Intelligent Household Targeting: Put Your Prospect In Context

VP Hacker Group Carrie-WoolmanIt seems that almost any data you can imagine about a consumer can be collected nowadays. Marketers are often overwhelmed by it all and say things like, “I don’t need more data, I need actionable information!”

But it’s the marketer’s job to turn the data into actionable information. A strategic marketer is limited only by her imagination and the data available.

In the past few years, many marketers have tried to unearth everything that can be known about an individual (within privacy limitations, of course). The prevailing mantra was to focus narrow and tight. However, more recently, as we have been able to gather more intelligence about households, a broader perspective has emerged. This has helped marketers to put the individual in context — and this strategic shift has helped us become much smarter about targeting. In fact, it has led to a new theory that is poised to change how marketers target individuals.

The “Intelligent Household” Theory

Using an Intelligent Household marketing strategy, pains are taken to understand and collect data about the dynamics of the household and how each member can influence an individual purchase. For example, marketers already know that the presence of children in a house can impact everything from food purchases to museum memberships. Likewise, if one member of the household is about to move into an assisted-living situation, he or she is likely not the only decision-maker.


Households have other defining characteristics as well — such as the size of the dwelling or number of rooms or mortgage value — each of these can be critically important pieces of data for marketers.

Understanding this data is crucial to maximizing ROI. That’s why we believe now is the time to fully embrace the value of household-level data and let it fuel your marketing imagination. The Intelligent Household strategy is an excellent place to start.

Here are a few concepts to think through when working out an Intelligent Household Strategy that will have a direct impact on your marketing results.

Is my product sold at an individual level or household level?  What is the opportunity within a household? Is it measured at the address, individual, or some other level like number of bedrooms or whether the home has a pool? For example, Internet service providers sell only once into a household. Once that address purchases the service, the acquisition opportunity is complete. The remaining opportunity may only be to upsell or cross-sell other features or products. Other products such as gym memberships can be bought (or subscribed to) at an individual level. The number of adults in a household would define the marketing opportunity in that scenario. So, even when there is one customer in a household, there still may be remaining opportunity. A metric of household penetration can be calculated with this information.

How can you maximize the marketable universe at the individual level? For example, one client came to us with their list of residents in a particular geography that they served. The list had only one name (or no name) per address. We worked with data partners to enhance the list with additional individuals. This effectively doubled their universe of potential buyers.

Who is the decision-maker? Who is the influencer? How can both be leveraged? By rotating your marketing messages through the adults in a household, you have a greater chance of reaching the decision maker. Think, for example, of a family vehicle. The signer for the car loan may be different that the primary driver of the automobile. The driver, whether a spouse or young adult driver in the home, may very well be a significant influencer in the purchase decision. By rotating your messaging through the adults in the household, you can change messaging based on who you’re targeting, plus you’ll have a higher probability of reaching the true decision-maker. This is a great strategy for increasing and sustaining performance results.

Are you continuing to refine your targeting at the household and individual levels? By increasing your marketable universe with increased knowledge of the household, you may find that the original person you targeted was really not the best prospect. You can eliminate poorly qualified prospects to increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your marketing. Some of the ways you can refine your targeting within the household include layering additional information over your data, such as credit score, demographics, psychographics and propensity-to-buy models.

Have you deployed a sophisticated rotation strategy (for individuals and creative approaches)? By sending your marketing messages to one individual at a time (per campaign wave) within a household, you don’t need to blanket the whole household with simultaneous marketing messages. You can rotate your marketing message through the qualified individuals in the home. If you have a few successful creative approaches you know work well, you can also use them as part of your rotation strategy. The creative approaches won’t fatigue as quickly as they would if you were targeting the same individual with each touch.

What is fueling your imagination? Are you always learning more about your customer? We have been developing household “personas” for some of our clients that give us interesting ways to think about family decision-making processes based on behavioral modeling. For example, is the household growing in affinity (usage) of a product, stable in its use, or decreasing its use of your product?  When you understand what motivates action within a household, you can create more compelling marketing messages.

An Intelligent Household Strategy is fodder for the imaginative marketer. Not only does it provide multiple options to use household data to broaden and deepen your understanding of your potential and current customers, it can deliver critical ROI.

Carrie Woolman is Executive Director/Analytics and Targeting for Hacker Group, a leading digital/direct agency based in Seattle. She helps focus the company’s commitment to making data-driven decisions and flawlessly executing clients’ marketing programs.


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