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How to Target Audiences in Paid Search

There’s a similarity that some businesses on the market for paid search services have in common when how they would define success for a campaign, and that’s simply “more traffic”. While more traffic is always a great thing, what they really are saying when they want “more traffic” is “more revenue or leads”. In an ideal world, it’s a perfect formula:

More traffic = More revenue / leads

But here’s the kicker: we don’t live in a perfect world. While paid search can bring traffic to your website all day long, that doesn’t mean that the traffic that lands on your website will result in more conversions. In fact, you’ll more than likely find that because this traffic isn’t qualified, your conversion rate will probably drop altogether. That’s why you need to target your ads that an audience that align your business goals with their needs. Let’s dig deeper.

What Is Targeting?

When you create an ad, you want to make sure that your ad is shown to the right people at the right time. Search engines and other ad platforms give you multiple targeting capabilities that help you define what audience will see your particular ad. There are different types of targeting usually revolving around:

  • Keywords
  • Locations
  • Devices
  • Audiences

Keywords - Choose words or phrases that are most applicable to your services or products. These can be words that users are searching for when they are searching keywords or queries relevant to your ads.

Locations - Choose geographic locations, such as cities, regions, or countries, and languages based on where your customer based is located.

Devices - Choose devices, such as mobile, desktop, or tablet, to show your ads to audiences.

Audiences - Choose remarketing campaigns that will target audiences that have visited your website previously.

You can learn more about Google’s targeting at their AdWords Help section.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Researching and understanding the audience you are trying to target is the most important part of your paid search campaign. The reason being, without this fundamental and foundational element, the rest of the process will fail. When researching your audience, you are focused on two things:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics

When we talk about demographics, we are looking at things like age, gender, location, income, job title, etc., and when we talk about psychographics, we are looking at things like personalities, values, beliefs, and more. In order to find these aspects of your audience, you can look at your Google Analytics Audience Report, or you could go straight to the source and learn from those who have bought from you by:

  • Researching your current customers
  • Ask them questions / give them surveys
  • Study their actions online

Data is everywhere, but when you survey and make your customers a part of the process you do two things: you get invaluable insights that will help your marketing efforts and you also engage your customers. Doing this makes your customers feel listened to and gives your brand a human element that so many of want from our business interactions. Ask the right questions and learn more about who you should be targeting with data and feedback from those who have purchased from you.

What Kind Of Searches Are They Doing?

Now that you’ve defined your audience, it’s important that you understand the different types of searches they are conducting and what part of the funnel those searches fall into. Searches usually will fall into one of the three categories:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Transactional

An informational search is one where users are looking for are looking for, oddly enough, information. They aren’t looking to necessarily purchase anything or looking for a specific brand, but instead have a general interest or question about a product, service, or topic. These are usually more broad searches as opposed to specifics.

A navigational search is one where users are searching specifically for a brand or a well-known name. More often than not, users are searching for a brand’s website or direct marketing channel when they conduct these searches.

A transactional search is one where users are searching with the intent to complete a purchase or take an action. These are usually searches conducted where searchers are looking for specific products or services in which they intend to purchase.

When you begin a paid search campaign, it’s important that you know what types of searches you need to be bidding on. If you do not, you could potentially be wasting money on searches that aren’t relevant to your business, or worse, your audience.

With tools like Keyword Planner and opportunities like surveying your audience, you can get a more in-depth idea of what users are searching for when they are looking into your industry’s products or services. This tool will help you look into data for search terms such as search volume, competition, seasonality, and also rough bid amounts. Knowing this information will help you develop multiple pieces of content that fall into your funnel and having information readily available based on your keywords. For instance:

  • Product / service pages
  • Blog content
  • Features and testimonial pages
  • Comparison pages
  • Webinars, ebooks, videos
  • And more

Make sure when you’re bidding that you have the landing pages you need in place with the proper information to keep your users satisfied and moving down the funnel.

Make Sure Your Copy And Landing Pages Are On Point

When you target your audience with ads, you want to make sure that the page that they will ultimately land on lives up to promise of the ad. You’ll need to make sure:

  • Your ad copy matches the copy of the landing page
  • You have a decided “goals” for your landing page
  • Keep your calls to action within view of the user
  • Have a “unique selling proposition
  • Have compelling images
  • Remove navigation and links to keep users on the page
  • List benefits of using your service or products

When a user conducts a search and clicks your advertisement, they have expectations, and it’s your responsibility to ensure your ads and landing pages match up to meet those expectations. By taking the extra time to research your audience, what they searching, what ad copy you need, and how your landing pages are setup, you stand to be more successful with your advertising campaigns.

Here’s a great resource from Kissmetrics on how to setup the perfect landing page.


Remember, paid search should always have a solid strategy behind it:

  • Who are you trying to attract?
  • What are they searching for?
  • What copy or content are you missing in attracting them?

Throwing money at search engines or other ad channels to simply garner more traffic isn’t a strategy - it’s reckless. Before starting a paid search or ad campaign, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. You need to understand how your audience is searching and how your copy, content and website can benefit their searches. If you fail to do so, you’re not investing in a solid marketing channel; you’re literally throwing money out the window.

If you have questions about paid search or other paid media channels, feel free to contact us at Marcel Digital. Our experts are always ready to learn more about your business needs and help where they can! But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at our customer success stories!

  • Paid Media

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About the author

Morgan Oakes

Morgan is the Paid Media Director at Marcel Digital, specializing in creative ways to provide solutions in paid advertising platforms for all types of goals.