Cross-Device Targeting 101: How to Reach Your Audience, No Matter the Device They Use

More than half of local searches (such as “Locksmith Near Me”) occur on mobile devices, which is why you’ve likely been inundated with tips and advice on how to develop a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy.

There’s no question that mobile marketing is a necessity in 2016, 2017, and beyond.

Still, a significant number of people rely on laptops, desktops, and tablets at some point during their customer journey. They may start their search on their phones, while in line at a grocery store, but they might not complete their conversion until days later, at home, where they have access to a larger screen.

This type of cross-device experience is why your upcoming marketing strategy must factor in how you’ll reach your prospects on all available devices.

Fortunately, modern technology has helped give marketers more chances than ever to target customers and prospects on multiple devices, from desktop computers to tiny smartwatches.

Mastering the art and science of cross-device targeting will ensure that your multi-location business reaches the right customer, at the right time, with the type of message they simply can’t ignore.

First, understand the marketplace

The best way to develop a multichannel marketing approach is to first look at the behavior and demographics of your target customer.

  • 18-34 years: 97% of Millennials are mobile users, with 20% not using a desktop or laptop computer at all.
  • 35-54 years: Generation Xers have the highest percentage of multi-platform use (82%).
  • 55+: Fewer and fewer Baby Boomers rely solely on desktop/laptop devices (down to 26% in 2015 from 40% in 2013), but still, they remain the generation most reliant on larger, less mobile devices.

Armed with this data, you can now begin to develop your multichannel marketing strategy.

How to focus each of your channels on where it fits in the customer journey – The locksmith case study

Locksmiths have an incredibly diverse customer base. No matter how old you are, or what you do for a living, at some point in your life, you’ll likely need a locksmith, which is why this profession makes the perfect example for our case study. Let’s introduce Greg the Locksmith, from NYC. Greg’s potential customer base includes:

    1. College students/first-time renters (Millennials who accidentally lock themselves out of their apartments)
    2. Business owners (Generation Xers who rely on Greg for his expertise)
    3. Homeowners (Baby Boomers who require routine maintenance on locks and window guards)

Having a diverse audience base can be both a blessing and a burden. Sure, Greg’s expertise is needed by thousands of people in his immediate area. However, reaching these audience segments with targeted messaging can be a challenge. Greg wants to market his business, but he doesn’t want to alienate any of his prospects.

What should he do?

He develops a mobile-responsive website and has also begun to invest in online advertising. He decides to optimize his ads across multiple devices to get the most bang for his buck. Based on client feedback (from surveys and conversations he’s had) as well as the free data offered by Google Analytics, Greg discovers the following:

Mobile Devices

If and when a college student locks himself out of his apartment, there’s a very good chance that student will search for, and contact, a locksmith, all through a mobile device. Greg decides to optimize his website with a click-to-call button and begins to run Google AdWords with the call extension feature. That way, the college student in need only has to click a button on their mobile device to contact Greg directly.


Business owners in Greg’s immediate area tend to research different options before choosing a locksmith. Unlike the college student, the business owner isn’t typically in emergency mode and can afford the time for extensive research.

These business owners are comparing and contrasting different local options to find a trustworthy, professional locksmith who offers a fair price. This type of research typically requires a larger device, like a laptop or desktop computer. Besides, many business owners are Generation Xers, who are more than comfortable conducting online research across many devices.

Greg decides to target this audience segment with online ads that are primarily served on laptop/desktop/tablet computers.

The fact that these Generation Xers will eventually call Greg on their smartphones is irrelevant. He knows that he has to get in front of this audience early on in their customer journey, a journey that almost certainly will take place on a larger device. Once they find a suitable candidate from their desktops, they’ll then turn to their phones to make the conversion.

Knowing that his target audience is in a research/comparison phase, Greg incorporates Google testimonials into his ad copy, to demonstrate his experience and reputation. He then runs remarketing/retargeting ads that follow the online searcher around the internet for a month. That way his business stays top-of-the-mind as the customer embarks on his journey.

Greg will use a very similar approach when targeting homeowners who are a part of the Baby Boomer generation. He’ll adapt his keyword strategy, however, to center around home lock and security maintenance.

The current missing link with programmatic advertising and cross-device marketing

The one area where programmatic advertising currently falls short is with cross-device attribution to a single ID, which is particularly frustrating because of the proliferation of newer devices, like the Apple Watch and Amazon Echo Dot.

Marketers must be able to attribute data and behaviors from all of the devices a person uses to one single ID. That way, folks like Greg could use digital advertising to truly follow their target audience throughout their journey, no matter the device they use.

While this capability still isn’t available, you can expect that it will be sometime in the near future.

It’s not just about mobile

Most marketing blogs tout the importance of focusing on your mobile strategy. But that’s not really conveying the full picture. An incredibly large segment of the population uses several devices throughout the course of the day. Depending on where in the customer journey your prospects are, they might be frantically searching for answers on an iPhone or could be leisurely comparison-shopping while at their office.

Adapting your ads and messaging to each of these devices and behaviors will help you target your local audience no matter how or where they conduct their searches.

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