Great marketing isn’t easy, but the general premise is simple enough: right person; right message; right time. That’s really all it comes down to in the end.
The tricky part, of course, is learning how to identify your ideal audience in the first place. From there, you can begin to drill down on messaging and timing.
It gets even trickier, however, when key stakeholders insist that they’ve already solved for each of those three elements based solely on their personal beliefs about who and what that ideal audience, message, and time actually are — usually based on intuition and anecdotal experience. That might be a great way to miss the mark and lose a boatload of money doing so, but it’s not the right way to market to your ideal audience.
Understanding your prospects and customers and delivering the perfect messaging at opportune moments takes a lot more than a gut feeling; it requires marketers to have productive conversations with Sales, develop thorough customer personas, gather and analyze relevant data, and then test their messaging with different audience segments on numerous channels at different stages in the buyer’s cycle. In short, it takes a lot of work.
If you’re ready to start delivering great customer experiences to prospects who are legitimately interested in your products and services, you’re in luck! Keep reading to learn how to identify your ideal audience and capitalize on their needs and pain points.
As is usually the case, putting your best foot forward means looking to the past for inspiration — and this is especially true when it comes to identifying your ideal audience. But how can you possibly make sense of all the data at your disposal and all potential buyers in your pipeline? Well, you can’t, but you can certainly try — and in that attempt, you’ll uncover tons of useful breadcrumbs that are most reflective of your ideal audience and can be used to build personas and segment your leads.
Ask yourself, historically:
Who have been your best customers?
Which products and services have they been most interested in?
What is their background?
What is their job title and responsibilities?
Do they have decision-making power within their organization?
What are their main concerns, challenges, and pain points?
How have they interacted with your traditional, digital, and event marketing campaigns?
More than just asking yourself these questions, ask your sales team as well. Review the data in your CRM or marketing automation platform to cross-reference these discussions. Check Google Analytics or whichever tool(s) you use to gather great digital insights. Create surveys for current customers or poll those in the market for your offerings. Collect and gather all possible data points, look for similarities and patterns, and then use this information to begin crafting detailed buyer personas.
Once you’ve built your personas, you can begin grouping existing leads and customers into your marketing segments — smaller groups of similar consumers. The number of segments will vary based on the size of your company, your range of products and services, and the behavioral and demographic diversity of your ideal audiences. Then use these segments to tailor your marketing efforts based on each group’s shared characteristics.
For instance, you can create PPC remarketing campaigns to target people who have visited your website without taking your desired action (such as completing a form or making a purchase). Or, depending on your company size and objectives, you can segment your email marketing campaigns based on location to increase personalization and drive better engagement.
Now that you’ve sorted out your various audience segments based on your buyer personas, it’s time to start creating and launching your campaigns. But your work developing your ideal audience isn’t done yet! (Hint: it never is.) In fact, once your campaigns are live, you should be closely tracking your leads and taking note of how they’re engaging with your various marketing and sales initiatives.
Lead tracking is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: documenting lead interaction and engagement across all of your marketing channels. When you’re tracking lead behaviors, you’re able to score them more accurately to better understand exactly where they are in the sales cycle. Not only that, but you’ll develop a solid understanding of which marketing strategies and tactics are working best across which marketing mediums and channels and gain a better understanding of how different audience segments make purchasing decisions.
As it relates specifically to curating an accurate picture of your ideal audience segment, lead tracking is absolutely essential because it allows you to aggregate key data points in real-time to consistently monitor and update your segments. Your ideal audience is likely constantly shifting, especially if you regularly release new offerings or expand your business into new locales, so your segments should never remain stagnant. That said, when tracking your leads, you should be paying close attention to each consumer’s:
Recency: When was the last time prospects or customers within this segment engaged with your brand or made a purchase?
Frequency: How often do the prospects or customers within this segment engage with your brand or make a purchase?
Monetary: What is the average purchase selection, amount, or cost per acquisition within this segment?
Segmenting consumers according to recency, frequency, and monetary (RFP) engagement lets you get at the heart of your current customer base and serve up relevant content and product recommendations.
Tracking your leads is great, but analyzing those behaviors to create actionable segments that lead to more relevant campaigns is where the rubber really meets the road. It’s impossible to know how to segment and deliver better experiences to your ideal audience segments without installing the proper data collection tools and having a skilled marketer monitoring and analyzing all of this information.
So it’s essential that you set up:
Google Analytics: This is a fairly straightforward process, and most of you have probably already done it, but if you haven’t, you should stop reading and do so now. Google Analytics is free, super easy to set up, and gives you granular insights into your website visitors, where they’re coming from, and what they’re engaging with. It’s the granddaddy of them all when it comes to tracking digital data.
