Data development: How to use data to reach your target audience

How to Use Data to Reach Your Target Audience

High-quality data is critical to the success of your marketing campaigns and your organization. It enables you to target, reach, and influence your ideal potential customers with laser-like accuracy. It empowers you to convert more of them into customers, donors, members, and students. 

Trying to do business without accurate and complete data is like shooting darts blindfolded. You may get lucky and hit the target with a few shots. But most of them will miss the mark by a country mile.

Having high-quality, accurate data about your target audience is one of the best ways to give them exactly what they want and maximize your marketing efforts. You’ll create a better target customer experiences that keep them happy and satisfied. Moreover, you’ll grow your business and extend your reach by attracting even more people who look and behave like those ideal customers.

Not only that, but high-quality data can help you maximize the return on your marketing investment, turning a greater percentage of marketing touches into qualified leads and sales with the right people from your customer base. In short, improving data quality is a crucial area of improvement for most organizations. Here’s how to use data to reach your target audience. 

The high cost of poor data quality

According to a Validity study, 27% of business owners reported that bad data cost their company over 10% in revenue. That’s a HUGE loss for something that companies could easily fix with proper data development and analysis.

Many business leaders know their data can use improvement. According to Experian market research, 55% lack trust in their data assets. Many organizations believe about a third of their customer and prospect data is inaccurate in some way.

The global pandemic exacerbated this problem and resulted in a business downturn. Now, as we rebuild, we need a deeper dive into data than the metrics on social media platforms or Google Analytics. More people have left or changed jobs than at any time in recent memory. That means your demographic data is becoming outdated faster than ever. 

So, how can you improve your results with better customer data? How should you ensure your data is valid, accurate, and reliable? How do you support multiple types of target audiences, build brand awareness, and increase leads? Here is a three-step approach to help you make sure your data is lean and clean to help you win more of the green.

1. Data validation

Data development starts with a cleanup of your old, inaccurate records in your CRM (customer relationship management) software. Yes, it can be a big job, but it will help you ensure that your existing data is complete and accurate.

During the data validation step, you’ll clean up inaccurate records, delete any that are irrelevant or invalid, and then fill in any missing data. This task requires research and someone with data cleanup experience to ensure this process is done right. Look for third-party services that help digital marketers append their existing data – filling in missing information. You may need to work through many different channels—social media analytics, information from customer surveys, and other marketing strategies you’ve used to connect.

2. Data segmentation

Once you’ve corrected and validated your demographic data, the next step is to divide your target audience into useful segments based on their qualities, behavior, or other key characteristics. This step might go deeper than general demographic information. How does each specific product or piece of relevant content connect with your specific target audience? This process will enable you to target each group with messages tailored to their interests and needs.

Segmenting your data has another significant benefit: It enables you to identify more people aligned with each of the buyer persona and audience profiles you’ve developed. It will enable you to attract more new customers, donors, students, and others who can benefit from your offer. You’ll gain valuable insights into your specific audience’s pain points and needs.

3. Data-driven decisions

Once you have accurate and complete data, you can use it to track your audience’s behavior at every step of their buyer’s journey in your marketing plan. That, in turn, arms you with additional data you can use to set strategy and guide your decisions. 94% of marketers report that they HAVE sales data, but a third don’t use it to inform their decisions. Data should be a critical driver for every step of your marketing programs. It’s a great way to increase conversion rates and keep tabs on your current customers, but the first step is to get data that covers the right customers.

A good, better, best approach to success with data

Let’s explore an example with Amy, an experienced marketer with a solid design, writing, and content marketing background. She’s stuck. Increasingly, her target audience is ignoring her messages. Even loyal customers aren’t clicking. Metrics for her recent campaigns have been dwindling. She needs a clear, practical roadmap to help her turn things around and improve her marketing strategy to get results.

In this example, we’ll use the good/better/best framework to see how she can improve her data development and analysis strategy. Here’s what each level looks like:

  • Good approaches are adequate. They tend to follow the status quo. Many of us operate at this level. 
  • Better strategies incorporate best practices and are more focused on actual customer needs. 
  • The best strategies set a high bar for success. They elevate strategy, messaging, and measurement to an exceptional level of effectiveness.


Amy needs to define her organization’s ideal audience to create good data. Based on that target audience analysis, she can decide which records to keep, which to update and correct, and which to discard. Once she has completed this first pass cleanup of audience data, she needs to design processes for data input and updating that will help her organization maintain data cleanliness on an ongoing basis. 

She should also establish a timetable for ongoing data cleanup. No matter what, data tends to get “dirtier” over time. Outdated, duplicate, and inaccurate records can be a constant challenge, especially if her firm has multiple people doing data input and updates.

Next, Amy should segment her organization’s audience based on demographics, industry, job role, buying habits, and other key criteria. This valuable information will enable her to deliver better-customized messages for their unique needs.


It’s time for Amy to level up her approach to data by looking for ways to grow it based on the ideal customer profiles she has created. In other words, she now has a clear picture of what her best customers look like and where their similar interests overlap. Now it’s time to find more people like them to get even better results. 

To do a better job of data development and analysis, Amy also needs to leverage tools to help her expand, clean, and cull her data regularly. She should identify third-party data sources to help her grow her database with new prospects and append her existing data. 


What best practices can Amy employ to improve her organization’s data? Ideally, she should integrate all data sources into one database that becomes the single source of truth—a 360-degree view of its customers, prospects, and constituents. Armed with these insights, she can easily reach, build relationships with, and persuade more of them to become customers, donors, members, and students. 

What’s more, Amy can use this data to craft her next marketing message and build a better customer experience. She can rest assured that she’s getting the right message and the right type of content for each specific group of consumers. From these audience segments, she can expand to new audiences and different platforms; she’ll make an informed decision to get the best results from her marketing dollars. 

If you’re ready to get a handle on your data and make it work harder for you, contact Heritage Printing today to discuss your needs. Data development and data analysis are part of our new Heritage+ family of enhanced marketing services.

Direct Marketing Webinar: Data Development & Analysis

Want to learn more about database organization and how you can reach the right audience? Let’s start to get your database organized! In this 21-minute webinar, we’ll show you tips and tricks for gathering your data and making it a focused, effective tool.