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Best Practices for an Audience-Centric Marketing Approach

October 25, 2018 - By Ginna Hall, Senior Writer, Nielsen Visual IQ

Best Practices for an Audience-Centric Marketing Approach

Ava is watching a red carpet event on TV, she’s using her phone to text friends, and she’s shopping on her iPad. Sound familiar?

Thanks to the invention of the smartphone, there’s a traditional way and a new way of doing almost everything these days. 64% of us multi-task with our devices: watching TV, texting with friends, and scrolling through social media at the same time.

“Our motivating force as marketers is to connect our best-performing marketing with the people who matter most,” said Wayne St. Amand, CMO, Nielsen Visual IQ. “Despite in advancements in technology and practices, we struggle with making this true.”

When it comes to audience segmentation, the traditional approach is to divide consumers by age, gender (or other demographic criteria) or zipcode. Using those data points, marketers create a profile of their idea target customer, and focus their campaigns on winning those buyers.

But consumers have changed. Since the iPhone, wireless internet access, social media and a cascade of apps, what you assume about your customers based on their age or gender or income may no longer be true.

Dramatic Changes in Consumer Behavior

In a recent webinar, Scaling Your Success with an Audience-Centric View of Marketing Performance, guest speaker Susan Bidel, Sr. Analyst at Forrester joined St. Amand for a look at recent changes in consumer behavior and what they mean for marketers.

“At Forrester, we believe consumers have changed very dramatically,” said Bidel. “Most importantly, from a marketer’s perspective, they expect relevance. For a marketer to deliver relevance requires that they know who they are and what they’re interested in.”

New Forrester consumer research [Forrester Research Consumer Voice Marketing Research Q1 2018 (US)] groups consumers into five new categories based on their desire for innovation and convenience rather than demographics.

  • Progressive Pioneers: Lead demand for product and experience innovation (25%)
  • Savvy Seekers: Are among the first to learn about innovation and exhibit high rates of new product engagement (16%)
  • Convenience Conformers: Opt for products and services that enhance convenience only after they have become widely available (39%)
  • Settled Survivors: Evolve at a glacial pace and are motivated by adaptation rather than trend setting (9%)
  • Reserved Resistors: Are least enthusiastic about product or experience innovation (11%)

Understanding the Customer Journey

Audience Category No Longer Aligns With Age

Bidel cautioned marketers to resist making assumptions about consumers and reported that consumers have changed in significant ways.

  1. Access: Empowered consumers access content very differently. Most use both print and digital for news gathering and other content.
  2. Devices: They have more devices than ever. The average American has three, and many people have five: work and personal laptops, iPad, smartphone and connected TV.
  3. Content: They don’t use devices to choose between content types but to add on more content. For example, people aren’t choosing streaming audio over traditional radio, they’re simply adding streaming to their regular listening habits.
  4. Shopping: Consumers are shopping during work and during prime viewing hours, altering when an advertiser might expect to connect with them.

These new habits present marketers with a set of complications. Marketers now need to understand not just who consumers are, but what devices they own, how they use those devices, and at what time of day.

The challenge is using this information so that your campaigns can reach the best prospects. Marketers struggle to answer questions such as:

  • What touchpoints  will our customer likely encounter on this journey?
  • How can we tailor our message throughout the journey to drive conversion?
  • What is the right frequency for a highly distracted customer base?

“Customer identity and audience-centricity have become central to the success of both the execution and the measurement of most marketing practices,” said St. Amand.

A New Relationship to Advertising

When you look at customers at the extremes of Forrester’s new categories —progressive pioneers and reserved resistors—each has a unique relationship to advertising.

Progressive pioneers enjoy and embrace some ads on social networks and magazines. They understand the benefits of digital and traditional platforms and they make the best of both. One Forrester survey respondent said, “I can’t think of any companies I would mind collecting data from me.”

Reserved resistors, on the other hand, don’t like any ads anywhere and say they don’t want anybody collecting any data from them.

Solving the Marketer’s Dilemma with Identity Resolution

What’s a marketer to do? Consumers are using and embracing all channels and since the advent of social media, there’s no longer a simple linear purchase funnel.

“Customers expect a customized, coordinated experience. This has disrupted traditional approaches,” said St. Amand. “Marketers need to measure cross-channel performance by audience attribute to get a consolidated view of consumer behavior and conversion.”

The answer lies in identity resolution. By integrating user data from multiple sources, then reconciling and deduping profiles, marketers can identify the consumers that matter most. Attribution adapters can then help provide a complete view of the consumer journey to better optimize the omni-channel consumer experience.

Bidel and St. Amand recommend developing a strategy that incorporates these five steps:

  1. Research: Collect and analyze as much customer data as possible via browser, device, app, third-party, purchase, self-submitted, customer service, CRM and loyalty.
  2. Plan: Try to understand your customers to the best of your abilities and plan based on your current understanding.
  3. Execute: Deliver messages with contextual relevance across channels and tailor the media according to the life cycle of the customer.
  4. Optimize: Learn from customer behavior and adjust to continuously to reach customers and people who look and act like customers.
  5. Measure: Combine profile data with performance data in real time to measure performance across all channels.

By following these steps, marketers can engage their customers and prospects in a coordinated pattern that respects consumer behavior and interests.

“The core of modern marketing is understanding who your customer is across all their complexity,” said Bidel. “Brands need to create ads that cross platforms, that respect the environment in which the ad is going to be delivered, and are relevant to the consumer’s context, experience and interests.”

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