Brexit & Trump combination forces two-thirds of digital marketers to rethink how they intend on targeting their audience in 2017

By Greenlight | 06 Feb 2017


The surprising rise in populist sentiment in 2016 has resulted in two-thirds (66%) of marketers questioning how well they understand their brand's audience, according to new research commissioned by leading independent digital agency Greenlight Digital.

In a bid to understand if and how brands are reacting to the recent Trump presidency and Brexit result, Greenlight commissioned the survey of 200 digital marketing professionals to find an overwhelming majority (94%) now intend to make moves to better understand what their customers are looking for. The research comes as only 57% admitted to feeling as though they were tailoring their campaigns correctly, resulting in 37% now planning to target subsets of their audiences to ensure their brand is always on message and tapping into the right conversations that suit their business.

Treading the line carefully

However, most marketers will continue to collect insights on their customers based on more traditional demographics such as age (47%) and location (45%), while a growing number will also consider online activity (44%). So, how do these marketers plan on gathering such information about their audience? Greenlight found that 57% rely on customer surveys and 59% use online forms to try and discover more about their customer base.

Marketers may be keen to find out more, but digging deeper is a step too far for many in the industry. Only 19% of marketers feel comfortable targeting consumers based on ethnicity, while only a few marketers are tailoring campaigns based on their target audience's religious beliefs (13%) or sexuality (17%).

Marketers reluctant to get down to the nitty gritty

For marketers wanting to take their analysis a step further than limiting their campaign to just age and location, many have reservations about doing so:

  • 31% of marketers said that they would like to find out exactly who their audience is and what they are doing but they simply don't have the time to do so
  • 28% of marketers have fears over red tape and regulations preventing them from getting the insights they really need
  • 27% don't want to overstep the mark, with these marketers worried about seeming 'creepy'
  • 33% of marketers are worried that if they get too specific they may alienate people

Andreas Pouros, COO and Co-founder of Greenlight Digital comments: "The events of last year may have come as surprise for many people, however with marketers possessing greater access to audience data and insights than ever before, developing a deeper understanding of target audiences is fast becoming a top priority. As this year progresses, the ever-turbulent political agenda will continue to keep everyone on their toes, so marketers should consistently collect the necessary data insights and information on their customer. It may seem daunting but if marketers take advantages of data services that are out there to support them and take the time to dig a little deeper, they will be closer to guaranteeing their brand is participating in the right conversations".

Advice for marketers to get the insights they need

  • Tag display campaigns and extract richer insights about users who were exposed to, for example, a video ad, to identify who the clickers are and who are the converters.
  • Prevent siloeing remarketing and aim to get a better understanding of user intention and engagement on the site. This is so that remarketing to audiences is always through the right channel and at the right time when their purchase intent is the highest. 
  • If it all seems too much, the best starting point is to use a Data Management Platform which can help define customers according to how much of a deep dive brands want to take.