Reinventing Target Audiences: Using Data to Understand Consumer Behavior

William Skelly

Consumer Behavior, Customer Acquisition, Marketing

June 24, 2024

Reinventing Target Audiences: Using Data to Understand Consumer Behavior

Customer acquisition is a top priority for the majority of businesses. For marketers, the plethora of strategies and tactics for attracting new clients can be overwhelming. From social media, content marketing, email and direct mail to experiential and event marketing, connected TV (CTV) and programmatic advertising, there are many ways to reach out to prospective customers and target audiences.

Building Better Buyer Personas

Marketers create buyer personas to make certain they’re reaching the right target audience who will be most interested in their products or services. As the profile of the ideal customer, a buyer persona includes the important characteristics of the individual and decision maker who will purchase from you.

The essence of constructing superior personas lies in revisiting the fundamental matrix of your data and consider a paradigm shift by introducing personas on a multi-dimensional axis. The conventional dichotomy of prospect customers who are interested (or In) and consumers who aren’t a good fit (or Out) fails to capture the nuanced variations among individuals. People exist in gradients of engagement, not merely confined to binary categorizations. Furthermore, the willingness to take action, irrespective of persona alignment, adds another layer of complexity that demands acknowledgment.

It’s also important to identify two groups who won’t benefit from messaging, which will save marketing dollars:

  • Consumers who would act without influence and
  • Those who are too difficult to influence.

True advancements in persona development entail embracing three-dimensional representations that reflect the intricate nature of the individuals we want to market to and aim to engage. Transitioning this concept into customer acquisition, it becomes apparent that understanding the multidimensional facets of your target audience is paramount.

Key components of buyer personas:

1. Demographics and Psychographics
Buyer personas consist of demographics, professional status, education level and more. Psychographics are the personality, interests, lifestyles, values and attitudes of a target audience.

2. Information and Influencers
Understanding the target audience’s sources for information and important influencers are also critical. What are the preferred news sources, websites, blogs and social media? What events or conferences do they attend? Which industry leaders do they look up to and who are the influencers they trust?

3. Customer Challenges
Knowing the problems that consumers are trying to solve is key. The buyer persona should incorporate the challenges they’re facing, obstacles, friction points, inconveniences and areas of frustration. Knowing the customer’s pain points will help you create solutions that address the target audience’s issues.

4. Buying Process
When the customer is ready to buy, what’s the process for making the purchase? Is this person the ultimate decision maker or do they influence the decision? Are there forms to complete or does your organization need to get on the preferred vendor list? What are the barriers to making an immediate purchase decision?

Collecting Information for Buyer Personas

Marketers can collect information for their buyer personas through direct customer feedback or by conducting their own surveys of current customers. They can also identify trends and customer pain points by monitoring social media activity on company-owned accounts as well as competitors’ and industry adjacent social media conversations.

There’s a rich resource of government data readily available, including the Census Bureau or Bureau of Labor Statistics that provide demographics and market trends. Industry research is accessible through trade groups and industry media.

Partnering with data scientists within your organization or employing data consultants allows access to data analytics that can unlock consumer behavior, preferences and interests. They help develop strategies to attract your target audience.

Reinventing Target Audiences

Data consultants who are at the forefront of predictive and prescriptive modeling can help turn your organization’s raw data into actionable intelligence. Through advancements in AI, data scientists combine key demographic, lifestyle, and consumer behaviors and feed into machine learning algorithms. Those algorithms score every individual within a population, predicting their likelihood to hold a certain point of view on a specific topic. These predictive scores can be used individually or combined with other scores or characteristics to create targeted universes.

To support customer acquisition strategies, marketers need to appeal to both logic and emotions – persuading prospective customers to take action. Other consumers are open to making the purchase, supporting your cause or taking your requested action, but may need a reminder to move forward. By leveraging the latest in data analytics, predictive and prescriptive modeling, marketers can create better buyer personas and deepen understanding of their target audiences.

William Skelly is founder and CEO of Causeway Solutions, a leading provider of Acquisition Analytics and innovative data services. Bill serves as advisor with some of the nation’s most influential organizations—from grassroots public affairs efforts to U.S. Presidential campaign strategies. Causeway Solutions empowers clients to make smart, timely, data-driven decisions through real-time consumer insights to better reach target audiences. Learn more at Causeway Solutions.