POV

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15.06.22

Marketers, it’s time to listen up!

Jill Alger

Digital Strategist

How we leverage audience listening to drive step-change for our clients

Since childhood, we’re taught to listen before we speak. Unfortunately, brands often forget their manners when it comes to understanding their audiences. From content themes based on assumption, to targeting plans informed by outdated statistics, claims of being ‘audience-first’ are regularly flung around by marketers. How many brands can genuinely say that their actions are informed by real (and real-time) audience insight?

The Audience Intelligence team at iCrossing UK is passionate about driving change in this area. We’re transforming the way businesses find and connect with online consumers, developing services that facilitate brands’ understanding of exactly who their audiences are, what they want, and where and how they can be reached. A service that’s enabling our mission for change is search and social listening.

Going deeper

Scraping social conversations and search data enables us to understand what makes audiences tick – from trends and triggers to barriers and motivations. While we don’t claim to have invented search and social listening, we’ve developed an approach that benefits our clients on a deeper, more valuable, level.

Firstly, our work always incorporates a blend of search and social insights, providing a robust and holistic view of the current landscape. While social conversations reveal audience interests to steer focus and priority, search data unveils the commercial viability based on audience demand. Overlaying these two data points provides a clear picture of the true opportunity; for more dependable and effective decision making.

We also deliver action-orientated audience listening. This means we​ won’t stop at simply uncovering insights; we’ll turn these into strategic and actionable recommendations delivering real step-change for our brands.

The right information at the right time

Our work with Times Money Mentor is a perfect example. The online money advice publication came to iCrossing UK in 2021 looking for support with its content strategy. While the brand’s skilled writers were confident in giving sound financial advice, they didn’t know what themes would best engage readers. By leveraging our tools and expertise across search and social listening, we uncovered the exact money issues people were seeking information about in real-time. We then provided weekly content recommendations based on genuine audience demand.

The benefits of our search and social listening didn’t stop there. We conducted further search listening to find the keywords that needed to be woven into the new content to meet user needs and rank in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Thanks to these rich audience insights, iCrossing UK was able to provide weekly content recommendations that were more in-tune with Times Money Mentor’s audiences, and better optimised to increase discoverability. This method resulted in a 95% uplift in organic traffic to the Times Money Mentor website.

An audience-first approach

Content themes and SEO recommendations are only a small slice of the cake. Our audience listening work can feed into multiple tiers of strategy planning; from uncovering purchase barriers in brand messaging, to advising on product development opportunities based on current audience demand. Our work supports national and global brands to place audiences at the heart of all areas of their business.

With so much insight at our fingertips, there’s no excuse for brands to have a loose audience understanding – especially when there’s so much at stake. Budgets go wasted when ads are placed in front of the wrong people, and targets can be missed when messaging is irrelevant, and unlikely to convert. In more serious cases, brands can find themselves publicly shamed for using distasteful targeting or for being caught out by audience stereotyping. Being off-key with who you’re speaking to can severely, and sometimes irreversibly, tarnish brand perceptions. So, while audience listening can help you get the most out of your marketing budgets, it could also protect your brand image.

We’re on a mission for ‘audience-first’ to no longer be a marketing buzzword that’s thrown around in the boardroom, but an ethos that feeds into everything brands say and do. Dalai Lama once said: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Imagine what you might learn if you took the time to listen.

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