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Many companies believe they have a strong understanding of their audiences, but every once in a while, a company misses the mark. At best, the company sees a decline in sales before changing its brand messaging and rebounding. At worst, the company gains national attention and tries to run damage control in the face of a boycott. Neither of those options are particularly appealing.
Fortunately, audience research and behavioral analysis is easier than ever in the digital age. Plenty of tools exist for unearthing your audience’s interests and pain points, including software for testing various concepts. Find out how you can conduct a deep dive into your audience so that your brand messaging hits the mark.
Image via Flickr by bobbi vie
Google Analytics takes a high-level approach to interests. While Google Analytics highlights demographics and location, it also uses its own behavioral analysis to review what customers like when they’re shopping. For example, an apparel retailer might discover that two popular interests include crafting and traveling. While behavioral analysis is a popular choice for small businesses that don’t have the budget to invest in expensive behavioral analysis, some holes can exist when discovering what customers want.
Knowing your audience’s interests is a crucial step toward developing brand messages. For example, the team at Jumpshot found that fans of a major shoe retailer check YouTube for sports highlights and trick shots, movie trailers, and rap videos, particularly Suicide Squad and Young Thug. Based on this information, they could take multiple steps toward including these interests in the shoe retailer’s content marketing, such as hiring sports superstars to create video tutorials of soccer trick shots, including music from artists in video ads, or commissioning original pieces of music from the artists.
Instead of guessing what customers might like, behavioral analysis provides a definitive answer to what customers want and allows brands to easily deliver those wants to them.
Multiple social media channels such as Twitter and Pinterest have tried to monetize through click-to-buy tools over the past few years. Instead of purely ad platforms, these sources want to become e-commerce drivers by convincing customers to buy as soon as they engage with a brand. This approach has provided mixed results, mainly because of audience behavior.
Typically, social media falls in the top of the sales funnel. Customers are looking to learn about a brand and its lifestyle, but they may not be ready to buy. For example, Jumpshot evaluated different online platforms that customers visit during their purchase journey: YouTube video views, Google searches, and Amazon product views. YouTube content was at the top of the funnel, but this source didn’t convert customers immediately. The content consumption gave audiences an opportunity to engage with the shoe retailer.
Google searches were in the middle of the funnel. The customers were considering purchases, but they were still in the research phase to find the best price. Amazon was the channel that converted. Customers who landed on the site were ready to make their purchases. Through this information, the shoe retailer was able to create a customer sales funnel to move audiences from interest and awareness through to conversion.
By understanding where customers are in the sales funnel when they engage with your brand, you’re able to better create content that appeals to them. Let’s use website traffic as an example. Depending on the brand and industry, the first touch on your website can either be a top-of-funnel experience or a bottom-of-funnel conversion:
One company might bring customers to its website to educate them about its brand and services. Audiences initially aren’t sure why they need the products or services.
Another company might bring customers to its website who are familiar with its products. The company will offer coupons or free trials to get people to make purchases.
Even if the companies offer similar products, their landing pages would look completely different.
Jumpshot estimated that a 20 percent increase in customers starting the checkout process on the shoe retailer’s website would double the company’s total transactions. In turn, the company would need more customers to visit the website with an intent to buy, not browse. Through site analysis, Jumpshot was able to learn that cart abandonment wasn’t as much of a problem for the shoe retailer as starting the purchase process itself. By adjusting the sales funnel and catering to customers in a way that helped them convert to purchasers, the shoe retailer was able to increase its revenue.
Your audience isn’t one body of people who all think the same. Just because Jumpshot found that the shoe retailer’s customers generally like Young Thug, that finding doesn’t mean that everyone who owns the company’s gear listens to rap. While audience personas can highlight interests and create multiple markets to cater to, they can also shed light on the purchase process.
By analyzing third-party marketplaces such as Zappos and Amazon, Jumpshot and the shoe retailer were able to identify secondary audiences who still buy their shoes online, but not on the retailer’s website itself. These customers want to engage with the brand, but they behave differently than website customers. Namely, they want a deal. This behavioral analysis further put the focus on the shoe retailer’s digital sales presence and allowed the company to cater to other markets outside of its primary customers.
Behavioral analysis tends to be reactive when companies want answers to questions about why certain problems are occurring within their companies. However, proactive evaluation can allow brands to make smart decisions about their products and marketing, further ensuring they hit a home run with their messages and with their targeted marketing approaches. An ounce of research on the front end about your audience (what they value and why they value certain items) is worth a pound of scrambling and backtracking when you miss the mark with your content marketing efforts.