How to Market to Individuals, Not Audiences

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by Chelsea Terris

The phrase “marketing to individuals” sounds like something robots do to learn about human behavior.

This is true in the sense that internet marketers in 2013 need to re-humanize their outreach efforts to benefit from Google’s current interest in and ability to monitor each person’s unique search queries.

Marketing to individual and not audiences is about behaving like a human with other humans while marketing services and products to them. It’s about “being yourself” – a person who cares about the details of other people’s lives – in an online outreach and public relations capacity.

Viewing and treating potential clients like unique individuals requires a change of mind. You are no longer marketing to large demographic groups, like these android users in India (below).


Each group in the graphic, which includes thousands of users, is clearly marked by a faceless image attached to a percentage. What that percentage of 18-24 year old Indian youths leaves out is a series of diversifying details that make each user unique and desiring of a particular aspect of mobile technology. The missing facts and qualities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Gender
  • Types of searches using mobile

  • Hobbies

  • Education

  • Career path

  • Birth order

  • Favorite X-Men character

You get the idea.

Many of these specifics could be vital to marketing a product or service to a single consumer, but prior to mainstreamed internet technology, specific targeting was viewed as too expensive.

Now, with Google tracking your every online action, from where you shop to what restaurants you choose for company happy hour, every outreach attempt, from Facebook ads to off-site articles, need to include a personal touch.

Tips for Inbound Marketers

It’s our job to write content, research links, and outreach ourselves silly until one or both stick. Here are a few tips to help you stay human through all the multi-tasking:


  • Target your clients’ clients! That’s right, I said “client’s clients!” Ask your clients about their regulars – no names, of course – and use that information to create relevant posts. As individuals respond to your posts, you can use Facebook Insights or Google Analytics to track what topics and types of content grab the most attention.  
  • Make contact with clients: I don’t just mean on your favorite social platform. Take the time to call or personally email clients and discuss upcoming blog posts and articles with them. If you post to their social pages, get their feedback about the content they would share if they were running their own Facebook, Twitter, and Google + (and while you’re at it, encourage them to share occasionally just to keep it real). Once again, by posting content that accurately represents your client’s business, you can monitor which posts get the most engagement and thus zero in on topics that matter to targeted individuals.


Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines. Why? One reason may be their exclusive-feeling peek into the lives of other individuals. Use this personal platform to optimize your targeting strategy:

  • Make magic with your links: Now that you know something about your client’s clients, include links in your environmental linking plan that cater to topics your target individuals have shown interest in. There’s nothing like rewarding a reader with a desired tidbit, especially when that tidbit converts them.

  • Share what YOU like: When sharing on social or blogging for clients, sharing/ writing within the scope of the industry AND the scope of your own interest can help to target individuals like yourself. If you’re interested, it is highly likely that other people will be too, both because of your enthusiasm and the must-share-now quality of the content.

More importantly, by writing for real people, you target real people. Writing for Google’s data crawlers will turn away any flesh-and-blood         humans and won’t convert bots with, say, plumbing issues (I’m sure they can fix those issues themselves).

  • Step into your clients’ clients shoes: Keyword targeting is essential, so pick a few terms and think about why the people you intend to convert might be drawn to them. You’ll gain a new perspective and effectuate spot-on targeting.


  • You can have your form letter and eat it, too: Having a working template when outreaching to sites or bloggers saves you time, but savvy Inbound Marketers personalize. Ever received an email addressing you as “Hello”? It’s abrupt, impersonal, and for some reason makes me feel as if I’ve been snuck up on.

Either address the email to a known contact or use phrases like “ Dear Team” or “Dear Editor” so your recipient can orient to your intention. You are writing to people who will sniff out your motivation for contacting them as quickly as they’ll break for lunch at noon, so use language to treat them better than just the barrier between you and a sweet link.

  • Emails in general: The average return on email marketing is $44.25 for every dollar spent. Email is a precious, personal method of outreach.

We writers tend to read and re-read our emails before sending for grammatical errors and clarity. How about reading for heart? Value? Be sure that emails, whether to clients, bloggers, or even co-workers, start to reflect an interest in your own species.

Craft newsletters and anything that does or could end up in someone’s inbox into little packages of awesome just waiting to be opened. Offering value is one of the more effective ways to say “You, Individual Person, matter, and I’d like to show you just how much with this free thing.” Companies who effectively touch members of their market can expect higher conversions.

ping-pong-robotsNurture vs. Nature?

Every individual we market to is a sales lead. 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is a common cause of this poor performance.

The term “nurturance” is in itself personal and means to “care for and encourage the growth or development of.”  To use human developmental language, we must appreciate individual nature enough to nurture it for increased ROI.

By focusing on individual marketing rather than lumping potential converts into massive, unspecific groups, we tend to each lead based on his or her unique circumstances and search preferences. If ever there was a way to organically grow leads into customers, individual marketing is it.