It has never been easier to embark on a research project. Whether for a marketing campaign, new product trials or strategic direction, the depth and breadth offered by online survey panels provides organisations with access to an extraordinary range of respondents. And yet far too few organisations are actively exploring these audiences to ensure the right group is being targeted.

Not all surveys should be targeted at C-level respondents. Jane Hales, managing partner at Sapio Research, outlines the importance of defining the audience and looking beyond demographics to needs-based and psychographic segmentation.

Extended Reach

When online survey panels provide the chance to accurately target an audience to unprecedented degrees of granularity, there is no excuse for failing to get up close and personal with a very specific target group. Yet few companies are getting it right – and the result is often irrelevant, inaccurate and unusable results.

This is especially true for those companies leveraging the apparent ease and simplicity offered by DIY online research services. It seems so easy to request a basic audience of, for example, 1,000 people. But how relevant is that audience? How well balanced? Is it even genuine – or created by bots?

The opportunity is there – the key is to understand and define that group.  How much time has the business spent visualising the potential audience? Creating the different target personas? Does the organisation really want the views of C-Level executives, for example, or is there another, less senior group that will have far more influence on buying decisions and knowledge of the business pain points? There is a chance now to be incredibly specific about defining the exact audience that is most relevant to the organisation – so make the most of it.

Understanding Motivation

Furthermore, while it is a simple exercise to define the basic demographics, the age, gender, income, marital status and so on, why stop there? What are the pain points of this audience? The motivations? The attitudes, beliefs and values? Extending basic segmentation to include needs-based and psychographic based segmentation enables an organisation to gain a deeper understanding of the audience. Just consider the ever-present problem of addressing the skills shortage – rather than just look for Gen Zs en-masse, focus on about what is motivating them when looking for a new job. A survey drilling down into those looking for flexible working or a specific corporate culture in a very different way to the group solely motivated by money will enable the organisation to gain far more valuable from each group as a result.

Whether the business is looking to engage consumers or organisations, the ability to understand how they think, what they need and when, their influences – and who they influence, the way they absorb information and the messages that will resonate, is massively more valuable than basic demographic segmentation- it enables you to tap into their emotions. It is this combination of demographics with a deep understanding of needs and drivers that will enable an organisation to create more targeted campaigns towards three or four very specific audience segments and move personas from clichéd stereotypes to differentiated groups you can visualise and work with.