Focus on the Facts and Stop Guessing Who Your Future Customers Are

Mark Twain said, “The truth is stranger than fiction, but that is because the novel is forced to stick to probabilities. The truth is not.”

Mark Twain can be a great talking chief marketing officer. why? Because it will focus on the facts.

As an industry, marketers frequently rely on audience segments to determine who to target with digital media. This is a performance limiting approach because it depends on who you think your customer is – not who they actually are.

Going beyond segments is a paradigm shift for many marketers, but ultimately it comes down to rooting your prospecting campaigns in a deep, as opposed to superficial, understanding of your best customers — and finding more people who truly look like them.

Why is this shift so important? How did Mark Twain get it? lets take alook.

Even a really good split misses the point

As digital marketing has matured over the past two decades, marketers have been able to reach people they may not know at all, with third-party data and media activations across multiple channels. They can use third-party data to create lists of customers who match important general behavioral or demographic characteristics of an “ideal” customer profile. It could be: health enthusiasts, discerning shoppers, women between the ages of 25 and 35, pet owners and everything in between.

The amount of digital data has only grown over the years, and so the natural evolution of marketing has been to make every chip smaller and more accurate with that new information.

That’s the number of marketers working today, and it remains the industry standard. Sure, you can reach a segment as small as 50 people, which is (admittedly) very specific. But even in a slice of 50, you still have 50 unique individuals who are probably a lot more different in person than they are on paper.

It’s not entirely the wrong way to liven up media, but it misses the primary goal of marketing: getting your message across to the right people. Segments, no matter how small, contain a lot of people who don’t look like your best customers. Marketing to these people is pretty much a waste of time and money.

slices of one

And as much as people – especially marketers – like to say they have good instincts, those instincts only take you away when stacked against ideas that come from first-party data.

When you use third-party data to create hashed lists based on behavioral or demographic traits, you’re basically guessing that all people, say, health enthusiasts will love your organic cake.

But if you actually look at the best current clients and model your list of leads among them, you will find a much better match than your instincts alone, as well as quite a few leads you probably never thought of. For example, my father-in-law loves military parades. At the age of 80, he bought an MP3 player to keep his collection, but I doubt anyone marketing MP3 players would have thought of him as a potential customer. Mark Twain Will Love It – Stranger Than Fiction.

The first slides allow you to replace ineffective rifle methods of marketing with laser targeting, and you can use the money saved to focus on reaching the best prospects. In short: Instead of attracting a broad audience and relying on them to self-select your brand, you start with the right people and guide them efficiently through the entire buyer journey.

The results speak for themselves

Today’s marketing technology has advanced AI to the point where we can build model audiences optimized for each campaign to reach the right people and eliminate waste every time.

To illustrate how effective this is, we had one customer test the performance of two campaigns:

  • Audience A: Build an audience of their existing top customers using individual customer IDs based on first-party data.
  • Audience B: Using third-party data to segment audiences by behavioral traits.

Although both campaigns spent the same amount, Audience A had double the reach and performance, and the cost per associated outcome was 45% lower.

Compare another customer’s performance:

  • Audience A: An audience similar to first-party data
  • Audience B: a behaviorally segmented audience of a third party
  • Audience A: A third-party demographic audience

The cost per result associated with audience A was $1, which is only 10-15% of the cost of other audience campaigns at $10 and $7.

Truth is stranger than fiction, so rely on the truth

We are in a period of transition: moving from an old method of digital marketing, centered on traditional, segment-driven mass media targeting, to a new, personalized method. Instead of starting broadly with a “guess” at the top of the conversion funnel, you use your knowledge of your existing best customers to target new ones.

Instead of guessing, just know. That’s what marketing technology can do today, and as you’ve seen by the numbers here, it makes a pretty big difference. While there is greater scrutiny on marketing budgets and smaller teams, every ROI improvement matters. Take a page from Mark Twain and focus on the facts – you’ll never lie, and your marketing will be better for it.

Leave a Comment