What on earth are psychographics and why is everyone going nuts about them?

We’ll explain what digital marketing’s newest obsession is all about – and how you can use it to drastically improve your own campaigns.

Are psychographics the ‘dark art’ of marketing, or, are they just a standard modus operandi for the most cunning advertisers? By the time you finish this article, you’ll know how to use them to become even more effective with your marketing strategy.

In our Beginner’s Guide to Psychographics, we’ll tell you all about:

  1. What Psychographics Are
  2. Why They’re Used
  3. How to Collect Psychographic Data
  4. How To Apply Psychographics to Your Own Digital Marketing

Let’s get started!

What Are Psychographics?

Psychographics are essentially the demographics of personality. Rather than classifying people entirely by the basic facts of who they are – age, gender, race, income level, etc – psychographics classifies them by how they think.

In practical terms, this means studying consumers through the lens of their AIOs: activities, interests and opinions. As you get deeper and deeper into this, you start to see trends in people’s values, attitudes, emotions, motivations and so on.

How Does This Help Marketers?

Understanding what really drives people’s decision-making is incredibly important to marketers.

It’s all very well for you to identify that your typical customers tend to be, say, teenage boys; or female professionals in their 30s or retirees in rural areas or anything else; but, that’s only part of the story.

If you don’t know how they think or why they are buying your stuff, you’ll be wasting a huge amount of advertising spend – either scatter-gunning people in that bracket who would never buy your stuff in a zillion years, or missing the mark entirely with your target audience because you misinterpret the reasons for their interest.

People don’t always fit neatly into a stereotype. Not all 50-year-old Australian women view the world in the same way. Not all 21-year-old college kids think the same. It’s far more powerful to be able to say, for example, “This marketing campaign speaks to fiercely independent women at the start of their careers who admire confidence and ambition but need reassurance to get over their imposter syndrome,” than it is to say, “We’re targeting this product at female university students and graduates aged 19-26”.

Think of it as a way of building detailed, highly specific buyer personas that reach well beyond the surface, to the psychology behind the purchase decision.

How Can You Gather Psychographic Data?

There are three key ways to collect this kind of data for your marketing campaigns:

  1. Set up focus groups to interview people from your target market about their ideas, values, beliefs, aspirations and so on (depending on your budget, of course!).
  2. Send out questionnaires and surveys to people on your email list with carefully chosen questions, which you can then collate to get a complete picture of how they think in their own words.
  3. Conduct detailed social media analysis, whereby you sift through your target audience’s Facebook and Twitter pages, groups, likes, shares and so on to build up a picture of interests, viewpoints, ideological leanings and so on that you might never have thought to ask about. This is particularly useful when it comes to applying your findings, as we’ll see in a moment.

Using a combination of methods will help you build up a complete picture of your target market.

How Can You Use Psychographics In Your Digital Marketing?

These insights can be used in a number of exciting ways to enhance and refine your messaging; and, help you use your marketing spend as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Firstly, this helps you to figure out in a general sense how to talk to your audience; what topics to write new content about; what tone and language to use; which celebrities to refer to, what quotes to use, and so on.

Secondly, one of the most important things you’ll discover is the underlying feelings that drive your customers to make a purchase – be that excitement, curiosity, hope, amusement, fear of missing out, or anything else. This means you can start to tailor the emotional triggers of your email subject lines and ad campaigns more effectively.

For example, let’s imagine you’re marketing an event to accountants. Rather than passion or excitement or any other emotional driver, you’ve found that the main emotional driver for your target audience is fear that their way of doing things is becoming obsolete. An effective headline might be: “Don’t Get Left Behind! Brush Up Your Skills for 2019 at the Upskilling for Accountants Conference.”

This can also come in handy when split-testing your emails. For example, if you’re unsure which motivation is stronger, you could test two headlines with different emotional triggers. This helps you really get into the heart of why people are engaging with a specific product or campaign.

When it comes to digital advertising, knowing what makes people tick, and specifically how this manifests in the kinds of things people like and engage with online, means you can be super-targeted in your campaign. Facebook, for example, lets you tailor a campaign not just by demographics but by interests, habits and so on. This ensures your digital marketing dollars are spent in the best possible way.

Final Thoughts

Psychographics are taking the marketing world by storm – and for a very good reason. It works. A word of warning, though: don’t get too literal with it.

For example, it’s not necessarily helpful to declare that your product sells well with 30-somethings who “like” the Spice Girls on Facebook and share 90s TV memes on Twitter. You need to figure out what this says about them, psychologically (why are they so nostalgic, for example? Is it because they’re comfortable with where they are in life, or because they’re not?).

Remember that the point is to build a picture of how people think, feel, believe, choose their allegiances, and so on. You will need to do a fair amount of work on interpreting their responses and interests to find useful patterns. It’s not a walk in the park, but it is an absolute gold mine for marketers.

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