Psychographic Profiling, Big Data and Behavioural Marketing Communications Win Elections and Votes

This is a repost of an article written by me in 2016/17 from a site I have now closed down. 

The last three major elections/votes in the US and UK have been filled with shock. First came Brexit, then came Trump and now we have a hung parliament in the UK.

How does this happen? How do the pundits get it so wrong? How does this big data not make forecasts more predictable?

There are many theories as to why these votes turned out the way they did. But one underlying issue is that communication and segmented echo chambers on social media became an issue.

Some of this will be because politicians tapped into qualitative data, feelings and frustrations of the general public and used this to steer their communications strategy.

Others will have taken on a more quantitative approach taking on board data science and behavioural science to design their communications strategy.

This is not just theory. One company Cambridge Analytica worked with Ted Cruz and then Donald Trump to do exactly this.

Apart from the ethical questions, this begs us to ask about our politicians like we need any more, this does also make us as digital marketers and consumers take a moment to pause and consider.

Note I originally posted this video as an explanation of what happened in the Trump shock election. I did not know at the time it would blow up about this company.

Psychographic Profiling and Market Segmentation

This video is an excellent explanation of how psychographic profiling should be used along with demographic and geographic profiling and should actually lead the field.

When we look at segmenting our customer data, we need to be able to understand not just the socioeconomic drivers behind their decisions that tell us that all people of this demographic or geographic profile should receive the same advert but also the psychological personality drivers behind people's decisions. 

As with psychometric profiling, psychographics sets to design models of human drivers of behaviour to segment the data of consumers, the general public and business users.

The OCEAN model mentioned in the video utilises the Big 5 Personality traits and like in psychometric profiling models like the Myers Briggs MBTI model often used in recruitment its a way of segmenting and modelling human behaviour.

  • Openness to experience,
  • Conscientiousness,
  • Extraversion,
  • Agreeableness, and
  • Neuroticism

By utilising this model along with big data analytics around consumers, the general public and business users you can define your communication strategy around this data and segment the marketing and advertising to ensure different profiles receive a more personalised and psychographically profiled advert that appeals.

Note: for B2B customers you will do well to include psychometric profiling around the person's job title/role.

Behavioural Communication

The video also offers a straightforward explanation of behavioural communication.

The private beach owners sign being one of information only or one that instils a fear of sharks will have two unique effects on the average beach dweller.

This explanation is simple but gets the point across. For too long marketing communications have been creative but information based assuming that if we provide logical argument customers will make an informed decision. However, behavioural economics shows us that people do not act rationally all of the time and often act in very different ways depending on many different sociological and psychological factors.

Therefore designing a behavioural marketing communication strategy around psychographics, neurolinguistic and psychometric profiles seems the most rational decision. But obviously, that’s assuming you make a rational decision. But once you have done this how do you get this message in front of the right people?

Big data, market segmentation and programmatic marketing are a few areas.

I have written about these subjects before, and no doubt will do so again in the future. The video does also give a good explanation.

Gain Data Analytic Insights

Whether you are setting up something entirely new or are looking to improve and existing campaign data is king, “I thought it was content?” I hear you scream. Well yes, this is the thing in the 15 plus year I have been involved SEO, and digital marketing in one way or another something is always king for awhile. But as they say “the King is dead, long live the new King” The simple answer is that they are all King and are all important.

You need good data insights, you need good, engaging content, and you need a good behavioural marketing communication strategy.

Good data will tell you who your customers are, what their likes and dislikes are, what their drivers are and how they are interacting and reacting to the content you create.

In conclusion – winning elections with psychographic profiling, big data and behavioural communication

So what are the takeaways? Well firstly if you run a marketing department, marketing agency or work in sales and marketing in any way shape or form you should study these concepts. And while you may not use these technologies, models and techniques in such sophisticated ways gaining a basic understanding can bring fantastic results for your campaign, sales pitch, argument or proposal.

As consumers and members of the general public, however, we should become aware of how our information, our data, is being used, how we are being influenced and how our views may be becoming segmented, segregated and siloed. By being informed, we can make the decision to accept it or challenge the worldview we are being given.

Also by gaining an understanding of the psychological drivers and personality traits of others, we can shape our behaviour and communication to help win arguments, challenge bigotry or negative social norms ethically to improve society. This is what I tried to instil in this site and my other blog site on communication psychology and through the bethe100thmonkey project and in my books.

If we think about the power we have as consumers in the above example, we can help shape the future by the digital data we put out and the content we consume or demand better of. We can also use our power in the digital world and across social media to promote positive messages and challenge social norms.

Please also see the below fantastic Ted talk that looks at how we should be challenging our biases and siloed views to see past our own perspective and find the truth.


As a side note: as digital marketers, we might also consider is it worth using this knowledge and skill to help get more young people out to vote and not to side with one political party or another?

Also this is just scratching the surface of the above techniques, models and technologies.

Written by Sam


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