The holiday season is upon us, and marketers are salivating trying to understand consumer behavior. This makes sense. It’s the busiest time of the year and billions of dollars will be spent shopping online and in retail stores.
We know intuitively that consumer behavior is shifting. The way that we purchased products today is different than the way we purchased products yesterday. And tomorrow will be different too.
To understand this dynamic, marketers like to create personas to visualize who their customers are and understand their behaviors.
I came across this interesting article from Forbes. It highlighted eight strategies for identifying target customers and it was based on feedback from members of the Young Entrepreneur Council on Forbes.
I must admit that it was pretty basic, but it could be informative to new marketers. Here are the eight strategies.
- Conduct Interviews.
- Consider Product Popularity.
- Use SEO Tools to Analyze Website Visitors.
- Leverage Customer Data.
- Get Your Product in Users Hands.
- Check Your Competitors.
- Listen To Social Media.
- Create Buyer Personas.
Now, I think this is all very good advice, but most of this is marketing 101. I would like to drill down in a couple of areas though mentioned above.
Leveraging customer data, listening to social media, and creating buyer personas are all related. If fact, I would venture to say then the combination of these three things are necessary components of an audience analysis.
There are hundreds of ways to analyze different audiences on the Internet. In fact, I would say that the combination of primary research and audience data is probably the most effective way to get a 360-degree view of their entire persona.
Let’s take for example architects.
An architect is someone who uses software to design a space. It could be a residential home, and office space or an art gallery. I know from experience that architects are extremely active on social media. They are heavy users of Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They’re also not shy at telling the world what they do for a living.
It’s not uncommon that an architect will say that they are an architect in their bio. One way to do a social analysis is by leveraging bio data to build an audience of architects. Once the audience is built doing a follower analysis will uncover affinity data for certain media sites, influencers, brands, and interests.
The next step would be to analyze their conversations. What are they talking about online? What hashtags are they using? One could assume that they’re talking about certain projects they are working on. Perhaps they are sharing photos of before and after to showcase their work and grow their business.
Maybe they’re also talking about the technology that they’re using for designing various spaces. I’m sure they’re also talking about their favorite sports teams or perhaps complaining about the local politicians.
For the most part, this type of social data will tell marketers the “what” and answer questions like, “What conversations are they having?”, “What topics and trends are they discussing?” and “What media publication are they reading?”
In some cases, sophisticated marketers or analysts might spend an extra 20+ hours and mine the conversational data to understand the “why”. This takes time and effort, but it is possible.
This is where primary research comes in. If you can use social data to form several hypotheses about an audience, you can then validate those hypotheses through highly targeted primary research. I must say that this is probably the most effective way to do it, and it’s also the most expensive.
This formula is the foundation of building data driven buyer personas.