In our Digital Marketing 101 sessions last year we discussed a whole range of topics to help boost the campaign success of our B2B advertising clients. These workshops included everything from copywriting and email campaign tips to the integration of mobile optimisation and social media. Looking back these sessions were well thought out, well delivered, and we’re happy to say they were well received too. So a big (and somewhat belated!) pat on the back to all of us… only in hindsight I wonder if there was one area to which we could have given a little more focus. Something which remains our prime focus at all times and something which no campaign can succeed without – the audience.

Ensuring you understand your audience – the people who are your customers (and the people who may stop being your customers if you don’t take care of them) and the people who you want to become your customers – should absolutely be the first step of any campaign.

It’s fair to say you will have some idea about who your audience is, what their needs are and how your proposition can help them, but at times we can all make too many assumptions about these things and that’s where it gets dangerous. If we don’t have full insight into who our audience is then we can’t be sure our product or service is going to succeed, let alone our advertising campaigns.

Get nerdy

Dig up any data you can lay your hands on. Here I am referring to data which you will almost certainly already have at your disposal (CRM, web analytics, marketing automation software, email servers, even your accounts data!). Then analyse it. Look at the job roles, level of seniority, company size, company turnover, industry sector, region and any other demographic information you may have. Instantly you will have an accurate idea of the make-up of your existing audience, so now all you need to do is to consider how to use this information. Do you want to build campaigns that will attract the same audience because they are the easiest and most cost-efficient to service? Or does this insight highlight areas which you’re you’re not fully tapping into?

Now analyse the things which are specific to whatever it is your business provides them with. This may include service preferences, volume of purchases or level of usage, time of use, etc. Remember this is data which is entirely exclusive to you and not something which your competitors will ever have access to, so use it to your advantage.

Despite all the data, your customer is not a number

All this data may help shape (or reshape) your product or service, but right now we talking about B2B marketing campaigns not product development, so lets remember that if data is your secret treasure, the real gold is in getting to know your customer as a person. Now you can be more sure of where they are and what they do within their organisation, you can start to get an appreciation for who they are and what their challenges may be. This is where it gets interesting for us marketers.

At this point you should try and put yourself in their shoes. You can take things a step further by running workshops with your team to develop buyer personas (and I recommend you do), but by this point you may already have uncovered enough information to create messaging that will really resonate with your prospect. Whether you’re writing a single line on a social feed or a few thousand words in a white paper, if you constantly keep the reader in mind while you’re writing, they will be more receptive to what you are saying. And it’s not just the messaging, the same goes for the tone of your copy and the calls to action you use.

When it comes to creating your campaigns the information you’ve gathered can be used for far more than simply influencing your copywriting. It may inform which are the more effective channels to use to promote your campaign; social media, online media outlets, or offline events perhaps. Or maybe you can establish which time of day will be more effective to run your email campaign? And you don’t need to delve too deep into Google Analytics to find out how much of your digital audience engage with your content via mobile devices – are your campaigns mobile optimised?

There’s a lot of opportunity in the data that you almost definitely already have, the question is whether it is being used to it’s best potential.

Why bring all this up now?

Possibly because we’ve been relfecting on the recent re-launch of our title. Without the insight into our membership we wouldn’t be able to optimise the level engagement in the way we do – indeed it is our audience knowledge which formed the backbone of the HRZone project (in fact it informs everything we do with all of our titles).

In truth digital publishers like ourselves are very fortunate to have the degree of insight that we do. Every community member registers their details to access content providing us with an instant picture of who they are. Analysing the site usage then identifies the content they prefer to read, the documents they like to download, or the webinars they tune in to. All this information fuels us with the information we need to create future content strategies, further develop our sites to optimise engagement and to support the advertising campaigns of our partners and ensure they get the best response possible.

Whatever data you may have at your disposal, take time to extract it, analyse it, get to know your customer and let it influence your future marketing campaigns. In our experience when it comes to audience insight, a little goes a long way.