As I look at the end of this year and get ready for the next, I think about what to improve upon or do a bit better. One thing that comes to mind is a clearer understanding and use of the different on-line marketing techniques that exist today, techniques that utilize predictive analytics, content analytics and data mining in order to attract customers. In other words, developing effective one-to-one cross media strategies. Cross media marketing uses a variety of media types to integrate a marketing message into a prospect’s consciousness. Rather than just promoting a product on a website, cross marketing can also use mobile apps, paid search results, social media, and content marketing. But whatever the strategy, it all comes down to pinpointing the right target.

Let’s review some target marketing history. In the 1970s, direct mail was king and the use of census data allowed marketers to add demographic data. In addition, other direct marketing tactics shifted from door-to-door to telemarketing. The first email advertisement was deployed in 1978 when Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) sent an email to its users promoting an open house for a new computer model. In the 1980s, direct marketing companies began collecting and selling psychographic data which included personality, opinions and lifestyle. On-line banner displays began in the early 1990s, and Google launched its AdWords search advertising program in 2000. Today? Social media and mobile advertising platforms have arrived.

But no matter the targeting tactic, it’s still back to basics and the ultimate goal: focusing as much of your marketing dollars as possible on the right target in order to generate the largest rate of return. So when we look at all the new media tools, collectively they represent a new toolbox that provides better filters and better ways to isolate your target, and they still include the demographic and psychographic data that make that target a perfect type of client for us. But oftentimes, those traits and situations are not easily uncovered. So these new tools can not only provide more consistent methods of analyzing the data that marketing generates, but new insight for improved decision-making as your campaign moves forward.

But be aware of some of this new media’s annoyances. Yes, there’s a lot of technology—search engine marketing, blogs, on-line advertising—that can drive people to your web site that have the customer traits you’re looking for. But be sure to analyze the type of targets that each one of these different mediums is generating for you. You may discover that you’re getting people who really just want to know what you know. Some are just “trolling” the web to find who can help them market their own business.

So the real key is being able to utilize today’s tools and the resultant improved data in a way where it better attracts your target, or provides the opportunity to be more focused on your target in the future. If you analyze which mediums are driving your best content, I think you’ll find that perhaps the most important step is to actually follow through on your leads right to the point of conversion or conclusion. Personally, when it comes to sales, I prefer that people come to a “conclusion.” That conclusion might not result in a sale today, but I formed a relationship which could turn into a sale down the road.

Here’s the bottom line: whatever your current target marketing strategy, if it is providing fairly predictable outcomes, you’ll be able to do more of it—and you’ll keep getting better at it. Just keep focusing your marketing efforts on the mediums that deliver the highest returns. And that’s what we all need to focus in on as we sift through the mounds (and mounds) of information we collect in our electronic in-boxes each day.

That’s Q from the street.

Anthony Quaranta is the president of The Q Group, Hauppauge, N.Y.