In marketing practice, buzzwords are as ubiquitous as copy. Some come, and some go, but the ones that stay are of far-reaching, intrinsic value that better your efforts and customer satisfaction in some way. With this in mind, it’s a fair bet that psychographics are about to demonstrate some impressive longevity. Through a more comprehensive understanding of what drives customer actions, using research and analytics to fuel the endeavor, your materials and distribution can see greater permeation than ever before.
What They Are
Despite the curious title, psychographics are not as bewildering as their name might imply, and understanding their nature, use, and acquisition can breed a great deal of success in marketing efforts. At their core, psychographics are profiles of individuals that focus on lifestyle, habits, and tendencies, reaching beyond traditional demographic information and seeking more valuable data from user behavior.
For a better understanding of exactly what comprises one of these profiles, let’s look at a hypothetical user and see what we can learn from them. We’ll begin with John, a 32-year old office worker from Los Angeles, California. For the sake of thoroughness, let’s assume that he’s married with two children, has an income of approximately $60K per year, and owns his own home.
While all of this information has some kind of use, it doesn’t tell us much about him outside of raw data. What we want is information about interests and habits in order to better understand his motivations. A look at John’s Facebook page shows likes on pages related to fantasy football and an application that tracks player injury status. His Twitter page shows pictures of his family in a snowy location, holding ski poles and wearing goggles. Each of these social channels has some kind of activity, but a look at his Google+ page shows that most of his time is spent there.
What we have now is a wealth of information regarding John. He lives in Los Angeles and probably commutes. He enjoys fantasy football and skiing. He has a wife and two kids, all of whom are also active and athletic. He spends most of his time on Google+, and is young enough that he probably uses multiple devices to access information on the Internet through various media channels.
How They Work
The power of this profile is manifold. As marketers and business owners, you want to understand where to put what information and when, so that the right people see the right things and think better of your brand or purchase product. To this end, John’s psychographic is a boon to our work.
First of all, as a working commuter with multiple channels of access, we have a better understanding of John’s browsing habits. He likely checks social networks and news channels in the morning and at night, before and after work, possibly stopping during the day to check his mobile phone during breaks. He uses Facebook and Twitter but is mostly found on Google+. Therefore, assuming John is the type of customer we want to recruit, our marketing is best published across multiple social networking channels, preferably Google+, during the morning (before 8 AM), afternoon (around lunch time), and evening (after 5 PM).
But logistics aren’t the only use of psychographics. A better understanding of user behavior gives us the added benefit of what kind of content should be published. As we noted, John likes to travel, ski, and play fantasy football. In terms of sales deals, airlines could offer discount tickets around wintertime, restaurants can offer deals for customers with a valid lift ticket, and sports magazines can offer price cuts on subscriptions around fantasy draft season. In terms of content, a travel magazine could create a review of the best ski slopes in Colorado, a sports website could offer insider information on sleeper picks, and an eCards website could offer templates for email postcards incorporating winter sports.
The incredible thing is, all of this came from a better understanding of customer behavior. Multiple industries, multiple businesses, and multiple aspects of marketing all arose from discerning the interests and habits of a target customer. With this kind of information available from only a judicious application of research, the last question that remains is how to obtain it.
How to Get Them
Start by leveraging the information you already have. Website analytics, past purchases, and social networking activity provide a sort of “back end” approach to customer research. Pay attention to what articles or offers performed well, what channel has seen the most success, and what kind of engagement your current topics are seeing. By looking at past successes and drawing some ideas from them, you can save money and build a decent bank of knowledge.
But customer behavior isn’t limited to online engagement. A thorough understanding of user interests and habits requires a great deal more insight; insight straight from the source.
Customer surveys are a good place to start since they offer a large sample size. The key is to ask the right questions, looking specifically for behavior and interests, offering the chance for open-ended answers where applicable. In your approach, be honest about your intent. Personal information is more guarded than ever in an increasingly privacy-aware society, but explaining your intent is an excellent way of disarming respondents through trust. Furthermore, most customers are more than happy to share this kind of information if it improves the relevance of information and product offerings.
Reinforce this broad-base data collection with customer interviews and focus groups. By inviting customers to meet or offering to converse with them over the phone, you’re providing an opportunity to ask responsive questions and delve further into fruitful areas, instead of relying on rote questionnaires. In addition, putting a human face on your efforts (and including refreshments if the meetings happen in person) is an excellent way to show customers that you care, increase engagement, and build relationships in the process.
Between these methods of research and an intelligent understanding of the worth of the data obtained, your business stands to expand its reach and its relevancy through psychographics. Focus on the characteristic behaviors, habits, and methods of communication that drive customers’ day-to-day lives and use that information to better craft content and logistics of publication. With an open ear and an aim toward seeing people instead of numbers, your content, relationships, and bottom-line, will all benefit.