Effective Psychographic Audience Intake for the New World of Big Data


If you’re like most marketers, it’s probably been a while since the audience intake questionnaire you use has been updated, and it likely hasn’t kept up with psychographic targeting changes. We as marketers have an insane amount of data at our fingertips that we dial in to calibrate channels and effectively deliver our message to the correct audience.

Read on to distill customer persona profiles for psychographic targeting and audience intake questions that probe the very same psychographics marketers are easily able to target in many channels.

Fact is, when Facebook expanded and segmented its profile questions, psychographics really exploded. Early in Facebook’s life, users were simply asked, open-ended, to “tell us about yourself” with no real direction. Information could literally be anything, and most certainly incomplete in the eyes of marketers. In 2010 Facebook began guiding users about what to disclose AND CATEGORIZING THEM. Brilliant. Though not all social profiles are equally as robust, psychographic targeting is pervasive through big data integration.

Identify marketing channels

First, it’s important to have an understanding of the marketing channels and their targeting capabilities. AIMCLEAR covered the social targeting universe at a high level to give marketers an understanding of what targeting is available in each social channel. For example, it’ll do you no good knowing your target persona is an upper-middle-class father in his early thirties who loves the outdoors — specifically fishing — and you’re stuck advertising in Twitter. Marketers can target men who are into fishing in one campaign and men who fall under the “parenting” category in another campaign, but neither campaign could qualify users as being BOTH by using the “AND” operator.

From customer persona to psychographic target

Marketers often receive customer personas, a (sometimes VERY) detailed portrait of a customer segment usually featuring alliteration like “Technical Terry,” “Financial Fran” or “Assistant Ashley.” These are a great place to start.

Customer profiles are common, especially in the B2B space, and typically designed for sales folks — not those tasked with targeting or actually finding the persona segments. As marketers, we must boil these assumptions down to what we know is targetable, at scale, and test the profitability of established personas.

Smart psychographic marketers know to look beyond these specific illustrations and translate persona details to salient psychographic targeting variables. For example, “they went to a private school” could also mean they come from an upper-income household. The small-business owner with two part-time employees likely means they’re the marketing department, accounting, HR, purchasing and may also be the lead salesperson.

Now on to the customer audience intake questions, with segments specifically for B2B, B2C, new products and established products.

Audience questions to always ask

No matter B2B or B2C, new or established products, the following questions uncover audiences based on what marketers can target. Some questions may elicit more than one answer (e.g. age ranges), while in other cases clients may be prompted to explain an insight about the product availability or audience insight. All good things.

  • Who are your brand competitors?
  • Who was this product made for, specifically?
  • What problem does this product solve?
  • What age range uses this product? What age range buys this product?
  • Is this predominantly purchased by men or women? Both equally?
  • How much does financial status play a role?
  • What are complementary products/services?
  • What are competitive products/services?
  • Where and how is the product/service available?
  • Does the product/service depend on certain geographical qualities such as:
    • Only available in <CITY> or <STATE>
    • Urban vs suburban vs small/medium-sized town vs rural
    • Common weather (tornado or hurricane zones, fault lines, perpetually sunny/good weather, bitter cold winters)
    • Near mountains vs flat plains
  • Is the product/service generational?
  • Are there existing influencers/brand evangelists for the product?
  • What traditional marketing and/or native advertising placements are being used (e.g. quarterly advertisements in Horse & Hound magazine, commercial placement on SirusXM Canada Laughs, podcast sponsorship of Savage Love, native content on Marketing Land)?

Specific audience intake questions for new products

Targeting new products can be tricky as startups may be mired in the product, not the details of the potential audience. Put on your investigative journalist hat and cull questions from those above while asking these audience intake questions for new or recently launched products:

  • What sparked the idea? What problem did it solve?
  • What’s different about it? Why should consumers care?
  • Are there demographic (e.g. moms 30-39) or psychographic (e.g. dads who are in protective service jobs like security or police) groups that would buy this product more than others?
  • What is a comparable existing product?
  • Do you need another product/service to use the new product/service?
  • How is the product being released/launched?

Specific audience questions for established products

Legacy brands have the advantage of data — if they’ve been keeping up with the digital curve, that is — from Google Analytics to Facebook Audience Insights. Though these brands may have serious, well-developed insight into their customer personas, audience prospecting isn’t necessarily slam-dunk easy. Dig in to new opportunities with fresh eyes, potentially more data and targeting options, and the following questions:

  • Are you seeking new brand awareness or (re)engaging existing fans?
  • What customer niche is this for?
  • What other brands or products does the buyer also like (complementary or competitive)?
  • Are there brand/organizational partnerships (e.g. 10 percent of profits goes to building wells in Africa or supporting the Red Cross)?
  • What known influencers talk about/love the brand?
  • What’s on your content calendar for the year?
  • What major events will the brand participate in?

Specific B2C audience intake questions

The intel most B2C brands have on existing customers is profound to spin off conversion lookalikes. Audience intake to target consumer products should tack on the following questions for further insight:

  • What stores do they shop at?
  • Are they coupon users or into a deal? Or are they not price conscious at all?
  • What’s this person’s or household’s average income?
  • Do household relationships play a role?
  • Are they a parent or childless?
  • What living conditions are pertinent to the product?
    • Apartment living vs homeowner
    • Home size
    • Property size
    • Age of home
  • What are their hobbies?
  • Are they tech literate?

Specific B2B audience intake questions

When targeting B2B segments, marketers are not overly concerned with what audiences like or do in their personal lives, but the attributes of their job, working environment and their place in the company:

  • What job titles are we targeting?
    • Who do they report to?
    • Who is the end-user of this product/service?
    • Who else would it benefit?
  • Who would influence the purchase of this product/service?
  • Who is the actual buyer of this product/service?
  • What is their level of seniority?
  • What education level have they attained?
  • What professional publications do they read?
  • What skills do they have?
  • What professional tools do they use (e.g. software, hardware)?
  • What certifications do they have/desire (e.g. CPA, commercial driver’s license)?
  • What professional associations do they belong to?
  • What professional events do they attend?
  • Is there cyclical business timing (e.g. financial year end, quarterly) where this product/service is more likely to be purchased or prospected for?
  • What is the ideal target company/corporation size and age?
  • What are complementary products/services?
  • What are competitive products/services?
  • Is the product/service used in specific industries?
  • Are there industry-specific figureheads and/or brand evangelists?
  • What partnerships/sponsorships is the company a part of?
  • What trade shows does the company exhibit at (e.g. expo hall booth at Pubcon)?

The better we as marketers can fill in the customer persona profile lines with the colorful kaleidoscope of psychographic targeting variables, the more accurately we can target and craft persona-specific messaging, becoming even more relevant to consumers.

Image credit: David Carillet/Shutterstock.com

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