While a strong digital presence has been an indicator of positive brand performance for many years, recent events have magnified the importance of an optimized online brand experience. But even if your brand has an informative, beautiful, and user-friendly website, an effective outreach strategy is required to reach your target audience.
A comprehensive and user-focused strategy is the foundation of a successful marketing program. It isn’t enough to simply run a bunch of PPC ads and hope for the best. And it isn’t enough to simply post to a social platform without understanding where to best reach your audience.
To avoid wasting considerable time and money on ineffective digital marketing, brands need to take the time to learn about their audience and their ever-changing behaviours. In fact, many companies allocate a large portion of their advertising budget to reach a very specific market. According to a report by Forbes, 43% of companies spend over half their advertising budget on highly targeted marketing and of these, 84% expect a significant return on that investment.
Understanding your target audience
Most brands have a reasonable understanding of their target audience. Are they mostly men? Or women? Are they people who work in a certain industry or have a certain level of education? Are they mainly from rural or urban areas? Are they predominantly of a certain age group?
To validate these assumptions, it is integral to use analytical tools and your customer database to uncover trends and additional information. Tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights can help brands understand user interests, goals, preferences and how they are engaging with your brand. Analyzing CRM tools and internal databases can help brands develop sales funnel insights – developing a better understanding of user actions, needs and behavior at each phase of their decision journey.
Once you have identified who your most likely customers are – or who they are likely to be – you can begin to uncover even more information about them by developing personas.
Building audience personas
A persona is a fictional character that is used to represent a type of customer within your audience. In developing your marketing plan, you might need several personas to represent various groups of customers.
Creating personas will help you begin to see your company, your products, and your marketing efforts through the eyes of your customer. A very basic example could be discovering that the font you love on your website is difficult to read for one of your personas (eg. an older demographic).
When you create personas, it is important to consider three main factors:
- Demographics: this includes things like age, sex, ethnicity, income level, and marital status.
- Psychographics: this includes spending habits, hobbies, and values.
- Technographics: this includes their technology habits such as what social media platforms they visit and what type of device they are using when they go online.
Let’s look at a sample persona:
Anne – Retired Teacher
- Demographics: Female, mid-60s, widowed, earns $60K per year.
- Psychographics: Likes to shop but mostly buys when things are on sale. Involved in charity work in her community. Enjoys gardening and going out to lunch with the girls.
- Technographics: Mostly communicates by email. Goes on Facebook but rarely posts. Uses Google Search to look up news sites and topics that interest her. Works on her laptop most of the time.
While personas are generally more detailed than this, even this minimal information will assist you in choosing the right channels and messaging to connect with an audience segment.
Generally, we recommend that companies have at least 2 or 3 primary personas with another 2 or 3 secondary personas to represent most of their target audience.
Identifying Your Marketing Channels
Once you have identified your customer personas, it becomes that much easier to select your marketing channels and focus your time and budget on a strategy that will bring your business the greatest return.
Each marketing channel has its own unique features. Understanding the pros and cons of the major digital marketing channels will help you select the platforms most appropriate for your business.
- Google Adwords: Google is used by almost everyone, and the proper use of AdWords is most effective for driving “ready-to-buy” customers to your website.
- Facebook: Facebook offers excellent audience targeting options that allow you to reach very specific audiences. Facebook is generally most effective for an older audience (40+).
- Instagram: Instagram generally appeals to a younger crowd than Facebook and is a good platform for companies that can offer image-rich advertising and possibly benefit from social media influencers.
- YouTube: YouTube offers excellent targeting and a way to reach your audience through video, the most effective type of content to engage your audience
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn appeals more to a professional crowd and can be a strong option for companies looking for B2B customers.
- Blogging – Content creation through your company blog is a long-term strategy, but over time it will improve your organic SEO and establish your business as an authority.
Analytics and Social Listening Tools
An effective digital marketing strategy also recognizes that it is an ongoing process. Once you launch your campaign, it still needs to be monitored and optimized to ensure the greatest return on your investment. Fortunately, there are many analytics tools and social listening tools such as Hootsuite, BuzzSumo and Mention to help you with this.
2020 has sparked a wide variety of behavioural changes. As a result, the digital landscape has become more important and more competitive. To succeed in your online marketing efforts, you must do a better job than your competition of targeting and appealing to your audience.
At Rocket Digital, helping companies succeed online is what we do. To learn how we can help your business thrive in the digital marketplace, we invite you to contact us today.