Audience Targeting
April 18, 2016

5 Creative Approaches to Finding New Customers with Data from iMedia

Do you want to grow your business? Sure. Do you want more customers? Of course you do! The problem is, so does everybody else.

According to a February Forbes survey, 42% of executives cite expanding their customer base as their top strategic priority. By comparison, 31% prioritize maximizing the engagement of existing customers.

With every marketer—since surely the other 58% wouldn’t mind having more customers either—striving for the same goal of growing their customer base, how do you take a data-driven approach to drive new customers?

It all comes down to being flexible and creative with your first-party data, said Judith Hammerman, VP of National Media Sales at Connexity during the iMedia Commerce Summit in Nashville.

Here are five top tips from her presentation to help you use data to find new customers:

1) Define Personas:

If you’re looking to target an audience with tailored data, the first thing you need to know is exactly who they are. Looking at a combination of your customer’s demographics, online behaviors and past purchases allows you to develop audience personas who you’d like to go after. The fact is, most companies have multiple personas, and strategically segmenting can uncover new personas based on not only their demographics, but also where and how they shop.

For example, as a result of search and panel data provided by Hitwise (a division of Connexity), Disney developed entirely different personas for its online and in-store shoppers. They found that in-store shoppers were generally younger moms buying toys for their kids. Meanwhile, the online shoppers were more likely to be older single women who were Disney collectors, often buying things for themselves. Based on these findings, they developed entirely different personas based on their online and in-store shoppers, which allowed them to tailor the shopping experience more carefully.

2) Discover Surprises:

In the process of defining personas and conducting in-depth audience research, poring over the data can open your eyes to parallel or surprise audiences who fit your brand. Several panelists described an experience where themselves or a client uncovered a surprise customer base that they might not have expected at first glance.

During the presentation, Lisa Bradner, VP & Head of Commerce & Shopper Strategy at Starcom described a moment when Lego (their client) stumbled on a hidden customer base, and was faced with a choice of whether to brush it off or dig deeper. In the process of researching and understanding their audience, Lego identified a few middle-aged adult male lego fans who built complex lego structures in their parents’ basement. Instead of waving them off as a few socially-awkward adults with an odd hobby, they treated this segment as entirely new customer base, who Lego set out to serve with online communities, events, and highly-tailored marketing. Being open to surprises in their audience—and embracing this new, unexpected audience—unlocked an entirely new revenue stream for Lego.

3) Connect In the Moment:

The purchase journey isn’t a linear process; it has become a winding series of micro-moments. It’s important to understand and respect where consumers are in their buying process, and react to their needs in that moment—rather than pushing a product on them.

As Bradner explained, “Clients always ask, should I put a “buy” button on all my display media? And the answer is ‘no’.” It’s important to look for signals that indicate where they are in their journey—whether they’re looking to learn more about the products or just learning about your brand—and you may choose to encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter first, rather than bombarding them with products.

“As commerce is evolving, understanding the signal data is incredibly important,” Bradner added, “because you may not get another chance to sell to them.”

Hammerman also stressed the importance of distinguishing between shopper interest and signals of purchase intent, which is something that Connexity specializes in. A person who reads relevant fashion content or visited your apparel website may just be interested in clothing and fashion, whereas somebody clicking through product pages has demonstrated a clearer intent to buy. In order to hit shoppers in the right moment and with the right message, you need to read these signals and tailor your creative to help them make the next decision (which is not necessarily the decision to buy).

4) Model New Customers:

Understanding your own customers and first-party data enables you to expand your reach by modeling a larger, look-alike audience. This refers to a larger group of people who share common characteristics with your customers, but aren’t your customers (yet). Bradner suggested that all marketers ask themselves, “Who am I not reaching?” Whether it’s discovering new audiences or going after the personas they’ve identified, marketers should challenge their data partners to help them get there.

5) Strategic Partnerships:

Two heads are generally better than one and it’s no different when it comes to building on your data. There is no question that your first-party data is the most reliable and your greatest asset; but in order to remain competitive you must seek out strategic partnerships with third-party data providers who can add their own unique value to your data profile.

Whether you take advantage of third-party data vendors to help you better understand your own customers or to expand your reach to new audiences, “You just can’t do it all yourself.” Bradner explained. “There’s just too much changing in this market. So interrogate your partners, and ask more of them—but also lean on them to stay smart and grow.”