Target groups - from a panorama to a microscopic analysis

Communication is all about interaction. Understanding your target groups and the kind of communication that creates engagement is a lengthy process that requires dedication, time, and a hands-on approach. And analytical skills.

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
- George Bernard Shaw

Finding the right content for the right channels is a challenge for communication professionals across Europe. The journey to understanding stakeholders can be rocky, but the treasure is worth the work.

Exploration with analytics

Studying target groups and their engagement takes time. Through trial and error, you will learn what works best for your audience.

According to our 2019 Web Management survey, many communication teams have recognised this need for exploration. A third of the respondents said that analytical skills are on their year’s agenda and investing in training and recruitment are how they plan to increase access to this skill within teams.

Engagement vs. information overload

Reaching target groups can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. When we asked European respondents to talk about the work challenges they had encountered and expected to see more of in 2019, it was the one of the most consistent answers, regardless of location or industry.

Institutional investors and analysts are ranked as the most important corporate target groups, but reaching them is not always easy. The main channels that are used here are the corporate website, press releases, corporate events, and LinkedIn. However, even though Communication and IR teams have multiple channels they can access, engagement remains a challenge.

Target groups needs are mixed and information overload might be one of the main causes of dwindling engagement, as it was mentioned by one of the respondents:

“Competing with other companies and their content. Users have access to so much content today.”
– Irene Engberg Montiel, Digital Chief Consultant, Corporate Communications & Relations, Danske Bank

Personas can help with users needs

For the corporate communication teams, getting to know their target groups is part of the journey. Breadth and depth both count here – several methods, from a wide-angle perspective to an in-depth, microscopic approach, are often needed to really understand who these target groups are, as well as how and why they choose different communication channels.

The findings show that a majority of the respondents spend some time each year studying their target groups. Investors were the most frequently researched target group, while others (e.g. business journalists and jobseekers) are studied less often.

How often do you study your target groups' needs?

Getting to know Sam and Marie

Let’s get to know three fictional investors: Sam, Marie, and Bridget.

Sam

Urban and well-educated, Sam enjoys the possibilities life has to offer. He’s your heavyweight user – his website visits focus on the IR section, but he needs more than just the highlights. His visits are frequent and last longer than average user’s.

Marie

Marie, on the other hand, is efficient at everything she does, and this is reflected in how she uses your corporate website. The annual report is her main information source and she has no time to window shop for other kinds of content. In the evenings, however, Marie will sometimes follow company activity across other channels.

Bridget

The third user group could be described by Bridget. She is 60 years old and quality of life is important to her. For the past years, green choices have become a bigger concern for her. This is reflected in Bridget’s investments – she cares for companies who work with green values and keep sustainability at the forefront of what they do. She also tries to keep herself up-to-date and actively follows several investment bloggers and podcasts.

In our example above, Bridget needs to get information about sustainable investments, while making information available on other channels besides the corporate website would benefit Marie. For Sam, IR content needs to be updated and reviewed often to match his appetite for information.

Based on target group interviews, it is possible to create personas – brief outlines of a fictional user or client. They can help you to more efficiently design communication around the needs of your target groups.

A closer look

Website analytics, user studies, and user testing are all needed to define personas.

For a company, analysing website data is a good starting point that can help further differentiate user groups. However, these numbers do not tell the whole story. To discover which channels are important and who is actually using them, user studies with surveys and interviews are needed to dig deeper into the data.

With the Webranking report, you can find out what European stakeholders need and what jobseekers and the capital market consider important on a corporate website. The Webranking report helps you get an overview of these target groups, which can be supported with your own research e.g. by exploring a specific jobseeker group in more detail or by looking into other targets groups, such as your clients.

After the website data has been analysed, combining these findings with the Webranking report and your own user studies can provide incredibly valuable insight and allow you to test and define the most engaging content for your user groups. Following up on target groups needs with monthly data analysis is the microscope you need to follow up on your broader findings.

Making the story complete

Every good story needs perspective. Multiple perspectives, in fact. The need to include several levels of information is essential and this can already be seen in the stakeholder needs that Webranking has previously uncovered. With several methods, such as heatmaps, personas, A/B – testing, and eye tracking, you can discover and define your target groups better.

Let us guide you in research. We know how.