The inconvenient truth about the insight brands use to target global audiences is that, just like local marketing teams, it speaks different languages.
That is because teams very rarely collect customer information in the same way. Even when a database contains the same fields across all a brand’s markets, these are often filled in differently, so when data is combined, there will be gaps and inconsistencies. The end result is that an audience profile from one part of an organisation may look very different from one compiled in another territory.
This is one of the reasons why only 14% of businesses believe they have a 360-degree view of their customer, according to Gartner. Half of those surveyed pointed to problems in aligning data, which prevents them receiving a detailed view of clients. Without this in place, even agreeing whom to target, let alone how to do it, can be a frustrating challenge.
Cracks appear when scaling up
At first, this might not be too much of a problem because a marketing team will probably start out with an agreed target audience they want their advertising to reach in a particular market. As anyone in the industry will know, that can only go so far. When a campaign needs to scale – to reach out to additional parts of a market, perhaps in new territories, or maybe with additional customer types added – the data is not always there to back it up.
This is particularly true for brands attempting to run international campaigns. It is here they realise that data really can speak a different language in each territory, with vast differences in how data sets are put together to form potential targets for a product or service.
Regulation can also play a role in one region not being able to collect information in the same way as a neighbouring market, making it difficult to compile compatible audiences. The lack of comparable audience definitions makes it impossible to understand at a high level whether Germany offers more potential than France, for example, never mind which cities or more granular areas have the greatest opportunity.
Focus on a generic customer
Marketers can begin to deal with these challenges by taking a deep dive into who their ideal customers are in each country. This is not only useful for building out campaigns in new regions; it is essential, now that in the post-pandemic era consumer behaviours are changing. This insight into what your customers look like now might be collected from transactional data, perhaps from point-of-sale or ecommerce data, or it might come from research.
The customer profiles that this updated research builds should be framed in a generic way, so personas can be identified in other markets where data may be collected differently. With the reworked customer profile in place, a marketing team can then begin to plan campaigns more effectively, starting out by finding where groups of its key customers are found in greatest numbers geographically.
It will also help a marketer determine which channels should be utilised to best reach key target customer groups. Are they mainly found reading the news online, posting on social media, watching boxsets on connected TV, or perhaps commuting and enjoying nights out, where digital out-of-home might work well?
The target group may be reachable in different markets over different channels, and marketers should never stop testing and evaluating so that future activity can be optimised.
Tapping into global customer models
At Experian, we’ve seen how the issues concerning data reliability and accuracy are holding back marketers, and so we decided to launch WorldView. It utilises the extensive data we have across the world, broken down into grids of 250m by 250m. WorldView currently allows brands to reach 10 different personas and understand data insights including disposable income and consumer expenditure.
With data organised in this way, marketers can find where their key customers are in markets around the globe and then plan campaigns to reach them. In addition, the data can be used to prioritise where to open new locations or test new product launches. When considering expansion, a fast-food delivery company or a restaurant chain will want to know, for example, which locations have the greatest concentration of consumers who fit the profile of its most loyal customers.
To make executing campaigns straightforward, marketers also need to be able to integrate targeting data into demand-side platforms (DSPs), to ensure they can accurately target the mix of personas they are prioritising – something WorldView allows. This means marketers can establish who their key customers are, and then instruct the DSP to find them within each market, according to their marketing plan.
Using WorldView in marketing campaigns cuts down on wastage and simplifies the process of reaching the right people with the right message in the right place, even when the various data sets a marketer might otherwise use are, quite literally, lost in translation.
Debbie Oates is director of customer engagement at Experian Marketing Services.