Audience Targeting

knowing your audience

What Tinder Can Teach Brands About Social Advertising

by Auroriele Hans April 7th, 2016

You wouldn’t chat up your boss about last night’s raging party, and boring a date with the intricacies of high finance would be out of the question. The same etiquette of social appropriateness applies to social marketing and advertising, where opportunities to engage—or alienate—your audience abound. If, like any savvy digital marketer, you’re targeting customers across their preferred channels, devices, and platforms, you may stand to learn two valuable lessons from none other than hookup-hub Tinder about how best to pique their interest and earn their trust, using the right platforms with the right messages at the right time.

1. Know Your Audience and Environment

Sure, you know your audience. You’ve done the work: segmented, collected data, created personas. But “Social Worker Susan” probably projects a very different version of herself to family and colleagues on Facebook than she does to friends on Snapchat and potential love interests on Tinder: from cardigans and glasses to silly, painted faces to leopard crop tops and vermillion lipstick, profiles and attitudes shift across platforms—and so should your presentation of your brand.

Tinder’s Marketing Manager, Kyle Miller, recently underscored the importance of understanding how your audience navigates a specific environment at this year’s Digital Summit LA: Tinder users are looking for excitement, adventure, and new experiences and people. Therefore, brands advertising on Tinder should attract, titillate—even shock—users better than the best profiles.

When you create your next ad, think about your audience’s mindset on that platform. As Laura Wilson, Director of Digital Engagement and Social Media at Georgetown University, revealed at Digital Summit LA, Facebook users post aspirational versions of their lives—marathons, travel, babies—while users embrace Snapchat because the impermanence of their images and videos allows them to be less self-presentational, to have fun.

2. Add Value Online and Offline

The brands that stand out from the clutter of social ads and content are often the ones who truly bring value to the relationship with their customers. Whether it’s a hilarious video, a tutorial on how to grill the best steak, or an identifiable brand story, your customers will appreciate you more when they’re cracking up their coworkers, impressing their friends, or finally finding a feeling of belonging in a little corner of the vast web. Be the reason your customers feel like better versions of themselves. Give them experiences that will make your brand unforgettable.

Tall order, right? It doesn’t have to be. Scale your marketing to your resources: maybe a video isn’t in the budget now, but perhaps a contest or giveaway is. Whatever the scope of the campaign, strive to inform, intrigue, and entertain your audience.

Where There’s an Audience, There’s an Opportunity

Sixty-five percent of the adult population in the U.S. is on social media, and there are 1.6 billion active mobile social accounts globally.12 These statistics are hard to ignore. Brands taking notice of them and acting should remember Tinder’s advice to advertisers: know your audience’s mindset on the platform they’re using, and align your marketing message to it. And, as Digital Summit LA Keynote Speaker, Author and MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Anne Handley recommends, place your brand in the context of your customers’ lives and make sure your messaging is bigger, braver, and bolder than your competitors’.



Guide to Consumer Decision Journey and the Search Cycle

by Mark Hawks September 24th, 2015

Post #4 of our 4-part series on Audience Targeting

With more customer data available to marketers than ever before, the real question is how to utilize the information for more effective marketing. Audience targeting, the process of using market segmentation and personas to understand and empathize with your customers in order to construct customized campaigns, is one excellent use of this data. In previous blog posts, we showed you how to segment your audience and how to create personas. Now we’ll share how to use personas to target your audience with personalized content.

Map Personas to Consumer Decision Journey

Customers typically take a series of actions before converting to a sale. Using our gym example from the previous blog posts, the first step that our persona, Social Sara, may have taken when she decided to join a gym may have been to search online for fitness facilities in her area and check if they had classes. She may have considered several other factors before selecting a gym (Is the location close to home or work? What available class times? What’s the price? What size is the class? Who is the instructor/trainer?).

In marketing, the path to conversion is known as the consumer decision journey. While the consumer decision journey is often marked by the influence of traditional advertising and in-store interactions, since we’re a digital marketing agency, we’re only going to focus on the target audience’s online experience. When a person uses online search to find a product or service, they typically go through stages to find what they are looking for. Let’s take a look at the consumer decision journey and search cycle to see how your business might be able to approach each stage when marketing online. It’s important to note that a person will spend more or less time in these stages based on the price of the product or even the complexity of the service. So they may go through these stages quickly if the product is inexpensive or an impulse purchase. Whereas an expensive purchase or complex service will warrant more time to arrive at a purchase decision.

consumer search cycle

Consumer Decision Journey and the Search Cycle

  1. Awareness: Is your website and content optimized with the keywords your persona is using to search for the products or services you offer? For example, some keyword research might reveal that Social Sara is entering “fitness classes LA” into Google or Bing.
  2. Information Search: Customers are often faced with more than one option. Do you have pages and blog posts on your website to answer their questions, provide solutions and explain the options that ultimately persuade them you’re offering what they need or want?
  3. Evaluation: As customers move closer to making the purchase decision they will evaluate details and make comparisons. They will include comparisons on price, quality, specifications, pro vs. con and even reputation.
  4. Commitment: When your customer is ready to commit, making the purchase should be the easiest part. Your checkout or sign-up process should be user-friendly on both desktop and mobile devices and your contact information should be easy to find in case customers want to make in-store purchases or want to talk to a live person.
  5. Support: This phase is often overlooked since the customer has already purchased or converted. Supporting the customer as they use the product or service is vital to continued growth. How are you supporting and staying in contact your customers? Product use demonstrations for complex features, getting started guides and email newsletters tailored for use/engagement of your product or service is a great way to emphasize that your customers made the right decision and you are meeting their needs. Additional communication through social or email to keep them current on changes, new offerings, incentives, discounts, etc. can inspire brand loyalty. When customers are happy with your products and services they will advocate your brand through testimonials and reviews, which supports future customers in their decision journey and search cycle.

Audit Content and Make Improvements

Once you understand the journey your persona, or hypothetical customer, is taking to convert and remain loyal, you can audit your content to ensure you’re fulfilling his or her needs at each phase of the search cycle. You may find that you lack content or that your marketing message should be reframed. Perhaps you have a website, but it’s not optimized for the right keywords or you don’t address common customer questions. In the case of Social Sara, you could lose customers if you don’t have a page dedicated to fitness classes. You’ve done the work to empathize with your customers, and now it’s time to make sure you’re supporting them at all the stages of the consumer decision journey and search cycle.

Track Progress and Make Adjustments

As with any marketing strategy, it’s important to monitor the impact of recent changes to determine if they’re having the intended effect. Start by checking that Google Analytics is installed and tracking correctly. If analytics data is accurate and reveals that certain pages are performing poorly, then you may need to make adjustments. For instance, you may have created a page about fitness classes but failed to optimize other pages that should link to the fitness classes page, or maybe the user experience is poor and needs the use of images or video. Maybe users are having a hard time navigating to the classes page on mobile devices. There are numerous online resources to help you analyze website visitor traffic and troubleshoot the problem.

Beyond Keywords to Customers

For years, the focus of many digital marketers was primarily on which keywords had a high search volume and low competition. Not enough attention was paid to the people behind those keywords—on trying to understand their intent for entering those strings of words in search engines in the first place. Now business owners and marketers have access to a wealth of user data, and audience targeting can help them make sense of that data to better understand their customers and, ultimately, to establish a value-added link between their business objective and their customers’ needs.

Thanks for joining us in this 4-part series on Audience Targeting!

Marketing Guide to Personas

Guide to Building Personas

by Mark Hawks September 17th, 2015

Post #3 of our 4-part series on Audience Targeting

Customers today are inundated with marketing messages, making it more important than ever to craft customized campaigns that speak to their specific needs. Audience targeting is an excellent way for marketers to utilize the abundance of user data available to gain actionable insights and create highly individualized campaigns. Building personas can add a level of specificity to audience targeting that allows for even greater personalization—and in this guide we’ll show you how.

What Is a Persona?

Personas are essentially fictional characters created from a combination of conjecture, research and data.

A persona is a representation of a specific type of customer, complete with details about his or her wants, needs and fears. Constructing these imaginary customers can enable you to better understand the thought processes of your actual customers, including the questions and concerns they may have when considering to purchase your product. Equipped with this knowledge, you can then tailor your content to assuage their concerns and show how your service or product offers a solution to their problems.

How to Create a Persona

In our first post on audience targeting, we used a gym as a business model and gave an example of one persona that could represent a certain type of gym member: the woman who regularly attends classes because they not only fit into her busy schedule but also allow her to see friends while staying in shape. We named her Social Sara. Below, you’ll learn how we created her and how you can do the same to start customizing your content to the specific needs, behaviors and concerns of your target audience.

1. Define Marketing Goals

Before you begin, you may find it useful to identify target areas where your business would like to improve its marketing. Continuing with our example, you might notice that some gym classes are crowded and others are empty. If you want to investigate why, you could build a persona for the typical class attendee. Doing so may also elucidate potential improvements you could make to fill the empty classes, like how they could be more appealing to more people.

