We’ve talked a lot about getting to know your audience and the importance of real human interaction when it comes to engaging customers and forming loyalty. We’ve also discussed the power of segmenting your audience into groups based on shared demographics, behaviours or interests to streamline your targeting. But when it comes to knowing your audience, what do you really know about them?
Truly knowing your audience is the difference between defining broad customer segments and taking your marketing efforts to the next level with a deep understanding of the individual needs, motivations and interests of your target prospects.
Data vs. insight – how about both?
So, your analytics dashboard tells you that your highest converting audience is UK women aged between 25-34 and you’ve created digital ads set to target this group. Impressions are looking good, but conversions aren’t keeping pace. Why?
Whether two people of the same age or with a few years between them, what resonates with one individual will likely be very different for another – because this difference is what makes us human. Demographic or firmographic data, whilst powerful, is rarely enough on its own and needs enrichment that can only be gained from smart insight that feeds a deeper level of understanding. Take the facts that you have, dig deeper and identify the gaps that reflect the individuality of your target audience. What do these people care about? What are their main concerns?
When you drill into this subset further and identify those key attributes, which underpin the 25-34-year old group, your final, refined customer segment might now apply to a smaller audience, but one that is relevant and ready to engage.
Target audience vs. customer personas
Whether you’re a new business or have been operating for years, it is essential to review your target audience on a regular basis and ensure you have answers to important questions such as:
What are their needs and interests?
What are their pain points and challenges?
What elements of your proposition address their needs?
How do they consume media and information?
What trends are affecting their industry?
What is the quality of their customer experience?
Using this enhanced data, you can create customer personas for audience segments, focus your efforts on delivering the right message to the right people and ensure your proposition stays in tune with the needs of your future potential customers. Your personas need to go beyond demographic or firmographic data and take account of the emotional and motivational factors that make your prospective customers human.
With a better understanding of which benefits are relevant and how you can solve your audience’s specific problems, you are able to communicate your solutions in a way that resonates. At the same time, you also qualify out the wrong types of contacts and focus marketing efforts and budget around priority segments that will deliver profitability in the longer term. In addition, you avoid sapping your sales team’s time and effort with a feed of leads that aren’t likely or ready to buy.
So what methods might you use to glean this type and depth of insight?
Focus groups are a useful approach for gathering qualitative insight from a small sample of a market, providing a detailed understanding of particular problems and concerns your customers have. A key benefit of focus groups is that the dialogue is more natural, so you can gather organic responses. The human-to-human aspect allows you to explore in depth the emotional response of individuals, their feelings, perceptions, and thoughts about very specific elements of your proposition. Just as in the dynamics of real life, the participants are able to interact, influence, and be influenced. Additionally, it is wise to consider the size of your sample and whether the insight you’re gathering is truly representative of a wider group.
Similarly, human-to-human conversations over the phone allow for a closer connection than say an online survey, as a skilled interviewer can build rapport and put the customer at ease so they are likely to be more relaxed and open about their thoughts and feelings. This approach also allows the interviewer to probe further and qualify responses to ensure a much deeper understanding of the viewpoint of the interviewee, beyond a standard response they might give in a written survey. Emotions are also conveyed on a phone call through human interaction, tone of voice, or expressions used, which adds another layer of insight to the responses given.
Voice of Customer
These methods are effective for both pre- and post-sales market research. Voice of Customer (VoC) research where you speak directly to those most familiar with your proposition who have engaged with you throughout their customer journey is potentially the most valuable source of insight. It can help you understand your customer’s current perception of your brand, services and solutions, the quality of their experience of your business so far, and what they might expect from you, or similar companies, when doing business. This can, not only unlock valuable intelligence that you can use to focus your marketing efforts but, importantly, help you glean organic intelligence around what your competitors are doing and how their products compare.
There are also intelligence and social listening tools that can go beyond the vanity metrics of followers and enable you to capture a detailed and true understanding of what your existing and potential customers think of your brand and your competitors. These tools allow you to monitor and analyse the thousands of online conversations, where individuals freely and honestly express their opinions and feelings. Using keywords, you can hone in to discussions about your brand, your competitors or any specific topics or issues that you need to understand.
Sophisticated segmentation based on a unique understanding of the key attributes of target customers can provide a significant competitive edge for any organisation that wants to differentiate their brand with a truly customer-centric strategy.
As voice specialists, we offer a full range of market research services from pre- and post-sales research, Net Promoter Score, Voice of Customer, brand perception and customer satisfaction surveys. If you need help unearthing insight around your target markets, contact us to find out more.