Psychographic marketing describes a method used to segment customers by their personality traits, attitudes, interests, values, and other lifestyle factors in order to better predict actions they might take. These characteristics may or may not be instantly observable, but the customer has demonstrated them in some way through their online behavior — helping marketers understand how interests or attitudes expressed online might impact consumer opinions and purchase decisions.
For example, psychographic marketing can display a link between what someone shared on social media and what they bought in the real world. And as identifying consumer intent becomes more important than ever, psychographics can have an important role to play in helping businesses reach the right customers.
“Throughout the history of marketing, people have crafted personas — but they were [hypothetical], and kind of vague,” explains Marty Weintraub, founder of Aimclear, a marketing agency specializing in psychographic targeting. “Psychographics speak to persona in a deeper way, replete with thinking about who individual customers might be and incorporating the use of real data to inform that.”
“Who” versus “What”
Let’s break that down: One way of thinking about this is that analyzing search queries is about determining the “what” from the user — what question do they want answered? Psychographics help determine the “who.” This information can help businesses customize the answer to this question, and determine what kind of ads or experiences a certain type of consumer might want to see. So if someone frequents a bass fishing group on Facebook, for example, and your business sells bass fishing equipment, you have a better idea of that person’s intent when they make a search for “fishing” and end up visiting your business’ webpage. It’s a view of what their intent is behind a query which only expresses a general curiosity about fishing. This information tells us it’s perhaps more likely that this customer intends to go fishing for bass, not to learn about how to fish, or to book a deep sea fishing cruise.
Weintraub offers another example. “In terms of intent determined from psychographics, observing data over time has helped us know when people are close to buying something or to taking an action. With layering data from Facebook, Google, and other ad platforms, we can look at a person and say ‘Hey, they’re a veteran, they’re living in a house too small for the amount of money they make,’ and then know that there’s a high likelihood they’re going to purchase an online mortgage. So, if I’m a mortgage provider, I know that’s a big opportunity.”
Essentially, psychographic marketing helps businesses get a much more holistic view of a consumer, and to help determine intent in more complex situations. To illustrate this, let’s revisit the vegetarian burger example from our previous post.
Let’s say a consumer, Sally, isn’t a vegetarian, but she has been making an effort to eat a healthier, plant-based diet. When she craves a burger, she might search for “vegetarian burger” — or she might simply search for “best burger” without stating that it has to be vegetarian. She might end up visiting a restaurant that showed up under general “best burger” results, but wouldn’t a restaurant have a much higher chance of winning her business if it showed her it had burger options that were health-friendly?
Without the “vegetarian” or “health” keyword, though, how would marketers know? Well, that’s where psychographic marketing can come into play to inform the holistic intent marketing strategy. Sally didn’t say “best vegetarian burger” in this particular search, but maybe she has posted publicly about visiting vegetarian restaurants, or joined an open Facebook group providing health tips. Psychographic marketing can help provide a window into her intent to get a better idea of how to advertise to Sally when she searches for “best burger” — and what actions she is likely to take.
These signals can all work together to help businesses get smarter about intent — and deliver a more personalized experience and maximize spend as a result.
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