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Audience Segmentation & Targeting: Listen – Don’t Ask

GetResponse Pro

One of the most common challenges for any marketer is to identify and collect the right information to segment and target their audience. With good segmentation and targeting, marketers are able to attain the holy grail of “the right message, at the right time, to the right audience.” Doing this well sets a foundation of success for any marketing campaign. If the audience isn’t right, then the content won’t drive engagement and conversion. What’s even worse is that by segmenting and targeting poorly, you may cause your audience to question if they want to listen to your future messages and if they even want to receive them at all.

In trying to solve this challenge with my clients, it is not uncommon for one of the first suggestions to have customers and prospects tell what they are interested in. The group then proceeds to come up with ways to gather more and more information in hopes that their audience will provide it.

Surveys…

Preference Centers…

Event Registrations…

The list goes on….

As the marketing team brainstorms, their list of desired questions continues to grow…

Demographics…

Firmographics…

Geographic…

Preferences…

Interests…

Sub-interests…

Sub-sub-interests…

We-don’t-even-know-how-to-categorize-it-but-we-still-want-more…

And so on…

By the end of the discussion, there’s a list of dozens of desired pieces of information to collect. There are even more ideas around how to manage the user experience to ensure that the audience will not experience ‘form fatigue,’ and that the organization will have all the answers they want.

Does this sound familiar?

While on the surface, there is nothing wrong with this approach, but take a step back and consider your personal experience with some big name brands.

Doing it Right

Has Google ever sent you a survey regarding the ads it should display?

Have you ever needed to tell Amazon what types of products you are interested in?

Probably not.

The problem with asking is that it puts the responsibility and effort on the backs of your audience. Not only does this put the work on your audience, but it may also prevent you from gathering the desired information. Consider your average response rates and think about how many people will not respond at all.. 

By asking, it also tells your audience something else – that you aren’t listening.

Think back to your experiences with Google or Amazon. How do they know what you are interested in? 

It’s easy – you told them, they listened. Every tracked action tells something about your audience. 

Opening and clicking emails…

Visiting web pages…

Clicking ads….

Downloading white papers…

Searches on your site…

Shopping cart activity…

Behaviors and actions are more informative than any information your audience will voluntarily provide.

“But this sounds like a lot of work!”

This is one of the reasons why Google, Amazon and the like are the ‘big players.’ They did the work instead of asking their audience to do it for them. They listened to what their audience was already saying through their behavior and actions and then used that information to make it easy for their audience to be customers.

A Personal Example

My wife and I celebrated our anniversary last month, and I wanted to find something special to get for her online. I was opening more emails and clicking more ads than normal. As a 40-year-old male, the marketing targeted at me is pretty typical ‘guy stuff,’ but I was using the emails and ads as an easy way to get to the brands that I prefer for myself figuring they would also have something I could get for my wife. 

Upon getting to these shopping sites, I would generally then navigate to areas of their store other than what I’d normally visit looking for ideas and inspiration. Within a matter of days, the marketing content presented to me had a noticeable change. The emails and ads for menswear, tech gadgets and tools were being replaced with content for bee- or honeycomb/hexagon-themed anything and gardening equipment. 

Had I told these organizations that it was our anniversary? Did my wife have some super power to increase the likelihood of getting something she’d like? 

No, I told them and they listened.

Within a few days, the perfect item appeared in a targeted ad from one of the sites, a silver honeycomb design necklace with a golden bee on it. Perfect!

Had these retailers relied only on what I had told them, I would have never found the necklace and they would have never made the sale. By listening to my actions and behavior, they heard that I was looking for something and they did the work to then tell me what they had that matched my behaviors.

Bringing It Back to Your Business

‘Sure’, you may say, ‘it’s easy for Amazon or Google to do this’, but what about our business? 

To do this well requires commitment to the strategy and then follow through to categorize and classify every trackable asset and interaction so that you can create a profile for every individual in your audience and across all platforms and channels. Just like at the start of this article, marketing will need to determine ‘what’ the information is that you need to know. From there, use your existing marketing tools to assign tags and labels to your content so that your audience can also be tagged and labeled when they interact with your content. 

With each interaction, your audience will tell you more and more about their interests. 

Are you listening yet?

If you need help listening to your audience, or you find yourself struggling to turn action into data and vice versa, give us a call. Relationship One is here to help.

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