5 Key Ways to Get to Know Your Audience
5 Key Ways to Get to Know Your Audience
As a small business owner or marketing manager, you know that you should Tweet regularly, write blogposts that establish your expertise, and make sure your website is fully search engine optimized. But here’s a little secret: you can’t do any of that effectively if you don’t have a firm grasp of who your audience is.
Why? Because marketing in any form is only effective if it makes audience members feel seen. It’s the difference between feeling like a company is blasting an advertisement out of the TV at you and feeling like you’re chatting over tea with that very special best friend who really gets you at your core (or shouting over heavy metal, if that’s more your thing). Plus, the better you know your audience, the more savvy you can be about creating products and services that they actually need.
But getting to know your audience isn’t as easy as walking about to them in a bar and saying hello (unless you run a bar — in that case, it is). Instead, you’ve got to get a little creative. Here are our top 5 tips for doing just that.
Before you begin the work of researching and connecting with your audience, it’s a good idea to sit down and create a persona for your ideal customer. This will help you direct your marketing and business efforts in the future, but it will also help you better identify that ideal customer when you spot them in the wild. For example, if you sell a fitness product you know will generally appeal to women between the ages of 30 and 40, but you know that it will really appeal to new urban moms who work from home — well, that knowledge makes it a lot easier to identify your ideal customer on social media and in blog comments.
The more in-depth you can get with your personas the better, so if you can get access to any market research, that’s really ideal. However, you can start a more basic persona by asking a few key questions, such as:
- What are my customer’s demographics?
- Where do they live?
- What is their income range?
- What are their biggest problems? Needs?
- What does their decision making process look like?
It can also be useful to associate a few adjectives with your customer, like, “savvy,” “smart,” or “goal-oriented.” From there, give your customer a name and write up a little summary about who they are. Or, if you’re really getting into it and you have a flair for creative writing, try interviewing your fictional client with pressing survey questions and see how they respond.
There are many great examples of customers that get customer personas right, but we think the quirky clothing company Modcloth does a particularly excellent job. While we don’t have any inside access to their persona work, a quick browse of their site will leave you with no doubt that the brand is for the quirky, female shopper who loves vintage clothing but perhaps doesn’t want to hunt for it herself. She’s romantic and creative, and at least has an artsy flare, may have a higher degree in Liberal Arts, and is at the very least is an avid reader.
Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the web copy, which references wearing dresses while strolling down the streets of Paris with a baguette under her arm, penning copy a la Peggy Olson on Mad Men, or dreaming the day away in preparation for her date with an editor. All giveaways, too, are just as on theme, as is the company’s “Be the Buyer” program, which allows customers the opportunity to vote on styles the company should carry, tapping into their creative bent. You better bet this company has their personas down!
Network, Talk, and Read on Social Media
As we’ve covered many times on the Alt Creative blog, social media isn’t just something for your business to sign up for and use occasionally. It’s a powerful tool for engagement — and for research, too. For example, if you’re just starting to grow your following on Twitter, you’ll want to make sure you do so strategically, using tools like Just Unfollow to identify customers with interests that match your customer personas.
If you already have a significant following, take the time to go back through and sort customers into interest lists. Once organized in this way, you’ll not only be able to direct your Tweets and content promotion to the customers who will be most motivated to engage, but you’ll also have an easier time reading through the tweets of customers who you deem most valuable to your business. In so doing, you can get a much better sense of what they’re interested in, what their voices sound like, and what kind of information they retweet, so that you can tweak your own presence accordingly.
Other platforms like Facebook and Google+ work differently, but you can apply similar tactics there as well. With Facebook, for example, you can get to know your customers simply by clicking on their profiles. In your page dashboard, you can examine what posts they comment on and share they most.
While Google+ may not be the biggest platform out there, the Google Hangouts feature is a great way to connect with customers directly. Try hosting a product demonstration, or just chatting with your customers to get to know them like you would in person.
This is just the beginning of what the various social media platforms can do for you. Get to know each tool, and make the most of them as you get to know your customers in-depth.
Learn Google Analytics
If you don’t have a Google Analytics account for your website, it’s definitely time to sign up. Analytics can be overwhelming at first, but it will show you exactly how many people are visiting your site, what posts and pages they’re stopping at the most, how long they’re staying there, and what they’re engaging with via clicks and shares. This is exactly the kind of data you need to pinpoint your customer’s likes, wants and needs. After all, if they click and share one “how to” post like crazy and pretty much ignore another, that’s great insight into your visitors’ minds. You can create more of that kind of content accordingly, or even develop new products out of that information — all from knowing your customers’ stats.
To get started with Google Analytics, we highly recommend this tutorial:
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/I7YA1oZhevo” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Do Surveys — But Make Them FUN
Surveying is a tried and true method for getting to know your customers, especially if there’s not a lot of previous market research from which to draw. Still, with so many companies looking to do the same thing, yours has to be fun and engaging to draw your customers in. Try gamifying the experience by turning it into a personality quiz. Alternatively, mix silly questions in with more serious ones to keep the tone light. Better yet, give one lucky survey participant a prize they can’t turn down.
Start Your (Search) Engines
Another tried and true method: type your company or product names into Google with a few key adjectives to see what people are saying about you. SEO Moz has a number of great search suggestions, such as:
“like” + [your brand name]
“sucks” + [an author or blogger on your site or your competitor sites
This kind of research may feel more informal, but it will give you a good sense of how your audience is relating to both you and your competitors, and what needs you might better fulfill.
Audience data is available in numerous forms online these days — it just takes time and effort to track it all down, analyze it, and figure out what to do. Think of it like an investment: the more you put in, the more you get out. So start your research, and let us know how it all goes!