Are You Marketing By Psychographics?

We talk a lot about segmenting by your list’s demographics. Breaking your list into segments certainly helps you deliver what each reader is looking for. But have you ever considered segmenting according to psychographics, instead?

While demographics show your subscribers’ hard data (age, location, marital status, ethnicity, etc), psychographics slice across your list from a different angle, looking at lifestyles, behaviors and attitudes.

For example, some subscribers would rather purchase by price vs brand name, go out vs stay home on weekends or carefully consider their purchases vs buying impulsively.

Why Do I Need to Know These?

Psychographics give you a much deeper look into the market you’re dealing with. If you know what’ll grab their attention and what’ll turn them off, you’ll be way ahead of the competition.

VALS, a consumer psychographing system, suggests that people buy the things they think will enhance the view they have of their own identities, which is all tied up in their lifestyle choices and attitudes.

Which means YOU need to know what those are. Are your readers cutting-edge technologists or earthy environmentalists? Are they all about convenience, or would they prefer quality? Know this, and the appeals you wrap your offers in will really hit home.

(This doesn’t mean you should skip out on learning your list’s demographics altogether. If you can, get both. Then you can target specific groups within demographics, such as men who value exercise.)

What Kind of Groups Should I Look For?

To figure this out, first, get a clear mental picture of the offers you send out. What lifestyles, behaviors or attitudes might prompt different reactions to those offers? For example, some people divide their readers by social class (are they CEOs? skilled manual workers?) or lifestyle. Others use more complex classifications:

1. Marketing firm Young & Rubicam go by what they call the 4Cs, that classifies people based on their values. For example, the “resigned,” are most comfortable with safety, familiarity and economy. “Strugglers,” those with few resources, are attracted to impact and sensation, and so on. To check out the classifications, take the 4Cs test here.

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2. Another popular classification suggests that everyone fits in these 6 categories: the Belonger (attracted to community) , the Achiever (likes short messages that focus on profit), the Wannabe (likely to buy imitation products), the Socially Conscious (read: environmentally friendly), the Balanced/Integrated (basically, socially conscious achievers), and the Needs Driven (impulse buyers who respond to urgency). You can find more details here.

3. Others infer psychographics from subscriber behavior. For you, this means purchases, plus opens and clicks if you have time to delve into them. It means checking if someone’s a frequent buyer, commenter or attender, a prospect or a customer, someone who buys continuously or only when you offer discounts.

Many of these differentiations may not apply to your lists. Some will. Think carefully about your offers to decide which trends you’re going to look for.

How do I Find my List’s Psychographics?

There are several methods you can use. The more time or resources you invest, the more exact data you’ll get. Here are some ways to learn about your audience, and the pros and cons to consider for each method:

Survey. Once you’ve identified the criteria you’re looking for, create a survey to find out where your subscribers fall.

Pro: You’ll get results quickly

Con: Not everyone will answer

Use web tools. Find psychometrics by zip code from Nielsen’s PRIZM segmentation system here. If you mostly market locally, this can be extremely helpful.

Pro: Sleek and analytical

Con: Hit-or-miss for your specific list

Outsource it. Hire a marketing firm, such as Peerset Audience targeting. They can conduct surveys, focus groups, and online searches to explore the psychographic groups of consumers in your specific industry.

Pro: Easy

Con: Expensive

Dig deep into data. Check out your analytics. What kind of information are your subscribers clicking on? What style of offers are they responding to? Use the information to create reader profiles.

Pro: Thorough and list-specific

Con: Time-consuming

Once I Have Them, How Do I Use Them?

Once you have you’ve collected your subscribers’ psychographics, use them to put together customer profiles – “example” customers that you keep in mind when writing your messages. Name them, give them a backstory, make them as real as possible.

If you have a single definitive strain of thinking throughout the majority your readership, you’ll end up with just one profile, and you can write exclusively to that audience.

But chances are, you’re offering your products to a few significantly different psychographic groups. To make each group feel like your offers are just right for them, segment your list – easiest if you’ve used a survey to find your data – and send each group its own tailored messages.

Is It Going to Be Worth It?

Finding psychometrics takes some work on the front end. You have to get yourself organized, carry out the research and then update your reader profiles periodically.

But with solid reader profiles in place customers, you’ll be surprised at how focused your offers become. And with more focused offers, you’ll be looking at more sales.

Have you ever taken a look at your list’s psychographics? If you have, what have you found?

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  1. Bob

    5/15/2012 10:48 am

    Forget about psychographics and I have no idea who Amanda Gagnon is, but this is the most concise, organized, informative, to-the-point blog post/article I have ever read.

  2. Jay Rosenberg

    5/15/2012 11:22 am

    Great post, Amanda,
    We agree.
    Our method is based on personality types. It enable our clients to “tune” their messages and include the content that is precisely what their shoppers look for.
    Everybody, of course, sees the same world BUT they need different information to make what to them is an informed decision. Each personality type is like this.

    For example, one personality type needs details to make a decision and doesn’t want to be pestered. However, another type hates details. Details turn them off. They respond to testimonials and don’t mind a hard sell. This second group is also the first to buy, so you want to get their attention.

    If you send the same message to everyone, you probably will be read by the personality type most like your own, and have a very good chance of not reaching some or all of the other personality types.
    Using personality types, we call it personality marketing, also helps build a more solid relationship. This is important because most people aren’t ready to buy when you reach them the first time, but will after they get to know you.
    We know from current research that shoppers are OVERWHELMED with information and have begun to choose “simplicity” as their solution… simple to find, simple to buy, simple to get customer service and simple to resolve problems. So it’s real important to be “spot on” with your messages.
    Nothing really has changed. When shoppers like what they read (relate to it, feel good about it, think, “This sounds like me!) they are more than likely to stay with you and want to do business with you.

  3. Copenhagen Caruso

    5/18/2012 10:42 am

    This is most fascinating! This short discourse encourages me to be even more forward thinking. Love this! Looking forward to more related info. I can really use this info. If the author would like to know what I am pondering, she can email me directly. Thanks.

  4. Dan Merryday

    2/23/2013 8:50 pm

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for sharing the resources about psychographics. I am just learning about it after hearing it from one of my business mentors.

    Lately, I’ve been realizing that truly understanding what drives a person to buy is very important in increasing the profits of my business.

    Hopefully learning psychographics can equip me with the “Razor’s Edge” I need to render the competition irrelevant.


  5. Amanda Gagnon

    2/25/2013 10:21 am

    Bob – Thanks. 🙂

    Jay – Seriously, a great way to market. And you don’t even have to survey to learn about their personalities if you just offer them the options to begin with.

    Dan – I hope so, too. Check out the rest of the blog for more marketing info when you have some time. And best of luck!

  6. Seo

    12/22/2013 6:42 am

    Very useful post. I would like to add VALS survey which is quite reputable. Moreover, due to the increase of online marketing it will be quite interesting to identify the psychographics of a webpage online visitors. Unfortunately this is quite difficult to be done, since it presupposes the completion of an online questionnaire to do so.

  7. Bo

    1/31/2014 11:11 am

    Really informative article. I’m currently beginning a customer profile, and found this post helpful. I’ll be checking out Prizm.

    Census information is great as a starting point for demographics.