Marketers have depended on demographic targeting for years as a route into the consumer mindset. But demographics don’t help us understand what we really need to know, about what really drives engagement. As a basis for segmentation, demographics don’t predict the needs and values of consumers within a particular product or service category very well and are poor predictors of behavior.
Many times, marketers find themselves relying on a “best guess” scenario where we make broad generalizations about who we want to reach. Campaigns based on stereotypical conclusions such as, “only young men are interested in searching for video games”, and are targeted accordingly.
Demographics can get you in the vicinity, but we’ve learned that a consumer’s intent to engage can’t be correlated to a specific age group, geographic location or life stage. For example, Google reported that marketers who try to reach their audience targeting demographics risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers*. What does this mean? Well, Google also reported that more women search for video games on mobile than you’d think. Only 31% of mobile searchers for video games are men ages 18 to 34*. Target only men, and you will miss a large audience ready to engage.
Marketers need to target consumer intent, not age groups or life stages. Digital audiences search for and gather around topics. Target topics, and you’ll reach everyone interested in that topic and the products and services relevant to that topic, whatever their age or background. What’s more, the consumers who ‘click’ to view topic-focused content create a tangible, measurable “signal” that they have expressed interest in that topic.
Expanding your targeting beyond the all-mighty demographic leads to creative and effective ways of structuring a marketing campaign. Starting with a relevant topic set at the beginning of a campaign will give clear, precise guidance to a campaign’s messaging. And, unlike keywords are an inexhaustible supply that will evolve with your campaign. The foundation of a great strategy doesn’t start with stereotypes or generalizations —it starts with a foundation of topics that relate to your brand or products, real facts, and data.