When searching for tangible, actionable insights about the people you hope to turn into customers, you have to look past the obvious sources and tools. Who are you targeting? What are your target’s habits and patterns? How do you reach people in different demographics? These questions form the base of the marketer’s quest for customer intelligence. Here are a few underutilized tools and methods to gain audience insight.
The Audience Insights Tool: Don’t Give up on Facebook Just Yet
Facebook is where your aunt posts pictures of her dog in a Halloween costume. Young people have been abandoning the network like rats on sinking ship for years now. Facebook isn’t exactly a place to go to learn about customers, right?
Not so fast.
Facebook Business has really stepped up its game when it comes to audience research. In 2014, the network launched Facebook Audience Insights, which is a tool that gives marketers a better window into their customers’ behavior and patterns.
The tool enables marketers to break down customers into three categories:
From there, you can learn about each audience’s past purchases, page likes, purchase history and Facebook activity, as well as their aggregate information, such as demographics and geography. Audience Insights is not the same as Page Insights because the audience tool goes beyond page interactions like comments and shares.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the tool is redundant. Ecommerce giants, like Shopify, are offering services to bring Facebook marketing to the masses. The more ways you use Facebook, the more data you can gather for your marketing intelligence.
Big Data for the Little Guy
Big data is a vaguely defined concept regarding the gathering, storing and analysis of massive data sets for all kinds of purposes, most notably marketing data. Until recently, only the biggest companies with the most resources have been able to succeed at the complicated, costly endeavor of collecting and interpreting big data.
But audience insight through big data is now available to the common marketer. In 2014, Forbes predicted that big data would shape online marketing over the following year. One method is through retargeting, which is when businesses partner with third-party big-data miners to gather information on a website’s visitors, and then use that data for cookie placement on the visitor’s computer. The Custom Dimensions feature on Google Analytics is another way the average marketer can harness the power of big data.
Create Buyer Personas
Buyer personas, or marketing personas, are user-centered models in which marketers create fictional characters based on a comprehensive analysis of behaviors and patterns. These characters become templates for the actual human beings that marketers are hoping to turn into customers. These templates represent a composite of a specific market segment, but they are far more in depth than traditional demographic profiles. The process of building marketing profiles — which may include A/B testing, progressive profiling, sentiment analysis and personal interviews — will give you such intimate insight about your customers, that you’ll actually give names to the personas that represent each segment.
Experian: Beyond Credit Reporting
Experian is best known as one of the three major credit reporting agencies (the other two being TransUnion and Equifax). But Experian — a company that is essentially in the data business — offers a powerful suite of marketing tools, including AudienceView. AudienceView enables marketers to break down markets into often overlooked segments, such as seasonal customer behavior, changing demands, activities and lifestyles, as well as the difference in customer behavior online vs. offline.
Before you can gain actionable customer insight, you have to know where to look for that intelligence. Facebook, which has been written off in so many circles, is actually a great place to start. Get crafty with your search for audience insight and leverage the power of companies that collect data for a living, such as credit reporting agencies and big data miners. In the end, marketers who succeed are the marketers who excel at analyzing data.
Nick Andrew Rojas is a self-taught serial entrepreneur who has worked with various startups as a business consultant. He’s also a journalist focusing on technology, marketing, and social media. He loves to connect so reach out on Twitter! @nickarojas
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