2. Brainstorm Customer Profiles

Whether or not you’ve already conducted research about your different market segments, you can build on what you know about a type of customer by brainstorming who they are, what they do, when they do it, and where. Most importantly, ask why. What motivates them? What do they need? What do they want? This will allow you to form a hypothesis about your persona that you can validate later with data.

Back to the gym example, by looking at your customer database or simply chatting with your instructors, you might determine that:

  • The majority of the members who frequent classes are women between the ages of 25 and 45.
  • Attendance is highest in the early morning and late evening.
  • Boot camp is more popular than crossfit.

With this information, you can form a theory about why this is the case:

  • Classes involve more personal interaction than weight lifting, so maybe these members come to socialize as much as to stay in shape.
  • Women in this age group tend either to work or have children, which could explain the times they prefer—before or after work or when they can find a babysitter.
  • Lastly, crossfit can be quite strenuous, while boot camp mixes lighter weights with aerobics, the latter perhaps being more appealing to female members.

3. Find Evidence for Your Hypothesis

Once you’ve formulated a hypothesis for your persona, you may wish to test it with evidence. Below are some online tools that can help you find data to back up your assumptions.

  • Google Analytics: Which pages received the most user engagement? In Google Analytics, you’ll want to look at “time on page”, “bounce rate” and “exit rate” which represents the “stickiness” of a page and also whether the visitor is finding the content interesting. Are pages with class schedules for boot camp receiving more user engagement than those for crossfit?
  • Social Analytics: Facebook Page Insights can provide information about who’s being reached by and engaging with specific content. You can use Twitter Search to find discussions about your gym or more general fitness trends.
  • Surveys: Whether you send them out to existing customers or offer them to anyone who visits your website, surveys allow you to discover firsthand your audience’s wants and needs. For example, you could ask which class times are preferable and why. SurveyMonkey provides free online survey software and questionnaires.
  • Demographic Data Aggregators: Websites like com offer a breakdown of the percentage of males and females in a given area, the median resident age, and the median household income.
  • Internal Data: Customer databases and class scheduling systems can provide insight into who is attending which classes and when.

4. Visualize Your Persona with a Template

When you’ve narrowed down the characteristics of your persona, you can use a template to help you organize the information into a more visual format. Xtensio has a free persona template builder.
female persona template

Name: Social Sara
Job: Administrator
Work Details: She works a typical 9-to-5-office job, spending too much time, in her opinion, at her desk.
Age: 35
Gender: Female
Salary: $42,000
Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Family: Married; no kids
Goals or Challenges: Staying in shape due to type of work and making time for friends now that she’s married.
Values and Fears: Values family and friends. Fears falling victim to the health problems that plague most of her family: high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Marketing Message: Gym with fun, effective classes and schedules.

Elevator Pitch: Looking for a gym where you can stay fit with friends? We offer fun, effective classes and a flexible schedule.

Social Sara, however, is just one segment of your market. You may also want to build personas for Jim, the bodybuilder, Tara the Triathlete, and so on. Most businesses generally create 2 to 4 personas. If one type of customer appears to be particularly representative of your entire customer base, then you may only choose to focus on that persona.

Read the final post in this series, about how to engage with customers at different stages of the consumer decision journey and search cycle. (to be published 9-22-15)

market segmentation in marketing

Guide to Market Segmentation

by Mark Hawks September 15th, 2015

Post #2 of our 4-Part Series on Audience Targeting

“Content is king” is a familiar phrase for those working in digital marketing, but the saying has also started to resonate outside of this realm. Last year, 93 percent of B2B marketers used content marketing, and 70 percent of organizations reported that they’re creating more content than they did in the past, regardless of how effective they “feel they are at content marketing—or whether or not they have a documented strategy.” Interestingly, rather than creating content that caters to the needs of consumers, such companies may be merely cluttering the digital landscape. Understanding your audience can help you stand out from the crowd, truly connect with your customers, and produce relevant, useful content. Market segmentation can help you get there.

What Is Market Segmentation?

Oftentimes, a market may share one overarching goal, such as buying a car, but with several variations: for example, some people prefer economical cars to SUVs, and others may be looking for luxury or sports cars. Market segmentation is the process of dividing your target market into groups based on shared characteristics. In this example, if you were a car dealer who sells hybrids and larger vehicles, you would want to segment your market into at least two categories so that you can focus on understanding the needs of each one, which will allow you to then create customized content that speaks to those needs, respectively.

