How data can help you understand your audience

Ben Shipley, Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer, Ovato

As marketers, we like to think we know what our audience is into. Sadly, there’s often a disconnect between what we think we know, and what we actually know.

We create a set of beliefs that confirm what we want to hear about our brand and product and confabulate (Google it – it’s a real word!) a more engaged customer than we have. Discovering that customers might not be as ‘into’ your brand as you think they are is disappointing, but it’s also a point to build from.

In fact, by acknowledging that they aren’t superfans (yet) and allowing yourself to be led by the data that correctly defines them, you’ll find more opportunity to sell to them and grow your brand. To do this, you need to understand your audience better.

Targeting customers

Demographically targeting customers can be difficult. While some groups might be easily associated with certain activities, locations and spending patterns, there’s no neat definition for many of the people that you want to speak to. Every guess you make about a demographic means you’ve created a tighter segment. We often assume that the tighter segment is a good thing, but a smaller segment also means less reach, and reach drives the result.

Let’s use Tradies as an example. They’re often assumed to consume more fast food, drive utes and traditionally have more active outdoor lives. But is all that true?

Rather than relying on assumptions, identifying groups using data gives you a more specific and detailed picture of the people you want to reach, and where they live. It allows you to shift your marketing from where you think your customers are, to where you know they are.

The data equation

Combining your own customer insights with data sourced from external sources can define your ideal customers to a degree that would be impossible using just first party data.

Third-party data is valuable because it provides breadth and scale. Your own data will contain some highly specific knowledge about your existing customers, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Third party data, such as census or transactional data, fills in the rest of the audience profile.

If you then supplement this information with quantitative data like customer surveys or audience focus groups, you can start to develop messaging based on real human insights about your target segments. To use the Tradies example, you can generate more personal insights by asking them questions directly, to understand why they make the choices they make, what media they consume and what brands resonate with them.

Harnessing the right information

Where do you find the right third-party data for your business?

Third-party datasets can be sourced from financial institutions, ISPs and social media platforms. And providers such as Quantium are able to provide data sets that cover a huge variety of sectors.

Many datasets cover a variety of industries and verticals, including Health, Insurance, Retail, Property and almost every type of consumer behaviour.

Don’t forget that simply collecting data from here, there and everywhere won’t do you much good. It’s important to use it correctly, too. It’s critical to develop and stick to a detailed data plan that lays out how you will access, capture, create, test, analyse and learn from available data, so you can create an evidence-based approach that will lead you to success.

Data pool

By bringing together data from a range of sources, it’s possible to create a comprehensive audience profile.

This profile presents a broader and more detailed picture of your customer, which allows you to reach more of them, more accurately. Marketing spend is therefore more efficient – giving you more bang for your buck. And more of your marketing spend is put towards reaching the right people, not just those who ‘seem’ right.

The end result? More focused, relevant messaging and creative, to elevate your brand in the eyes of your customers.