Dear Publishers: Stop Making Assumptions About Your Audience

More than half of B2B marketers will increase their content marketing budgets in 2015, with brand awareness (84 percent) and lead generation (83 percent) being their primary goals, according to data published on Ad Week. Will you score those ad dollars? The race is on.

Audience Assumptions

You may think you know your audience. Maybe you even developed personas based upon specific ideal target markets. But today we are focusing on the real data.

Micro-targeting is expected to be a top trend for B2B Marketers this year – and guess what you can’t do without actual audience data? Micro-target.

In a B2B marketing predictions article, Abby Perkins predicted growth in micro-targeting for 2015. She posited that “Micro-targeting uses data to help companies better understand – and market to – groups of specifically targeted audiences [which] allows businesses to modify content and messaging more accurately to customers’ actual preferences and needs.”

Do you know the demographic profile of your audience – their occupation, job level, industry? The answer for many digital publishers would probably be, “No, but I’m sure they look like X.”

But we all know what happens when you assume, right? Aside from the over-played ass jokes, making assumptions about your audience (rather than using real data and analytics) leaves money on the table – a lot of money. Let’s stop making an ass out of ourselves and start making more money with audience demographics.

General Audience Demographics

Demographics begin with a broad scope of basic population stats including gender, age, household income and education. Moving a level deeper, demographic data can also tap into professional profiles. In the B2B marketing arena these rich, professional level attributes are extremely valuable for data-driven, high-quality lead generation.

Forbes found that advertisers who adopt data-driven marketing are nearly three times more likely to see increased revenues as a direct result. Seventy-four percent of leaders in this area also felt that data-driven strategies lent them a competitive edge in customer engagement and loyalty.

As a digital publisher, your ability to capture and report deep levels of demographic insights on your audience will directly translate to greater opportunities to attract top B2B advertisers. Not only is this level of data applicable to your advertisers, it should also be very meaningful to you as the publisher; utilizing this data can have a huge impact on your audience and your wallet.

Taking it Further: Professional Level Demographics

There are many free and paid tools today that provide the basic level of demographic data needed to analyze your audience. In B2B marketing, though, professional level demographic data is essential for micro-targeting (e.g. occupation, job level, industry and company size).

But professional demographics are on high demand for B2B advertisers and hard to come by, which correlates to higher payouts for publishers when available. Publishers that can present professional level data to advertisers (e.g. via a media kit) will have a significant competitive advantage and the highest earning potential.

Which tool(s) will provide the best source of accurate and up-to-date demographic data? Narrow your search by setting the following criteria: specific demographic data points, levels of reporting and access and – most importantly – your budget. Browse this list of tools to begin your search:

Free Demographic Data Tools

  • Google Analytics has always been an essential tool used to understand onsite behavior. Now, with the release of “Demographics and Interests,” Google has a stronger set of audience insights. Currently, the demographic stats include age, gender and interests, combined with the existing geographic, browser and device data.
  • Quantcast provides basic demographic information such as age, gender and household income breakdowns, along with audience interests.
  • Publisher networks that run content syndication and lead generation campaigns are highly focused on collecting rich data attributes for clients. If you are looking to join a new network, do your due diligence; dashboard reporting, analytics and audience demographics are major features you should look for. RevResponse, a B2B publisher network, is just one example of a network that provides all partners with free audience intelligence reports and detailed professional level data insights such as occupation, job level, company size, industry and country.
  • Survey Monkey is a great tool to use if you want to solicit information directly from your audience. Survey Monkey allows for custom survey creation along with access to their expert-certified profiling templates. Both free and paid services are available.

Paid Demographic Data Tools

ComScore is the gold standard in web demographic data. A ComScore subscription will allow you to accumulate very detailed data in a number of categories. Unfortunately, this data is very expensive to acquire; an annual membership can cost +$25,000.

Make It Count

This year, digital publishers have a critical role in delivering targeted audiences to advertisers on top of their primary goal to fulfill the world’s hunger for informative and entertaining content. This responsibility involves great opportunity, high earning potential and endless competition. Therefore, now more than ever, the focus is on data, personalization and micro-targeting.

As a digital publisher, your competitive advantage relies on presenting the audience profiles that advertisers are looking for. Take the time to develop a data-driven profile of your audience today to truly understand your own business and how to best monetize it.

This article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

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