How to Segment Your Audience

Step 1: Brainstorm Your Business Objective and Define Scope

Segmenting your market will be the most effective if you first determine an objective. Your objective may be as simple as: tailor content for people interested in hybrid vehicles. Or it may be multi-pronged and specific to your current state of business. This will be unique to you and which goals you hope to meet.

Furthermore, you can define the location-specific scope of your products or services so you only focus on information that is actionable and relevant. For example, if a car dealership in Los Angeles were sorting through data in Google Analytics, he or she would not be overly concerned about analyzing website traffic from San Francisco unless there were plans to open another location or curious about testing new opportunities. On the other hand, an online retailer may not need to limit by location.

Considering objective and scope will also give you a general understanding of your market and whether or not it is large and diverse enough to merit market segmentation. For instance, if you own a store specializing in running shoes, you might find that your market is too narrow and homogeneous to need broad market segmentation. The strategy would be more about segmentation around the product.

Step 2: Research Your Market

In order to effectively segment your market, you’ll want to obtain facts, statistics and other data about your current and potential customers. This may entail using public resources, online analytics tools, and, if your budget allows, some traditional market research methods like focus groups (even small groups can be effective). Below are some places to collect information about your different market segments.

Public Resources:

  • demographic data
  • economic and demographic data
  • demographic data by city
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics: financial and career information
  • Newspapers: national and local press coverage of events and trends
  • Official Organizations: free public studies and data

Web Properties:

  • Google Analytics: demographic and behavioral information
  • Google Adwords: advertising and keyword insights
  • Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media Analytics: personal and psychological insights
  • Company Social Media Accounts: customer attitudes like comments and complaints
  • Online Business Directories: competitors user reviews
  • Customer Databases: geographic and demographic customer data

Market Research:

  • Focus Groups: personal preferences and psychological insights
  • Surveys: customer viewpoints concerning products and services
  • Competitors: presence, positioning, differentiation

Because you will be dealing with a large amount of data from various sources, it will be helpful to use a spreadsheet to organize and track the information. At this stage, you are collecting everything you can about who your customers are, based on indicators specific to your industry. For example, you may be able to access a database in a region to find out how many Toyota Priuses are registered in your county, and if there are any notable data points available. The research stage will draw upon what you already know about your industry, product or service and help you discover hard facts and statistics.

Step 3: Organize Data Into Categories

Once you’ve collected a substantial amount of data about who your customers are or might be, the next step is to create groups based on shared attributes. Below are some common categories for segmenting one’s market.

  • Demographic/Socioeconomic: age, gender, education, occupation, income, and family status
  • Geographic: location, address, climate
  • Psychographic: values, attitudes, and lifestyles
  • Behavioral: occasions, customer loyalty
  • Business-specific: relationship to your product, service, or content

Focus on the segments of your market that are most relevant to your business. Using the example from our previous post, if you are a gym owner, you could start by segmenting your members based on their business-specific relationship to your service.

Below could be some of the motivating factors for your gym members:

  • Lose Weight
  • Socialize
  • Address a Health Problem
  • Prepare for Performance Event
  • Train for a Sport

Using our dealership example, if you sell hybrid cards, you may find demographic information on the age ranges, income status and maybe even genders of your different markets. At this stage, you are now sifting through the research to organize your findings into distinct segments.

Step 4: Evaluate and Select Segments

After you’ve defined your market segments, it’s time to evaluate which ones could benefit the most from your products or services while also offering a return on investment for your marketing efforts. Consider the following points when determining which segments to target.

  • Size: Is the segment large enough to be worth tailoring your marketing to? What proportion of your overall market does the segment represent?
  • Uniqueness: Is the segment different enough from other segments to justify customized marketing? Does the segment’s relationship to the product, such as how the product could meet its members’ specific needs, vary enough from that of other segments? Could one marketing message be appropriate for multiple segments?
  • Profitability: What are the segment’s purchasing habits? Would you profit from marketing specifically to this segment?
  • Accessibility: Do you have the marketing tools necessary to reach this segment in a cost-effective manner?
  • Competitors: Are competitors vying for the segment’s attention and business? What is the cost to compete? What is the likelihood that you would be successful? What differentiates your product or service?

Persona Building and Audience Targeting

After you’ve selected your segments, you are better equipped to customize your marketing content to speak to the specific needs, wants, and concerns of each one. However, market segmentation may only give you a general understanding of your audience; for more specific insights, you may want to take your inquiry a step further by building personas. Personas can help you delve deeper into the psyche of your customers so that you can understand their needs and wants. The goal is to align marketing campaigns, content and ad copy to their specific needs and wants.

Move ahead to our next blog post to learn how to create personas. This will help you visualize your customers and their lifestyle.

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