UTM Tags: To better understand precious campaign and referral information, you should add UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters to your URLs to track where each lead finds and engages with your brand. This way, you can have full visibility into the pages and pieces of content that are working — and which aren’t.
Funnel Insights: Your sales and marketing teams should be tracking essential funnel insights to better understand the visitor you’re collecting throughout the buyer cycle. This will help you grasp lead flow and velocity, as well as identify potential information and/or content gaps along the customer journey.
As you continue down the evolving path of identifying your ideal personas, segments, and audiences, you should pay especially close attention to the Behavior Flow Report in Google Analytics. This feature paints an accurate and detailed picture of how your customers are navigating throughout your website and digital properties, so you can use it to understand exactly where users are choosing to bounce from your site or continue on with their journey. Simply put, it tells you what’s working and what’s not and provides answers to crucial questions, like:
What is the most common entry point, and is it effectively moving users throughout the site?
What are the most common usage patterns, and do they align with your sales and marketing goals?
Is there a way to reroute popular pages with less value to less popular pages with higher values?
If you’re already using the Act-On platform, you can get even more granular with this analysis with IP Lead Tracking. This feature allows you to see how your anonymous prospects are interacting with your website and content on an individual level, providing Marketing and Sales with an abundance of useful insights they can leverage once that lead becomes known and qualified.
Gleaning the answers to these vital questions will give you a much better understanding of your customers’ intentions and behaviors, which will allow you to continue tweaking your segments over time based on your website’s strengths and weaknesses. Of course, the ancillary benefit here is that Behavior Flow Reports also give you the chance to make positive updates to your website to improve the overall user experience.
Apply Your Knowledge to Create Personalized Customer Journey
It used to be the case that segmentation allowed you to tailor the customer journey in broad strokes. Today, segmentation allows you to actually personalize the customer journey at the individual level. Modern data collection and analysis allow us to deliver individualized messages and campaigns to prospects and customers alike. In this way, personalization can be seen as the next logical step in the evolution of targeted customer experiences.
You’ve probably been reading and hearing a lot about personalization, but you might not yet be convinced of its power or efficacy. Make no mistake, personalization is the defining marketing tactic of this decade.
57% of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts (1)
Personalized emails deliver 600% more traction (2)
Marketers have used personalization to improve their overall customer experience by 61% (3)
That same poll revealed an increase of 63% in conversion rates and a 57% increase in visitor engagement thanks to personalization (4)
74% of customers feel frustrated when website content isn’t personalized (5)
91% of consumers are likely to shop with brands that deliver personalized recommendations (6)
Think about it this way: your audience is constantly bombarded with messaging from every angle and at all times. After a while, all of this messaging turns into white noise, and consumers completely check out. They know when they’re being sold a blanketed offer, and their simply not interested. Personalization, however, allows you to get ultra-targeted in how you address your customer base, the content and products you serve them, and the way in which you position those materials.
So now that you’re focusing on segmenting your ideal audiences at a more granular level, you should use the information at your disposal to create dynamic content, emails, and landing pages that speak directly to their needs, challenges, and pain points. Start with your most common and lucrative audience segment and create 1-2 collateral assets. Then use these content pieces to build organic, social, and paid campaigns that speak directly to the end-user as you nurture them through the customer journey.
Follow these best practices to achieve great results:
Too Much of a Good Thing: Remarketing campaigns are awesome because they allow you to stay front and center throughout the customer journey. But don’t get carried away. Many people find this sort of advertising creepy, so keep it to one campaign per segmented audience.
It’s Not About You: Modern marketing means moving beyond self-promotion toward a more customer-centric approach. Focus on consumer wants and needs by providing thought leadership content and intelligent product recommendations — without all the salesy nonsense.
Tweak the Messaging: Even if you have your personas and segments nailed down perfectly, you might have to experience with the messaging a bit to really knock this whole personalization thing out of the park. A/B test your campaigns and keep your content team on standby to update your materials and positioning at a moment’s notice.
Attract, Nurture, and Convert More Leads With Marketing Automation
So, one caveat here… segmenting, tracking, analyzing, and improving your customer personas and journeys is extremely difficult to do the right way without the proper software. For instance, basic email service providers like Mailchimp and Constant Contact might help with some basic manual segmentation, but they’re not intuitive or powerful enough for:
More granular segmentation
Accurate tracking and scoring
In-depth analysis and reporting
Content mapping to improve the customer experience
Thankfully, Act-On can do all of this and more! Schedule a demo with one of our marketing automation experts today to learn how!
If you’re not quite ready for all that just yet but would like to learn more about how marketing automation can help you reach the right people at the right time with the right message, please download our eBook, “Smart Content Mapping for Maximum Engagement” today!