How Audience Analysis Can Help Marketers Spend Smarter

By Joanne Kok

bad-dateWhat do bad dates, bad interviews, and ineffective marketing have in common?

They are a complete waste of time and effort.

If you’re trying to pitch your products or services or create a memorable brand, spending time on this crucial prep work sets you up right. Defining what you’re about and who you’re going after BEFORE hiring a marketing specialist or an agency is foundational so they have the appropriate guidelines to produce work that is on target while avoiding churn and ineffective results that just don’t feel right.  This process is called “Audience Analysis.”

Below, we’ll outline some of the key questions you need to answer to build out an actionable profile through audience analysis:

 

Who is Your Intended Audience?

Start by brainstorming a list of potential customer characteristics for those who are most likely to pay you for your product or service?

  • Sex: Are they more likely to be male or female? Or does your product or service appeal to both sexes equally?
  • Age: Are your prospective customers more likely to be younger or older? Are they children? Teenagers? Young or older adults? Seniors?
  • Household dynamics: Will the purchasing decisions be made individually, jointly as a couple, or with the involvement of children in the household?
  • Disposable income: Do prospective clients have a fair amount of money to spend on what you are offering them?
  • Location: Which city, state, or country? Are they in highly urban locations or more remote?
  • Usage occasion: Is there a special occasion, life event, or time of year when they are most likely to want what you have to offer?
  • Referrals: How might they come to learn about you?
  • Interactions: How would you expect to interact with them? In person, via phone, online, and through mobile apps or all of the above?

 

Selling to Corporations Requires Organizational Considerations

  • Company size: How large is the company in terms of employees and annual revenue? What type of budget do they have to work with for what you’re selling so that you can set your price point accordingly?
  • Maturity: How long has the company been in business? Are they ready and willing to invest in the products and services that you have to offer?
  • Stakeholders: Which department or type of employee would you be interacting with and selling to? What motivates them in their decision-making?
  • Business objectives: Are they more process or results-oriented? Are they in growth or cost-cutting mode?

All these characteristics will influence everything from the benefits you communicate to the tone and communication vehicles that you ultimately choose to use.

 

Validate and Quantify

Now that you have an idea who you might effectively sell to, it’s time to test it out. Find out if your hypotheses are accurate and if there are enough of customers to support a feasible / profitable business.

  • Among personal or professional contacts: What are the tendencies or characteristics of those who find your business proposition more interesting? Make use of social media networks to access special interest groups and their message boards or mailing lists. Or you can connect with key contacts one-on-one and get more in-depth discussions going.
  • Observe and talk to your and your competitors’ current or potential customers: If you have in-person or phone interactions, ask questions or leverage front line employees to learn more about customers and what they are most interested in or dissatisfied with.
  • Try out online survey research:
    • For the most basic of surveys, there’s Google Forms, but there are plenty of others, including SurveyGizmo, SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, Qualtrics, and many, many more. Most of these have a free or trial version with nominal costs. If you need more complex design and delivery options, then you might decide to pay a little more.
    • If you need more task-based feedback, you might use tools from companies likeUserTesting.com or UserZoom. You can either work with one of the above companies to get access to testers or leverage Amazon Mechanical Turk in a similar way by posting a job of what you need.
    • Costs will also vary depending on how many people you decide you need to get responses from, how much of their time you’ll need, and how specific an audience you need to get.
    • Analyze online audience measurement trends:
      • Leverage free information sources such as Alexa, Quantcast, Google Trends, or SimilarWeb to get a sense of who is already coming to your sites. If you don’t have any or enough traffic coming to you yet, check out traffic trends of key competitors or other sites within your space. This is a great way to quantify the opportunity particularly using basic demographics and location information.
      • Paid subscription-based data sources such as Experian Hitwise Digital Marketing Intelligence, comScore Media Metrix, Nielsen/NetRatings, or Compete PRO will take it a step further allowing you to combine demographics, behavioral, and often even psychographic characteristics to define very specific potential segments.
      • Audience profile by keywords or comparable categories can also provide even more insights of users by usage or purchase intention.
      • Run live tests: Run these tests by buying relevant AdWords ads and watching to see who responds to them. After all, there is no better data than experimental data. And if you have enough people clicking on your links, it is also the first step in generating leads for future business.

Be Cautious of Data Coverage and Quality

Watch for adequate or representative data coverage for any of these resources.

Are you talking and learning from friends and colleagues only, all of whom are easy to get to? Or if your business has a strong mobile user base, make sure the data source you use has a good representation of non-web users.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re not inadvertently excluding any important part of the population in your analysis.

Re-visit Assumptions on a Regular Basis
Even if you’ve been running your business for a while, it’s always a good idea to regularly validate that you understand who your customers are. When we are close to a business, it is easy to take anecdotal information or perceptions at a certain point of time and run with it. Things may not always be as they seem and can change as the business and landscape evolves with time.

The Result
All this work will give you a sound, data-driven understanding of who to focus on and what’s important to those customers who will provide a solid sense of direction and the revenue potential of your business.

If you enjoyed reading how to analyze your audience, keep an eye out for the next part of this blog series: How to define your value as a business with a client’s perspective in mind.

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