Want to know your customers and speak their language – across multiple markets? Got a limited marketing budget? Then it’s time to get strategic. Reliable audience profiles will help.
Ready for an obvious statement?
Your customers expect you to know them well. And personalize your services accordingly.
Clearly, to engage your customers personally, you have to understand them. Which is where audience profiles come in.
They’re comprehensive but digestible summaries of your target customer, designed to help you focus your efforts on the people most likely to buy. They’ll show you which messages to publish on which channels, to turn prospects into customers, and customers into loyal fans.
So far, so marketing 101.
But what happens when you expand into new markets?
It might be tempting to simply hand your original audience profiles to your new German team. That would be a mistake.
Yes, there are similarities between markets. But audience profiles aren’t just a compilation of demographic data. Perceptions, interests, attitudes and behaviours all matter. And they’re strongly influenced by culture. Ignoring these differences could mean your message sinks before it even has a chance to take off.
Here’s how to create audience profiles ready for any market.
Start with a deep-dive into your website analytics. Who’s visiting your site now? What does this say about your audience?
The Demographics and Interests reports in Google Analytics are a great place to start. These default reports show useful information such as age, gender and location, as well as the wider interests of your current website users.
Then speak to your sales and customer support teams. Their front-line role means they’ll be able to share plenty of insights about your customers’ behaviour and pain points.
Add context to what you’re learning with market research. Carry out a PEST analysis and run surveys to prove (or disprove) your initial ideas about your audience. For best results, think carefully about the wording of your questions. And make the most of your survey tool’s targeting options so you only send your survey to a relevant sample pool.
Take Audi, for example, who launched their flagship A8 model in nine Middle Eastern markets. They found that people with the necessary income level were younger than elsewhere. And they often worked for government-related industries. These cultural insights helped Audi choose the right channel for their campaign – LinkedIn. As a result, they reached 300,000 prospective buyers, with an open rate of over 66%.
Generalizations are dangerous. But there are key trends between cultures that are worth taking into account.
1) HIGH OR LOW CONTEXT?
High-context cultures – like Japan, the UAE and Mexico – rely on implicit communication. They’re usually collectivist in nature and value relationships.
Low-context cultures – like the UK, US and Germany – prefer everything to be spelt out and kept simple. They’re more individualistic.
This trait can affect design, data visualization and density, and even channel preferences.
2) POWER DISTANCE
This term refers to how accepted social inequality is. Should a leader be a servant of the people or does their position set them apart? In other words, how important is status? Australia has a low power distance; Russia is at the other end of the scale.
What does this mean for marketing? A higher power distance often translates into a stronger preference for status brands.
How often have you seen words like ‘indulgent’, ‘decadent’, naughty’ or ‘sinful’ used in advertising?
It’s typical of high indulgence cultures like the UK, where individual freedoms are valued. Here, effective appeals encourage consumers to treat themselves or exercise their own choices.
In more restrained cultures like Bulgaria, social benefits and frugality take centre stage.
Each culture has a unique combination of traits and will require a unique approach to advertising. Which is precisely what makes this research so interesting.
SEGUE INTO SEGMENTATION
Once your research is complete, clear segmentation is the logical next step. Confirm which customer groups have the most potential, including any new or related groups for your target market.
In many countries, multilingualism is the norm. India has 22 official languages. In the UAE, English and Hindi can be as important as Arabic, due to large migrant communities. Whichever country you’re targeting, make sure you know which language your customers are using. Because if your customers can’t understand what you’re saying, you’re wasting your breath.
If you’re planning to send a survey, bear in mind that culture influences response style too. For example, responses from Brazil or China are more likely than Japan to include extremes.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
It’s hard to talk persuasively to a data cluster. And ultimately, no matter how good your segmentation, there is no average customer – only complex individuals. Put a face to your data with an accurate audience profile. Create a person who characterizes your customer, and speak to them. It’ll allow you to speak your customers’ language. It’ll also give your marketing and content teams the tools they need to keep up – no matter how large your brand grows.
So how do you turn segmentation into an audience profile? The questions to ask will depend on your audience, brand and industry. But here’s a selection to get you going:
- The basics: age, gender, nationality, language, education
- Where does your customer live? And with whom?
- What are their strongest personality traits?
- What are their core values?
- How important is family? Are they married and do they have children?
- Where do they work?
- What are their biggest worries?
- What are their attitudes to money?
- How do they spend their leisure time?
- What is their typical path to purchase?
- How do they consume content?
- Which channels do they use most often?
- When and how do they browse online?
- Which devices do they use?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can turn your segments into accurate audience profiles. (Google’s Consumer Barometer is a great place to start your search). Don’t forget to revisit them often. Your customers don’t stand still – as they change, so should your profiles.
To engage your customers across the world, you have to understand them. Your customers aren’t just data points – they’re individuals with their own tastes and preferences. By building practical, comprehensive audience profiles, you can speak to them in a language they’ll understand and relate to.
Of course, this is only the first step. For audience profiles to be valuable, they actually have to be used. So share your profiles across your company, train your colleagues in how to use them, and incorporate them into your marketing activities.
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