Q&A: 5 Facts To Know About Audience Definition

audience defintion  In this article we sit down with Dr. Jed. C. Jones, co-founder of MindEcology and the agency’s chief data scientist, for a chat about audience definition and what it means for your business.

Q: Jed, what is audience definition?

“In the marketing world, it’s the process (and the outcome) of narrowing down and characterizing the prospective customers for your business. By ‘audience’, we mean the people who are most likely to engage with your company in a manner that results in a conversion—or in other words, a purchase, an opt-in, a donation, or a registration—any action you’ve identified as the ultimate outcome in terms of what defines a customer for your business.

Audience definition, which is sometimes also called best customer profiling, is an absolutely essential component of any marketing strategy that has even a snowball’s chance of being effective.”

Q: Why is audience definition so important?

“Without it, you’re forever at risk for what we call ‘spray and pray’ marketing and advertising, instead of doing smart strategic marketing and advertising that’s more likely to lead to conversions.

It’s a very crowded, noisy marketplace, even for businesses that don’t really have much competition. There is an extraordinary amount of competition for our attention as customers, whether it’s as consumers or as B2B customers. This clamor means that it’s critically important for businesses to get the right message in front of the right prospects, so that the business has a better chance of capturing those prospects’ attention.

Contrary to what a lot of business owners and even marketing chief execs want to believe, “everyone” is not your prospective customer and never will be. This is true for all organizations, including giant global brands like Coke or McDonald’s that have a mass-consumer type of customer base. You better bet that even with huge teams and marketing budgets in the millions at their disposal, these guys still define their audience so that they don’t waste time and money getting the wrong messages in front of the wrong prospects. “

Q: What does the process of audience definition look like?

“You have to hire a qualified agency, one with the appropriate research or data science chops, to pull it off. It’s not quantum physics, but it is a sophisticated process that involves quite a bit more than just looking at your Google Analytics, mixing in some hunches and hoping for the best.

The process we use at MindEcology, called MatchPoint, takes your business’s historical data about its customers and uses that data to create a mathematical model of your existing customers and customer prospects. We then use that model to create a customer profile, which in turns helps us predict which types and groups of prospects are more likely to do business with you.

The last part I just mentioned—about audience or customer segmentation— is very important. It’s not enough to just identify your prospective customers, you need to have them grouped and ranked into segments based on their demographics and propensity for doing business with you.

For example: The customers in Group A may be 5 times more likely to do business with you, and the people in Group B only 3 times as likely. BUT: The people in Group B, when they do convert to customers, are predicted to spend 2 times as much with you than those in Group A. Depending on your priorities for your business, you can leverage this intelligence to laser-focus your marketing resources accordingly. “

Q: What happens when a business doesn’t have any existing data, like with a new business?

“A good marketing research agency can still help you. Let’s say you’re opening a zoo with a tropical theme. We can find data points for people who like zoos, who like to eat at the Rainforest Café, who love animals, who go to Hawaii, and so forth. We’ll use this data to create a predictive model of prospective customers who are likely to visit your zoo and spend money there.”

Q: What about cases whereby a business has been around for along time? By that point, doesn’t the business know their own customer, even if they have never gone through an audience definition exercise?

“I’ll put it to you like this: I get up every morning and look at my own face in the mirror while I shave. I know it better than anyone else does. Yet, a doctor who has never met me before can take an X-ray of my skull and discover things that I’ve never seen, never knew existed, even though it’s the same head I’ve had since I was born.

That’s what we do with audience definition. We take an X-ray of our customer’s business and help them get a clearer picture of their customer landscape to reveal insights they’ve never been able to see before.”

Q: That sounds really cool. Do your findings typically surprise your clients?

“They can indeed. In many cases, our research confirms about 75% of our customer’s own beliefs but casts them in a new, more detailed light. But often the other 25% of the research leads to what we call an ‘A ha!’ moment of insight, when a business realizes that they have a potentially rich segment of untapped customers that they didn’t even know were there. We love it when these moments happen, because we know that’s the beginning of smarter marketing for our clients.”

Related Articles:
“5 Reasons Why Everyone Is Not Your Customer”
“Is Data A Mirage?”
“Choosing Target Customers For Better Marketing Advantage”

We’d love to help you find your business’s marketing audience. If you’re ready to start doing smarter marketing, let’s talk.