Digital Marketing

3 Ways to Use ABS Data to Help Your Digital Marketing

Written by Leigh-San Mo

Last month’s release of Census 2021 ‘Key Population Data’ from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) marked the first phase of the Census role out. Over the next year (until May 2023), new data will progressively be released that depicts the current state of Australia and how we have changed as a nation since 2016.

The results help the country plan, but it’s also a score for marketers with the new information on households and families, income and work, cultural diversity (and much more) underpinning emerging ABS research.

In 2019, the ABS commissioned a study to estimate the value to Australia through the use and application of the Australian Census data (Lateral Economics, 2019). It found that Australia gains $6 in broader economic value for every dollar spent to generate Census data through improved service delivery, job creation and economic growth, and more.

To help you pull out the data that is most crucial to your business, we have identified three ways you can use ABS data to inform your marketing strategy.

1. Build demographic personas using hyperlocal data

The ABS provides great insight on a macro level but provides another distinct advantage to businesses who are hyperlocal and focused on marketing to a specific suburb– which is the ability to zoom in on the statistics of a population on a geo level, enabling you to build personas comparing one local area to another.

For businesses that may be fixed to a physical location like bricks and mortar retail or service-based businesses, the ABS provides invaluable data on the people who live near your location.

Some of the most useful data on this drilled-down level includes:

  • Population and people – Working age population, male / females by age group range, cultural background
  • Income – Employee / business owners’ incomes, aged pension holders, youth allowance holders
  • Education and employment – Qualifications held, youth engaged in work / study, number of jobs by industry
  • Family and Community – Method of travel to work, household demographics, property data

Note that some of the information provided is also given going back to 2015, so there are 6 years’ worth of consecutive data trends to help understand the growth of a particular statistic.

Whether it is to test the feasibility of a new product or consider expanding to a new service location, this kind of statistical data can help pinpoint if there is an opportunity to target a certain persona near you.

2. Develop marketing strategy in line with current trend data

The COVID-19 crisis impacted the marketing budgets of big advertisers quickly, especially among travel and hospitality, automotive and retail businesses.

With business and consumer spending returning to ‘normal’, ABS data can be used to evaluate new markets. That’s arguably a more important strategic step than ever, as consumer behaviour has changed in the past couple of years. Chances are, many businesses will find their post-Covid landscape has changed, especially if Covid was a pivot point for them. 

When looking to scale or discover new markets, businesses can evaluate opportunities utilising the data the ABS produces.

An example would be in the travel industry, where there is the latest monthly data and forecasted trends around inbound overseas visitors to Australia (ABS, April 2022. Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia) demonstrates significant increases month to month.

This aligns with research from other sources such as, which analyses the total search volume and trends for keywords that consumers are entering into Google.

Examples of businesses that could benefit from forecasting the growth in visitors to Australia include:

  • Tour providers could ramp up their media spend on their paid campaigns to attract more leads.
  • Hotel chains could use special promotional offers to their subscribers to entice prospective guests.
  • Tourism boards can offer incentives to CBD-based businesses to provide exclusive discounts or deals

Businesses that are interested in the retail industry can also benefit from the general statistics provided by the ABS, especially around monthly and quarterly estimates of turnover for both in-store and online sales.

These statistics can be analysed to gain a general temperature check for the health of the overall industry such as the fact that the rise in May 2022 was the fifth consecutive monthly rise in retail turnover following rises of 0.9% in April and 1.6% in March.

However, this may not necessarily be due to consumer confidence but rather spending more on eating out, transport and everyday essentials, as majority of the growth has come from department stores and food services.

When it comes to marketing your product or service in uncertain financial times, there are several strategies that you could focus on:

  • Differentiate yourself from the competition – While consumers generally want the cheapest version of an item during a difficult financial time, they may also be inclined to buy a slightly more expensive version if the benefits far outweigh the cheaper version. Consumers tend to do more detailed research before purchasing so ensuring that your marketing strategy focuses on your USPs and emphasises what makes you different can help inform the purchase decision.
  • Review your online presence – This could be a good time to invest in your online presence – how easy is it for your prospects to find you? Are you visible through search engines and answering the questions that people may have about your business? Are you potentially receiving leads that are not being serviced properly?
  • Showcase thought leadership – Nothing speaks with more confidence than providing key insights or leadership during uncertain times. Consider utilising non-public data, internal knowledge specialists or sales assets to turn into educational videos, whitepapers or eBooks that could be shared on your website or social media platforms to be more top of mind.

3. Boost your content marketing by referencing key statistics

Writing about a topic is easy; backing it up with evidence is much harder. Data plays an important role in giving gravitas to any piece of content you produce, whether it’s an infographic, blog post or a news story. If one of the time-consuming and challenging aspects of research includes finding the right data to cite from a reputable source, then visiting the ABS should be on top of the list of websites to visit.

An example of this would be the key statistics referenced in Business Conditions and Sentiments report. Insights like this could be used by business in various ways, for example:

  • A recruitment agency could reference the fact that almost a third of employing businesses (31%) are having difficulty finding suitable staff in a social media post and talk about their USPs and successful case studies in the current hiring environment
  • An accountant or accounting firm could write a helpful ‘how-to’ blog post on their website targeting small business owners about how they could reduce their operating costs and reference the nearly half (46%) of all businesses experienced increases in their operating expenses
  • A logistics provider could email their list of prospects the fact that more than two in five businesses (41%) faced supply chain disruptions and what they are doing to overcome this for their existing customers

One other area of the ABS worth exploring is their media centre, which provides journalists and media organisations with quick access to statistic info and analysis, and this is a frequent source of data for mainstream publications.

The ABS also provides a release calendar for future media releases, that allows you to search by theme and potentially enables you plan your content ahead of time.

In the above example, you may want to write about retail trade in Australia when the September 2022 data is released. You could evaluate potential topics using a tool such as SEMrush for topic research, when tapping into Google search volume data and trending topics in Australia.

Knowing that the latest retail trade turnover numbers will be released in September means a potential article could focus on:

  • How does the retail industry work?
  • How diverse is the Australian retail industry?
  • What are the latest trends and challenges in the retail industry?
  • What is the future of retail?


Take advantage of the incredible resources available from the ABS to inform your digital marketing strategies, whether it’s by analysing local data to build new personas to target, improving your marketing according to the latest monthly trend data or giving more credentials to your content marketing via better citations of statistical data.

The key areas of the ABS that will help you include:

In the near future, all forms of marketing will be data driven. Businesses that take advantage of all data sources that are available to them to make informed decisions are going to have an edge over the competition. Moreover, understanding the world around them can put them into a better defensive position for any changes to the macro-economic environment.

“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

Leigh-San Mo

Leigh is the Head of SEO at Indago Digital, a digital marketing agency that helps clients find leads, convert them at high rates & outrank competitors using search. He believes SEO will never die and that negronis are the best cocktails ever.