5 creative ways to get to know your audience

You can’t market your business effectively unless you understand your audience. Not only do you need to know who they are in terms of demographics, but you also need to understand their needs, their pain points, their habits and behaviors, and their preferences. Here are five creative ways to get to know your audience so you can create better, more effective marketing campaigns.

1. Conduct industry research

Conduct industry research

Conducting industry research is the first step in getting to know your audience. Typically, industry research starts with basic demographic information, such as age, gender, race, location, education level, income, marital status, employment status, and number of children.

But industry research shouldn’t stop there. You’ll also want to research factors that are relevant to your products or services. If you’re marketing a retirement planning product, for instance, you’ll want to know if your audience has a retirement savings account like a 401k or IRA, other savings, how much they have saved, and perhaps the size and value of their home, mortgage balance, and how long they’ve lived there. This information can provide a variety of insights, such as how likely your audience is to be interested in downsizing as they enter their golden years or whether they’re financially savvy or more likely to be interested in basic financial planning, which can inform your content planning and other marketing initiatives.

Facebook Audience Insights can be a useful tool for conducting general industry research, even if you’re not planning on running Facebook ads. Keep in mind that in most cases, you’ll be working with broad data and averages at this stage. Later, you can obtain more granular data about individuals when they express interest in your products or services, via opt-in forms or other one-on-one interactions.

2. Create personas

Armed with these insights, you can group your target audience into distinct segments (such as different age groups with different buying motivators or pain points), so you can create marketing campaigns that precisely target those segments and offer solutions that solve their unique problems.

When creating personas, you can dig a little deeper to discover who your audience segments (buyer personas or marketing personas) really are, what their interests are, and their pain points and motivations. For instance, if you’re marketing a blogging product, one persona may be a younger, less-experienced blogger who’s just getting started in the blogging industry and looking for products and services to streamline the process of building a website. Another might be an experienced blogger who already has a foundation and a website but is looking for a specific solution to a specific problem (such as a tool to aid in optimizing blog posts for SEO). Some personas may have a larger budget than others.

Marketing personas should include information such as:

  • Basic demographics (age, gender, etc.)
  • Where they work (industry or type of company)
  • Their job title or role
  • Decision-making power (direct decision-maker or someone who can influence a decision-maker)
  • Their goals
  • Pain points (fears, challenges they face, obstacles, etc.)
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Experience level (in the industry or niche)
  • Key selling points or primary marketing message
  • Common objections
  • Preferred communication methods & channels (videos, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

The great thing about marketing personas is that they evolve as you learn more about your audience. You might not know what a persona’s primary objections are when first creating personas, for example, but with insights from your marketing and sales teams, you can add detail over time.

3. Conduct surveys

Conduct surveys

Conducting surveys is a useful way to gain valuable audience insights straight from the source. When using surveys, you can either:

  • Survey your existing customers
  • Survey your target audience

Obviously, surveying your existing customers is the easier approach, as they’ve already engaged with your brand and are more likely to respond. That said, if you really want to get to know your audience, you should survey both existing and prospective customers. Doing so can offer insights into how the market may be changing or how the needs of your target audience are changing.

Surveying your existing customers is as easy as setting up a survey and sending out an email blast to all customers (or customers who meet certain criteria, such as a specific buyer segment or persona) asking them to take a few minutes to answer a few questions. If you have an email list that’s segmented into existing customers and prospects, you can do the same to reach prospective customers.

If you want to reach a new audience – if you’re looking to gain insights into an audience that hasn’t yet engaged with your brand, for instance – use a tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Surveys to reach a target audience based on demographics. With these tools, you can further target respondents by setting up a series of screening questions to ensure that respondents meet your criteria for better, more precise insights into the audience you’re targeting.

4. Analyze your competitors

Getting to know your competitors can provide useful insights into your audience, too. Mine reviews on Yelp, Google Reviews, Amazon, and other sources for your top competitors to get to know the audience you share. An added perk of analyzing your competitors’ reviews is that you can identify the most common complaints and praise about your competition – so you can do it bigger and better (or at least tell your audience how you’re already doing it bigger and better).

Engage in social listening. Check out your competitors’ Facebook page, too, and analyze their Facebook audience, how engaging their posts are (and what types of content their followers engage with). You can learn about the common interests of your competitors’ audiences, find out when they spend the most time on the platform, and even discover more reviews. Do the same on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

Use tools like Affinio to analyze several key competitors and identify interest clusters that you can analyze further for deeper insights.

5. Examine analytics

Examine analytics

Don’t stop with analyzing your competition and the market as a whole. After all, your goal is to get to know your audience, so the next logical step is to examine your own analytics. Analyzing visitor data can inform your content strategy by providing insight into the most frequently visited pages (and the length of time spent on those pages), where those visitors are referred from, and other details.

Google Analytics is a helpful tool for analyzing your website visitor data, but when you want simple and digestible insights into your sharing trends, the ShareThis platform is a must-have tool in your marketing toolkit. With the ShareThis platform, you get real-time insight into your top-performing social channels, top social referrals, and top URLs so you can see what content is most effective on what social platforms at-a-glance. Armed with this data, you can refine your content marketing strategy to focus on the topics your audience engages with most, and more effectively target the right audiences on the right social media channels with the right content.

ShareThis offers a personalized platform with robust audience insights. Install our share buttons to leverage the platform and get to know your audience better – all while expanding your reach and boosting engagement across all your audience’s favorite social media channels.