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Audience profiling: what it is and how it can help your business

By / / In Insight /
Data analysis and careful research will lead to better audience profiling – knowing your customers and thus aiming more clearly at your target market through individualisation and personalisation. Understand the 4 key marketing disciplines to define your audience and get a better return on ROI:
audience profiling

Essentially, audience profiling centres around understanding exactly how and where you should distribute your time and money in order to get the best return on your investment. It all comes down to grasping the key features of your audience and defining your ideal target group to narrow your sights on, allowing you to pinpoint all of your marketing on them accurately.

Traditional segmentation ideas, which are mainly based on general demographic data, are beginning to fall by the wayside as marketers begin to focus more on comprehensive profiling, utilising analytics and data research providers to precisely document and understand the four key marketing disciplines and every aspect of the customer journey and to help develop the most accurate and useful audience profiling possible.

The four key marketing disciplines

Segmentation – While traditional segmentation isn’t quite as unilaterally used by brands as it once was, it still has plenty of modern uses. The only way to power targeted marketing campaigns used to be splitting consumers into varied demographic segments such as gender, age, background and location, nowadays it has some more potent uses and meanings.

Platforms capable of tracking consumer behaviour and views as well as global data on a worldwide scale make it possible to quickly create custom audiences allowing you to build useful audience profiles. Platforms like this utilise obvious elements like gender, age and location, but they also bring in some really insightful elements like self-perception, interests, lifestyle and attitude, allowing you to create data driven personas, which are both easy to grasp and real world applicable.

Messaging – The core principle to messaging comes down to understanding the perceptions of the brand that you need to change. Audience profiles allow you to quantify the concepts and ideas that are either blocking or powering repeat sales, and once you know these ideas, you know what you basically need to be saying. Messaging is about thinking ‘how do people regard this brand?’, ‘is that attitude limiting or boosting sales?’, and ‘how can I challenge or solidify that?’.

Engagement – Engagement essentially centres around finding the best mode of messaging that’s going to be hardest hitting with your target market, studying when, where and how to reach them. It’s all about looking at how the audience engage with potential routes of contact, across different platforms and media. For example, a younger person might be more social media centric, meaning that’s probably going to be the best way to reach them.

Measurement – Measurement centres on the importance of quantifiable data. Without data pointing to successes or failures of different marketing efforts, you can’t really know how to expend your efforts. Utilising quantifiable data can be extremely effective in almost any industry or field, but when it comes to marketing, which sometimes feels a little like shooting in the dark, quantifiable data and results – both negative and positive – can really lay a path out in front of you.

With so many different platforms and software out there, and with many of them capable of processing vast amounts of data and information, it’s never been easier to prioritise data tracking and measurement as a central pillar of your marketing structure. With 94% of 16 to 24-year-olds owning a smartphone, young people have never been more plugged in and, as those young people enter their 30s, you’re going to see a world where the majority of people are doing their shopping, socialising and networking online. That’s going to be huge as far as marketing is concerned, and the data involved is going to be valuable as anything.

audience profiling

Click graph to view larger image.

This graph from GlobalWebIndex shows the steady increase in smartphone usage in 16 to 24-year-olds.

Audience profiling data is allowing agency planners to put consumer insights right at the very core of all their marketing ploys. With consumers being bombarded from every angle by assorted scattergun marketing campaigns, across a thousand different platforms and medias, in order for your brand’s marketing campaign to really succeed, you need original, interesting concepts, reinforced with verified data.

As a brand, you need statistics allowing you to trust your targeting, and figures reinforcing the efficacy of their efforts. Ultimately, the dream is to know, with certainty, the answers to age-old marketing questions, such as: what are the perceptions of the brand?; what defines our target audience?; what social media are they on? How do they spend their money?

Why does audience profiling matter?

Across all marketing, audience profiling is essentially the only reliable and proven method of gathering crucial insights and ideas that brands need to define, profile and separate their target consumer groups. No marketing campaign can ever accurately reach the right audience without these insights and utilising audience profiling allows for maximum impact on the right consumers.

As a key concept throughout all marketing efforts, utilising quantifiable data can no longer just be used in limited individual methods, it needs to be universal. Data analysis is rated as a hugely important skill for any marketing agency, with the ability to compound that data and create tangible, useful conclusions that can form powerful marketing campaigns.

However, in order to reach modern consumers, it takes more than just standard consumer data. As a marketer, you need to see through that and read some really crucial concepts that can sometimes be camouflaged. You need to really ‘get’ attitudes, desires and behaviours, and these three-dimensional insights can’t always be obtained through simple figures. This is the primary challenge of modern marketing.

audience profiling

Click graph to view larger image.

Traditional marketing tactics’ days are numbered, as consumers are increasingly savvy and no longer passive. With the steadily growing 37%-plus of internet users using ad-blocker software (see the research findings, right), it’s really no surprise that older methods of advertising are struggling to maintain results. Today, people choose what they view and absorb and, as a marketer, you have to cater to that level of choice. Lazy marketing ploys won’t cut it any more.

With virtually all western consumers plugged inextricably into a complex web of free information, unbiased reviews and brand interaction, today’s customer journey is a million miles away from that of yesteryear. Figuring that journey out is another huge challenge of modern marketing. The one concept that seems to universally answer all these difficult challenges and concepts is accurate audience profiling, but that, it seems, just opens a whole new line of questioning and difficulties.

Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.

Read also:

Future-proof your business: the strategic role of data in marketing

Can retailers and brands turn big data into smart data?


Author: Rowan Chernin
Copywriter – Financial Technology |

Rowan Chernin follows developments in marketing and is a copywriter for a number of FinTech start-ups, focusing on the new age of banking.

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