Targeting for impact

5 minute read

Media is getting more complicated. There are more channels to consider, more ways to use them and audiences are fragmenting across them. It’s never been more challenging to reach an audience.

Media has also become less understood in our current time within both marketing departments and agencies. Ebiquity, a global media research company, has called the media knowledge gap a critical issue for today’s marketers – as essential as the creative crisis – contributing to the erosion of marketing effectiveness. Canada Post Smartmail Marketing™ research1 conducted in late 2019 on cross-channel media understanding and perceptions found the same media knowledge gap.

More than a space to deliver a message, media constitutes the primary consumer relationship you are leveraging. Media design requires a deep and unbiased understanding of your audiences’ media choices in real life. You need to know how they feel about each channel in the moment of engagement.

Media bandwidth is throttled, attention is fragmented, interruptions are resented and third-party cookies are crumbling (don’t let the latest Google Chrome delay give you a false sense of security). We need to re-examine how we use media to reach and engage audiences –particularly now given the current market volatility influencing people’s attitudes and behaviors.

This re-evaluation will centre around the ability to translate consumer identity – what motivates, influences and moves someone – into audience targeting criteria that will drive advantage through the customer journey and within different channels.

Make audience targeting more effective

Presence and targeting are the cornerstones of media planning. Your brand needs to build a presence within the customer journey to ensure people see you at the right time, in influential or engaged environments with contextually relevant messages.

Start with the fundamentals

Fundamentally, targeting is about defining whom you want to talk to and why. This sounds simple, but it’s where a lot of marketing impact is lost. Do you know enough about whom you are targeting and what characteristics are the most valuable for media targeting?

Market segmentation and audience targeting need to look for the differences that matter and the attributes that are most valuable for media targeting.

What characteristics will improve reach, attention or will address intent? What environments improve trust and influence?
What contexts will improve interest and exploration?

For instance, the home is becoming a critical environment in the path to purchase for acquisition, cross-sell and customer experience. A study conducted by PebblePost, a leading digital-to-direct mail marketing platform, reveals:

The central role of the home, coupled with 90% of intent data available online and 90% of purchases occurring offline, means that marketers must align digital and traditional marketing strategies – including direct mail – to maximize ROI and drive conversions across every purchase channel.



Home is at the Heart of Commerce Marketing, 2019.

For innovative media solutions, talk to a Canada Post Smartmail Marketing™ expert. We’re here to help.

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Align media investments and audience targeting

Media investments are often determined based on a percentage of revenue, the share of voice or objectives. Understanding the impact of your audience on investment is also essential. An effective media strategy should answer the following questions:

  • How hard is your audience to reach and influence over what purchase lifecycle, in what category?
  • Where can media breakthrough?
  • What level of personalization is needed?
  • What channels (paid, owned and earned) provide the right mix of scale, context and time horizons?

Investments are often not aligned to audience targeting objectives but on media bias. Research by Epsilon found that while 70% of digital investment is in walled gardens, 67% of digital audience interaction falls outside – an indication of misalignments between ad investment and audience investment.

Ebiquity confirmed the channel bias in media but also showed that direct mail is one of the most underestimated channels regarding audience impact. These misalignments can be avoided when we start targeting and working with people’s real media lives.

Understand targeting dimensions

The future of audience targeting won’t be encapsulated in a single solution of behaviour-based third-party cookies. We are moving toward multi-solution targeting based on identity – our demographic traits, interests, values, needs, mindsets, behaviours and contexts. Understanding what types of targeting attributes, or combinations, will help achieve objectives is the art and science of audience targeting within and across channels.

When understanding audience targeting variables, we often overlook the data accessible through the postal code. The postal code itself is an invaluable identifier, but the data inside our homes provides a robust, stable data set to enhance audience understanding and profiling across multiple targeting dimensions. You can find out more about:

  • Age, household structure and income
  • Household ownership, dwelling type and length of time lived at an address
  • Online shopping behaviour and category spending indicators
  • Pet and car ownership
  • Life stage, lifestyle clusters, interests and hobbies

Find the right fit for optimal audience targeting

When choosing channels, brands should ask themselves whether they can reach enough of their target audience in the requisite timescale and if the medium, or media mix, will deliver the right levels of affinity and action required.

The right time, place and message can be a complicated thing to figure out. This challenge can be simplified by mapping the customer journey from a truly customer-centric perspective. Scale and personalization both have a role to play in audience targeting – they work together. People need to see a brand out there in the world to build social currency, while they also need brands to speak to them personally. The right media design should be layered, orchestrated and sequenced to deliver the right mix of scale, timing and personalization.

Canada Post Smartmail Marketing™ offers a comprehensive suite of targeting dimensions and data services to help marketers define targeting criteria.

Canada Post Neighbourhood Mail™ connects you to every home and apartment in specific neighbourhoods across Canada. Maximize audience reach and geofence using broader targeting attributes like driving route, household income and trading zone boundaries.

Postal Code Targeting increases relevance and composition without personalization for acquisition efforts where your targeting criteria are narrower or psychographic. Efficiently optimize acquisition and promotional efforts with customer suppression.

Personalized Mail™ enhances one-to-one customer engagement and retention. Layer postal code data onto existing customers to find look-alike audiences or upload postal code data to digital ad platform profiles to bring an omni-channel approach to addressability. Deepen brand experience, increase personalization and lifetime value or learn more about them.

Direct mail can also be delivered programmatically based on digital interactions on owned channels, which can be targeted at any of the three levels of precision.

Make data tangible

Data visualization tools can add new layers of insight, relevance and influence to your audience targeting and media use. Visualizing data makes it easier to identify actionable insights and hone the targeting criteria and strategies most valuable to your campaign goals. Visualization puts data on a map to help you see geospatial patterns, outliers, and opportunities.

Canada Post’s new data visualization tool maps out your data so you can visually explore targeting opportunities. You can overlay your customer data, store locations, competitor data, mobile foot traffic data, demographics and other Canada Post proprietary data. It can produce multiple data overlays to make data more tangible, connecting the dots in new ways so that you can create a multi-dimensional picture of targeting opportunity.

Advertisers must re-evaluate how to identify, target and engage audiences in a compliant, brand-safe way that does not compromise user experience or marketing effectiveness. The evidence tells us that direct mail, postal code data and the home can add value to modern marketing strategies when audience targeting.

By thinking more about what you need from data to reach, relate to and activate your desired audience, the performance of each channel will become more effective. When considering what data, you need for effective audience targeting don’t overlook the potential of people’s homes.


1 Canada Post. Canadian Marketing Trends Survey, Canada Post Smartmail Marketing, 2019.

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