Online Marketing & Digital Marketing

What Is Dark Marketing?

By Shanon Roberts, on 16 September 2021

Have you ever wondered what Apple's social media marketing strategy is?

If you go to their Twitter account, you will find something rather peculiar: it was created in September 2011 and since then it does not seem to have published a single tweet, but it has more than 6.6 million followers. The answer to this mystery lies in dark marketing.

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What Is Dark Marketing

 

What Is Dark Marketing?

Dark marketing is a trend that focuses on ultra-targeted and hyper-customized marketing to specifically reach a brand's niche target audience and no one else. Apple is actually using Twitter to communicate with its target audience, but it does so through dark posts, sponsored posts that can only be seen by a limited number of users.

Dark marketing is as selective as possible. It is not interested in reaching as many people as possible, but only those that the brand has identified as its ideal customer.

This type of marketing is only possible thanks to the large amount of information available about Internet users, information they often share themselves. This makes it possible to create hyper-specific target audiences and reach them with very specific messages related to the wants and needs of those who receive them.

According to BizReport, 90% of Twitter ads, 85% of Facebook ads and 60% of YouTube ads are hyper-personalized to reach a very specific audience and are invisible to other users. Dark marketing is a growing trend, but what are its advantages?

 

What Are the Benefits of Dark Marketing

  • Efficiency. Mass marketing campaigns come with a high cost, while dark posts target very small groups of users and therefore have a much lower cost.

  • Effectiveness. By being highly segmented, dark marketing campaigns are much more likely to generate the action they seek to achieve such as a click, a lead or a conversion. This makes the ROAS of the campaigns higher. In addition, they avoid generating attrition, since users who are not interested in a publication simply do not see it.

  • Customization. The brand no longer needs to try to satisfy everyone, so it can be much more specific in its message. This in turn translates into greater effectiveness.

  • Experimentation. Dark posts are an ideal place to do controlled testing with a limited audience, for example, through A/B testing. This way, a brand can test different options to find out what works and what doesn't with each niche audience, all without disturbing its follower base, since each group receives a different creative instead of being bombarded with several.

While it is clear that dark marketing can have a lot of advantages, it's important to also mention the disadvantages. Dark marketing relies on collecting a large amount of user data, and users are increasingly concerned about privacy. If the message you send reveals that you know a lot about them, it runs the risk of generating a negative reaction from your followers and provoking rejection by consumers.

Of course, it goes without saying that in any marketing strategy, you have to respect privacy and data security as much as possible and comply with all existing regulations, such as the GDPR.

 

5 Keys to Dark Marketing for Brands

Dark marketing is a very useful way of reaching your niche audience with great precision and making the most of your brand's advertising budget. If you decide to put it into practice, don't forget these five keys.

Segmentation

The first step to effective dark marketing is to know exactly who your audience is, where they are, and how you can reach them. Each social network has its own segmentation options, and although many of them are similar, you will have to study the particulars of each one in detail and see how you can apply them to your buyer persona. Keep in mind that you need to generate small audiences, but with enough critical mass for your campaign to get significant results.

Customization

In dark marketing you know exactly who you are targeting and what their background, preferences, and interests are. Use this to your advantage with hyper-personalized messages for each situation. The starting point is knowing your buyer persona in depth; if necessary, don't hesitate to do surveys and personal interviews with people in your niche audience to understand them better.

Fragmentation

Dark marketing campaigns are usually fragmented across different platforms, but always targeting the same specific audience. In other words, you are addressing the same target through different channels. For the strategy to work, it is essential to analyze which social networks and sites are really used by your ideal customers.

Speed

Dark marketing is all about reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time. Personalization includes not only the message you send, but also the day and time you send it.

Remarketing

To multiply the effect of dark marketing, you must be able to identify where users are in the conversion funnel and accompany them through each stage of the process. The most effective way to do this is by remarketing, that is, targeting users who have already been in contact with your brand in order to offer them an even more personalized message. This way, you are more likely to have an impact and convert.

 

180 trends and predictions for digital marketing

Shanon Roberts

International Digital Marketing Strategist