Understanding consumer shopping preferences is more important now than ever before. With the increasing amount of digital noise, businesses are cutting right to the chase and targeting more niche and specific audiences—often referred to as micro-audiences. The more data-driven understanding you have about your consumers’ shopping preferences, the more targeted you can be in finding prospects that become customers. Establishing micro-audiences who demonstrate a likelihood to shop can benefit everyone in your org—from CRM to digital to consumer insights—all while increasing your ROI.
Understanding the NEW Customer Journey
Every customer journey is unique, and each touchpoint within that journey is an opportunity to provide a positive experience that can turn prospects into customers and customers into brand loyalists. The customer journey, though not easily defined, has typically covered key moments that take place between their initial awareness and how they share their experience with others, but things have changed.
We depend on conveniences, like shopping on our mobile phones, and because of that, consumers have become extremely savvy and self-aware. It’s because of these shifts that the consumer journey and marketing funnel have become inverted:
Traditional customer journey:
Brand awareness > product consideration > purchase > loyalty
New customer journey:
Product consideration > purchase > brand awareness > loyalty
Product consideration has become the new entry point in the digital customer journey. For brands to reach consumers, and ultimately drive purchase intent, they have to shift both online and in-store strategies to put key product benefits at the forefront of marketing. It’s not always about building this great brand halo campaign, but more about showcasing your product, the value it can provide consumers, and why they MUST have it. And you need to accomplish all of that in three seconds, or you’ve lost them.
The stages of the customer journey are driven by your channels, such as your website, mobile app, social media, by phone, or email. Customer journey touchpoints can occur both online and offline through these channels, and knowing where and when these interactions are taking place can give you a deeper understanding of their shopping preferences.
Why Marketers Are Leaning in on Micro-Audiences
With the new customer journey in mind, it’s important to remember that bigger isn’t always better—especially when it comes to building audiences. Think of it this way: If you are targeting a broader audience with your message, it’s like throwing a tennis ball into a crowd at a concert. Narrowing in on a niche “micro-audience” is like rolling a bowling ball at 10 pins. The latter gives you the better chance of making more connections with your target.
Micro-audiences are essentially small groups of people that are passionate about a single topic and have specific needs around that topic. Reddit is the perfect example. Think of micro-audiences as subreddits.
Approaching shopper marketing with micro-audience targets is needed in order to acquire new customers. The age of mass marketing is over, and we are now part of a generation that wants to be spoken to directly. Marketers are still delivering broader messages to larger audiences for brand awareness, but when it comes to increasing ROI, engaging with hyper-targeted, super-specific audiences is what is winning conversions. This approach is backed with data and the goal of deeply understanding these micro-audiences and their behavior.
Finding Your Ideal Micro-Audience
When finding the right micro-audience targets, there are a few things to consider.
- Get really specific with demographics. For example, let’s say you are promoting a wedding dessert bakery at the local level. You could target engaged females ages 25-34 who live in that local region. Look into audiences who will need your product based on attributes like age, circumstance, niche interests, geography, lifestyle, and so forth.
- Find your micro-audience based on behavior. How do they spend their time online? Collect real-time information and learnings through pixel events that fire every time an action is taken on your post-swipe experience.
- Use an eCommerce technology platform that gives you access to first-party data that would normally live with eRetailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart. This will give you unbiased insights into consumer shopping preferences and build audiences to target with future campaigns.
Benefits of Understanding Consumer Preferences
The main reason shopper marketing strategies have shifted toward micro-audiences is simple: winning the online consumer. Identifying the most crucial factors that drive conversions requires diving deep into shopping behaviors, shopping preferences, and niche interests of prospects and customers.
With a “product consideration first” approach, you can deliver your targeted micro-audience the message of why they need your product to meet their needs.
Understanding what your target micro-audience values will give you the opportunity to deliver more personalized content. Although value remains the main factor in making a purchase decision, prospects become customers by a potential need being met that is personal to them. Putting creative, messaging, and spend behind targeting micro-audiences (in combination with a product-consideration-first customer journey) will increase your ROI and help you build your growing community of brand loyalists.