‘People-Based’ Data Is Puncturing Classic Marketing Myths

The sooner brands start marketing to individuals, rather than demographic slabs, the sooner they’ll turn prospective buyers into loyal customers. This is the future of marketing.

‘People-Based’ Data Is Puncturing Classic Marketing Myths

Moms have a lot to teach us about the future of marketing.

Old-school demographic segmentation left marketers with a badly misleading impression of this group’s digital life. We knew, for instance, that non-millennial women owned fewer electronic devices, didn’t really care much about screen size, and hesitated to try new technology. With that information alone, it didn’t make much sense for marketers to use digital video advertisements to reach them.

But a new “people-based” approach to marketing has proved this a myth. This kind of marketing examines consumers’ online choices to better understand how they value everything, from price to convenience. Done right, people-based marketing can anticipate needs, craft tailored responses, and reach target audiences at the best possible time and place.

In the case of moms, anonymous data collected by Facebook for Deloitte showed, unexpectedly, that mothers are vibrant online consumers. They spend loads of time on Facebook, post an outsized number of photos, and avidly watch Web videos. Facebook’s ability to focus on actual people as opposed to broad “types” of consumers unraveled the myth that digital dollars are wasted on moms.

Much of this data comes courtesy of cross-device tracking, which lets brands seamlessly carry on a conversation with consumers anytime, anywhere—when they open a mobile app, for instance, or even when they stand near a digital sign in a public space, like an airport.

This tracking is quickly replacing the cookies that brands long used to monitor consumers while they browsed the Internet on their desktops or laptops. Thanks to the ongoing mobile revolution, marketing dollars spent on cookies are no longer as effective.

According to Adobe Digital Index data, today’s consumers have 7.2 electronic devices, on average, and engage with three of those devices on a daily basis. Additionally, almost a third of consumers are juggling two or more smartphones. And 20% are device-switching fiends while online shopping.

The insights driven by people-based marketing are unprecedented. People have always had habits, choices, wants, and needs. But now marketers have the ultimate tool: context. Rather than blindly chasing after the one-time site visitor, they can target potential buyers with relevant ads, guiding them to the perfect product. And they can do it all while saving money.

A highly personalized approach to advertising pays off. Travelocity, for instance, boosted sales of flight and vacation packages by 15% just by using individualized data to customize how consumers navigate its website. (Note: Travelocity is an Adobe customer.)

It’s no surprise that seemingly 24/7, hyperpersonalized tracking has led to some wary consumers. About three in four are uneasy about their personal information being “out there” in the great unknown, according to an Adobe survey. But a whopping nine in 10 are willing to trade a piece of personal info for better, more relevant online content.

This makes sense. Consumers, too, recognize the promise of people-based marketing. There’s a growing desire to be remembered across digital platforms. So long as marketers avoid privacy pitfalls, consumers are happy to have a relationship with marketers.

Demographics still matter, of course, but consumers will never perfectly match the stereotype assigned to their “type.” People-based marketing understands that and allows marketers to create more nuanced, personalized portraits. It is marketing grounded in the realities of everyday life.

In this new, fast-pace, fully digitized global economy, there’s only one way for firms to stand out and thrive: Become an experience business. Companies have to create a compelling customer experience at every link of the relationship, from the marketing materials to the sales interaction. The insights gleaned from people-based data empower firms to engage in exactly such a customization.

The sooner brands start marketing to individuals, rather than demographic slabs, the sooner they’ll turn prospective buyers into loyal customers. This is the future of marketing. And if businesses don’t transform their companies to embrace people-based approaches, they’ll fail.

If mom truly does know best—and is digitally savvy—you certainly want her to know your brand.