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Moving toward audience-focused marketing.

The author

Arianne Donoghue

Paid Media Development Manager

Over the past decade, we’ve seen huge shifts in consumer behaviour and what it means for us as marketers. At Ecommerce Expo last week, I spoke a little bit about some of these shifts and how you can make sure you keep up with the change.


In the early days, our focus was driven by “what”. In a world focused around last-click attribution, everything revolved around “what” the ROI was; “what” keyword somebody came in on, “what” product they bought. We were captivated by the measurability and success of activities like organic and paid search, and targeted our marketing accordingly.


In the last few years, our focus has switched to “how” - everything has become all about device. While I wholeheartedly agree that it’s important to offer great experiences on mobile, I worry that it’s become a little bit of a fixation that means we’re in danger of missing the big picture.

In almost every industry, we’ve passed the mobile “tipping point”, where over 50% of traffic comes via mobile devices, but we’re yet to see sales shift over in the same manner. Why is this?

Our challenge is that whilst mobile is the most-used device, only a small number of generally younger audiences use solely mobile devices. In the vast majority of cases, cross-device behaviour is the norm, with many users researching on mobile devices and then purchasing on those with larger screens.

“Where” and “When?”

“Where” and “when” are likely to be some of the biggest drivers of our focus, our aim and our intent. My needs at 11am on a workday while I’m at my computer are likely to be very different to 9pm at night, when I’ll be at home searching on my phone or tablet. My interactions with brands will be very different.


Most people are familiar with this data from Google, showing how device usage varies throughout the day - with mobile edging out desktop during the small hours and commute to work, before desktop then takes over during the working day, starting to dip around 3-4pm, as people head home from work or onto the school run. During the commute home, mobile device usage soars and stays above desktop until the end of the day.

What does this tell us? That our “where” and “when” is going to be what determines the device that we use. We should be looking to understand more about the customer in these moments and then come to device as a secondary consideration, rather than starting out with it as our main focus.


We’re very fortunate these days that it’s so easy to gather data on who our customers are. Data points like age, gender, location and interests are very accessible from analytics platforms, AdWords and elsewhere. We can use this data to inform who our customer is, but I would argue that the data is incomplete.

Keywords are still an essential part of our marketing because this audience data on its own isn’t enough and it helps us qualify a user’s intent. But we should be asking ourselves what else we can find out about our customers. Who are their family? Do they have kids? Grandkids? What do they do for work? How much disposable income do they have? What newspapers do they read? What’s their favourite TV show? Do they double screen?

Digging into all of this allows us to build out a properly-rounded profile of our customer from which we can do more. It’s essential for us as marketers to really get into the detail of what makes our customers tick. We need to ensure that we can answer the following three questions:

  1. What’s important to your customers?

  2. What motivates and drives them?

  3. What problems do they have, that your brand can solve?

The third question is by far the most important question and the answers are likely to vary by segment of your user base. These answers should be what decides the marketing activity that you run and the creative messaging you put together to support it. Ecommerce giants like Amazon agree, stating recently at Dmexco:

“But the [real opportunity] is how do you solve a problem for the customer all the way through their journey in a way that is helpful to them.

“If you’re doing the right thing for the customer, that will come through.”


Once we know what’s important to our customers and what motivates them, we need to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing in that specific moment. Why are they browsing? Why are they searching? Why might they be on your site? This leads us on to the wider application of “moments” within marketing.

You ad may have been the event that got the user started on their journey, but it’s in the ‘zero moment of truth’ that most of the decision making happens. By the time the customer comes to purchase, it may be too late - unless you’re one of several places a customer can buy a particular product from. So our focus should be on influencing the zero moment as much as we can, positioning ourselves for consideration when the customer thinks about committing.

At Ecommerce Expo, I talked about how brands can deliver high-quality cross-channel experiences to have the best chance of being considered during the zero moment of truth. Take a look at my presentation slides below, and keep an eye on the Epiphany blog for my next post on what a great experience looks like, with some actionable tips for targeting your audience.