Google AdWords offers a number of targeting strategies to help you reach people in your market. One of the most overlooked options is life event targeting.
With life event targeting, you can run ads to people who are going through major changes in their lives, such as moving or getting married.
It’s an especially effective strategy if you’ve got a product or service that people will need before, during, or shortly after those events.
In this article, we’ll go over how you can use life event targeting in Google AdWords.
What Is Life Event Targeting?
Let’s start by explaining a little bit about life event targeting.
Sometimes, you segment your market based on demographics and interests. Then, you’ll create a customized marketing message for each segment.
In some cases, though, you want to reach people who are going through a significant change in their lives. That’s because those people are in the market for certain products and services.
For example, newlyweds are often on the lookout for furniture, financial planning services, estate services, and life insurance.
If you’re selling what they’re looking for, it’s a great idea to reach them when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. Strike while the iron’s hot.
Fortunately, AdWords lets you target people by life events. It’s an opportunity for micro-moment marketing that you shouldn’t pass up.
As of now, AdWords supports the following life events:
- About to graduate college
- Recently graduated college
- About to move
- Recently moved
- About to get married
- Recently got married
Targeting the Young’uns
You might have looked at that list of life events above and thought to yourself: “Hey! That list sure looks like it favor millennials!”
You’re right. It does.
People who reached young adulthood in the 21st century are prime candidates to get married, graduate college, and move.
So if you’ve got a product or service that’s tailor-made for millennials, you should look at life event targeting. Likewise, if a sizeable chunk of your overall market consists of millennials, you should also consider life event targeting.
That’s especially true if people who are going through those life events will need what you’re selling because of the changes that they’re experiencing right now.
Does Life Event Targeting Work?
Now that you know a little bit more about life event targeting, you might be asking yourself a very sensible question: “Does it work?”
That’s according to a report from Networked Insights.
Why? Because, according to the report, people who are going through a life event are more likely to have similar interests than people who share interests or belong to the same demographic groups.
In other words, you can spend your ad dollars more efficiently when you target people by life events than when you target by demographics or interests.
The report also found that, unsurprisingly, emotions run high during life events. For example, when it comes to graduation, the study said that about 26% to 35% of conversation about the event is emotional. More than 70% of those emotions are positive.
If you decide to market to recent college grads, it might be a good idea to validate those positive emotions and reinforce them in your ad copy. You’ll likely see a better response.
Also, the study found that more than half (52%) of emotional conversation is focused on love. That’s because grads are talking about their love of moving to a big city, finding a great career opportunity, and improving their financial situation.
Again, look for ways to work that emotion into your own marketing message.
Further Evidence that Life Event Targeting Can Land You Sales
There’s more evidence that life event targeting can land you additional sales.
According to Sonus, life event targeting has produced the following results:
- 35% increase in purchase intent
- 50% increase in ad recall
- 5x as many people searching for Sonos on Google
The mattress company Purple also used life event targeting with noticeable success. In this case, the company ran ads to reach people who had just moved or had just gotten married. Let’s look at the numbers:
- 21.8% – 23.1% increase in purchase intent
- 25.1% – 34.6% increase in consideration
- 153.2% – 175.2% increase in people searching for “Purple mattresses”
That last set of numbers isn’t a typo. Those are triple-digit increases.
“Google’s audience solutions allow us to reach people as they go through key life transitions that correspond with increased likelihood to purchase a mattress,” said Bryant Garvin, the director of digital marketing at Purple. “Getting our creative in front of these high value audiences has been critical for our business goals.”
You can see those kinds of results for your business as well.
Yes, You Can Do This on Facebook
If you’re a savvy marketer, you might be thinking to yourself: “Hey, doesn’t Facebook have life event targeting already?”
Yes, it does.
But Facebook isn’t the only game in town when it comes to online marketing. A single-channel marketing strategy probably won’t help you gain market share.
That’s why it’s perfectly legit (and advisable) to use AdWords life event targeting in addition to life event targeting on other channels, including Facebook.
Keep all the bases covered and you’ll more likely hit a grand slam.
How to Set up Life Event Targeting in AdWords
If you’re sold on the idea of using life event targeting, you’ll need to set it up in AdWords. Fortunately, that’s easy to do.
Sign in to your AdWords account. Click “Audiences” on the left-hand sidebar.
In the middle of the screen, you’ll see a table that shows all your audiences. It will be empty if you haven’t defined any audiences yet.
