First off, a quick background about me (and our agency). iSynergy is a digital marketing agency. We do creative, ad placements and website design (among other things, like SEO…).

In this blog, we are going to touch on a variety of industry essentials when it comes to crafting targeting messaging:

There’s A LOT that goes in to creating a concise message that results in sales for your business.

So, I’m going to start with creating a buyer persona.

I’m assuming that everybody knows what a buyer persona is, so we’re going to jump from there and talk about why it’s important. You have to know who your audience before you can target them.

Demographics have always incorporated things like age, gender, income, race, education, location, geo, relationship, and employment status. (When you move into psychographics, it’s not quite as easy…it’s going to take time and it’s going to be never-ending. Just a heads up!)

There are some exercises and tactics here you can do in a couple of hours, while some others can take a couple of weeks (or even a couple of months). Some you’ll need to audit quarterly or yearly. The ROI on the time invested in uncovering psychographics is going to be higher than any other strategy. You’re going to have more insight than ever before into your consumer, your audience and your buyer. 

Buyer Persona 

We always make a point to ask clients who their audience is. And, inevitably, they all say, “well I can sell something to everybody”.

This answer is why we talk to people and try to identify their list segments (and their buyer personas). They always think, “well I want to be able to sell something to everyone!”

That’s a great dream to have, but in reality, where do most of your transactions come from? Where is the highest ROI on your ad spend or your organic content, your paid media vs. earned media?

Some businesses might only have one buyer persona (I wouldn’t recommend it). Some are going to have three to five. At iSynergy, we like to live in that three to five range because then you have your priority list: your good, better and best buyers. 

So, defining that buyer persona, basically walks you through who your buyer is.

Let’s say you have a female that is between 35 and 40 that makes $70,000. You know their household income, know she’s caucasian, has a college degree, maybe lives in northeast Ohio and is married. She might have more than 1.5 children and let’s say she’s a stay-at-home mom but she’s the decision-maker–she’s the driver in the home. She is ONE buyer persona. (What you should always do–and a lot of platforms recommend–is to name your buyer persona.So, we’re going to name this one Betty.)

Your second persona might be the spouse of that female. Maybe it’s a grandparent, a baby boomer, or millennials… continue to breakdown their characteristics.

Everything mentioned abobe is about the buyer persona. It’s tangible and quantifiable. That’s the great part; it’s very easy to define.

The opposite side of the buyer persona is that it’s very limiting to you’re creative approach and your go-to-market. Your messaging has to be pretty generic for that buyer persona and when you’re moving forward you’re casting a pretty wide net. Do you want to use a sniper rifle or a water balloon to hit the target? You want the sniper rifle so you can pinpoint and target with a great amount of accuracy!

There are pros and cons to demographics. Whilw they’re tangible and quantifiable, they’re also limited–your messaging will be generic and utilize a wide net approach (a broadcast-type of approach). But there’s help…let’s learn about psychographics. 

Psychographics

Demographics tell you who the buyer is. Psychographics tell you why people buy!

Have you ever wondered why a consumer did or didn’t buy from you? Psychographics help to define that…or try to define that. It’s not tangible or quantifiable, but it IS qualitative.

Basically, psychographics provide more profile depth to your buyer persona. How can that help you? Well, if I could tell you why people bought from you AND define who the person is, you could be pretty dangerous with your marketing approach!

From a creative standpoint (or a sales copy standpoint), you can get ultra targeted with every written word, whether it be your website copy, your email copy, your email subject line, your call to action on your ads, or your social copy.

This data can be taken further by incorporating it with media like pre-roll, post-mid-roll, OTT or even traditional outlets. If you understand the “why behind a purchase, then you can utilize that data for any type of creative (even outdoor media), and get a heck of a lot more bang for your buck.

By using psychographics, your messaging will be better-received by an audience that is more likely to buy. Psychographics are qualitative and provide depth to your buyer profiles.

Activities, Interests & Opinions

Psychographics are AIOs (Activities Interest and Opinions), which basically help to define your target audience; their hobbies, their interests outside of work…

Things like employment are flushed out in the demographics, but if you want to know what they do after work, where they go, their hobbies and interests, opinions and attitudes… that’s where AIOs come in to play.

If you’re familiar with Simon Sinek, he has a great Ted Talk out there and a couple of good books for resources. He explains AIOs like this; “people don’t buy what you make, they buy why you make it.”

If you can find the consumers who relate to you (or your clients’ brand), and then explain how you are properly aligned with them, the sky’s the limit! You can tell them why you do something and whether they support that or understand it basically comes down to culture.

It’s “I don’t have just have a widget to sell, but I have this widget to sell and this is why I sell it…This is why it’s so important to me…This is the story on why we developed it, how we came up with it, and here’s our process for fine-tuning it.”

A great example of this (whether you like them or not) is Apple. They have a cult following of their products. You can’t deny the fact that their audience (basically) blindly follows. It’s not what Apple makes, it’s why and how they make it

Personality and Disposition

You must know the personality and disposition of your target market(s). If you’re a cutting edge brand (for example, a tech company or a tech product trying to bust into the market), your primary audience won’t be the baby boomer generation. I’m using a broad stroke here, sure, but baby boomers aren’t typically early adopters of technology. Yes, there will be outliers, but we don’t market to the exceptions, we market to the rule!

