All About Audience Discovery
Audience discovery is the first stage of the modern marketing process. You should create a discovery document before you write your first blog post or pay for a single PPC ad – and you should continue to evolve your discovery document as you learn more about your customer base.
Who Is Your Audience?
Your audience includes the people who interact with your brand. This includes your customers, your followers on social media, and anyone who might see your logo throughout the course of the day.
Your target audience is made up of the people that your brand wants to interact with. These are the customers whom your product is made for and the people whom you want reading your blog posts. The size of your target audience depends on the nature of your product or service; some companies have multiple target audiences for the different services that they offer.
Audience discovery helps you find members of your target audience in the crowd of online communication. No matter which discovery tools you intend to use, this process starts by creating an image of the customer that you want to reach.
Your Ideal Customers
Every audience discovery project should start with an ideal customer profile. This profile will act as a basis for the rest of your research; to make it, you simply need a good understanding of your company and your brand.
Consider what a profitable transaction would look like for your business. Who is on the other side of that transaction? Why do they need what your company offers? If you’re currently working with the perfect client, try using them as a model for the future customers you want to attract.
Next, create a bulleted list of traits that relate to your ideal customer. Every marketing team has their own style, but your list might look something like this:
- Profile name: Come up with an identifying name for the profile; it can be serious, lighthearted, or somewhere in between.
- Client needs: Why does this customer want to work with your company? Think about why your services are the perfect match for their needs.
- Purchasing habits: Does your perfect customer make one big purchase or many small ones? Choose a model that makes the most sense for your company moving forward.
- Occupation and education: What does your ideal customer do for a living? Do they have a college degree? How much money do they make? Tie these traits into your ideal customer’s ability to interact with your business.
- Demographic information: Consider your theoretical customer’s age, gender, location, and any other information you’d like to include. Feel free to leave this section blank until you’ve reviewed actual customer data.
Ideal customer profiles are different for B2B and B2C markets. If your company is B2B, your ideal customers will be other companies in related industries. If your company is B2C, your ideal customers will be individual people. Adjust your profile so that the traits make sense for the type of client that you want to target.
Your Actual Users
A user profile is similar to an ideal customer profile. However, instead of listing the traits that your company wishes a customer could have, a user profile lists the traits of an average member of your audience.
Ideal customers are theoretical and based on what your company needs to succeed. User profiles, which are also known as customer avatars, are based on real data that you’ve gathered through audience discovery. By matching user profiles to your ideal customers, you can focus your marketing efforts on the customers who will benefit your business the most.
Most companies have multiple user profiles. Create a design document with a profile for each type of customer that you see regularly. As you learn more about your audience, add additional bullets for interests, hobbies, favorite brands, and any other demographic information that you find.
The Basics of Audience Discovery
Now that you’ve identified your ideal customer and developed a few user profiles, it’s time to support your theories with research. Audience discovery is the process of learning more about the people that you want to reach.
There are many different ways to find audience information. You can check your site’s analytics, review the profiles of your social media followers, or browse keyword data to find topics that your audience members are interested in.
The most effective forms of audience discovery depend significantly on your audience and your product. Think about which platforms your audience members like to use and which topics naturally relate to the services that you offer. Try to explore the internet from the perspective of your ideal customer, and grab information from places you think they’re likely to visit.
Reading Audience Data
No matter where you get your data from, it’s only useful if you know how to read it. The most common types of customer information are demographics, interests, and responses.
Demographic information refers to the physical traits of your customers. This might include their age, gender, location, income, marital status, or anything else that your customers have in common. Demographic information is usually readily available, and it can be particularly helpful for creating targeted ad campaigns.
Relying too much on demographics can cause you to miss out on valuable customers who don’t fit into your predefined mold. Let demographic information point you in the right direction, but remember that a good marketing campaign is attractive to customers from many different walks of life.
Interest information refers to your audience’s hobbies and preferences. Many of these traits are the very things that drive purchasing decisions, so this information is incredibly valuable for your marketing campaign. However, interest information can be harder to track and is often assumed based on the same purchasing habits that it’s meant to predict.
