Taking the guesswork out of marketing with data

Last updated on 23 February 2023

In a complex industry like aged care, how can online data be utilised to ensure you’re reaching the right audience? [Source: Shutterstock]

Every interaction with a client, no matter how small, will provide you with valuable data and an opportunity to get to know your audience better. 

Understanding the impact of customer data is essential to the success of marketing campaigns, whether it’s advertising to potential aged care residents, promoting new services to in-home care clients, or creating brand awareness online.

In the age of digital marketing, there is an ongoing shift away from broad advertising based on guesswork. There is focus thanks to data-driven marketing that allows businesses to reach out to new audiences just like their existing customer base without wasting resources.

“With technology, we are moving away from broadcasting and towards narrowcasting,” said Hemi Herath, SearchMAX Performance Director.

“We understand who the target audience and key segments are and can deliver laser-sharp marketing messaging.

“Data helps take the guesswork out of marketing. We can reduce wastage by targeting our audiences with relevant content, while it helps businesses reach customers with the right message at the right time.”

But before you start seeing all the benefits of data-driven marketing, you have to understand just how that information can be used. And in a complex industry like aged care, how can it be best directed to ensure you’re reaching the right audience in the best way?

What exactly is data-driven marketing?

Data-driven marketing is a modern marketing approach relying on customer data and analytics to inform and guide the best marketing decisions. 

By collecting, analysing and interpreting customer data you gain insights into behaviours, preferences and interactions so you can personalise future campaigns on existing knowledge to improve the customer experience and maximise your marketing efficiency.

The insights gained can also be used to analyse trends and make predictions about new target audiences or new campaigns worth investing in. It’s easy to craft marketing strategies based on relevant real-time data without being limited to the same tried and tested methods.

So if a campaign’s not performing after one month, it can be changed by directing it at a new audience, shifting the age demographic or updating the call to action.

How does it benefit aged care?

The journey to aged care does not move along one straight path. For some, there is a funnel that includes retirement living, in-home care and respite, but for others, residential aged care is their first and only stop.

As a result, you may have a long lead time from the first time a customer searches for your business and the day they – or their parent – become a resident. 

A major trigger is often at the centre of any aged care research, such as a fall or hospital stay. That event is the first intent-rich moment you use to start building a profile of your audience.

Search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) are known as ‘pull channels’; they pull traffic from people using keywords to look for specific services and information. This is quantitative data you can access through sources like Google Keyword Planner, where keyword search volumes are tracked.

“People go to Google when they have a question, and we call these micro-moments ‘I want to do moments’ and ‘I want to know moments’,” said Ms Herath.

“Most residential aged care providers fall under those ‘I want to know moments’.

“But if you try to push too hard with advertising during this ‘I want to know moment’ that’s a failure because they don’t want to talk to anyone yet, they just want information.

“Google is a keyword based tool, I can put in-home care service providers for a particular suburb but how do I know whether it’s a senior or sandwich generation looking for it?”

This is where aged care stands out from many other industries – there is a customer base of two distinct segments, adult children searching for care options for their parents, and older people looking for their next move. 

Both groups use different search terms, they access the internet in different ways, and they like to absorb information differently. For example, Ms Herath said older people still prefer to call businesses directly while their children prefer to peruse information online at their own pace.

“This is where data-driven marketing comes into play. Google is underlying its keywords with audiences” explained Ms Herath. 

“So we can see that if somebody between the age of 30-55 is looking for ‘aged care or home care services near me’, we understand it’s the children. 

“The way we write ads to them would be different to somebody who’s in their 60s.”

How can you start collecting data?

Your data toolbox contains far more than just keyword information, though. You have access to a vast array of customer data online that is all beneficial for crafting target audiences and campaigns that address their behaviours.

The top tools available to anyone include:

  • A customer relationship management (CRM) system: A CRM is a software tool that tracks all communication and information with your customers and potential customers. This is where information sourced from leads and purchases can be stored to build personas based on interactions.
  • Website analytics/Google Analytics: You can track relevant customer and visitor information from your own website traffic, including gender, age, location, the device used, internet speed and even pages visited. This is the data used to build lookalike audiences.
  • Newsletter/electronic direct mail (EDM) analytics: Newsletter analytics such as open rates and clickthrough rates can be used to determine what campaigns are most successful based on your target audience.
  • Social media marketing (Meta Ads Manager): Similar to your website traffic data, you can determine the age, location and gender of your social media audience to build lookalike audiences for push marketing campaigns.
  • Google Keyword Planner: This is where you can find the most relevant keywords being searched related to your business. From ‘in-home care near me’ to ‘how much does aged care cost’, you can use keyword research to determine how much demand there is based on quantitative data.
  • Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business): Individual business profiles can be created for each home or business you operate. As a part of this, Google tracks the location of customers who seek directions to your business. As a result, you can target them via ads focused on their postcode.

Using data to build lookalike audiences

Data-driven marketing is all about focus. You want to be focused on a target audience that is likely to show interest in your services – their age, traits and location all factor in. Ms Herath said the best way to achieve this is by using lookalike audiences to expand your online reach.

By using a lookalike audience to reach new people who share similar characteristics to your existing customers, you are cutting out key demographics that are not interested in your services. 

Lookalike audiences could be based on the age, gender and location data of your website visitors, or even customers who have accessed your aged care services over the past 6-12 months.

“When you create your lookalike audience, you can use a percentage range to choose how closely you want your prospecting audience to match your source audience,” said Ms Herath. 

“Smaller percentages closely match your source audience, while a more significant percentage creates a bigger, broader audience.

“A source audience of between 1,000-5,000 people is a great start. 

“However, the quality of the audience matters and you may get better results if you use an audience from your current aged care customers rather than all the leads in the customer relationship management (CRM) tool.”

Lookalike audiences can be utilised through Facebook (Meta) and also Google, where you can upload information from your CRM as part of a customer data file.

Running A/B testing with multiple audiences to determine which ones perform better over time is a beneficial tactic as you can adjust campaigns based on successful and unsuccessful trends that emerge.

Ms Herath recommended hashing algorithms be used to protect the data and privacy of your customers. Meanwhile, she said maintaining a “clean” CRM where customer data and data from unconverted leads should remain separate so you can target each type of audience individually.

What’s the best way to take advantage?

Aged care is a broad sector with retirement living, home care, residential aged care and respite. Although there is the funnel, sometimes the timer might start at ten, other times at one.

So as you focus on key audiences based on your data, there will be some long click-to-conversion rates. That’s when you are reinforcing customers through key messages based on the quality of life, attractive lifestyle options and safety.

But by targeting lookalike audiences that have a track record of interacting with your websites and accessing information you have a foundation for success. 

You have the ability to deliver cost-effective marketing based on customer data without a large amount of waste. Customised ads will not only provide increased clickthrough rates on ads but more leads and more opportunities to engage with customers.

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