Keep you messaging in line with the personality and disposition of the primary (and secondary) audiences who are more likely to purchase.

Values and Beliefs

Strong ideologies in today’s climate include religious and political views. I’m going to guess you’re on one side of the wall or the other, so it’s really a matter of navigating opposing beliefs. If you can define and evaluate your top priority buyer persona (and figure out on which side of that wall they reside), it’ll give you some pretty good insight on how to target them, what your messaging should be and the most advantageous location for ad placement.

For example, if you’re trying to target pro-Trump conservatives, I don’t think the best spot  to advertise would be on liberal news stations. 

Goals and Desires

What motivates your buyers? What do they want to achieve? What do they aspire to be?

This topic is really strong with today’s health kick, exercise, supplement, nutritional intake carbs or calories phase.

What struggles and challenges your consumers have and what do they do on a day-to-day basis? Does it relate to their age, appearance, or even social status?

For example, the struggles of a mother with a toddler and a newborn are probably related to child care, providing for her family, maintaining a balance and creating a safe environment where her family can flourish. You can accurately predict their struggles in that day-to-day persona. 

Fears and Dislikes 

What are your buyers afraid of? What don’t they like? Understanding fears and dislikes is equally as important as knowing their goals and desires.

Cultural Preferences 

Messaging needs to be tailored to specific cultures and regions. For example, when you’re doing a national campaign, you may have to adjust your design or copy for a specific area–terms used in Texas may be completely unknown in northeast Ohio.

Personalization

You can use all of the above to add personalization and increase the quality of your messaging. Hopefully, everybody understands the “why” behind this and what it can do for you.

Make your content as personal as possible. If you don’t have access to AIOs, psychographic, etc. (for instance, buyers within older generations tend to be highly protective of their information, which results in less available data), use what you have to make your message as meaningful as possible.

Profiling Tactics / A Day in the Life

Sit down with your team (most of these tactics are going to be group-based because two brains are better than one). That’s why we have brainstorming sessions here internally. Whether it’s a project, a campaign initiative, or client in general, we still do roundtables because in a creative atmosphere everybody has insight, whether it’s good or bad.

We have our brainstorming sessions to let ideas flow freely, especially when it comes to “a day in the life” of our customers’ buyer personas. Document the visualization of those persona, whether its a pen to paper, digitally, or on a whiteboard. 

When you come up with lines of activity about what that persona goes through (from the moment they wake up to when they go to bed), you can easily come up with two to three hundred lines of data. Then, when you put pen to paper and see it in front of you, you’re able to glean some insight from that data and from what that persona goes through in the course of a day. 

This is great for dayparting strategy. It’s great for that because then if you know who your buyer is and when they’re consuming their media (or when they’re consuming) you can bid higher or you can plan placement at advantageous times.

Let’s say your buyer consumes 90% of their data and media from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. If you’re dayparting your strategy (your search strategy, display, video, OTT or even to your traditional TV), you’re going to go heavy during that day segment because that’s when they’re consuming everything. If 90% of their consumptions happen in that period and you’re not advertising within that time period, then you have less than a 10% chance during the rest of the day to reach that persona. So when you do a “day in the life” brainstorming, it can shed a lot of light onto the subject at hand. 

Observe & Document

This is basically an old-school market study.

Traditionally, you can hire a firm that physically goes out to where your consumers are and documents their findings (what consumers were doing, where they are at, etc).

The downside? This more grassroots-type of approach oof curating information is not always available. For example, if you’re doing a national campaign and you’re a local B2C brand, you might not have the resources to do this. However, you CAN document and record your incoming sales calls (a lot can be gleaned from your inbound phone calls). 

This can apply to service calls, too. Listening to existing customers and their pain points (as well as what they are happy about) is super important. This information will eventually help you close that loop with your service department (or even fulfillment, if you’re an ecommerce store).

Consumer Lifecycle 

This is probably one of the tactics that people jump to first. Create a diagram or a workflow and document your buyer’s journey.

Just make sure that your information isn’t biased (i.e. you assumptions about your brand). Base your lifecycle of supportive data from your website analytics and conversion information. How did that conversion happen? How many times did they see your message or your brand and what is the view through rate? Where did your conversions come from? 

Google Analytics has some great insight. There is pixel tracking (knowing where people came from – i.e. where they saw your ad – what were their next five stops were, and did they ever come back?). This insight can show you how many times they saw your ad before actually converting. Did they see it five times? If so, where did they go between those five impressions? 

Monitoring and Tracking

You can pull information from Google Analytics or tracking pixels about where, when, how and why your audience engaged online. With social listening, you can get insight into your buyers and their personas, giving you a better picture of the consumer’s life outside of your product or service. What are they talking about (not just about our brand or about your product)? How did they get on the topic of our brand in the first place? 

