Using Data to Achieve Relevance

A quick search for “choosing an audience” will return thousands of results aimed at helping marketers move away from “send everything to everyone” and into the hopeful new world of relevance. It’s clear that today’s marketers have no shortage of tips and tricks for creating messaging with a specific group of people in mind. However, if a wealth of information is so readily available, why do so many programs still result in less than impactful outcomes?

Well, most of the broadly available “tips for identifying your target audience” are missing the most important detail to create relevance—data. Including these 3 steps early in your planning will elevate your efforts, so you can be more relevant and propel your programs toward success.

1. Go Beyond Personas

Dividing your audience into smaller groups with similar wants and needs is a good way to start creating relevance. However, don’t forget that there’s a person behind the persona you’ve created.

“Too often, Buyer Profiles are nothing more than an attractive way to display obvious or demographic data.” ― Adele Revella

Everything from the format to the tone of your content should be selected with your audience in mind. Ultimately, understanding your target goes far beyond knowing their demographics.

IDG reports the average B2B reader gives content just over two minutes and consumes only 53 percent of an offer. To be customer-centric marketers, our programs must cater to: where our audience is, how much time they have to give to your content, and what format is most convenient for them at the moment they want to engage. Fortunately, today’s marketing technology allows us to tailor each interaction in a way never before possible. 

2. Check Your Assumptions

Whether you have a defined persona or just a hypothesis about your target audience, take the time before designing programs to make sure those people are actually the ones buying your product. An unfortunate amount of good marketers often forego the final step of validating their hypothesis about their audience.

“Your customers are not you. They don’t look like you, they don’t think like you, they don’t do the things that you do and they don’t have your expectations or assumptions. If they did, they wouldn’t be your customers; they’d be your competitors.” ― Mike Kuniavsky

Work with your operations team to create a report of won opportunities that shows the primary decision maker and influencer. Then, compare a report of the last two years with the last six months. Check the results against your assumption, but also look at the data over time. Are the same people buying today that were a couple years ago? 

3. Leverage What You Know

Unless you’re Steve Ballmer, you wouldn’t introduce yourself at a social event by queuing up a PowerPoint presentation detailing your passions and hobbies. So, why attempt to start a business relationship this way?

In the physical world we make informed assumptions about how to engage with others before we even know their name. We meet someone and assess factors—such as where they are and whom they’re talking with—as indicators of their interests and motivations to guide how we start a conversation. We can use what we know about our target audience to communicate more effectively. How did they get to your site? What type of content have they previously engaged with? Where did they first meet your brand? This type of information can be used to tailor your next interaction with them.

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.”  ― Tom Fishburne

If we want to be truly customer-centric, we need to listen to what our customers’ trail of data tells us. We need to provide options that cater to where our audience is, how much time and attention they have to give, and what format is most convenient for them in that moment.

You’ll find the greatest success when you understand what your audience cares about. Then you can leverage that engagement data to influence future interactions with your brand. Relevance can be easily achieved when data is the foundation of your strategy.

This post is part of my #MarketingExcellence Series. Have something to add or want me to address a specific challenge? Let me know with a comment.