Social media advertising tools are particularly useful because they can treat interests like demographics. Facebook offers the most in this department, but Instagram and Twitter will also let you focus on specific hashtags, brands, or posting topics.
Response information comes directly from your customers. You can get this data from product reviews, forum posts, and any other channel that lets the customers tell you what they think. Look for customer posts about your company, your competitors, or problems that your product or service could solve.
Sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers are excellent places to find response information. Browse through topics related to your product, and pay attention to which demographics tend to ask which kinds of questions.
Audience Discovery Tools
In addition to reviewing Google Analytics or Facebook Audience Insights, many free and paid audience discovery tools can assist you with your research. These tools can aggregate data from multiple websites, create user profiles, and help you make sense of the information you’ve learned so far.
With so many discovery tools on the market, it can be hard to choose just one. Take advantage of free trials whenever possible, and ask yourself these essential questions before you make your purchase.
- Where does the tool’s data come from? Some tools rely on purchased audience data, while others provide a fresh take on the social media insights that are already available to you.
- Who is included in the audience? You can find tools that focus exclusively on social media influencers, customers with verified purchases, or simply people who are willing to answer surveys. Make sure that your audience coincides with the tool’s targeted group.
- How does the tool deliver insights? The best audience insight tools have customizable dashboards and let you generate data reports. Be wary of a service that promises to do all of the work for you; you want to be involved in your own market research.
Audience Discovery on Facebook
Facebook Audience Insights is part of the Facebook Ad Manager platform. Even if you don’t run paid ad campaigns on Facebook, you’ll still find this tool invaluable for analyzing your followers and developing meaningful user profiles.
Facebook Audience Insights is a way to aggregate and view audience data. Use it to see how many people fit into a particular demographic, or check out the Pages tab to see who your real competitors are. The information Facebook provides is anonymous and based on social media profiles from users over the age of 18.
What Information Is Displayed on Facebook Audience Insights?
The Audience Insights tool has six different tabs that display relevant information with convenient bar graphs. Start by defining an audience based on your ideal customer profile; then, click through to see the anonymous user information that Facebook has collected.
The Demographics tab lets you view a detailed breakdown of Facebook users based on age, gender, education, lifestyle, job role, and even relationship status. Location will let you see where Facebook users are found, and Facebook Activity will let you see how often they use Facebook and which devices they use to log in. As a marketer, you should be specially interested in the Page Likes and Purchases tabs; these will let you see what the most popular pages and products are for people in your selected category.
Defining a Facebook Audience
The left side of the Audience Insights dashboard will let you select audience traits to explore. This interface is identical to the one used for targeting a Facebook ad, so you may already be familiar with it.
Since you’re using the platform for audience discovery, you should look at the data for multiple different types of audiences. Try these three to get started:
- Match your ideal customer profile: Take the data from your user profiles, and translate it into Facebook’s dropdown menus. This is a good chance to see how many people actually fit into your image of a perfect customer.
- Compare your own followers: In addition to anonymous data, Facebook will also let you see the breakdowns for people who have already liked your page. Find out whether your real audience matches the one you’ve been trying to reach.
- Create a custom audience: Custom Audiences let you import the contact information of your current customer list. Users will be able to see if you’ve included them in your custom audience, so only do this for clients that you have permission to contact.
What to Do with Page Information
One of the most powerful tools that Facebook Audience Insights offers is the chance to see which pages have been liked by members of your chosen audience. These pages are your competitors, but they can also serve as role models to help you grow your brand.
Try visiting three or five of the most popular pages on the list. Make a note of how often the page posts, what kind of content it promotes, and how much engagement you see on each update. Mimic successful tactics on your page; they work for a reason.
For a more long-term analysis, try following a few of these pages. Listen in on customer discussions, and consider sharing a few of your favorite posts. Remember to write down any relevant insights for use in later marketing campaigns.
Finally, don’t forget that you can create a Facebook ad that targets people who follow a specific page. Try promoting one of your best status updates; you might find yourself with a few brand- new followers. If the audience doesn’t respond, you’ll know that they aren’t worth a large share of your marketing budget.