You’ll learn a heck of a lot more by listening than you will by talking. Big brands look at forums and in threads on Reddit to see what’s being discussed about their product and how they can refurbish or  improve upon their initial design. So how would one monetize this group of 5,000 people that they belong to? Figure out what they’re talking about and the other areas of interests that those group members have (outside of that group) and use that information to target similar consumers. They’re in that group to be with people that have the same mindset and similar interests. That’s how you use community engagement online (with cirlces like Reddit, forums and Facebook groups). 

Another great tool but everybody always forgets about are product reviews. If you have your own product reviews or a competitor’s product reviews, utilize that insight. Reviews have the unique perspective of having experienced your brand (or your competitor’s brand) and what some of the downfalls of the product may be.

If they gave a five-star review, why did they give that five-star review? Was it the product itself, was it the sales process or was it the fulfillment they received? Was the product maybe subpar but after filing a complaint and/or having dealt with the customer service, the brand fixed it in no time and they earned a five-star review for that?

Gain that insight. There are nuggets of information in there that you can absorb from your product or companies’ reviews as well as your competitors. A lot of people don’t think about that but it’s a great avenue to utilize. 

Media Consumption

Media Consumption

This falls in line with your demographics but it still lives under psychographics. Where are your personas and how are they getting their media? What device do they use to consume that media: mobile, laptop, tablet, a television? Is traffic being directed from referral sites, are they getting their content from search engines, where are they consuming that media?

The typical consumer spends 1 to 1.5 hours a day on social. If you’re really advanced, you can then go on to define which social channels they were on, for what length of time (i.e. Facebook for an hour and then Pinterest for a half an hour), and the type of device they used. That information can come from Google Analytics, tracking pixels and third-party tracking software. 

Content Format 

What type of format is your consumer using to obtain information and how are they getting it? Are they getting it by the way of videos, blogs, social, OTT, network TV, connected radio?

For example, if it’s network TV or OTT, does most of their content from Fox, CNN, or ESPN? Is content delivered or referred from influencers? Do they subscribe to blogs like RSS feeds or email subscriptions? There are some crazy scary ways to target people.

If you want to target somebody that receives regular emails from (let’s say), Kohl’s department store, there are ways to know if your top priority buyer persona subscribes to Kohl’s emails. So know the type of content that they consume and where.

Trigger Topics 

This is an easy one. Let’s say you have a soft spot in your heart for dogs .Then, if I have a health food brand and I want to begin a campaign for a new supplement protein shake, if I know that my consumer loves pets (dogs, in particular), I’m going to throw a pet in every single ad of them having fun drinking my supplement. It’s just better messaging – advertising 101. Environmental pleas, food and travel are all topics that can trigger audience emotion. 

Contextual retargeting is when you know your consumer has interests outside of your brand, and you use those interests as an avenue to deliver your message. So, if your consumer loves dogs and you’re doing some paid digital advertising, can use contextual targeting to find users that go to animal shelter sites, pet websites, things of that nature.

Every website on the Internet is tracked and categorized by the IA,B so you can contextually retarget people that have a tendency or recency to visit that category of the website.

You had all that other demographic information organized vertically, in columns and now information help you slice it horizontally… right down the middle. That’s contextual retargeting and trigger topics – things that evoke a positive, emotional response from your buyer persona. With historical search, you can construct data based upon somebody’s search history eight months ago (or even years ago).

Interviews & Surveys 

Where does the most reliable information come from? Well, if you want to know about who your buyer is, go ask them. Ask them why they bought from you! Most buyers are pretty happy to answer that.

Most times, brands are just afraid to do this because they got the sale and now they’re afraid to talk to the consumer anymore. But this is the ideal time to talk to them – they already said yes to you by making a purchase! Not doing this is like asking someone out on a date, they say yes and then you never show up.

Go through with it, do it, ask the consumer why they purchased from you, because they’re going to give you some great insight.

If you have a large audience, do a survey. Automate it. Even if you get a 1% response rate on it, it’s going to provide some insight. If you’re B2B and you lost a lead, ask why! Does another other company do something more efficiently? Want to get better. You can learn just as much from the ones you lose as you can from the ones you win. 

A/B Testing

A/B Testing 

Test, optimize and fine-tune everything to bring to light the audience’s tendencies. All your digital ads should be A/B tested. But, remember, only test one thing at a time. If you change up copy, leave the image the same. If you change the image, don’t mess with the copy.

DMP

Finally, use a DMP, or digital marketing platform, that utilizes business intelligence to define who it thinks your buyer persona is. DMP’s already have consumer profiles built out that are way better than you’ll probably ever be able to yourself.

Obviously there’s a fee involved, so it’s important to decide what your time is worth compared to outsourcing and having somebody else do it. You can, however, use a DMP… or an agency to do that for you. 

Conclusion

The above are tactics we use at iSynergy to gather information. Some are in line with traditional thinking, some are outside the box, some, like I said, I like better than others, and some have a higher success rate. It all depends your buyer persona, your audience, your vertical, etc. 

If you’re interested in learning more or talking in-depth about your situation, feel free to reach out!