At first glance, the term ‘People-based Marketing‘ seems a little redundant – after all, who else would marketers market to? Until robots gain sentience or Amazon Echoes learn to understand dogs, people are going to be the target audience for all marketing.
But the difficulty in marketing and advertising has never been as much about knowing who you want to reach as in knowing whether you reached those people, where you reached them, and how that affected their decisions and subsequent actions. The promise of People-based Marketing is that it solves those pain points in the digital space — and eventually, beyond.
For most of the twentieth century, marketers knew their target market and target audience — for example, young mothers in the suburbs — but the only way to reach those audiences was by buying inventory in a medium — like TV, radio, print, or digital — that might reach some of the intended audience, but would also reach unintended people, leading to wasted ad spend and media dollars. Sure, some retailers had catalogues based on a list of customer addresses, but they didn’t have a way to extend that messaging and that list to other channels.
So what People-based Marketing really does is make it easier to reach the people that you want to reach, regardless of channel – increasing efficiency and reducing wasted ad spend. Within that scope, there are really two ways to execute People-based Marketing strategies: Online People-based Data and Offline People-based Data. Both are based on information that a brand or marketer has about their customers or prospects, but they work in slightly different ways.
Offline People-based Data
As anyone who’s been on the Internet knows, the email address is essentially a digital passport for logging in to platforms, buying things, etc. For brands, interacting with customers leaves them with a lot of information about where in the customer funnel that person is, in addition to their email address.
That, combined with the need to reach people in different parts of the customer funnel with different messaging, has led many brands to build robust and extensive CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. These CRM systems combine data gained from online interactions with offline data like retail purchases, but we’ll refer to them collectively as Offline People-based Data. The data is stored offline, and the timeline for storage is much longer than Online People-based Data.
The primary vehicle for communicating with customers has remained email, but people-based offerings from companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Google, Twitter, and LiveIntent have allowed marketers to extend the reach and frequency of their CRM activation to reach customers with relevant messaging across platforms and devices.
Online People-based Data
The other way to engage in People-based Marketing is to use people-based data from online sources. For marketers, we can define this as the knowledge that a customer or prospect has taken an action indicating intent or interest in completing an action. For example, the fact that someone visits a product page for blue shirts on a retailer website is a relatively solid signal for their wish to buy a blue shirt.
With the advent of dynamic ads, which are assembled in real time from elements that are relevant to the user’s experience (i.e. an image and product description of a blue shirt), brands are able to execute People-based Marketing based on products and pages viewed. Another way to think of the difference between Online and Offline data is in terms of timeline. Offline Data has a longer shelf-life, while Online Data is valued for the recency of intent it provides.
In essence, People-based Marketing campaigns that use online or offline data are just two ways of doing the same thing: using information tied to an email address (and thus a real person) to reach those real people with specific, relevant messaging. As we mentioned above, the challenge for most marketers is not who to reach, but knowing whether you reached those people and how that affected their purchasing decision. People-based Marketing using online and offline data helps to solve the second part of that equation for marketers in a way that’s scalable, cost-effective, and cross-device.
Hungry for more? Learn how to build a successful People-based Marketing sandwich in the video below.