. 

#5 Not Using the Facebook Audience Insights

Maybe the Audience insight tool is not as cool as it was back in 2018, but it does provide enough data for you to understand how your audience will be seeing your ads. 

Understanding the ages, the pages that are most popular, and what resonates better with the interest you selected will give you the knowledge for you to focus on your ads. 

You will understand how and to whom you should direct your messaging, giving you an idea, not only for audiences on Facebook and Instagram but also for all other channels, such as Google, TikTok, or Reddit, on what to write and images you can use on your creatives. 

It is a great start to your advertising knowing if your audience is too big or too small, if you need to separate an audience and create different ones, or if you need to join different audiences. These insights will make all the difference in your results and make your ads more appealing. 

Before pouring in thousands of dollars, get informed of who will be seeing your ads, allowing you to adapt them to the different audiences that will get to interact with your ads. 

#6 Not creating Data segments in Google or Analytics and looking at these insights.

The long-lost benefit from Facebook Audience Insight tool can be found, in a way, in Google Ads. The information is not as specific, but it will definitely provide the data you need to make a much better decision on audience-building.

Yes, data segments are mostly used to set conversion or micro-conversion goals, but use them to spy on the traffic you get on your website or landing page or, even better, get a list of emails and phone numbers from your customers to get insights of who they are, and apply the audience to your ongoing strategy to get better results.

With data segment, you can

  • Create a segment for traffic that visited a specific page. 
  • Create a segment for traffic who interacted with any of your apps. 
  • Create a segment for traffic who interacted with any of your YouTube videos. 
  • Create a segment for existing clients.
  • Create a custom combination segment of different segments in your audience manager. 

The data insight section in your audience manager will provide data such as age, location, device, and Google category segmentations for the specific data segment you create. 

It is one of the best. free ways to spy on the traffic that is interacting with your content or website. 

#7 Only focusing on demographic data and not psychographic data information.

Demographic data (age, location, gender, etc.) is only 10% of the power any advertising platform has. 

You are able to be more specific with the traffic you want to reach, and all advertising platforms will categorize each user by the content they interact with. 

Think about the white glue example on mistake #3. How would you describe each profile? What type of content will they interact with online? Do you think they will all interact with the same type of content? 

If you only focus on demographic data, you will be treating everyone the same, and there is no “one size fits all.” Everyone is different, and everyone should be targeted differently. 

Comparison Chart

Don’t only focus on the 10%, get the full 100% using psychographic traits in your audiences. 

#8 Ignoring your sales team’s feedback.

Yeah, Yeah, I know. The sales team may only have “more leads” when they speak, but they get to speak with every single client. 

They understand their issues, the phrases they use to label a problem, and what type of persona is contacting them and working in favor for the company.   

Within the first 30 seconds of a call, they understand how to profile a person to pick the best script to get them the commissions. 

Their knowledge is useful to profile persona and use psychographic information to build your audiences. They are profiling King or Queens, and what they know, will make all the difference in the audiences you are using to drive results with your strategy. 

#9 Not knowing how your client uses your product or service.

Just like mistake #3, different profiles will use your product differently. 

Who would have thought that Ocean Spray cranberry juice could be used for urinary tract infections, for mixing it with different alcoholic drinks, or drinking it just because it tastes good and is so refreshing?  

During 2020, Ocean Spray saw a huge increase in sales due to a TikTok trend where a man drank the cranberry juice while riding his skateboard to work. Knowing how your audience is using your product will let you adjust your audience and act quickly to help results increase by targeting the user profile that is consuming your product in a different way for which the product was intended. 

Different persona profiles might use your product differently, and, in turn, you will have to target each profile differently. 

#10 Not interacting with your audience.

When was the last time you picked up the phone and a stranger was offering you a product or service and bought it? 

Or, when was the last time you needed something done in your house and picked the first company that came up on your Google search? 

Maybe never. 

People only buy from companies they know. 

Don’t focus only on conversion ads. Allow your audience to get to know you with awareness and consideration content to warm them up first. Make them fall in love with your brand, and then reel them in with conversion ads. 

Not knowing your audience is why mistake #4 plays an important role in the success of your strategy. 

The same way you attracted your best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, attract your company’s audience. Let them get to know you first with relevant content that shows and builds trust around the solution of the problem you can fix, before making them commit to a decision to buy your product or service. 


Stop these mistakes in your audience segmentations, and in the next QBR, your boss will give you that promotion you are looking for. 

Audience building is a marathon. It will take analyzing and optimizing, and then some more analyzing and optimizing, to build success consistently. 

Let us know if you have any questions; we would love to help you find your ideal target audience. 

Peter Traña




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