7 Ways to Research Your Target Audience
Content marketing is the wave of the future, and businesses are discovering the creating
high quality content is the most effective way to reach an audience and convert consumers into loyal brand customers. However, general content is not very effective at reaching an audience. Instead, businesses and brands need to focus their efforts on creating an intimate target audience that is composed of consumers specifically interested in the products and services provided. By fine-tuning your target audience, you can create content marketing campaigns that resonate deeply with your audience's specific needs, desires, preferences, and habits.
The first step, of course, in creating an audience-appropriate content marketing strategy is researching and defining your target audience. If your brand is new to the market scene, though, it can be difficult to gather important information about your target audience. That's why audience research is such an important marketing step. Sarita Harbour, a marketing professional, contributed a little genius to the Zerys Content Marketplace with her list of four questions that help brands define their target audience. In order to answer these questions effectively, though, a few research steps are necessary. Here are seven great ways to research your brand's target audience.
Know Your Business
The first step is simple: know your business and your brand. Unless you have a clear picture of the products and services that your brand offers, what solutions these products and services present to consumers, how and why your products and services are used, and other important facts about your brand, you won't be able to start the process of chiseling out a target audience population. Your target audience is the group of consumers who are most likely to be interested in the products and services you are selling. Unless you know specifically what your brand is trying to accomplish and who your products benefit, your target audience will remain ambiguous.
Evaluate Current Customers
If you're starting the process of researching a target audience, but you already have a select group of loyal, paying customers, you can use the demographic and behavioral information of those customers to help research and define your target audience. The customers who have been drawn to your website, your blog, your products, or your services are likely a good representation of the other customers that will be interested in your brand. You may find common threads in your current customer population that include customer location, demographic information such as age or gender, socioeconomic status, social media presence, personality attributes, style preferences, political ideology, and much more. Identifying any commonalities amongst your current population of customers will help you start the process of creating an ideal target audience.
Research the Competition
If you don't have a large enough population of customers to make an accurate assessment of your target audience, you might be able to do some audience research by exploring your competitors. Choose competitors that offer similar products and services to your business, that are selling in the same region as your business, or that use similar targeting and marketing methods as your business. Evaluate the competition's website, blog, social media presence, and other marketing strategies. What audience members are the targeting? What are some common traits of the individuals who follow the competition's social media accounts or leave comments on blogs and websites?
Know Your Audience's Social Media Habits
Social media is an excellent forum for conducting audience research. You can use social media profiles to gather information about location of residence, gender, age, occupation, preferences, education, and much more. This information can help you develop a clearer picture of your target audience. Figure out which social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or LinkedIn, your target audience uses most frequently and direct content marketing strategies toward those accounts.
Invest in Facebook
Facebook is, by far, the most popular social media website on the Internet. Millions of users access Facebook on a daily basis, and these users are interacting with the brands to which they feel most loyal. Evaluate Facebook users who are liking or sharing information about the same products and services that your brand offers. How often are they accessing Facebook? When are they most likely to check Facebook accounts, repost or share content, or comment on Facebook fan pages? This information is a crucial step in target audience research because it gives you a starting point for your brand's own Facebook marketing strategies.
Read What Your Audience Reads
Another great way to research the desires, needs, and preferences of your target audience is to start reading the things that your audience is reading. Check out the blogs, websites, magazines, newspapers, and books that your target audience is discussing. This may provide you with unique insights and strategies for attracting audience attention and driving people to your brand. When you are ready to start content marketing, you can link to popular consumer blogs or important news articles in which your target audience is likely to be interested.
Meet Your Audience Members Face to Face
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to research your target audience effectively and comprehensively is to meet some of your customers face to face. When you are able to meet interested customers and loyal brand fans in a face to face setting, the image of your target audience member becomes much clearer. Brands that are able to picture the faces, the clothing, the habits, the speech patterns, and the specific interests of their target audience are far more likely to create content that will resonate with audience members. If you can transform your target audience from an ambiguous entity into a specific collection of individuals, your brand's marketing efforts will become much more successful.
Have you discovered any other ways to research a target audience and compile important marketing data?
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