As digital marketers, we understand that connection is key. This has been a tenet of the discipline since the formative days of print, radio, and television advertising: Understand the audience, analyze the best points of access, then deploy content in the right places to facilitate engagement.
This is easy enough to achieve across one or two channels, or within a rigid schedule, when the same demographic is watching the same TV shows at the same time in the same place each week. However, technology and social attitudes to the media have upended this traditional model.
What was once a linear structure with upsurges and down-trends that could be easily predicted has become a wide-open space; a three-dimensional map in which the audience is more difficult to pinpoint. The people we need to connect with are now spread across more channels than we can count.
Connection is still vital, but it has become more elusive. To secure these connections on a regular basis – and to bring our audiences together into a cohesive whole – we need data, and the ability to use that data. But what data do we need? And how can we apply this data as we strive to unite our audiences?
Understanding the modern consumer journey
First, we need to understand the typical media consumer journey or, to put it better, we need to understand that there is now no such thing as one single “typical” consumer journey. Instead, there are any number of routes a media consumer can take to connect with the content they want to see. Each of these journeys provides media service providers a range of different opportunities to connect with an audience, but it also brings a range of headaches.
A modern media consumer may begin watching a regular television series but wind up missing two episodes due to social engagements. They then use a TV catch-up function on their set-top box to watch the missed episodes at their leisure, or even schedule the entire series to watch over one weekend.
Alternatively, consumers may hear of a show via a recommendation on social media or through a television ad and begin streaming it on their laptop computer or mobile device. Perhaps this consumer has a busy schedule or a long commute, so they download the content to a tablet or other device to watch without using their mobile iInternet connection or wifi.
Of course, there are other channels and other combinations, with some consumers even accessing multiple channels at the same time.
Extracting and applying the data
Such a tangled array of avenues is difficult to navigate without a roadmap. Fortunately, data provides this roadmap, but first we need to extract it.
Start by reaching out to your target demographic. Find out what they are using to connect with the media products of their choice, and in what configuration. Set up focus groups to decipher the habits of demographics, provide simple questionnaires for converted customers, and analyze which ads and broadcasts are performing the best.
From here, you begin to create consumer profiles. Who are your ideal demographics? What is troubling them and how can you provide the solution? Which products are they most interested in connecting with? This represents the building blocks of your consumer knowledge – a starting point upon which you can develop further strategies.
With each additional level of insight, the consumer profile becomes ever more effective for broadcasters and digital marketing professionals. Over time, your knowledge of the ideal consumer becomes ever more intimate. This allows you to deploy the right content, in the right place, at the right time, and on the right channel. In other words, it allows you to market with far greater efficiency.
Analytics and staying ahead
Data is both the force and the fuel driving all of this, and so no source of data should be ignored. However, some sources provide more reliable information than others. Analytics software, for example, provides businesses with a higher level of insight than reaching out to customers directly can, and at a far higher volume.
Pursuing omnichannel strategies in broadcasting makes high-quality analytics an absolute necessity. Without the sort of insight that analytics can provide, it is difficult to provide the media services you need to stay ahead. Instead, broadcasters lose ground on the competition.
Combine this insight with that gained from direct communication with clients and prospects and collate it within your viewer and consumer profiles. There is no such thing as too much knowledge here. As these profiles become increasingly detailed, you will witness your audience taking shape. The groundwork for audience unification has been laid.
One strategy to rule them all
The foundation stones have been installed, but the audience is not yet cohesive. Simply understanding the different demographics and where they can be found is not enough, as business resources still need to be stretched to the limit if you are to pursue them on these atomized journeys.
The information is all here; the framework is in place. Now you need grassroots cohesion. Bring the insight you’ve used to develop your consumer profiles into each and every strategizing meeting. Cross-reference this with information on the typical journey each of your target demographics make, and then ensure that this data is directly informing your company’s next moves.
This is how we unify our audience. It is not a case of narrowing focus, or attempting to funnel all of our targets into one place. Instead, we develop our understanding and we hone our approach, giving businesses the opportunity to connect with prospects across the whole omnichannel spectrum.
By bringing teams together and fostering close connection between each, the processes that a media services organization utilizes in reaching their audience become streamlined and coherent. There is minimal wasted energy and the business comes together as a whole, with each team understanding its duties and how these duties marry with those of other departments.
This is the digital marketing environment of tomorrow; the new normal for broadcasters and advertisers. By focusing on data and cohesion on an organization-wide level, we are prepared to meet challenges and opportunities head-on.
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This post is the second in a 7-part series, Reimagining Media in The Digital Age. Check back weekly for further blogs in the series.