A clear understanding of your target audience is essential to marketing success. It should shape everything from your brand’s tone and messaging to your content style and distribution. And knowing your audience isn’t as simple as having a typical customer in mind. True depth of understanding comes from careful target audience research. This research, including analytics and internal information, can help you nail down a well-defined target audience. In turn, the insights you glean will guide your marketing efforts and help you better reach your ideal customers. Read more to learn about the most effective ways to conduct audience research.

  1. First things first: establish a baseline for your target customer. Then, revisit.

You know your industry well enough to know generally what types of people are attracted to your products/services. Record your vision, and return to edit it after each further step of analysis. Consider demographic information like gender, age, occupation, income, education level, location, family status, etc. Also include pain points, interests, values, hobbies, lifestyles and online behaviors. Once you delve into the following research methods, you will likely be surprised at how your definition of your ideal customer will change with deeper insights.

  1. Improve audience awareness with Google Analytics.

The average consumer spends over eight hours a day engaging with digital content. Marketers can harness that activity to learn more about their customers by tracking digital behaviors. Google Analytics makes this kind of target audience research analysis easier than ever before. Not only is it free, but it’s also fairly easy to use. The Audience section of Google Analytics offers information about the people who visit your site: demographics, location, browsers, etc. You can also use it to track custom URLs and analyze traffic across your channels to learn which types of content are really resonating. The quantity of data and options available for analysis can seem overwhelming, but a narrowed focus will help you spend your social media marketing efforts much more wisely.

  1. Use social analytics to deepen audience understanding.

Daily social media activity creates a wealth of useful target audience research information just waiting to be tapped into. But such an array of social channels exist that it’s important to pinpoint which platforms are most popular with your audience. Tools like Sprout Social and Google Analytics can help you discover where your ideal customers are and track referral traffic. Analyzing hashtags can also help you learn more about what your audience is interested in through trending discussions. Researching brand mentions can help paint a clearer picture of your brand perception as well. All of this valuable data helps reveal audience preferences and online behavior, which you can use to guide your brand’s tone and content.

  1. Uncover audience insights by taking a close look at your competition.

When you investigate who’s vying for your audience’s attention, you will learn a great deal about your audience’s wants and needs. Research who your customers follow and who your top competitors are. Evaluate the competition’s behaviors, everything from how frequently they post to the tone and style of their content. Also assess the ways they promote their offerings. Use these results to identify trends and best practices across competitors to model your digital strategy by. And more importantly, your competitive analysis will reveal gaps that your business can fill by delivering unique, valuable content to your ideal customers.

  1. Search from within using sales feedback and existing customer data.

You already have a mine of useful audience information at your fingertips, through both your sales team and buyer data. Your customer-facing employees have the inside track to common customer frustrations, praises and points of confusion. That’s why 74% of B2B content marketers use sales team feedback to research their target audience. Regularly engaging your employees for their feedback will not only provide you beneficial information but also make them feel like more valued members of your organization. In addition to sales feedback, you should harvest your sales data to extract telling audience insights, like who your customers are, where they purchase, what prompts them to buy and what times of day and year they are likely to do business with you. The combined analysis of sales feedback and data will reveal important audience characteristics that you can design your campaigns around.

All of these strategies should be used together, along with direct customer feedback, to achieve thorough target audience research. When you finish the process (which you should repeat at least yearly) you will have a much more informed perspective of who your ideal customer is. That knowledge will allow your brand to become a problem solver for your customers with more personalized content. And that personalization is critical when 44% of consumers are likely to become repeat buyers after having a personalized shopping experience. Your audience awareness will help you align your marketing efforts across channels, with a consistency of tone, voice and messaging that will truly resonate with the people you actually hope to do business with. And they’ll keep coming back for more.

Read More: