Using demographic and psychographic insights to fuel your marketing strategy

Direct mail marketing

It’s easy to think that marketing is all about numbers. When return on investment and increased growth are in the back of your mind at all times it’s only natural.

But marketing also has to be about people if you ever want the numbers to add up. It is human beings that will engage with your website, pick up your flyer and give you their money. The only way to create a marketing strategy that works for your target audience is to first understand the people that make up that audience.

Demographics and psychographics are two highly effective tools that can help you think about these people more tangibly. They allow you to sort your audience into different groups in in order to work out how to create a marketing message that will speak to them.

In this article, we’ll look at both terms more closely and examine how grasping them can make a real difference to a business’s marketing efforts.

What are demographics

If you’ve only heard of one of these two terms, it’s likely to be demographics. ‘Demographics’ comes from ancient Greek words meaning ‘people’ and ‘picture.’ That’s the core of it: demographics are snapshots of people groups, allowing you to classify people by various metrics like age, geographic area, income bracket and more.

Many marketing campaigns will naturally involve some level of demographic targeting. For example, direct mail marketing campaigns like those that Pepper runs require companies to have an idea of the geographic demographics that their audience falls into. Online social media campaigns and search advertising often allow you to choose specific genders or age demographics to market to.

In fact, it’s practically impossible to do any sort of targeted marketing campaign without some idea of the demographic groups that your audience falls into.

What are psychographics

Psychographics look deeper than demographics. Rather than categorising people by surface level similarities like age and income, psychographics group people by attitudes and desires. Demographics show who spends money on your business; psychographics show why.

Let’s use the example of high end laptops to illustrate possible psychographic differences. A company selling these products might identify the following psychographics to classify their customers:

  • Group A is made up of technophiles. They buy high end laptops because they like to own the highest spec tech products. They would rather spend more money for high quality than look for cheaper options.
  • Group B buys the latest high end laptops as a status symbol. They want to be seen to own the latest, best tech.
  • Group C requires high end laptops for the practical benefits of their superior performance, using them in their work or for activities like gaming and VR.
    Each of these basic psychographic groups contains people who have very different reasons for buying the same products. Consequently, the marketing messages that you would use to attract each group will vary significantly. Group B will be motivated by the branding and newness of the laptops. Groups A and C are similar, but A will care more about the latest tech that the laptops incorporate, whereas C will want to hear more about what the tech allows the laptops to do.

Marketing messages targeted to distinct psychographics will be much more effective than generic catch-all messages. However, it is harder to ensure that these messages are seen by the right people than it is to reach specific demographics, which are naturally suited to audience targeting. We’ll look further at how to use psychographic information effectively shortly.

How to gather this information

Gathering demographic information about your existing audience is easier with the advent of online tools. If your business has a website with tracking software like Google Analytics set up, you’ll be able to see the demographics of people visiting your site. You can then analyse how different demographics are engaging with your site, looking at which groups are more likely to spend time and money there.

If you don’t have a presence online you may still have a good grasp of the demographics your business works with through interactions you and other employees have had with customers. In addition, some businesses will naturally be focused on a particular demographic from the get go, such as independent shops serving a small area or an online store selling clothing to men under 40.

Psychographic information is harder to obtain. To an extent, it’s possible to intuit the psychographics that apply to many of your customers, but intuition can only get you so far. Use customer surveys or old-fashioned conversations to ask questions of your customers and find out what motivates them to spend money on your business’s products or services.

Customer surveys are also a way to get further demographic insight, as you can ask for a few basic details before diving into psychographic questions. However, if you want a good response to a survey you need to have an engaged audience. You should also be aware that the people who are most likely to respond are those who are already invested in your brand - you’re unlikely to get a good snapshot of one-time customers who may choose to buy from another company in the future.

The more information you can gather in any format, the better informed you’ll be about both the demographics and the psychographics that your customers fall into.

Using both together in marketing

Armed with demographic and psychographic insight, you can tailor your marketing strategy to have the biggest impact.

If, for example, you know that a large section of your audience falls into a particular geographic demographic, you could run a direct mail marketing campaign for that area or target them with location specific online ads. On top of that information, your psychographic insights may have made you aware that convenience is a motivating factor for customers in a particular area, so that’s a quality you could emphasise in the direct mail materials that you send out.

Because targeting a specific psychographic is much harder than targeting a demographic, look for the areas that two groups overlap. If people in a certain age or location demographic tend to fall into one particular psychographic, then target that demographic with a message tailored to your psychographic insights.

Customers respond well to specific messages that speak to their actual needs and motivations. Gathering and using data of the kind we’ve discussed in this article will help you to reach the right people with the right message.

Applications in offline marketing

Pepper’s area of specialisation is direct mail marketing. We help businesses to run print marketing campaigns where they send materials out by post to their target audience. Our experience in this area highlights the practical benefits of applying demographic and psychographic information to a specific marketing channel.

When it comes to direct mail marketing, location demographics are very important. You need to know where your audience is located if you want to get a good return on your investment. A knowledge of age or income brackets and how these intersect with geographic areas can also be very helpful for reaching people who would be likely to buy your products or services.

The nature of direct mail campaigns means that you can’t vary the message you communicate on your printed materials in a single campaign. However, psychographic insights are still valuable. Knowing two or three of your largest customer psychographics means you can include elements that will appeal to all of them. Another option is to choose a specific psychographic to focus on in a single campaign in the knowledge that higher engagement from those people is likely to outweigh the lack of engagement from people outside that psychographic.

Finding the right message for your marketing campaigns can be difficult, especially if you’re thinking about marketing across different channels. Pepper’s marketing consultancy team can help you to shape your campaigns to fit your audience well, with a whole suite of direct mail marketing services that can help you to reach them. Get in touch with us to start speaking to one of our expert account managers.