What is Audience Profiling and How Does it Work?

Marketing
5 min. read

Lorna Keane / May 18, 2017

Audience profiling is essential to understand where to spend your time and money for the greatest return on investment. By knowing exactly who your audience is, you can define a target group to focus your activities on those most likely to complete the goals you want them to.

“Customers buy for their reasons, not yours.” ~ Orvel Ray Wilson, 1984.

With the tools to create ideas that stick, access to this data is urging marketers to veer away from traditional segmentation based on demographics to more comprehensive profiling, covering every aspect of the customer journey, and all four core marketing disciplines.

Audience profiling and the core marketing disciplines

  • Segmentation

Segmentation was once the starting point for every brand, used to better understand their target audience. Splitting consumers into designated groups based on demographic data like age, gender and location used to be the only way to drive more targeted campaigns.

Today, this process has taken on a whole new meaning.

With the help of global data and platforms that track consumer behaviors and perceptions on a massive scale – it’s now possible to create custom audiences within seconds and build accurate audience profiles.

These not only take into account specifics like age, gender and location, but lifestyles, attitudes, self-perceptions and interests. This way, you can create data-driven personas that are true to life, and easy to understand.

Here’s how to do it with GlobalWebIndex.

  • Messaging

Creating messages that resonate starts with understanding the perceptions you want to shift.

Using audience profiling to quantify the perceptions that are blocking or powering repeat purchasing gives you the tools to know what to say.

Take the ‘Lidl Surprises’ campaign for example – having uncovered the insight that most Brits still perceived the quality of their produce as low, the team knew which perceptions they needed to shift.

With this in mind, their messaging could take on its most audience-centric form , with in-depth data giving them a glimpse into the interests, attitudes and desires they could tap into.

  • Engagement

With this level of audience understanding shaping the messaging that’s sure to resonate, the next step is knowing where to place it. Engaging today’s consumers means knowing where they are, and what they do.

With audience profiling data looking at consumer behaviors across platforms, devices, channels and social platforms, you can figure out where, when and how to reach them.

Uncovering these insights specific to your audience means elevating your voice in the right way, for maximum impact.

  • Measurement

Every marketer today understands the need for measurement.

By continuously quantifying the impact of your efforts, you can tweak, optimize, and repurpose your marketing to better reflect your consumers.

But getting the answers you need is a key challenge, especially when it comes to social media. Research by HubSpot reveals that 88% of marketers say they need a better understanding of how to measure this kind of ROI.

The reason for this uncertainty comes down to the quality of marketing data in existence today. While some social analytics offer the insights you need on a basic level, the many flaws of web analytics is well documented. This comes back to an over-reliance on passive data and ‘probabilistic’ solutions.

To ensure the data you’re tracking is both accurate and informative, it takes more robust tracking like GWIQ – providing audience targeting validation and measuring campaign effectiveness.

This closes the loop on audience profiling, giving marketers the tools to measure their activity with reliable data that reflects real people.

Here’s how to do it with GWIQ .

For agency planners, audience profiling data is bringing about much needed change in the way they work – putting consumer insights at the heart of everything they do.

Today’s brands need creative ideas to be backed up with data they can trust. They want statistics that prove their targeting is accurate and their efforts are quantifiable. They want to know everything there is to know about their customerswith data that finally answers questions like:

  • Is this the right target audience?
  • What defines them?
  • What are their perceptions of our brand?
  • What social networks do they use?
  • What does their average day look like?
  • How do they make purchasing decisions?
  • What does their journey with us look like?

For creative agencies like WeAreSocial, audience profiling helps them to unveil the “fundamental truths” about their consumers that help them drive the most successful campaigns.

“In the simplest terms, it’s trying to move one step further past the consumer to the person to understand the interpersonal things that happen around them”, says Jamie Robinson, Global Research and Insights Director.

For Tom Primrose, Strategic Planner at Southpaw , the entire marketing process is powered by these insights.

This helps the teams to create a pen portrait of their consumer , giving creatives that 360-degree view of who they’re targeting.

While for GroupM Malaysia, who have been relying on audience profiling for over three years, this data has played an increasingly pivotal role in their marketing efforts, helping them to take a more targeted approach.

Why Does it Matter?

Audience profiling is now widely accepted as the only effective way to gather the insights brands need to define, segment, and profile their consumers.

Without these, you won’t be able to understand who your audience is, or how to reach them for maximum impact. This is why marketers can no longer afford to rely on data for just one part of their process.

Four out of five marketers (80%) cite understanding consumer data as one of their most important considerations today, highlighting data analysis as a “vital” skill for their organization.

But to reach today’s consumers, it takes far more than the data we’re used to seeing. It takes understanding behaviors, perceptions, attitudes, desires, needs, wants… This is a key challenge for marketers, as consumers are far more complex, more demanding and more in control than they’ve ever been.

No longer passive viewers, they’re actively engaging with media in more ways than one, deciding what, when and how they’re exposed to advertising. And with over 37% of internet users now using ad-blockers (a number steadily increasing), it’s clear that traditional tactics will no longer hold up.

Taking advantage of the ease with which they can access free content, post reviews, interact with brands and make purchasing decisions, today’s customer journey is almost unrecognizable, spanning a number of touchpoints – each one carrying more importance than the one that precedes it.

Expecting a personalized experience at every turn, consumers anticipate more of what they want from brands, and less of what they don’t.

This means veering away from the interruptive tactics of old, towards more personalized, valued content.

Unveiling the ‘fundamental truths’ about your consumers, audience profiling holds the key to creating messages that resonate. Changing the face of marketing for the better, leading agencies, brands and publishers are using this kind of data to power insights-driven marketing that puts consumers first .

It’s now possible to personalize the branding experience for every single consumer, so there’s simply no excuse not to.

What is audience profiling and how does it work?

An essential tool to know where and how to invest your marketing, it means no longer using data for just one part of the process, but across all four core marketing disciplines:

Segmentation
Messaging
Engagement
Measurement

Want to give audience profiling a go? Get started with a free trial.

Get the Free GWI Social Q1 2017 Summary Report