Microtargeting: A catalyst for transforming Kenya’s business and political landscape

In Africa, Kenya is second behind South Africa in terms of the size of population that has access to the Internet. Accordingly, four out of ten Kenyan adults use internet on a daily basis which is slightly behind South Africa which stands at 42% of the adult population. This is according to the most recent Pew Research which was conducted in 40 countries across the globe.

The estimated number of internet users stands at 26.1 million, making Kenya the 21st most connected population in the world. Of those internet users, almost all can access the internet through their mobile phones. This meteoric growth of internet usage can be attributed to the affordability of the internet service, growth in the number of social media users and the increasing uptake of online shopping.

Currently, there are over 5.3 million active Facebook users, almost 2 million active Twitter users and slightly above 1 million active LinkedIn users. Interestingly, Kenya came fourth in a ranking of countries whose citizens tweeted most in the year 2015, accounting a total of 76 million tweets.

As internet use continue to be adopted by Kenyans, the business and political landscape is going to change forever; and not to be left behind in the dawn of the information age, businesses and political groups are slowly adapting microtargeting as a tool for identifying and interacting with their customers and their voters.

What is microtargeting?

Microtargeting also referred to as micro-niche targeting is a marketing strategy that utilizes the use of consumer data and demographics to identify the interest of individuals or a small group of like-minded individuals in order to influence their thoughts and actions. It is a new tool for candidates and campaigners that answers the most fundamental question about: Who support my candidature? Where do I find them? How do I persuade others to support my candidature? These types of questions are hardly answered through the traditional ways of marketing.

The most important goal of microtargeting is to create customized winning messages and proof points to individuals while accurately predicting their impacts; It is used for the basis of aligning messages, offers and entire customer experience with individual customers. The insights generated inform communication activities, product development and operational activities e.g. setting up of call centers.

The practice can also be used to identify consumer taste and behaviors: Surfing through the internet leaves a trail of browser history that allows marketing companies to glean insights into personal interest, e.g. which do the sites do you mostly visit? Do you read online articles? Do you subscribe to online articles? Do you do online shopping?

Why is microtargeting important?

Traditional method of advertising more so the mass media is highly inefficient, example is a car advertising which is viewed by those who are not willing to purchase a car. Also, the mass media is declining and is being replaced by a more fragmented and a customer influenced environment; consequently, it is increasingly becoming difficult to saturate consumers with a single offer.

As media fragment, it becomes imperative to move away from one idea or execution to multiple messages that are tailored to individual needs.

Microtargeting and businesses

As a business, you can take advantage of microtargeting by utilizing the following.

  • You can use email marketing software to send personalized message to your audience.
  • You can look at your audience online behavior and use it to predict future behaviour.
  • You can single out consumers in terms of demographics and target them using different messages.

Using the consumer data that you have gathered to identify individuals and specific small groups of people; microtargeting will help a business target people who will certainly purchase a product or a service.

Personalization

Businesses are now using microtargeting to send personalized messages to people they know. As when you have name and contact information, you can send personalized messages to individuals, this will get people to read your messages and going a step further, you may send surveys from the list you have gathered in order to get specific information.

Profiling online customers

You can profile your customers using the following approaches.

  • Psychographic profiling: You can profile your customers based on their interests.
  • Social profiling: This can include fields like; relationship status, favorite activities and occupation which are managed through social profile management. This may help you answer questions like: ‘Are the users who like to spend most of their free time with their families more likely to use their credit cards for shopping than those that don’t?’
  • Behavioral profiling: This is derived from the online behavior of your audience, are they filling online forms? Subscribing for a newsletter? Making online purchase? With the data, retargeting personalized messages can be sent by the marketers. Moreover, websites can incorporate the ability to place cookies in user’s browser for further follow ups, e.g. displaying specific ads at any time users visit their websites.
  • Customer life-cycle data: Customers lifecycle is mostly associated with demographic data, e.g. you can predict the enrollment of university students in Kenya based on the current enrollment of high school students. You can tell whether a customer has children. Depending on the business, demographic information is important when you want to tighten your target audience. Key indicators like address changes, purchase of expensive goods, first purchase of furniture’s can indicate a new customer change in life pattern.

Microtargeting and politics

Political campaign paradigm is shifting and at the heart of this shift can be attributed to the changing face in marketing. By integrating customer relationship, management technologies, advanced marketing techniques and traditional political targeting, microtargeting sequence each individual voter’s unique political background and identify their most likely political attitudes and behaviours. It sharpens, and increases the efficiency of a campaign’s direct contact plans, allowing individually targeted messages delivered by the proper messenger. Microtargeting is a powerful tool because if voters’ issues are identified correctly, campaigns can have a powerful effect on how voters judge candidates in an election; it has been demonstrated that campaigns can leverage personal experience to garner support from voters who would otherwise vote for opposing candidate.

During the USA presidential campaign, microtargeting techniques were successfully used to interact with and appeal voters on individual basis. To achieve this personalization on a massive scale, detailed information on a massive scale is collected about individual voters and predictive analytics used to model voter sentiments. This enabled campaign leaders to go beyond standard political party oriented messages and communicate with voters about specific topics to influence voter’s decision.

Effectiveness of microtargeting in political campaigns

The type of car you own, the marital status, the age, gender and religion may have something to do with how you vote. By using a large pull of data comprising of voter information, life cycle information, lifestyle information, financial data, consumer behavior, geographic data, political attitude and reference. Microtargeting can be used to segment each voter into a number of groups each with a unique combination, and with the current technological development, it is now possible to; 1) digitally store and archive massive amount of raw data, 2) grow the quantity and the quality of multi-sourced consumer information, 3) ability to link multiple datasets such as voter files and geographical data, 4) analyze, search and discover new meaningful patterns and relationships of strategic and tactical value: As technology improves in terms of speed, efficiency and cost effectiveness, microtargeting will improve and become a potent tool

Political strategists are gathering and buying data and then match with voters’ rolls: The data received has detailed information about the behavior of a voter and what do they do when they are surfing online.

Changing land scape in advertising

Broadcasting in mainstream channels is becoming a thing of the past, and is being replaced by hundreds of channels, hundreds of radio stations and thousands of websites and blogs. This fragmentation of media has placed a high premium on one-on-one direct marketing.

Consequently, political strategist need to customize their messages, issues and themes that are tailored to individual voter’s attitudes and preferences.

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