As a marketer, it’s your job to get to know the people you are trying to reach. You likely know a lot about them already, and that is valuable. But, audiences are complicated. Over time, they grow and evolve. Their wants, needs, goals, and pain points change right along with the environment around them. And, while it’s tempting to rely on audience assumptions that have taken hold over the years, you need to know what content and information they need from you today. To get you started, here are six not-so-complicated ways to get to know your complicated audience!
#1 Have a good old-fashioned conversation.
It is amazing what you can learn from a conversation. Talk with your existing or prospective customers, as well as the people on your team that regularly engage with them. Whether you spend five extra minutes at the end of a client meeting or talk with your sales and customer service representatives, make time for honest and straightforward conversations. Talk with a variety of people to better understand what your audience needs at various stages in their buyer journey. We also recommend recording direct quotes and questions from your discussions, as this can serve as an excellent compass to keep your content strategy and creation efforts on track!
#2 Dig up data.
From Google Analytics to SalesForce, Hubspot, and the Widen Collective, you likely have tons of audience data at your fingertips. But, before diving in, hone your efforts. What one insight do you want to learn about your audience? Focusing your research to a specific goal can make your analysis easier - or dare we say, less complicated! Perhaps you want to know if your audience cares about the how-to videos your sales team distributes every Friday. Kickoff a hyper-focused content audit by pulling stats on the content your audience is consuming.
#3 Survey them.
Recruit a group of people that are representative of your target audience and survey them. But remember, all survey methods are not created equal. You need to figure out the methods that will get you the info you need, but also not annoy your audience. For some, including a survey as part of a marketing-automation strategy works. For others, one-to-one conversations or even hiring a research firm is the ticket. But above all else, make sure you are talking to the right people. Establishing qualifiers in advance, such as demographic targets, helps shield against sample-group missteps.
#4 Be the party starter.
Summon your inner cruise-ship coordinator and get people in your target market talking and socializing. And then, kick back and listen. By bringing like-minded people together, you'll stimulate authentic and natural peer-to-peer conversations. Organize a Meetup in your local community, start a LinkedIn group, or host an industry event. You can guide and ignite conversations, but let your guests vent, swap stories, and swap knowledge while you take it all in.
#5 A/B Test
Test assumptions you have about your audience with a split test. Also known as an A/B test, this is a systematic way of comparing two variants to determine which version performs the best. Let's say you want to understand if your audience responds better to an image of your product or a lifestyle shot that captures how your product makes someone feel. Run a Facebook ad with two different image variations or even serve two versions of your website to visitors, and track the results. But, remember, only manipulate one variable at a time. If you change your image, plus another variable like your copy, you won't know which factor drove the response.
#6 Seize the opportunity.
Learning about your audience not only helps you market better, it also shows you care. Of course, there is a courteous and thoughtful way to go about it, but at the end of the day, these are actual people you are talking to. Asking questions, listening, and having authentic conversations, is a good thing by most human standards. Entertaining a client? Get their take on your latest product release. Speaking at an event? Get your audience involved will call-and-response techniques. Always, always, always take the opportunity to learn.
The end (or is it?).
There are endless ways to get to know your audience. Whether you talk with them, analyze engagement data, conduct surveys and tests, or embrace curiosity, you must be in constant pursuit of audience truths. You must challenge your assumptions so you can give your audience the relevant, helpful and memorable content that they need. So, what uncomplicated ways do you get to know your complicated audience? Let us know in the comments below!