Identify and reach valuable audiences before your competitors
We live in the age of consumer choice. People — not brands — drive the next wave of products, services and technologies.
The next generation of winners and losers will be defined not only by companies who adapt to the market, but by those who understand, anticipate and diligently serve the unique and varied needs of their own audience.
In other words, the future of business is all about putting people first.
To connect with people, you must understand their similarities and differences. Every facet of marketing, from brand partnerships to search strategy, should be driven by rich audience insights and segmentation.
This report provides real examples from major brands—including Adidas, Toyota, Delta, Wells Fargo, CVS and more. Learn how marketers can use audience segmentation to optimize search, personalize messaging and reach their most valuable segments to maximize marketing spend.
1. Smarter Audience Segmentation
The best brands deeply understand their own best customers so that they can improve targeting and prioritize spend. Taking a more nuanced approach to segmentation paints a clearer picture of your most valuable audiences.
Adidas Audiences: Not Cut and Dry
Demographics are the bread and butter of audience segmentation, but are often oversimplified. Layering multiple demographics can uncover nuances about your customers that completely changes your targeting approach.
For example, as you see below, both men and women are equally likely to buy Adidas footwear. However, when you break this audience down by gender and age, it uncovers several key distinctions. Younger men are more likely to buy Adidas shoes, while younger women are actually 19% less likely. Women aged 35 – 44 are the most likely buyers, by far. How might this reshape the Adidas’ marketing strategy?
Customer Contrast: Online vs. Offline
Another valuable way to understand your own customers is to segment online vs. offline audiences. Below you can see several clear differences between people who have purchased in-store at CVS, and CVS.com website visitors.
The brick-and-mortar CVS customer is more likely to be older, conservative, and trust doctors and pharmaceutical brands. Meanwhile, the online CVS audience tends to be younger, more headstrong and skeptical—preferring to conduct their own research on health-related topics.
2. Optimize Your Search Strategy
A good search marketing strategy is based on more than just keywords. Marketers must understand the people behind the search in order to customize (and personalize) targeting.
All the Boys & Girls: Targeting Teen Parents Over the Holiday
Knowing how likely different audiences are to search for products helps marketers identify not only their largest audiences by volume, but which segments are more likely to click and convert.
For example, over the holidays parents of teenage girls and teenage boys demonstrate distinct search behaviors. Although the iPhone 7 is a popular search for many consumers, the parents of teenage boys are 31% more likely to search for this product, while parents of teenage girls are 42% less likely.
Wells Fargo Targets Mortgage Calculators
Let’s say Wells Fargo wants to reach more people who are researching mortgages. A quick analysis shows that “mortgage calculator” searches result in a lot of traffic to banking websites. Because this keyword isn’t branded (i.e. “chase mortgage”) it offers a great opportunity to compete for rankings.
“Mortgage calculator” searchers skew towards 35 – 44 year olds, especially amongst men. Women actually represent the largest percentage of “mortgage calculator” searchers—especially older Millennial women. Millennial women are of particular interest, as they are likely earlier in their mortgage research phase.
When Wells Fargo launches its mortgage calculator, these insights can help them optimize paid search campaigns and target key demographic segments.
3. Craft Compelling Content & Copy
The best content addresses the topics that consumers care about most, and answers the questions they are actually asking. In this section, we explore how to use audience data to personalize content and copy creation.
Men vs. Women: Same Protein Powder, Different Strengths
A nutrition company is looking to create content to drive more organic traffic, particularly from women visitors since they tend to spend more than men. They create a portfolio of protein-related searches to identify which searches women vs. men are more likely to conduct.
As you see in the chart below, women show a strong interest in learning about foods that are high in protein. Past their “top five” terms, women showed greater interest in high-protein diets. Meanwhile, men are highly interested in protein powders and shakes. Both genders share an interest in “whey protein” but women are significantly more likely to click through this term organically, suggesting they are a prime audience for clicking to a blog post about “Top Ten Health Benefits of Whey Protein” or “3 Simple Whey Protein Shake Recipes to Feel Fuller Longer.”
