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The use of external data in targeting marketing campaigns

6 min read
The use of external data in targeting marketing campaigns - cover

Targeting is division of customers into segments based on their unique characteristics, behaviors and needs. Thanks to the constant updating of customer data, we can, instead of trying to reach the entire market, put energy into activities aimed only at potentially interested recipients, thus saving financial resources and time.

Step 1. Good database management system = good data quality

By using database collection systems, you can collect a large amount of information about customers that can form the basis of your marketing activities. As part of the basic segmentation of the customer base, we can identify four types of data:

The main graphic shows the data flow from the mobile and web applications, showing how the data influences and overlaps each other.
  • Demographic data: age, gender, education, marital status, race, religion, etc.
  • Psychological data: values, beliefs, personality, lifestyle, etc.
  • Behavioral data: purchasing and spending habits, user status, brand interactions, etc.
  • Geographic data: area code, city, region, country, etc.

Depending on the capbilities of your marketing database management system, you will be able to use demographic data to create the outline of a customer persona (ideal customer profile), and then enrich it with his purchasing behavior, delivery preferences and methods of communication with the company, geographic and even psychological data. However, to stay one step ahead of the competition, you should not only take care of current customers and acquire new ones, but also constantly update your database. Otherwise, the base will quickly lose its value and your sales potential will start to decline instead of growing. It is estimated that the average annual data obsolescence affects about 20-30% of contacts. To prevent this, it is worth using external data integrated with your database management system.

Step 2 One step ahead of the competition - the use of external data

Weather data

The use of weather data is the practice of tailoring an marketing message to your audience based on local temperatures or weather conditions, and is implemented by integrating a database management system with a weather information system based on geographic location.

The graphic shows the matching of product offers to the weather conditions in your city

When it comes to the practical use of weather data, there are many applications, from using it as content in email campaigns, pop-ups, mobile pushes, and almost any other means of digital communication. 

An example of such cooperation is the use of weather data in the fashion industry, where marketing specialists can segment users by geographic location and conduct multi-channel campaigns in accordance with local weather conditions, offering appropriate clothes or accessories. Going a step further, we can use weather data dynamically, creating automatic messages adapted to the climatic conditions, e.g. by sending raincoat campaigns if it rains in the customer's location or the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius.

Operating systems, devices used

Personalizing your communication can also be based on distinguishing the operating system and the type of device used by the client. This type of information is useful in the case of IT services, e.g. software updates, a new browser, or the appearance of a new, more current computer or other equipment connected to the internet. This type of data is often used by manufacturers of phones and computers in the premium segment, since customers using technologically advanced devices often replace them with new ones. The operating system and the type of device we use are often indicators of material status, and are therefore part of building the customer profile.


Another kind of data worth collecting is used for geotargeting, which you can constantly collect and update in data management systems and base marketing campaigns on them. Depending on the settings, we usually have the option of collecting data broken down into the most visited and recently visited locations and the list of locations when collecting historical data. Accurate collection of data about the location of customers is basically the foundation of today's marketing and allows direct contact with the customer (in the form of mobile push messages if we are talking about using proximity marketing) and adjusting the language of the campaign, and often even language of culture, currency to the recipient. 

An example of the practical use of geotargeting data can be Christmas and New Year's greetings, which are sent by almost every company. Well-prepared wishes should look different in terms of content and visibility depending on who the recipient is. It would be a bad practice to translate New Year's wishes sent to Polish consumers into French or Spanish. While the Christian motif in graphics would be acceptable, the wishes may not, because there are elements of the language that each country modifies according to its language culture.

Proximity marketing

An especially interesting type of data that we can collect from other devices relates to targeting ads in the context of distance and proximity. This is a marketing technique that uses mobile location services to reach consumers in real time and in a specific location. The marketing message is sent when consumers are near the store or other location from which you collect data (mobile information points, places of fairs or events, etc.). 

In the absence of data, they can be completed using additional forms, such as the one shown in the graphic

Proximity marketing helps the marketer in two ways - one of them is the possibility of direct contact with the client through alerts, notifications or triggering an advertisement on a mobile phone based on the location on the phone. The second way that proximity marketing can help is by collecting customer location information and recording it in your database. Thus, Proximity Marketing will work interchangeably with geotargeting and is a great way for short marketing campaigns during fairs or events or a great form of advertising in the case of local marketing (restaurants, cinemas, museums).

Look alike

An equally interesting and effective way to use external data in targeting marketing messages is the "look alike" option, which works with many communication systems, mainly those focused on social media. How does it work? It is about looking for customers similar to those who were already interested in our offer or have the greatest purchasing potential. Look alike is based on a multi-stage analysis including demographic data, i.e. age, gender or income and more. Then interests are analyzed and the purchasing potential is assessed on the basis of the software, devices, previously analyzed interests, or purchase history if such data is collected. This form of data used in targeting is especially important when introducing new or updated versions of products where we only need to define the customer profile and clarify the marketing message. When introducing products to the market, we usually don’t have an extensive database or a specific customer profile. In this case using advanced external data sets of such giants as Facebook or Instagram will significantly facilitate our entry to the market.

Step 3 Advantages of targeting 

  1. Save on your marketing budget by focusing on those customers who are genuinely interested in your products and services. Thanks to well-designed customer segmentation, marketing messages have a greater impact on customers because they respond to their individual needs and interests. Marketing is about connecting with the right customers at the right time, otherwise, a large part of the marketing budget will only be wasted on customers who are not interested in our offer here and now, but might be in the future.
  2. Stand out from the competition by limiting yourself to a specific customer segment, allow them to identify with your brand or product that you address to a specific audience. Make sure that the advertisement of the product is associated with specific values, like a sense of humor, a specific style or interests at the very beginning. At the campaign targeting stage, the brand determines who the product is aimed at, whether we are talking about the business or youth segment, or perhaps your target is young parents. Don’t skip this stage, because reaching customers on a more personal level is the basis for building loyalty and a sense of community with the brand.
  3. Improve products and services. When you target your products to a specific customer segment, you can get to know your customers better, understand their needs and start adjusting the product to more personalized standards. Knowing your customers better also helps you see your products and services in a new way. When you understand your target audience well, you can put yourself in their shoes and see how you can improve your product by adding certain features or changing your customer service, and you can also think about extending or changing the segment in which you have been selling so far.


In the case of marketing, knowledge is always valuable and the more you know about your customers, the better you can respond to their needs. The better you know where to look for data, the faster you can achieve your sales goals. When talking about customer targeting, it is important to remember that the databases we rely on need to be kept up to date so it is worth support it with external data. At the beginning it's definitely worth paying attention to collecting weather and geolocation data, and in the case of introducing a new product to the market, also look-a-like data.