12 January 2016 | Cynan Clucas
People know about Convert Agency (formerly Nerv) across the world because of our reputation for delivering killer campaigns that actually convert engagement into sales - a reputation we're quite proud of. But you might be surprised to learn that we’ve got a process for campaign targeting which almost always guarantees these successes.
It Starts With A Brief
We often get briefs from clients which they believe to be very targeted, but when you look more closely at the detail provided, there is usually a gaping hole in the information surrounding customer targeting and business objectives.
For example, we recently received a brief from a leading fashion retailer targeting woman aged 25-35. That was it. We would argue that that's not campaign targeting - that’s licking your finger, sticking it in the air and hoping the wind is blowing in your direction.
If we asked you to describe your aunt, would you say, ‘well, she’s my mother’s sister’, and stop there? Or would you talk about the type of person she is? Would you mention her name? Her age? Her height and weight? Her musical taste? Her dress sense? How far could you go in, say, 60 seconds to describe your aunt in detail?
In the example of a campaign for a retailer targeting 25-35 year old women - in real life, are all 25-35 year old women the same? Are their personalities identical? Do they all have the same job and aspirations? Do they all hang out with the same group of friends who are exactly the same as each other? Do they dress the same? Do they wear their hair the same? Do they watch the same TV? Do they listen to the same music? Do they make their choices in the same way based on the same influences?
Of course not. So why would we plan any kind of marketing spend around such a flawed assumption?
Building a targeted audience through Buyer Personas
“Customers are precious. They are unique and different from each other, and in the digital age it has become our responsibility to understand and meet their needs.”
So say Notter and Grant in their excellent book, Humanize: How People-Centric Organisations Succeed in a Social World.
Defining a targeted audience is about building descriptive personas of those people you are looking to reach. It’s about describing your aunt in enough detail that a stranger would recognise her from your description and be able to have a warm conversation with her.
If your brief doesn’t define customer personas in that amount of detail, you’re not targeting.
And if your brief is not specific about the kind of engagement you want from your target audience, you’re also not targeting.
That’s where our process begins. We’ll help our fashion retailer to decide how many different types of 25-35 year old women they are trying to reach, and then flesh out the characters of these women so completely that they become real people, not tokens.
We’ll give them names. We’ll identify their likes and dislikes. We’ll define what words to use to connect with them most effectively. We’ll discover which social networks they use and for what reasons. When we’re finished with our personas, we’ll have ‘real’ people to talk to, not vague data ranges.
The reason that persona creation works is simple - when we are making decisions about what campaign tactics will be effective, we can make them objectively against our what our personas will like or not like. To learn the ins and outs of creating your very frist buyer persona, be sure to use this article as a guide.
Personas allow us to more accurately evaluate opportunity, causality, value and utility - factors which inform the hypothesis of a campaign idea and which directly influence engagement.
This is summed up perfectly by Notter and Grant:
"The digital mind-set is about enabling a personalised focus on the customer that was simply impossible in any previous era.”
In planning around personas, we’re reducing the guesswork and working towards helping customers discover more relevant content, make more informed choices, and complete tasks more quickly and in context. And if we make our customers' lives easy, then we're delivering a good customer experience.
That’s what makes the difference between a so-so campaign, and a runaway smash hit.
Aligning Your Campaign Targeting To The Needs Of Your Customers
But we also need to establish what we want our target personas to do. Do we want them to buy something specific? Do we want them to join our email list? Do we want them to visit a store? Do we want them to share their experiences with their network?
How specific can we be in aligning the needs our customers have from our brand with our brand’s business objectives?
Once we’ve aligned a campaign idea and underpinned it with a clear strategic direction that delivers on these elements, we can consider how the activation looks and how people will interact with it.
This service and interaction design is informed by what we know our personas to be warm to and how they feel about things and because we’re designing with empathy, that makes engagement and conversion amongst our target audience significantly more likely.
If you're interested in planning a campaign, learning how to define a targeted audience, or just want to know more about what we do and how we do it, we're happy to share.