INBOX INSIGHTS, June 30, 2021: What Customers Want, AI Distractions, Twitter Bios

What Customers Want, AI Distractions, Twitter Bios

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What Do They Want?

Do you know what your prospective customers want?

One of the key tenets of direct marketing is Bob Stone’s 1968 framework: list, offer, creative. Do you have the right people? Do you have a compelling offer? Do you have a solid creative?

When I talk to marketers, they spend so much time obsessing over the creative while ignoring the vastly more important list and offer side. Creative is irrelevant when you’ve got the wrong audience, or when you have an audience and nothing they want.

So, do you have what your prospective customers want? Broadly, we all want to save money, make money, and save time. We all want to avoid pain and seek pleasure. But beyond those generalities, we’re not always skilled at creating compelling offers.

I was talking with a client yesterday who was assembling an ad campaign, and I asked what the offer was. It was an invitation to a free webinar. You know what no one really wants, 69 weeks into the pandemic? Another webinar. I’m sure you’ve seen performance decline on your virtual events; we certainly have, at our own and definitely at other people’s events. One event that I speak at regularly has lost 75% of its live audience in the last year because everyone’s over hanging out on more Zoom calls.

Every sale is a series of micro-transactions, of micro-sales leading up to the macro sale. Our first sale is attention. We’re bartering something in exchange for attention, and yet another webinar isn’t something people are clamoring to buy with their attention.

So, what’s the solution? Two things. First, when was the last time you asked your audience what they want in an open-ended format? This is the first, best way to understand what your attention offer should be – if one person’s asking for it, there are ten people who aren’t feeling bold enough to speak up but want exactly the same thing.

Here’s a simple example from our Slack group yesterday:

Example in Slack of asking opinions

You don’t need to be a data scientist or a machine learning engineer to ask people what they want and carefully listen to their answers.

Second, once you’ve gotten the substance of the attention offer down, figure out the container – the creative. This is where you think creative, where you use the non-math part of your brain. What formats are available to you? What talent is available to you, either in-house or at your agency? Step past the things you’ve always done – what are formats you have never tried, or perhaps never even seen in marketing, such as:

  • An animated web series
  • A comic book
  • An interactive game
  • A print magazine for the coffee table
  • An archery target with the customer’s problems on them and safety suction cup arrows plus a kid’s toy bow
  • A bag of custom-branded coffee
  • A custom line of hand soap
  • A hand-written poem
  • A commissioned piece of original fiction

Can you imagine putting your marketing copy on a bottle of soap? Why not? Printed properly you can cram close to 500 words of copy on a soap bottle.

Capturing attention is always about what’s scarce. Another webinar is not scarce. Physical goods are scarce. True customization is scarce. Showing that you put real effort into something is scarce. Go ask your audience what they want, then find original ways to give it to them, and you’ll earn their attention.

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Binge Watch and Listen

In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris talk about AI applications and distractions. How important is it that you know the technology? What level of depth is necessary for marketers to make marketing technology work for them? Tune in to find out!

Watch/listen to this episode of In-Ear Insights here »

Last week on So What? The Marketing Analytics and Insights Live Show, we looked at how to analyze content marketing to see what’s working and what’s not.

Watch/listen to this episode of So What? here »

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Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, we do something a little different. One of the most important things you can do is understand your audience a little better, the people that make up your audience and their backgrounds and interests. One of the easiest data sources for this are things like Twitter bios, which are generally accessible and can be extracted in bulk using Twitter’s API. For fun, we first extracted the followers of Trust Insights (not following us? Pop over to to see who our audience is.

When we extract all the individual words and ngrams (phrases) from our followers’ Twitter bios, we end up with a table that looks something like this:

Twitter Bios for Trust Insights

From just this small snapshot of information, we know a fair amount about our audience. Some things are not surprising; social media and digital marketing feature in the bios of our Twitter followers most commonly. Other things are a bit more of a surprise like “Fresno State” and “real estate”; we don’t typically associate those with our normal audience.

Let’s try a different account. Here’s what IT World Canada’s followers look like, in terms of bios.

Twitter Bios for IT World Canada

This is decidedly a very different group of people, and we see dramatically different topics in the bios of the audience. If I were working for IT World, I’d use this data to perhaps field a survey with the audience, to see if these topics really do resonate with them. If they did, I might take a look at the content I was producing and see if it was aligned – cybersecurity content would be top of my list.

The survey part is key; our audience on Twitter may not be representative of our audience overall, so we’d use this data qualitatively, to inform more balanced, more robust quantitative research. However, this gives us a nice head start.

I encourage you to perform the same kind of analysis on your Twitter followers – and especially on your competitors’ followers. You may be able to identify topics that are blind spots for you (or for them) and can inform further research for your marketing strategy.

Methodology: Trust Insights used data extracted from Twitter’s API based on the handles of followers. For IT World Canada, we extracted 5,000 handles’ bios at random as a sample of their much larger audience. The timeframe of the data is April 1, 2021 – June 20, 2021. The date of study is June 29, 2021. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.

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Where can you find us in person?

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