Effective marketing is all about effective messaging, and for your messaging to be effective, you have to know your target audience. In today’s hypercompetitive world, “knowing” your audience doesn’t just amount to knowing what age range you want to target or guessing about what your customers want to hear. You have to dig deep, achieving a better understanding of your customers’ personalities, behaviors, and psychologies.
Making the Connection
How can you do this without blindly guessing? Data. The more raw information you have about your customers, the better you’ll be able to get to know them, and the more effectively you’ll be able to communicate with them. Unfortunately, collecting, interpreting, and making good use of data is difficult, but here are six customer targeting strategies that can get you started:
1. Collect more personal information.
Your first step is to collect more information, as the more data you have, the better conclusions you’ll be able to reach. How you do this is up to you—you could conduct more surveys, include more calls to action that request personal data, or even interview your existing customers.
2. Create more accurate customer personas.
Buyer personas have been a staple marketing strategy for decades, but only now, with vast amounts of data available, have they become accurate. The idea behind a buyer persona (or customer persona) is to create a representative personality or character that reflects the qualities of your intended audience. These could be physical qualities, like age and gender; personal qualities, like demeanor or past experiences; lifestyle qualities, like education level and marital status; or almost anything else you can think of.
When you put these traits together in an aggregated persona, you’ll be able to form a clearer picture of your target audience and create better messaging—as if you were talking to an audience member directly. However, without data, these buyer personas are little more than conjecture. Use data to build more accurate, detailed personas.
3. Segment your audience based on behavior.
There are many ways to segment your audience by behavior. For example, you can filter audiences in Google Analytics based on what pages they view, and in what order. Furthermore, email marketing can be especially beneficial. In an ongoing email campaign, you can gradually filter out uninterested buyers while marketing more heavily toward those who have expressed interest (with clicks or opens).
4. Geo-target your audience with ZIP codes.
Small businesses confined to one location and major operations with footholds only in major metropolitan areas can’t afford to market to everyone in the country. Instead, they’re relegated to seeking worthwhile results from customers in specific ZIP codes.
Until recently, location-based marketing was based on loose location strategies like local SEO, but ZIP code targeting is becoming more popular and sophisticated. Take Lyft and Uber, for example, two companies that depend on residents of specifically selected cities for app downloads and revenue. Each company has used preloaded apps with users targeted by ZIP code to increase total app downloads, and jumpstart their businesses in each major new city of operations.
5. Filter your audiences on social media.
If you’re limited in the amount of personal information you’ve collected on your users independently, don’t fret. Most modern social media platforms do a great job of collecting that information for you–all you need to do is find a way to take advantage of it.
You can do this with paid advertising and filtering your audience with incredible precision, but your audiences can also be filtered organically, depending on the platform. For example, on Facebook, you can create a post that only targets users within a certain geographic area. On LinkedIn, you can join and target groups that segment members by interest, career, and other variables. On Twitter, you can create custom lists to keep track of different “types” of customers. Use your resources wisely.
6. Run AB tests to better understand your customers.
Finally, know that all your data might not be enough to help you reach one conclusion. Use AB tests, comparing two complementary strategies, to determine which approach works best for your test audience. This will simultaneously increase the relevance of your current campaign and give you more data about your customers to use for the future.
Put these strategies into place before, during, and after your marketing campaign to improve your understanding of your target audience and to create more effective messaging for them. Don’t be intimidated if your first round of data doesn’t revolutionize your marketing approach—it takes time, and your changes will be iterative. The more data you collect and the more you refine your strategy, the better results you’ll see, and remember—there’s always room to grow.