If you don’t know your audience, how are you going to know what they want? A deep understanding of your audience is the first step to creating a successful business and will form the basis of all your marketing efforts. This is particularly true when it comes to your marketing such as SEO & PPC as you need to know what your audience are searching for, how they behave online and what type of content engages them.
So, how should you do it? In order to get a thorough understanding of your audience, you’re going to need to carry out extensive research into their behaviours, demographics, interests and location. All of these factors are extremely relevant when it comes to SEO as they are taken into account by Google when serving up results to users, and whatever’s important to Google is important to you! So where do you start?
Market intelligence platforms
There are plenty of tools online which you can use to learn more about your audience, with certain organisations set up specifically to do market research so that you don’t have to. Although you will need paid subscriptions to get the most out of them, some tools do offer an insight into your audience for free. An excellent example of this is YouGovProfiles.
YouGovProfiles allows you to search for audiences of brands related to your business. For example, if your business sells Organic Chocolate, you can search for the audience of Green & Black’s Organic 70% Chocolate. You will then be supplied with a wealth of information about that brand/products main audience, including demographics, lifestyle, personality, other brands they like, their preferred forms of entertainment and online/media activity.
This provides a great starting point as it gives you a general overview of your potential audience and feeds your imagination with new ideas and different ways to approach them. You also now have an image of who you are targeting in your mind which brings your audience to life – remember, you’re targeting people not computers!
You can use the information gathered within YouGovProfiles and delve even deeper with tools such as TGI Consumer & Audience Targeting which gives a more thorough insight into demographic behaviours and media consumption.
We live in an age where your audience are dishing out their innermost thoughts, feelings and opinions online for all to see, so why not use this information to your advantage? Social media is an amazing place to learn more about your audience on a personal and individual level, with insight opportunities available for all budgets.
Social platform analytics - no budget
If you have business social profiles on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you already have a quick and easy, free audience insight tool. Between the different platforms you can discover demographic information, such as the gender and age of your followers, geographic locations, what time they are most active on social (this will be very important when it comes to your social strategy as you want to be posting at a time when your audience are active), interests and employment statuses/industries.
All of this information will be highly valuable in your quest to learn more about your audience. Of course, you will need to have already built up a following of your brand on social to get this information, which can be done by encouraging existing customer to follow you. Social also provides a great testing ground in terms of audience engagement as you can measure the popularity of each post.
Nuvi audience - medium budget
If you want to go beyond your own social platforms’ audience and learn more about industry audiences, Nuvi Audience may be the tool for you. With affordable plans for business of all sizes, Nuvi Audience scours the Facebook universe to bring a huge set of data to life right in front of your eyes. This tool can enhance your content strategies, media buying and online optimisation by making your targeting methods much more precise.
Crimson hexagon - big budget
With a wider range of data sources, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Weibo, Blogs, Forums and more, Crimson Hexagon is the ‘up market’ social media audience analysis tool. Crimson Hexagon analyses the conversations happening online in real time and offers you the opportunity to become part of the conversation.
When it comes to understanding your audience, the power of Google Analytics should not be underestimated. Again, you will need to have had Google Analytics active on your website for a while in order to have some data to work with, but the insights are undeniably valuable. Using Analytics will show you what has been working so far on your website, the type of person interacting with your site, their methods of interaction (e.g. Mobile VS Desktop, Chrome VS Firefox etc.) and so much more.
This information can help you optimise your site towards your audience’s behaviour and preferences. For example, if 70% of your audience visit your site via mobile, you will want to optimise for mobile, possibly even creating a mobile version of your website, or if your audience’s main interest is ‘Travel’, you might want to create some travel orientated content, or if your audience are mainly based in London, you might want to do some local optimisation for that area. You can even discover the types of search terms visitors are using on your site, giving you a rationale for keyword optimisation.
How to use audience knowledge
So now you have gathered some valuable information about your audience. You’ve got an audience persona with a face, relevant information – you can even give your persona a name. But what do you do with it? The real question here is, what do you do first? There is so much you can do off the back of your audience research, such as creating bespoke content strategies, promoting your content on the external sites that your audience visit and optimising for the search topics and terms your audience are using. Now that you know your audience, you can work on building a long lasting, genuine relationship with them.