A fundamental step in maximising the effectiveness of your marketing activity is analysing your target audience. Deep diving beyond the surface profiles of your target consumers can unearth a wealth of insights, from an understanding of the attitudinal preferences of your target group to media consumption profiles, giving your media activations clear guidance on which channels to use and how to best employ them.
Undertaking audience research involves a number of steps, from defining a target group, to sizing the available opportunity and translating available insights into an activation strategy.
Defining a target audience
There are a number of different ways to approach defining a target audience, which could be from either an inward or outward facing data source. Inside-out signals might come from existing audience persona research or analysis of a brand’s first-party data, whereas outside-in might be from analysis of the wider market (for instance, through survey based research).
Both sources have their strengths and weaknesses. Undoubtedly, the strength of inside-out measures, such as first-party data, is the richness of the source available. Brands can connect a wealth of signals about their existing customers, from email addresses and demographic details to on-site browsing behaviour and purchase history with the brand.
However, as much as first-party data is in many cases the richest signal available in scoping out potential audiences, we also need to be careful not to fall prey to survivorship bias. If your media activations are solely based around analysis of your existing customer base, you very well may miss pockets of potential new customers, which are not yet represented in your first-party data. Brands that are most likely to fall prey to this trap are those who have long-used the similar channel and targeting selections in media, with little ongoing testing of new initiatives. This will also be a hurdle to overcome in the launch of new product lines or markets, where the brand lacks sufficient data on the new target audience.
With an agreed upon, defined target audience, this can then be built within consumer insights platforms, which leverage survey data to develop your media strategy. There are a range of available parameters including, but not limited to:
- Demographic: gender, age, income, country
- Profession: working status, sector, role, job title, responsibilities, purchase influence, company size
- Media consumption: time spent with different media channels, their role in the purchase journey
- Attitudinal and lifestyle data: interests, travel behaviours, brand and product preferences
An example of this
One of Croud’s clients, an entertainment company, decided to lean on our team to launch their streaming service to Australia, a completely new market for the brand. Whilst they had a great deal of information on their consumers within key markets across North America and Europe, the brand wanted a thorough understanding of how Australian consumers interact with streaming services and media more widely. This analysis helped design a winning channel mix for entering the market, and a communications approach for messaging and creative.
Sizing, analysing and understanding our target audience
With the target group clearly defined, it is time to analyse the target group in greater detail – creating a vibrant picture which we can later use to build a strategy for targeting through digital media.
This would begin with sizing the target audiences. In some ways, sizing the audience is a process of validation. By modelling how many people are in the audience, we can sense-check our definition, and compare it with our existing expectations of the target size. It will sometimes be larger or smaller than expected, but it shouldn’t be completely out of kilter with how big we intuitively perceive the opportunity to be. Sizing the audience also lets us compare how big that opportunity is in different countries, which can be useful when setting budgets or thinking about expansion priorities.
Having outlined the available opportunity, the next step is to understand the audiences’ habits. For example, you may foresee a big opportunity for your brand amongst women aged 18-35. Smart audience research will allow you to choose the correct platforms and creative approach to succeed with this group. Many of the parameters we can use to model target groups can also be useful for analysis, including:
- Media consumption habits – how much time does our audience spend on social media?
- Consumer journey – how does our audience use search in product discovery?
- Lifestyle indicators – which drink brands does this group prefer?
- Conscious choices – what factors are important to our target in purchasing cars?
- Attitudinal responses – is our audience creative, health conscious, open-minded?
An example of this
A particular use case for this could be a brand that is looking to revamp their social media strategy, but only has a demographic guide on their target audience (for example, wanting to target those aged under 30). In this case, the value is in the granular detail available, not only in consumption of different social media platforms, but also how the platforms are being used. For instance, is our consumer group using Snapchat for discovery, Pinterest for further research, and Facebook for purchase? And is this interaction typically with paid ads or organic content?
Translating this into a go-to market strategy
Even with all the intelligence available from audience analysis, it is important to translate this to an actionable marketing strategy, or you may risk failing to capitalise on the opportunity available.
Many of the available insights translate quite obviously into media recommendations, while others are more nuanced:
- Media consumption > Inform channel selection and budget weighting
- Consumer journey > The role of each channel, awareness, consideration, etc.
- Conscious choices, attitudinal profiles > Creative and copy design
It is worth noting that although audience analysis provides a strong foundation for media strategy, this should be recalibrated over time as we begin to receive data from activations. Click-through rates, site engagement and conversion rates will be key to understanding the effectiveness of a particular targeting method, creating a feedback loop for optimising this audience approach.
An example of this
This is particularly powerful when combined with a deep understanding and review of existing media activity. This approach was tried recently with an online education brand, combining audience analysis with media channel audits to offer recommendations as part of a consultancy project. Analysis carried out of the brand’s on-site audience showed that those browsing courses did not match the demographic makeup of those searching for the same courses on Google. This highlighted some gaps in the current paid media audience targeting strategy, particularly on Facebook and Display, which combined with channel audits to form the basis of recommendations for a restructure of targeting.
Understanding and defining all the ins and outs of your target audience can be pivotal to building a strong marketing strategy. Don’t miss out on these opportunities. If you’d like to learn more about audience segmenting or Strategy and Planning, please get in touch with someone from our team!