Audience Discovery on Google Analytics
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools for any digital marketer who has a website. Make sure your site is connected to Google Analytics before you get started. You’ll also want to enable Advertising Reporting Features and Demographics and Interests reports.
Google Analytics works by measuring the traffic that flows into your site. It will tell you how many people have visited and what links they clicked to get there. This information can help you decide which of your campaigns are working and where to focus your marketing efforts.
If your visitors have enabled cookies or are using a few specific devices, Google will also be able to collect demographic information. This information isn’t quite as detailed as what you’ll find on Facebook Analytics, but it’s still incredibly accurate and directly related to the customers who already use your site.
Exploring the Audiences Tab
Google has five audience “dimensions” that you can explore. Age and Gender are relatively self-explanatory and can be used to narrow down most marketing campaigns. The Affinity section sorts your users into broad lifestyle categories; you’ll find out whether they’re interested in shopping, music, food, or similar interests. If you want to go into even more detail, check out Other Categories for specific interests like “rock music” or “women’s clothing.”
The Segments dimension lets you create and analyze specific audiences based on how they interact with your site.
If you run an eCommerce site, you can check out the demographics for customers who purchased a particular product. You can also target users who have visited specific pages or who found your site through a specific ad campaign.
As an audience discover tool, Google Analytics really shines through the way it lets you cross- compare data. If you start with the Age dimension, you can break down those groups by Gender and Interests. If you want to view an audience segment, you’ll be able to drill into related demographic information with just a few clicks.
Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion Metrics
Google Analytics doesn’t just tell you who visited your site; it also tells you what they did when they got there. There’s no better way to analyze the purchase intent of your users and find out which audiences are actually worth your attention.
Google provides many different metrics for analysis. For now, focus your attention on session length, bounce rate, and conversion rate.
Session length tells you how long visitors from a certain demographic stayed on your site. Longer sessions usually translate into conversions; these users are also an excellent choice for retargeting campaigns.
Bounce rate tells you which users left your site a few seconds after they visited. Bounce rates are always high for every demographic, but you might notice that some groups bounce more often than others. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to encourage these groups to stay or simply stop advertising to them altogether.
Conversion rate tells you what percentage of customers made a purchase or completed a designated action like joining your newsletter. Your goal is to increase conversions as much as possible. Find out which groups are converting, and make them the focus of your next marketing campaign.
Creating Content for Your Audience
The audience discovery process tells you who your customers are and why they want to purchase your product.
Once you’re armed with this information, you can use it to create compelling advertisements and content marketing strategies that resonate with the people you want to reach.
Finding the Right Voice
The best way to find a voice that will reach your audience is to engage with their favorite content. Read blog posts, follow social media pages, and watch videos that are popular with your target demographic. Use your discovery data to point you in the right direction.
An authentic voice will always resonate with audiences better than a purely targeted one. After you’ve completed the discovery process, close your design document. Use the customer impressions that you’ve gathered to create natural content that your audience will love.
Interesting, Engaging, and Useful
Customers like content that provides value. Whether you write blog posts, create a community on social media, or simply develop a creative PPC campaign, you should find a reason why the audience will benefit from engaging with your brand.
Content marketing strategies provide direct value through content that is either educational or entertaining. Advertisement campaigns show the value of the product that you’re trying to sell. The best marketing campaigns find a way to blend these two types of value so that the customer wants to engage with your brand again and again.
Building on Success
Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights both provide ways to tell if your campaigns have been a success. A piece of content that gets many likes or drives a significant amount of traffic to your site is successful and can serve as the basis for the next level of your campaign.
Once you have a successful piece of content, use your audience insight tools to see which demographics responded the most. Compare the responses you see on social media to the conversion rate on Google Analytics and make sure that the demographic you’re reaching has the intent to purchase your product. Then, create another piece of content that appeals to the same audience.
By testing different kinds of content and using real data to measure the responses, you will inevitably come across a marketing strategy that works exceptionally well for your business. Keep evolving your campaign based on new insights, and use the tools available to point your company in the direction of success continually.