The audience-first approach to marketing is simple, but not easy. It requires thinking of the audience first and developing objectives for that audience before setting up marketing campaigns.

Audience targeting

In other words, you build a campaign around the audience and what you want that audience to do, such as trying a new product your brand is introducing.

Of course, using data to craft advertising campaigns is nothing new. But it’s not about putting test ads in front of focus groups and seeing what resonates. It’s about determining who the audience is and what messages they want to hear before tailoring marketing messages to reach them. 

Why Audience-First Is Necessary for CPG Marketing

CPG brands have long relied upon retail and distribution partners for data on consumer behavior. For example, they would use Facebook’s Partner Categories to help them target ads by building target audience segments from data sources other than their own. But then Facebook eliminated this functionality, making it harder to target audiences across social media.

Google too enacted restrictions on third-party ad serving and changed requirements for its data transfer services, again making it harder for CPG brands to use digital marketing tactics that are taken for granted these days. But there are ways around these challenges. 

Finding the Relevant Data

Brands can use historical location data to understand their target audience better and reach them with appropriate ads. Suppose you sell fashion accessories to high-end boutiques. Audience-first would have you serving ads to people who have recently visited those high-end boutiques. You could also gather location data over time to fine-tune where foot traffic is highest and determine which boutiques are ripe for better sell-through. What’s more, the data you gather can help you attribute results to either online or offline marketing, so you can double down on what works. 

Engage and Monitor

Engagement with and monitoring of social media audiences is as important as ever. CPG brands that build relationships with target audiences on social platforms have higher customer engagement and brand awareness, but it’s not a “once and done” phenomenon. Consumer sentiments change, and the world at large changes, so strong social media engagement requires understanding context and engaging within it. Otherwise, you can come across as tone deaf, or worse, risk a major social media faux pas which can set your marketing efforts back.

Audience targeting

Interests, Demographics, Locations Key

Demographic profiling isn’t going away, but it’s only a start. Even when done correctly it can exclude users who don’t fit into narrow demographic profiles. Behaviors and interests must also be accounted for. If you solely target on demographics and ignore reasons why your audience is online, to begin with, you miss out on the opportunity to engage more productively with them. 

For many brands, this approach will require breaking out of “channel silos” that can develop with marketing campaigns and ensuring everyone has relevant audience data at every stage of campaign development. It’s really the only way delivering the right message to the right person at the right time can be done at scale. 

Technology, Data Becoming More Sophisticated

Tools are improving, and that’s good news. Google Attribution is a new tool designed to help brands understand how to attribute each conversion to each sale. In other words, marketers can better measure the impact of their campaigns across all channels, greatly demystifying attribution. Nielsen Marketing Cloud is another set of tools that uses Nielsen audience data to help brands understand customers at a deeper level. 

Audience first is an attitude, and it requires approaching things in a new way, using new tools and techniques and sharing data at all stages of a marketing campaign. More powerful tools and data sources exist to make it happen, but it requires commitment, and in some cases, major changes in how brands conduct CPG marketing campaigns. The results are promising, however, making audience-first a smart brand attitude to have in 2019 and going forward. Hangar12 is at the forefront of CPG marketing strategy and more. Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date with our latest insights.

Topics consumer marketing insights