Part One: Developing Your 2017 Digital Marketing Strategy – Aiming High

The consumer path-to-purchase has never been more challenging. Over 80% of journeys span digital and physical channels and consumers demand experiences that are personalized, convenient and seamless from browse to buy and beyond. All the more reason for us to Dream Big and Aim High.

Digital marketers need to map each point across the series of interactions that occur from awareness through advocacy that deliver on the modern consumer’s expectations and incorporate surprise and delight along the way.

Customer target

More than likely you know your customer levels like the back of your hand, but it is beneficial to outline personas when creating your marketing plan. Marketing roles go beyond the general sort into detailed descriptions, which can provide assistant in identifying opportunities to reach all of the consumers that form your target audience.

For example, you might aim for middle-aged mothers differently from the way you target young single women, because their priorities are diverse. Their browsing, social media and search lifestyle likely differ as well, which influence ad placement and targeting.

 Buying cycle

Undoubtedly, you know your sales cycle. As you strategize your marketing strategy, be sure to account for the different steps in the cycle and how you intend to facilitate movement throughout the funnel.

  • How can you drive additional low-funnel traffic?
  • How long does it typically take for consumers to move through the cycle?
  • Where are consumers dropping out of the funnel?
  • How can you nurture your pipeline?
  • How will you drive top-funnel traffic?

Stay tuned for additional digital 2017 marketing  tips!

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How to Make Your Advertising Content Relative to Your Audience

Effective advertising aims tailored messages to clearly identified market segments, or target audiences. The act of aiming obviously depends on knowing where to point. Consequently, the best way to create relevant content is by starting with a concise definition of your target audience — knowing where to point. Acquiring insights into their characteristics and buying motivations equips you with the knowledge to develop messages that resonate with that target audience.

Target Audience Profile

Defining your target audience requires specifics. You need a composite picture of your target audience that includes its persona as evidenced by its demographic profile and its psychographic profile as evidenced by its attitudes, opinions, values, aspirations and lifestyles. Use whatever demographic attributes you believe are most relevant for your profiling purposes. Age, sex and education attainment might be very important. But, religion, ethnicity and home ownership may be unimportant. Take care that your demographic variables are germane to an actionable target audience profile. By going through this exercise, you may discover that you have multiple target audiences separated by age group, for example, which require different advertising content.

Probe for Understanding

Much of your demographic data can be obtained from secondary sources such as census data or from an inexpensive survey of customers and prospects. Psychographic characteristics are not that easily attainable, unfortunately. You may have to gather this information by using focus groups or a more formalized survey that structures probing questions about emotions, perceptions and buying behavior without being offensive. Ultimately, you want to arrive an understanding of what triggers the buying decision and an expression of the key benefit that’s associated with your business, which aligns with that buying-decision trigger. This is the proprietary benefit that separates you from your competition.

The Advertising Goal

Having completed the upfront work of developing a composite picture of your target market, you’re now prepared to address the question of what you want the advertising to accomplish in view of the information acquired in defining your target. Your advertising goal is an expression of moving the target audience’s perception and attitude about your business, product or service from its current position to where you want it to be. The change typically translates into the wanted change in audience usage of your product or service. The goal of your advertising could be a change from a negative to a positive or a change from unknown because you’re a new entity to a positive attitude.

Persuasive Strategies

You effect change in the existing perception and attitude about your business based on a unique user benefit that drives buying decisions, which your target associates with your business, product or service. The user benefit must be relevant, compelling and believable based on what you learned about buying-decision triggers in developing the target audience psychographic profile. The benefit is the centerpiece of your advertising content that persuades your audience to make a purchase. You can use rational persuasion with a benefit that appeals to logic or an emotional benefit that appeals to instinct. Many marketers encourage using both, because shoppers tend to buy based on instinct and justify their purchase based on logic. What’s important is that the benefits resonate with your target audience.

Demographics in Advertising Strategies

by George Boykin

You have two options when selecting the audience to receive your advertising messages: You can engage in mass advertising that reaches everybody in your market area, or you can target your advertising to reach specific segments of your market area. Marketers use demographics in target advertising. Demographics or demographic profiles describe certain characteristics of unique market segments that are targeted to receive your advertising messages.

Understanding Your Market

Mass advertising is financially out-of-reach for many businesses regardless of size. This is why marketers have found demographics quite useful in understanding and categorizing market segments according to socioeconomic characteristics, which are observable and measurable. Socioeconomic characteristics are commonly accepted as predictive markers for buying behavior. Typical examples of demographic variables are age, gender, ethnicity, education, occupation, income level, marital status, religion and family size. These characteristics are often called the external reality because they describe the “who” of your market segment — what’s observable about their economic and social status relative to others. Demographics allow considerable flexibility to input the characteristics that are most relevant to your target market. The only qualifiers are that they be observable and measurable.

Demographics in Advertising

Demographics govern advertising message content and media vehicle selection. For example, the message, the imagery, the music and the latest buzzwords that are used in laptop computer advertising that targets teenagers would likely be inappropriate in advertising for the same laptop computer that targets retirees. Moreover, you will have better success reaching teenagers on teen-oriented programs than on the Sunday morning talk shows. Your challenge as an advertiser is to match your advertising message with the demographics of your target market using the most effective vehicles to reach that market.

Demographics Limitations

Demographics tell you about the external realities of your target market — who is buying and likely prospects for your product or service. Demographics do not explain why consumers select certain products or services while rejecting others. Marketers needed a better grasp of the “internal” qualitative elements of human behavior that shape buying decisions. The resolution to these qualitative concerns is found in psychographics. Psychographic analysis explores attitudes, opinions and personality traits that shape shopping behavior. When you combine demographics with psychographics, you get a quantitative and qualitative picture of your target market. This composite picture helps you to develop more persuasive advertising messages and select more efficient media vehicles to reach your target market.

Developing Targeted Advertising Strategies

Thanks to target advertising, you can create messages and use media tailored to shoppers with demographic and psychographic characteristics that are typical of your current and likely customers. You can build a demographic profile of your target market from public databases and from low-cost surveys. Marketers frequently use focus groups to develop psychographic profiles by asking probing questions of respondents that share similar demographic traits. Focus groups can prove to be costly. Nevertheless, investing in focus groups to develop a psychographic profile that complements the demographic profile of your target market could be invaluable in developing a targeted advertising strategy for your business.

 

Attitude Factor in Market Segmentation

by Lori Hubbard

Market segmentation involves dividing a broad target market into smaller like-minded groups of consumers. Traditional demographic segmentation strategies include age, gender, income, occupation, geographic location and education level. Values, attitudes and lifestyles can also be used to segment an audience. Attitude segmentation helps marketers better understand their customers and their perceptions and behaviors.

Beyond Demographics

Demographics identify the markets; they don’t explain the markets. Demographic segmentation methods tell which customers share the same age, gender and purchase behavior, but they do not explain the motivation for the behavior. For example, a demographic segmentation assumes that people who share the same age category have common purchasing habits. This can be true to a point. However, a male and female with different incomes may be the same age, and yet may have wildly different purchasing patterns. Attitude segmentation goes beyond collecting information on the consumer and offers greater insight into why customers buy.

Consumer Attitude

Attitude is a predisposition to respond positively or negatively toward a product or service. Consumer attitude almost always influences a purchase decision. How a consumer feels about your product can be as important as the physical attributes such as size and color. A teenager may buy a sweatshirt that is too big or not the preferred color because wearing the sweatshirt makes him feel cool. Learning how consumers feel about products assists marketers in crafting marketing messages that appeal to these positive, non-tangible product benefits. Learning of negative feelings toward a product helps marketers develop messaging strategies to overcome barriers to purchase.

Assessing Attitude

Marketers are able to define attitudes of consumers through research. Written attitude surveys are widely used as an assessment of the feelings of the population toward a brand, product or company. A questionnaire using a measurable scale is useful in garnering qualitative data. Personal interviews and focus groups provide an opportunity for more in-depth conversation regarding opinions about a brand. Statistical analysis creates attitude profiles from the collected data, and marketers use these profiles to understand the motivational and non-conscious factors driving decision-making.

Future Behavior

The goal of attitude segmentation is to develop a prediction about how consumers will behave in the future. Marketers want to determine the likelihood a consumer will make a future purchase. There are emotional reasons why customers buy, beyond the practical needs, which can’t be captured by traditional demographic research. Leaning whether primary motivations are price, quality, service or some intangible connection a consumer has with your product or service leads to more effective marketing communication strategies to drive future purchases.

 

What Impact Does Culture Have on Market Strategy and Segmentation?

by George Boykin

To fully appreciate the impact that culture has on marketing strategy and segmentation, it helps to understand how these three variables interconnect. Because marketing strategies target well-defined market segments, you can’t have marketing strategies without market segments to target. Moreover, culture is a pervasive descriptor that helps to define market segments. Hence, culture is to market segments as market segments are to marketing strategies.

 Market Segmentation

Small businesses rarely have the resources to effectively compete against major corporations in the general market. They usually prosper by identifying and targeting under-served market segments of the general market, where their goods or services match the needs and preferences of specific market segments. Market segmentation is the process of dividing the total or general market into well-defined market segments that share similar characteristics. Such characteristics, often called demand characteristics, have been found to shape shopping behavior in terms of needs, wants, preferences and expectations. Marketers usually employ four segmentation tools to create market segments: geographics, demographics, psychographics and behavior segmentation.

Influence of Culture

Most definitions of culture center on shared characteristics of a particular group attributed to factors that might include a common language, geography, religion, dietary preferences, lifestyles, music and art, education and national traditions. In effect, culture encompasses most everything that influences behavior, including how information is cognitively processed to make purchase decisions and the intuitive ideals that shape belief systems. In turn, these influence consumer behavior.

Deconstructing Consumer Behavior

The pervasive influence of culture becomes apparent when applying the four basic tools of market segmentation to deconstruct the major influences that characterize market segments. Using geographic segmentation, for example, the cultural orientation of a central-city resident likely differs from a rural farm resident. Using demographic segmentation, the cultural orientation of a household with a $10 million annual income likely differs from a $30,000 a year household. Culture impacts psychographic analyses by helping to identify the emotional drivers that explain why market segments behave as they do and behavioral drivers, which help to explain the relationship that market segments have with product categories and brands within those categories.

Marketing Strategies

Many marketing savants often define marketing strategies using abstract concepts such as “concentrating a company’s scarce resources to maximize profit potential” while neglecting to include “target customers” or market segments in their definitions of marketing strategies. However, it’s critical to identify the likely market for a product or service as the overarching first priority. Moreover, by definition a company must properly segment their audience and select a target market before a product or service can be finalized to address the specific needs of that segment.