The Power of Understanding your Audience

At the end of 2016, I took part in an industry roundtable event, discussing the key things brands should be focusing on in 2017 and exchanging views on what the latest digital innovations were likely going to be. One executive talked enthusiastically about 2017 being the year of mobile (please note, 2006-2016 were also “the year of mobile”) and one CMO spoke passionately about the opportunities around virtual reality.

I must admit, some of what he talked about sounded really exciting! The digital marketing opportunities seemed endless. I asked him about the core audience for his start-up business and well, he didn’t really seem to know exactly. He wanted to focus on the female market and with all likelihood some males… but, hey, how cool is virtual reality!

This discussion summed up a lot of conversations I’d been having at marketing events. Marketers want to talk about the fun stuff and about how they can do something super innovative but often the basics aren’t in place to ensure that campaigns can achieve the maximum ROI and reach target audiences effectively.

As an agency, we recently invested in a Pro license for YouGov which provides a huge amount of data and statistics on audiences within the UK. We strongly felt that having these insights at our fingertips was no longer a “nice to have” but a necessity in the modern digital world.

Every campaign we run for our clients, from big budget content marketing projects to the set-up of a small AdWords account, starts with audience analysis. Using the AdWords example, keyword research would have been the primary focus in the past. However, with the advent of demographic and geographic bidding options, focusing on your target audience has become of primary importance in many ways.

If you know 85% of your sales come from 35-45-year-old women in South East England, then adjusting your bids to spend most of your budget in this area is going to have a positive impact on your conversion rate and ROI. Using tools such as YouGov, we can overlay an additional level of insight on top of this; to understand the messaging preferences of your audience and the best times of the day to reach them. And we can find out about the websites they use the most in order to target them through the GDN.

For content marketing, it’s crucial to understand what types of content your audience wants to consume. Do they prefer short videos or long form blog posts? Do they want to see lots of image based content or are they highly engaged with user reviews?

Too many brands don’t invest in audience analysis and thus don’t know what their users and potential clients want to consume in terms of digital content. In turn, this often leads to wasted budget.

So here is my big tip for digital in 2017. Don’t waste your hard-earned marketing budget on campaigns that may mean nothing to your customers, drive zero return and generate no engagement. Even if virtual reality is really cool.

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