Passionate vs. Practical: The Importance of Consumer Attitudes
Keyword rankings, demographics, and search behavior are incredibly useful metrics, but they don’t always reveal your most passionate audience.
For example, both men and women conduct travel research, buy flights and book hotels. But women tend to have much stronger opinions about travel overall; this passion can be important to quantify when planning content or creative campaigns. Let’s say Airbnb wants to understand the attitudes of vacation renters, in order to improve the content strategy of their Wanderlust blog. As you see below, women see travel as a form of personal expression, and something that helps define their public image. Meanwhile, men are less likely to hold any strong opinions on travel; they approach vacation planning more practically and demonstrate less investment in finding the perfect, unique experience.
NYT Readers: Getting Personal
Beyond basic demographics, readers’ relationships and opinions shape the content they consume. Understanding lifestyle can help content creators like New York Times ideate topics, features or even entirely new sections based on themes that appeal to their readers on a more emotional level.
4. Increase Value of Partnerships
Co-branding can help you reach engaged audiences within another brand’s passionate community. But first, marketers must evaluate audience overlap and market opportunity to reduce risk and increase the value of partnerships.
Auto Brands and the Race to Spotify
Let’s say four major auto brands Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyndai are vying to partner exclusively with Spotify. They want to offer car buyers a free 2-year Spotify membership, along with a simple in-car app integration. How can Spotify select the best car company to partner with? If you measure auto buyer segments against Spotify users, there may be a clear “winner” in terms of overlap and shared market penetration.
Fitbit & Kohl’s: A Match Made in Heaven?
For apparel brands and product manufacturers, partnering with a department store can provide broader reach and visibility. Fitbit is already sold in many major retail stores across the country—but how might they go about selecting the best department store to create a major co-branding campaign with? The behavioral data of Fitbit’s audience suggests that a partnership with Kohl’s is a natural fit:
An Eco-Friendly Twist?
Fitbit fans are more likely to agree with eco-friendly statements:
Perhaps Fitbit can explore a recycled plastic sourcing company, or reach out to non-profits and donate a percentage of sales to environmental causes?
5. Home Your Channel Strategy
Your website drives traffic from hundreds of sources — email, search, social media, blogs and more. Identifying your strongest channel drivers allows you to double down on what’s working. Audience insights can help you optimize traffic from your best channels.
Flying Higher Than the Rest
In this section, we’re going to look at Delta as an example of channel strategy. Below are three key sources of traffic to Delta.com (excluding travel aggregator sites like Expedia), as compared to their biggest competitors, United and American. As you can see, Delta is falling behind in search, while excelling at driving traffic from email and social media:
The largest channel driver to most airline websites is search, predominantly from Google. Delta has fallen behind American Airlines and United in search traffic. How can they better optimize?
The top searches currently driving traffic to Delta.com are variations of the word “delta.” Rather than tracking keywords they’re already ranking for (which hasn’t been effective so far), what if Delta looked at the travel terms their customers are searching for? By analyzing the travel searches of confirmed Delta customers, they can better serve people who are already willing to purchase Delta flights.
People who have already purchased Delta flights conduct more searches for “flights to cuba” than American and United customers do, suggesting an opportunity for Delta to optimize paid search campaigns around this destination. Delta customers also to search more for “priceline” and “expedia;” perhaps Delta should strengthen partnerships with these travel aggregators.
Doubling Down on Social Media
Social media is an exciting area of channel opportunity for Delta, who drives the most social media traffic compared to both United and American Airlines. If we break that down by social network, you can see traffic to Delta.com from all three major social networking sites, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter has increased over the last three years:
Delta.com could use audience data to tailor their social campaigns. For example…
1. Create a series of Facebook campaigns targeted to women. Focus on the experience and inspiration of selecting a destination (see page 14 for details on women and travel attitudes).
2. Create more content for their YouTube channel, specifically focused on attracting male audiences (who dominate the YouTube space, but remain an untapped audience for Delta).