8 min read

Targeted Selling

Apr 1, 2022 12:39:27 PM

You make a purchase, and the brand recommends a product that pairs well with your purchase.

You search for a category of products and receive ads on Facebook for the major sellers of those products.

You browse a company’s website and receive a coupon from that company in your inbox a few days later.

In each of those cases, you have experienced targeted selling. Targeted selling is a powerful marketing strategy that dates back a long time. With the vast amount of data we have access to, plus the sophistication of modern marketing technology, targeted selling is more effective than ever.

Today’s post will outline the benefits of targeted selling, some examples of how the strategy comes to life, and how it can potentially help your business. 

What Is Targeted Selling?

We’ll start with a definition. Targeted selling is not all that complicated as an idea. Simply put, targeted selling is the practice of distributing content and sales strategies to customers specifically based on the data you know about them.”

In traditional marketing, this often came down to demographics. You’ve likely heard of the term “target market.” 

A target market is a group of individuals who fulfill desirable demographic criteria based on who you are trying to sell to. Your research team might develop a target market based on age, gender, race, religion; you name it. With that information, the marketing and media team develops content and advertising that speaks directly to those people in the places they tend to be.

Now, with access to technology and data tracking, we can get far more specific about how we target. Of course, we still rely on demographics, but the more valuable asset is behavior. Behavior tells us a lot more about how an individual makes a decision. 

When we use behavioral data to back targeted selling, we can impact individuals at scale with a wave of truly personalized messaging. 

You can target sales strategies to people based on the following data points:

Customer information

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Profile preferences
  • Loyalty program status
  • Geolocation
  • Language

Machine information

  • Operating system
  • Device
  • Referral source
  • Connection speed

Cookies — if your site enables them and your customer okays the use of their cookies.

  • Date since their last visit
  • New or returning customer
  • Affiliate code

Order history

  • Purchase trends in the market
  • Average order size
  • Frequency of purchases

On-Site Behavior

  • Clicks
  • Browsing history
  • Idling
  • Search terms
  • Cart history
  • Items they are keeping an eye on
  • Products reviewed

Clearly, we are in no shortage of available data. The question is, what are you going to do with it?

What Does Targeted Selling Look Like?

Targeted selling is really an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of sales strategies. Here is a comprehensive overview of where you can install targeted selling strategies:


  • Email marketing
  • Social media paid advertisements
  • Banner advertisements
  • YouTube pre-roll
  • Search and SEO
  • Website landing pages
  • SMS


  • Coupons and promotional deals
  • Loyalty program pricing


  • Location-based optimization
  • Language-based optimization
  • Responsive mobile design

Customer service

  • Live chat

The sky is really the limit. Imagine every strategy your team employs in marketing and sales, then add an edge of personalization. Now you’re talking targeted selling. 

Does Targeted Selling Work?

Of course, the all-important question is, is targeted selling worth the effort? Make no mistake; some effort is required to create an effective targeted sales strategy, especially on the technology front. Automation and algorithm-based recommendations take time and tweaking before they start to see returns. 

What The Data Says

Let’s start with the data, as it’s especially irrefutable.

74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement, and they see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized experiences. We’ve been in the marketing business a long time, and we haven’t seen any strategy more effective than segmentation and personalization. It just works.

Furthermore, customers expect it. Most customers appreciate a note of personalization within their email inbox, where, again, they expect to see promotional material. But targeted selling isn’t just about recommendations and sales messaging. It’s really about treating your customer like a human being with unique interests and desires. That’s the heart of strong customer service.

If you need a data point to support building quality customer service, well 96% of consumers agree that customer service is important when it comes to the brands they choose to be loyal to. A bad experience can swear them off for life.

What The Experience Says

The data all points to targeted and personalized selling being effective, but it’s no wonder if you really take a look at how it improves the experience.

For a moment, let’s consider the storefront analog to the strategies we’re talking about today. You walk into a flower shop and are greeted by the manager, who asks if they can help you. You tell them you’re looking for a bouquet for your spouse for your anniversary. The florist asks you what colors your spouse likes, how much you’re looking to spend, and then makes recommendations on the flowers that are in season and blooming.

Compare that to the experience you would have if the manager was in the backroom and you had to put together a bouquet on your own.

The former experience is highly personalized, resulting in a better product and a better interaction with a brand than the latter. Personalization is a win for both the customer and the seller, not to mention the spouse receiving a bouquet tailored to their tastes.

