Unlocking Audiences for Brands: Uniting Client Goals with Demographic Research

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Analytics can tell you a great deal about your client’s user base: their demographics, interests, age, gender, and locality. But often this data doesn’t match up with who your client thinks they’re reaching, especially for small business owners who don’t have the budget for consistent market research. Market research isn’t cheap –  large companies can spend thousands of dollars on primary or secondary research, but other companies rely exclusively on local feedback and historical knowledge. Uniting your client’s instincts with actionable data from social media, keyword research, content analysis, and analytics creates a hyper-local strategy to reach and meet their most interested clients. There are four key strategies available to marketing companies who want to take their clients beyond mere traffic increases to high ROI and conversion rates.

  1. Analytics Data: Understanding Your Client’s Demographic

The first step to creating a hyper-local strategy is to understand the true customer base of your client’s website. Audience is often ignored by digital marketing companies in favor of looking at traffic trending and page activity, but it shouldn’t be. Comparing user demographics to page use unlocks key information like:

  • What age demographic should be a client’s target for highest ROI, based on total sessions, unique visitors, and conversion rates.
  • What age and gender demographics are underperforming compared to client goals and expectations of audience.
  • How mobile, desktop, and tablet traffic compare – especially for conversions. Conversions do drop on mobile as users come back later on desktop, but are the numbers what you expect or are there unseen usability problems?
  • How browser traffic compares to current national or global usage – especially key for uncovering website bugs on an insufficiently tested site.
  • What states and cities provide the highest traffic and conversions to focus on for increased ROI.
  • What states and cities provide high traffic but low conversions for retargeting campaigns.
  • What audiences are interested in – extremely useful information for crafting targeted social and paid search campaigns.
  • Current audience demographics compared to the understood demographics of age, income, and lifestyle that your client may (or may not!) have.

This data needs to be analyzed and compared frequently to clarify customer expectations, deliver targeted campaigns, and understand the performance of previous marketing strategies. Agencies must relate their demographic information to client goals as this unlocks the ability to truly shape their total audience rather than their current user base.

  1. Primary Research: Social Media

The second step is to conduct social media research to understand how users interact with a brand before they get to the client’s website. Customers are happy to express their preferences, opinions, reviews, likes, and dislikes online, and this free information provides the ability to refine and target ongoing leads. Unfortunately, social media information is often left in a silo; only used to better social strategy rather than ongoing PPC, SEO, content, or branding strategies.  Comparing social media metrics to the Analytics data gathered also lets you know how many users convert via social media versus those who don’t leave the original platform.

It’s also possible to conduct research (to an extent) on your client’s competitors, which can be key to crafting a superior strategy tailored to competitor disadvantages in local markets. You’ll also be able to more intelligently distribute resources to markets that offer the highest ROI, and away from markets where you won’t be able to effectively outcompete. Clients aren’t always comfortable making this type of decision themselves, so this is something a responsible and transparent agency should do.

  1. Secondary Research: Benchmarking

A client doesn’t just want to outperform themselves year-over-year; they want to outperform their competitors. But, unfortunately, only the former data is provided routinely by most agencies. This is where appropriate benchmarks must be provided, as they set appropriate client expectations and provide context to ongoing industry standards. An increase from 30% to 37% in mobile use might sound great, but when smartphones and tablets make up two-thirds of consumers’ digital time, it becomes a little more dubious.

Digital marketing benchmarks must be provided with organizational benchmarks by industry. Your client may be aware of direct competitors, but reading reports from other organizations and industry blogs provide vital insights. Keep in mind that your research must be of comparable companies – you don’t want to size your small business owner up to an international brand. Look for sources from companies of similar size, geographic area, ownership structure or franchise, and of course, industry. Don’t rely only on Google Analytics benchmarks; those industry settings are too broad to tell the real story. A digital agency should know more than just the digital news. They must stay on trend with the struggles, changes, seasonality, and champions of the verticals they’re working with.

  1. Uniting Data: Creating Strategy

When an agency understands a client’s customer base on- and off-site, this illuminates sales records in a profound way. When a client’s willing to provide internal data reporting it is then possible to move beyond solid metrics to profound strategies, proving return on investment and providing goals that deeply improve their company.

Product marketing is often based on broad metrics rather than the hyper-local focus of what that city’s customer base is truly interested in. This ignores local slumps, indifference, excitement, or conversion hikes to the client’s peril. Watching shifting trends and narrowing down on market-by-market advertising, month by month, delivers truly stellar results. Some companies can’t bridge the gap between offline and online sales, or offline foot traffic and online site traffic. An agency that works in this sphere goes beyond reporting to build a true relationship.

Thinking Outside of the Silo
In today’s world client KPI’s must be defined by their local market alongside long-term goals or their success will never reach its potential. Clients need a hyper-local strategy and an agency that can unlock their customer base with analytics data, demographic information, and market research.

Anna Chandler is the SEO Manager at Go Local Interactive — a full-service digital marketing agency that partners with national and regional brands across a wide variety of industries including home services, retail, financial services, and e-commerce.