Are Demographics Dead? How Data is Driving Better Marketing

Once upon a time demographics were demographics. You had your baby boomers, you had your young professionals, you had your over 50s and you had the youth market. Those days are now well and truly gone. No more guesswork, no more flaky customer personas based on intuition, online data is helping to build a truly insightful picture of who your customers are and how to target them. Welcome to the brave new dawn of psychographics.

The idea of very broad demographic groups is flawed in more ways than we have space to detail here. But one key issue is that they simply don’t exist. 600,000 young professionals between 23-27 don’t all behave and buy in the same way. If this was true before, it is even truer now. With the rise of technology, we are all free to find our own sub-genres, explore our own niches and transcend those rough, unfit-for-purpose stereotypes of marketing’s yesteryear. Trends take off and get forgotten faster than ever before, which means that a one-size-fits-all approach simply wastes your marketing budget.

Fortunately, data is now driving better marketing, helping us to pinpoint the perfect target market and provide advertising which works, very specifically for them. Instead of a female, 20-something renter working in publishing, we now have a 24 year old woman with a girlfriend, living in Glasgow, university educated in Edinburgh, spending around £300 online per month with a highly active social media presence, earning £22,000 as an assistant editor – and more. So where does all this data come from?

Social profile data

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – data from social media is accessible and extraordinarily valuable. Relationship statuses, educational information, occupation, interests – all this and more can be gleaned through social profile data management tools. Some clever companies are even working on systems which can extract valuable information semantically from status updates – all building an incredibly detailed picture of each customer and where they fit in your target market.

Behavioural data

We all know about cookies, especially since the EU’s rules forced all sites to display their cookie policy up front. Cookie-centric adverts which follow users right across the web are now prevalent but relatively unsophisticated. However, this kind of behavioural data can be used more intelligently to target users in a more nuanced way. Instead of just displaying the item they viewed on the original site, this type of targeted advertising is now developing to predict where each person is on their purchasing journey – providing smarter ads as a result. Soon we will see online ads better suited to the mindset of the target customer, based on their online behaviour.

Lifecycle data

The ‘long game’ is a very interesting one in the world of psychographics. With so much information about target customers, it’s becoming increasingly possible to accurately predict the next phase of their life (going to university, buying their first car, getting their first job, getting engaged, buying a house, getting married, having their first child  – you name it) and to market accordingly. This gives marketers the insight they need to offer the perfect product or service at the most promising time – and enjoy higher click throughs and conversions as a result.

All of this data is creating a much more complex, highly functional form of demographics but it still takes a great deal of skill and specialism to make it work in a marketing scenario. However, in time, psychographics are set to become the only way to accurately define and advertise to your market – and the results promise to be outstanding.

Until this technology and insight becomes more accessible, you can still use online data, particularly social metrics, to make your marketing smarter. To learn more, why not discuss your options and possibilities with Xander Marketing on +44 (0)330 223 2770 today?

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