At the bottom of that table, you’ll see a big plus sign next to the word “AUDIENCES.” Click on that.
Next, click “Select an ad group.” Choose one of your ad groups from a campaign.
In the table below, select the type of audience you want to create. In this case, select “Intent and life events.”
Below “Life Events,” you’ll see a number of life event choices, such as “Moving,” “Marriage,” and “College Graduation.” Keep in mind that each of those choices can be expanded to display a before and after choice (for example: “Moving Soon” or “Recently Moved”).
Click on the life event that’s best suited to your ad group marketing message.
Finally, click “Save.”
Congratulations! You’ve created a life event audience that you can use in your marketing efforts.
Life Event Targeting Does Not Work for Every Ad Type
Unfortunately, you can’t use life event targeting for every kind of ad campaign. Right now, Google limits the targeting option to only Gmail and YouTube marketing.
That might change in the future, though. For now, if you want to reach people going through life changes in standard search, you’ll have to find keywords that they’re likely to use.
If you do use Gmail marketing with life event targeting, you have a couple of options:
- You can add your audience as a target. That will restrict your reach.
- You can add your audience as an observation. That will allow you to adjust your bid.
You can also add life event targets as exclusions. In other words, if you want to tell Google not to show your ad to people going through a life event, you can do that.
The Same Rules Apply
When it comes to life event targeting, you’re still working within the AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) model. That means you only pay when someone clicks your ad.
So all those people who are going through life changes and don’t click your ad won’t cost you a penny. You only get charged if your ad is appealing enough that folks who read it want to learn more.
That’s why it’s important that your landing page does a great job of closing the sale. Otherwise, you’re paying for nothing.
Next, let’s look in some detail at the various life event targeting options.
Life Event Targeting for College Graduation
College graduation is a time of excitement and opportunity. It’s also a time when people are in the market for one very important thing: a job.
If you’re running an employment services organization or a job website, you should consider running ads that target people who will soon be graduating college or have recently graduated college.
Remember: you can also use other targeting options with life event targeting. That means you can restrict your ad based on geography as well as a life event.
In fact, you should use that combination if you’re running a business in a college town and looking to recruit people who’ve just earned a degree.
Also, target recent grads if you’re running a financial services organization that helps people refinance their college debt.
Recent college graduates often have to relocate. Usually, they’ll move out of college apartments or their dorm room to some other apartment. If you’re a landlord looking to lease a property, then consider life event targeting.
In that case, it might be a good idea to target people who are graduating college and looking to make a move soon. You can do that.
Life Event Targeting for Marriage
When the love bug bites, people tie the knot. They also need to make some purchasing decisions.
There are countless businesses that could benefit by targeting people who are about to exchange vows.
For example DJs, event organizers, wedding planners, photographers, florists, and caterers tend to earn at least some of their revenue from weddings. If you’re in one of those industries, run some great ads to people who are about to get married.
And let’s not forget about the all-important honeymoon. If you’re running a travel site, you should showcase your best honeymoon spots to people who are planning to spend the rest of their lives together.
Of course, after people have celebrated their nuptials and begin their “happily ever after” part, they need to make some more purchasing decisions.
We’ve already covered a few of those. For example, it’s often the case the newlyweds need new furniture.
If you’re selling furniture online or at a nearby brick-and-mortar location, why not run ads targeting people who are recently hitched? Offer a discount if they bring in a copy of their wedding certificate.
Recently married couples also need insurance. In some cases, they might need health insurance, but they’ll almost certainly need home, auto, and life insurance as well. If you’re an insurance producer, reach them when they need you the most with life event targeting.
Life Event Targeting for Moving
There aren’t too many people who enjoy moving. It’s a significant stress point for many people.
Some folks might offload a bit of that stress by hiring professional movers. If you’re running a moving company, target people who are about to move in your area. You’ll likely land some more business.
Also, people who’ve recently moved usually need to stock their new home with groceries and cleaning equipment. If you’re running a grocery store in the area, why not advertise a special discount to recent movers?
That discount will also help them deal with the stress.
If you’re a realtor, you have some of the best opportunities when it comes to targeting people who are about to move. Run an ad letting them know about your awesome track record and low commissions. Tell them why you’re better than other realtors in your area.
Get Started With Google Life Event Targeting
If you’re offering a product or service that can benefit people who are going through significant changes, you should target them during those events. Research shows that you’ll likely spend your marketing dollars more efficiently when you do so. There’s also plenty of anecdotal evidence from companies that have used life event targeting in the past with great success.