Getting to Know Your Audience
As I mentioned in last month’s post, it’s important to know the “who” before you can talk about or decide on the “how.” Once you have laid out a marketing strategy for your company, it’s time to focus on the personas of your target audience. Personas are fictional profiles of a company’s ideal customers, grouping people together through various data points and providing insight into messaging and even new products that could be developed. Age, habits, needs, and more all color the where and why of customers, affecting where to find and how to approach them. Here is how to begin.
What You Need to Know
While there is a lot you can learn about your potential customers, not all of it will be relevant to the campaign you choose to run. However, the more information you collect, the better your focus will be as you work out the details of your engagement campaign.
Creation of personas can include:
Demographics - age, gender, income, education level, and occupation
Psychographics - attitudes, values, interests, and lifestyle choices
Behavior - buying habits, online behavior, media consumption, and product usage
Pain points - challenges, problems, and frustrations consumers experience
Motivations/Goals - why do customers convert or what do they hope to accomplish by doing so
Communication preferences – email, social media, and direct mail
Finding Accurate Data
There are a number of ways to find data about your target audience, and where you search will depend to a degree on what you want to learn. Overlap is also likely, as some information will be found in multiple sources. Keep in mind the importance of using reliable sources, such as government sites, academic journals, and white papers created by recognized industry leaders, in this process.
Company knowledge, or what your company already knows about current customers, is hugely important. Many times, you will find you already have a feel for pain points and motivation as a result of daily communication with customers. Reviewing emails or social media exchanges and talking with sales staff can get you started, and online surveys, focus groups, and interviews can deepen and reaffirm these insights. It is necessary to confirm your company knowledge through other sources before moving forward. Ensuring your internal information is accurate will protect your time and money.
Industry information is collected by organizations and associations, the government, and third parties in the relevant trade. The information available in research and industry reports varies and can be broad to granular. Stumbling across the latter can be like striking gold, and may change your perspective completely.
Analytics falls under various headings, although all of it contributes to the overall knowledge of your customer journey. Web analytics can help you glean demographic information, as well as a more thorough understanding of interactions like the pages customers visit, length of time spent there, and what content they engage with. Social media analytics include the popularity of posts and what kind of content generates the most response. Email marketing shows who opened which emails and when, giving you an opportunity to respond in real time to current interest. CRM analytics can give you a more global view of customer behavior and trends, allowing for a more focused understanding of who your customers are, what they need, and the best ways to engage them.
Interactions with existing and potential customers can happen in house or online. Customer service exchanges via email or phone calls can offer information into common pain points, needs, and expectations. Assessing social media conversations and behavior can do the same, as well as inform your understanding of the best ways to engage people online.
Customer feedback can happen in either instance, and responding appropriately and taking what you learn to heart – good or bad – will help in the creation of your personas’ pain points and improve your future customer relationships.
Pulling It Together
As you learn more about your target audience, patterns will emerge that help form your personas. This can happen in many ways. For example, there may be a number of similarities, but you realize that age affects engagement, leading you to group customers into people you call directly and people you reach out to via text or social media. Or, you may realize that you need to approach varying levels of an organization with slightly different messaging, based on their business concerns.
Creating memorable names and consolidating the information you know, from age to what stresses them out, to whether they’d rather watch a quick video or peruse an infographic, creates a picture in your mind that leads to consumers having the ideal experience with your product and company.
Ultimately, all of the knowledge you gather allows you to create personas so your company knows who to target and can give the right customers what they want to see or know about in the way they most want to experience it. What they are looking for – your product - served on a silver platter. For guidance in understanding your audience and focusing your digital marketing strategy, contact WiredViews today.