People-Based Marketing: 5 Steps to Get You Started

When executed well, people-based marketing enables brands to reach the right people with the right content at the right time and place. 

So how can you get started on this ambitious endeavor? Here are some steps to create a people-based marketing strategy. 

Step 1: First Things First, Get Organized with Your Data

Compiling data from multiple marketing channels, including email, social, paid, organic, sales, and events is extremely difficult. That’s why it’s so important to organize this information as much as possible in one central location. Besides, having a good place to pull in all of your data makes it easier to analyze, find gaps, or enhance it.

Two of the most popular tools that can help you collect, centralize, and manage your customer data are customer relationship management (CRM) software and a customer data platform (CDP).

CRMs are the older of the two. These tools generally collect data from interactions customers and prospects have with a company. 

CDPs offer more robust capabilities than CRMs. CDPs can integrate large volumes of user-level data from multiple sources—including CRMs—to create a bigger picture of consumers than CRMs and offer stronger insight into customer journeys. 

While both can segment audiences for campaign targeting, CDPs generally offer more sophisticated levels of segmentation, especially if they can run machine-learning models. 

Step 2: Get Real with the Cleanliness of Your First-Party Data

Data is only useful when it’s accurate, up-to-date, and has integrity. 

Start small by checking the data you own, which is called first-party data. This data includes personal identifiable information (PII), which consumers share with their implied or active consent, like email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and usernames.

First-party data also includes information you collect yourself through means like: 

  • Customers’ purchase histories
  • Digital interactions consumers have on your websites or mobile apps
  • Conversations users have with a call center or chatbot
  • Participation in a loyalty program

Ensure you are collecting first-party data in the best way possible before expanding to more tools and data sets.

Step 3: Determine the Holes in Your First-Party Data 

Data fuels people-based marketing, but it’s about the right kind of data, not the quantity. Analyze the data you have to figure out what is actually useful. 

Then, determine which additional types of data could help you achieve your objectives. After all, in this cookie-depreciating world, first-party data is generally not enough to build holistic customer views.

For example, a retail brand can use its own transaction data to know if someone bought a swimsuit, but it may be missing context for the sale. Online behavioral data from a data provider could offer clues: If they’re researching activities in Hawaii, there’s a good chance they’re planning a trip. Being able to connect the dots – to understand the why behind the purchase – can help the brand tailor future offers, like for sunhats and sandals.

Step 4: Fill In the Holes and Strengthen Consumer Profiles

As you can see, third-party data providers can help you fill the gaps of what you don’t know about your customers. 

Third-party data includes the granular data points that external companies can collect in real time about what individual users are doing across verticals, industries, and categories.

Examples of third-party data include:

  • Interest data based on online behavior like sharing content, searching for information, clicking on content, and viewing web pages
  • Location data
  • Purchase history
  • Demographic data
  • IDs for devices that individuals use including tablets, connected TV, mobile, and desktops

Incorporating additional data should be relatively seamless at this stage since you’ve built such a strong foundation in the previous steps.

Step 5: Run Reports to Continuously Analyze Your Data

Any information you’re gathering that pertains to audience devices, locations, channels, time, interests, and intent should provide actionable insights. These learnings are likely to change over time, even over short periods of time, so the process of analysis must be dynamic.

Creating up-to-date, regular reports on data that you are ingesting as a marketer can not only help you segment customers but also:

  • Keep a pulse on trends
  • Learn which channels and strategy tactics are working
  • Guide your content creation
  • Understand where to prioritize your time and efforts to get the best results

Use Your Rich Consumer Data and Analysis to Put “People” First 

You can ultimately leverage your data to drive conversions and build loyalty by:  

  • Reaching the right prospects and consumers
  • Sending audiences the right content 
  • Hitting them at the right time 
  • Targeting audiences at the right place

How to Reach the Right Customers and Prospects

This is where your segmentation shines and you can spend your media budget efficiently.

An organic grocery store in Los Angeles, for example, can find young local moms who have researched ways to incorporate healthy foods into the diets of their young eaters and have purchased organic vegetables in the past.

How to Send Audiences the Right Content 

Having a 360-degree view of customers across touchpoints can help you understand what they’re interested in and where they are in their buying journey. This intelligence can inform which offers, ad copy, website content, recommendations, and other kinds of messages are most likely to resonate and be welcomed by your prospects and customers.

Personalization is paying off. According to a recent study, nearly 80% of surveyed business leaders said consumers spend more (34% more on average) when their experience is personalized.

How to Hit Audiences at the Right Time

Timing is everything in life, and that includes when you’re engaged in people-based marketing. The best time to send offers and hook someone is when their interest has peaked. 

Your interest data can help you determine this pivotal point. For the grocery store’s segments, for instance, this could be when moms are researching specific products.

You should also communicate during the time period of the day that targets have consistently demonstrated the most engagement and would most likely be receptive to your messages.

How to Target People at the Right Place

For digital consumers, “place” translates into “device.” And, people don’t usually limit themselves to a single device, including when they’re on a purchase journey.

You need the ability to seamlessly reach targets on any device they’re currently using. Device IDs can aid in this cross-device targeting. 

Use Your Data to Determine Next Steps

Your data can help you continue to nurture targets down the pipeline until there is a sale. Then you can employ upsell or cross-sell strategies.

Data can also help you understand when the interest of targets has declined. You could learn when it’s time to direct resources toward more potentially profitable audiences.


People-based marketing is challenging because you need high-quality data from a range of sources, easy-to-use tools that can help you manage the data, and a good strategy for reaching targets both effectively and efficiently with powerful content.

But as reliance on the third-party cookie fades away, this marketing approach will only become more attractive. That’s why it’s a great time to create a well-rounded people-based marketing strategy with partners that can help you fill in your data gaps like ShareThis.

About ShareThis

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get the latest news, tips, and updates


Related Content