If you look up a definition of people-based marketing, you get a buffet of fancy language about cohesive marketing plans, real-time behavioral data, audience intelligence, etc. etc. In reality, the core tenet of people-based marketing – showing people the right message at the right time – has been around as long as marketing itself. The idea of showing a consumer a compelling message that resonates with that person based on what we know about him or her is really just…marketing. So why all the recent buzz around people-based marketing?

If we look back, the only times in the last 70 years that this wasn’t the norm was in the 1990s and 2000s. The dominance of Display advertising (content and publisher based) and Search advertising (keyword and intent based) devalued the importance of matching the right messages with the right people. If you’re a furniture company and someone was searching 10 ft mahogany dining room table, you didn’t really need to think about that person, their behavior, or their needs; you just showed them an ad with a table!

What’s changed?

The digital purchase process has evolved in complexity and number of touch points. By the time someone searches for your product on Google or comes to your site and becomes part of your retargeting pool, you may already be too late. It’s likely that by then, that person has already interacted with a variety of other competitors. That increases the importance of providing your consumers with creative landing pages or information that improves user experience. This is where the right message to the right person at the right time comes in.

Recent leaps in technology have also contributed to the refocus on people-based marketing. Persistent IDs now allow for more accurate tracking across devices and more control over the cross-device advertising experience. Onboarding CRM data and improved lookalike modeling allow you to cultivate the right people to show ads to better than ever before. Identity resolution, which is often used to connect CRM data and persistent IDs, allows you to reconcile these disparate data sets and serve even more effective creative.

How should this impact my marketing strategy?

In order to ensure you’re making the most out of these recent technology improvements, make sure you’re leveraging the data you have available to provide the most compelling consumer experience. In other words, keep people first. If you know you’re showing an ad to someone who’s been to the site before versus someone who’s never interacted with the site, or has high household income versus very low household income, you should provide a more personalized experience. For example:

–  A credit card company might want to show an 18- to 22-year-old university student imagery of a college-aged kid, with value propositions around helping to buy expensive textbooks and building credit for future student loans. This would be coupled with a landing page for a $0 annual fee card, with information to highlight the benefits of building credit early.

– An athleisure company might want to target a woman who visited the home page once but is also part of an in-market list for fitness classes and lives in New York City. They would show ad imagery of a woman running in shorts in Central Park in the summer, and then four to five months later, retarget that same person with creative of the same woman in a running jacket in snow-covered Central Park. The language would be focused on not stopping your workout for the seasons.

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Where do I start for a People-Based Marketing strategy?

The list below should serve as a starting point for crafting a more sophisticated people-based marketing strategy:

1.       What are the core audience segments for your products?

– Who can you segment currently?

– Do you need to make additional efforts to cultivate lists for further segmentation?

– Are there other channels (paid social in particular) that provide audience targeting options you don’t have currently?

2.        Are you viewing Google AdWords solely as a Search network? (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)

– Are you leveraging RLSA audiences?

– Have you evaluated your audience insights tab to craft Google Display, YouTube, and Gmail Ad strategies?

– Are you leveraging demographic information to show men, women, older, and younger audiences different ads and landing pages where applicable?

3.       Do you have a clear retargeting user flow?

– Do you show someone who’s only gone to the home page different creative than someone who’s visited a specific product page?

– Do subsequent creative iterations push the user further down the funnel?

– Is this based on web analytics data in combination with common sense? (For example, don’t try to close a deal or a $1,000 purchase on the first visit, and don’t try to explain what your company does on the sixth.)

– Do you retarget with nurture content or special offers?

4.       Do you have creative, landing pages, and assets that map to each of your audiences?

– Once you identify your audiences, it’s much easier to figure out which images and assets will resonate best with each group. Make sure you’re doing that mapping.

5.       Are your goals different for different audiences?

– Should you have an app download and CPI goal for prospecting audiences on mobile, but an ROAS goal for perpetual customers?

– For example, if you just launched a menswear line, will you tolerate a lower ROAS from first time male buyers?

Overall, you should not feel like you are reinventing the wheel with your people-based marketing strategy. Consumers crave more engaging, personalized experiences – just like they always have. Utilize the data you have to show the most compelling content you can, and you’ll reap the benefits.