Are you starting to see how effective this strategy can be?

How Can You Employ Targeted Selling?

Let’s get into some concrete examples of how targeted selling can come to life. As much as we love our flower shop analogy, we will focus on digital mediums. It’s 2022, after all. 

Build Complex Email Marketing Flow Charts

Our first tip is to get deep into the weeds on email marketing flow charts. The more complicated you can make a flow chart, the more variables you can add, the more personalized your content is.

You can learn a little more about types of flow charts in our blog post here, but the overview is that a flow chart defines how and when a customer will receive an email. Depending on how they engage with the email, they’ll be placed into a different category of customer who receives a different type of email. This cycle continues until the customer either makes a sale, unsubscribes, or reaches the end of the campaign.

Depending on their behavior, you can add customers to unique email campaigns. Here are a few to consider:

  • Welcome email campaigns: The first messaging you send to customers after they opt-in to your email list.
  • Abandonment email campaigns: A series of reminder emails that a customer has either not added any items to their cart after browsing, or they’ve abandoned items in their cart.
  • Re-engagement email campaigns: Email messaging focused on welcoming the customer back in after a designated lapse of interaction. 
  • Promotional email campaigns: Alerting customers of a sale that falls within their interests and aligns with their past behavior. 
  • Post-purchase email campaigns: A series of emails you send after a customer makes a purchase, including confirmation, shipping information, and a request for feedback.

All of these email campaigns lend themselves well to targeted selling. The more specific you can make the content within the email as well as the in-line copy (subject line, sender handle, etc.), the better.

Allow Users To Customize Recommendations

It’s a fallacy that customers don’t appreciate product recommendation algorithms and promotional content. In fact, 35% of purchases made on Amazon are inspired by product recommendations coming directly from the brand. The only case where customers may not enjoy these recommendations is when a brand’s algorithm is weak and is making faulty recommendations.

Sometimes it’s just because of limited product supply or an unsophisticated recommender. Other times it’s because the device is shared among several people. Consider a family computer — how does a brand distinguish between whether the person looking at the site is a mom, dad, or child?

That’s why it’s a good idea to put some power in the hands of the customers.

If your business appeals to people across demographics, consider adding profiles to your website, similar to how Netflix does. It’s a simple but effective way to ensure that the experience — which is the most important thing — is tailored to whoever is browsing. 

You can also add tick boxes to your cart check-out page so customers can indicate whether or not they want product recommendations based on this product. That’s useful if they’re purchasing a gift that they would never ordinarily buy for themselves.

Enabling customers to receive a better experience isn’t just for them. Every time they customize a feature, they’re providing you with useful data.

Consider Integrating SMS Into Your Strategy

Less than ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable that consumers would opt-in to text message-based marketing from brands and celebrities. Today, the world of SMS is thriving.

SMS marketing is 1:1 communication with a consumer, not entirely dissimilar from email marketing, except that the tone tends to be far more conversational, the form relies more on text than imagery, and the objective tends to be slightly more customer service-based.

The benefit of using SMS is that the engagement is high and quick. People read their texts more often than they read their emails, and if they’ve opted-in for messaging, they’re likely quite interested in hearing from the brand.

Personalized SMS is a great way to let a customer know if a product they’ve been tracking has gone on sale or is available after being out of stock. You can also provide details on shipping updates if they’ve made a purchase and collect feedback directly from SMS. The low-barrier interaction with the customer is an asset for the brand.

What To Avoid With Targeted Selling

We’d be remiss not to mention some things to avoid with targeted selling. Perhaps the most important is making uninformed recommendations. A radically off-base suggestion can do more damage than you may think.

Always perform quality assurance so you know links are working, the products you’re suggesting are available, and the algorithm is listening to what customers are asking for.

Lastly, don’t make the mistake of targeting without measuring. Analytics are your friend.

A Few Last Thoughts

Targeted selling is one of the most powerful ways to reach your customer. We’d love to talk about it more with you and your team to see how we can help you reap the benefits of personalization. 



The Power of Email Personalization to Reach Humans (Not Just Inboxes) | Campaign Monitor

Why Customer Service is Important: 16 Data-Backed Facts to Know | Hubspot

How Retailers Can Keep Up With Consumers | Mckinsey & Company

Written by Jason Boehle