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GUEST COMMENT A new way for retail brands to find their target audiences

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It’s a well known mantra of marketing: Know your audience. Having an understanding of who you are targeting provides a focus for shaping your products and services as well as your content marketing activity. But it is now possible to delve much deeper than the traditional ‘persona’ approach, whereby people are segmented by demographic data alone. In the digital age there is so much more insight to be gained, from what music your potential audience listens to, to what emojis they use. If that sounds like a lot of information, it is. But you’d be surprised at what can be relevant to the type of content you should be creating.

Retail brands have been amongst the first to take advantage of these kinds of insights. For example, when the bag-maker, Herschel, which is popular amongst a younger generation, delved into who their audience really was (apart from their age) they found that there was a significant number of rap music fans. This information helped shape their content marketing strategy. Cue interviews with rap artists on their website and messaging that resonated with that audience.

Similarly, Timberland boots have an audience that crosses a broad spectrum of interests, including fashion models, hikers, musicians and street-wear fans. Each group have their own values and opinions about the product and even different ways of wearing the boots (with different outfits for example) and certainly have different requirements (outdoor-use, fashionable, hard-wearing etc). So a content strategy needs to take that into account.

The new approach to audience personas

Demographic data now needs to be combined with psychometric data to provide a more rounded picture. It’s not good enough to target ‘millennials’. Yes, they’re a group of people aged 18-34, but what else? We now have the ability to go beyond the basic demographic information. After all, if you want people to be interested in your content, you have to find out what will make them interested. You need to talk to them about what they feel passionate about. You’re not going to be able to figure out what that is based purely on their age and marital status for example. You need to know what they’re into – whether it’s mountain biking, painting or indeed rap music. You also need to know what kind of content they engage with, what they watch/read, what they share/comment on and more. Essentially, what excites, motivates or inspires them in the digital / social sphere.

Find your tribes

So as well as personas, you need to look at ‘tribes’. These are particularly important in retail due to the diverse nature of potential customers for any given product. You may want to target female millennials for example, but they could be interested in politics, swimming, motorbikes, or almost anything. To find out who they really are we suggest you follow a few simple steps in order to understand your audience better:

1. What content interests them?

By identifying what content your target audience reads/watches you’ll be one step closer to understanding what they would like to see from you.

2. What content do they share/engage with the most?

This will give you insight into the style as well as content that your target audience thinks their peer group is interested in.

3. Who are their influencers?

Who do they follow? How would the influencers categorise themselves (foodies, tech experts etc)? By finding the influencers, you also find the interests of your audience.

4. What other brands do they follow?

Understanding what other products/services they like can give you an insight into their interests, shopping habits and more.

5. How do they identify themselves?

They may describe themselves as anything from being ‘opinionated’ to being a ‘cat-lover’. It’s all useful insight into who your audience is.

6. What emojis or adjectives do they use for brands?

Whether positive or negative, you can learn what works and what doesn’t.

From this information it is possible to build up a picture of your target audience, step-by-step, and see what they’re genuinely interested in, rather than simply who they are.

Be more effective

Getting your content strategy right is more important than ever. You have to earn the attention of consumers and draw them to your website or shop – essentially you have to really focus on inbound marketing. At the heart of inbound marketing is content. At the heart of content is the audience.

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with an enterprises without interacting with a human, according to Gartner*. It makes sense. Almost no one goes into a shop to buy a product nowadays without looking into what’s available for what price first.

By ensuring you create relevant content, designed specifically to appeal to your target audience(s) at the awareness and consideration stages, it is much more likely that it will be viewed/read/engaged with. It is the first step to making sure you’re connecting with the people you want to buy your product.

The upfront investment may be larger but your content will be better optimised, more valuable and more relevant. It means you will reduce the risk of failed content marketing efforts, and maximise investment, so delving deeper to really understand your target audience is definitely worth the extra effort.

Tom Chapman is business development director at Headstream


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