There is one question that marketers everywhere are desperate to know the answer to but will very seldom ask for fear of looking out of touch: How can we reach more Millennials? Now the largest generation in the US labor force, companies are desperate to reach out to a unique and digital-savvy generation, focusing on broad generalizations and hoping to appeal to ‘commonly held’ traits. Very few hit the jackpot.
Probably the biggest mistake companies make when marketing to Millennials is the act of marketing to Millennials itself. Coordinating digital marketing campaigns with broad brush strokes pulled from one survey on the ‘typical millennial’ will get you nowhere. No one person can be lumped into any category based on generation alone; it’s as arbitrary as marketing to Europeans or people with green eyes. This issue becomes particularly pronounced thanks to the digital proficiency across all Millennials, which is one generalization you can make. They’ll see straight through personalized marketing if that personalization only extends to their age.
At the Chief Marketing Officer Summit last month in San Francisco, founder and editor-in-chief of MiLLENNiAL magazine, Britt Hysen, presented on how brands can transform their marketing through employing effective emotional intelligence. Through emotional analytics and sentiment analysis, Britt and her team bridge the gap between data, advertisements, and sales. By understanding how their audience views the world, they can target certain sentiments and increase sales, a technique Britt calls ‘heartistry.’ Britt claims that in using the technique, clients are seeing conversion rates rise by 500%, and clickthrough rates jump from an industry average of 2-3% to upwards of 10%.
The problem with behavioral tracking in its current form, Britt says, is that it’s far too mechanical. Everyone will be familiar with buying a product online and being immediately hounded with ads for the very same product across all of your web browsing. ‘It doesn’t feel human, it feels invasive,’ Britt argues. ‘And when this kind of behavioral tracking keeps hitting the user, it starts to build up a level of resistance among your consumer, and your brand’s relevancy drops because the algorithm isn’t sophisticated enough to differentiate who bought from who abandoned their cart, from who has never seen your product before.’
Britt then went into the developments in sentiment analysis that are underpinning improved marketing techniques. ‘With Heartistry, we’re combining emotional analytics with persona-based advertising and delivering your message to an audience of one, and this is known as audience planning. Simply put, we’re drilling down into the individual emotions of your consumers, and then we’re tailoring advertising that speaks to them.’ Britt identifies four steps in the audience planning process, which are:
1. Capture and unify data to understand your audience
‘This is the most important step, because you need to know who’s coming to you so you can identify what their underlying similarities are.’ So, first off, you need to capture all the information you can about a visitor to your site. With this information, you can follow the visitor on their online journey and map out their interests. ‘It sounds creepy but it’s really about servicing [them] better. So the more you know about your audience the more you can appeal to them.’
2. Break down data to identify consumer personas
Establishing the interests of a majority of your visitors is all very well for that group, but what of the others? For example, if you can ascertain that 52% of your audience like dogs, and that targeting advertisements that feature dogs to them will have a positive effect, it’d be tempting to do so. But what about the 48% that isn’t actively interested in dogs?
‘At MiLLENNiAL, we engage with clients using persona development. So, our behavioral and data scientists work in partnership with our marketing team to identify the personality types of each consumer.’ Britt and her team use lookalike modelling, i.e. the ability to match all of the attributes of your current consumer pool within a larger data pool of potential customers.
3. Create ads based on each persona
Once you have the multiple different personas mapped out, you can start to create ads to specifically cater for each one. ‘This is where it’s going to become a little tedious. It’s no longer one ad per campaign; it’s one ad, per persona, per campaign.’ Not all of the ads will resonate with the wider audience, but they will tap into the emotions that define the different personas and connect far more effectively with their intended audience.
4. Test and adjust to tune emotional frequency
Step four is right up there with step one in terms of being the most important part of the process. Knowing which emotions will resonate with different groups is just part of the job, and hitting the right tone can be difficult, and incredibly damaging when done badly. The testing process is, of course, complicated by having numerous ads running at any given time, and it can get tedious, ‘but it’s incredible because you’re making it hyper-personalalized.’
Every marketer will be well aware that knowing your consumer is one of the most important parts of any campaign, and by segmenting your audience into personas you can create ads that will really speak to a wide, varied range of people. ‘The more you understand about your consumer, the more you can create better experiences for them. And the better experience they have, the more likely they are to become a brand loyalist. Making that emotional connection can only be done authentically if you truly understand who is buying your products.’