6 Steps to Truly Understand Your Audience

Do you know your target audience well enough?

To really create content that will resonate with your audience — understanding your audience is very crucial.

It gets better when you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes and create content with empathy that’s tailored towards improving their lives.

In a recent study, 90% of customers find custom content very useful and according to Custom Content Council — 61% of consumers feel happy with it.

It’s only when you know your audience that you can engage them with your content, and convert them to happy paying customers.

Here are 6 proven steps you can take to truly understand your target audience.

1.  Conduct exclusive market research

This is by far one of the most important steps to understanding your audience.

Whether you are a small business owner or you run a large firm, it’s very important that you conduct a research before you ever start any marketing campaign.

In a recent research by Responsys, 34% of 2,000 US adults surveyed left a brand because they were receiving irrelevant marketing messages from them.

Oops! What a great lost.

This can only happen when a company ignores market research or fail to do it the right way.

I’m sure you don’t want to have the same experience — that’s why I wrote this article to guide you.

Here are the four simple ways to carry out this research:

1).  Use Google Alerts or Social Mention tool

Google Alerts can be a very vital tool in following trends and people in your niche.

You can set alerts for similar products in your niche, follow updates, check out articles written by your competitors, and also check out the comments by your prospects. As you’re aware, mobile  usage has surpassed that of desktop — so you need to study and understand user’s mobile behaviors as well.

You’ll have insights about topics, events, and people that your ideal customers care about. Researching the long-tail keywords that your target audience is using to search for information about your business/product is equally important. Unfortunately, Google Keyword Planner  might not help you here — I like to use Ferzy Keyword Tool or KeywordTool.io

More so, you can also use Mention or Social Mention tools to monitor content and people from social media, forums and other social channels. Yes, you may have to invest in SEO, PPC, or even native ads to be able to reach your target audience, but it begins with a market research.

These services can help you know when a new research has been published about the specific keyword or phrase you are concerned about.

2).  Interview Your Current Customers

Interviewing your current customers can be a great way to get first-hand information about your ideal customers.

It will not only help your customers, but it will allow you to gather case studies and metrics which are integral factors for building your personal brand and gaining traction online.

3).  Study Your Web Analytics

Your web analytics can help you a great deal.

Are you really making use of the data available to you through your web analytics?

Your web analytics can help you answer the following questions:

  • Where did your website visitors come from?

  • What keyword or phrase did they use to find you?

  • How long did they stay on your website?

  • What content format are the most popular?

  • Where are the locations of your audience?

  • Where do they go from your site?

  • What are the patterns of your visitor’s behavior?

  • Are these patterns giving you information about the position your prospects are on your buyer’s journey?

When you are able to get answers to this questions you’ll begin to get a better understanding of your audience.

4).  Use Professional Social Networks

Use professional social networks like Quora and LinkedIn to uncover what groups your potential customers are and what they’re discussing.

Great, you’re on the right track.

So far, we’ve discussed how you can leverage some of the resources that are available to research your target audience. Now let’s put them together to create a customer persona

2.  Create Your Customer Persona

After gathering all the required information about your customer from your research, you need to now create a fictional customer that exhibits all the characteristics.

No matter what you call it, a customer persona or marketing persona, we’re referring to the same thing.

According to Ardath Albee – “A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.”

I love this definition of buyers persona by Ardath Albee.

Your buyer’s persona can help you provide actionable solutions to the challenges that your audience is facing.

And it should contain core characteristics that answers the following questions:

  • What is the buyer’s role in the company?

  • What type of company does the buyer work for?

  • What level of education has the buyer achieved?

  • What does the buyer like to do for fun?

  • What is the buyer’s gender?

  • What is the buyer’s age?

  • What is the buyer’s household income?

  • How does the buyer define success in the workplace?

  • What are the buyer’s career goals?

Here’s a typical example of how your buyer’s persona should look like:

Source: Single Grain

Once you know all of this, the marketing content you’ll create will be of great value to your target audience — they would feel involved and will stick to your brand.

4.  Monitor Comments And Engagement

As you know, one of the reasons Neil Patel is so successful at blogging is that he interacts with his audience via comments on his posts.

I think he replies almost every comment and in the process, he understands how his audience thinks and will most likely find new content idea during the conversation.

You can also do the same and hopefully, you’ll be able to understand your client well enough.

5.  Look at Your Competitors

Look at successful brands that share similar goals as yours. Look at what they’re doing. Evaluate their content marketing strategy, try to find out what they do differently, find out why they are using some terms consistently.

Truth is, a brand might not fully understand what they’re really doing, but a careful study will reveal to you what works and what doesn’t.

6.  Learn from third-party resources

You can also leverage on the research done by other marketers with respect to your target audience. Study them very well and extract the necessary data.

Learn from case studies and psychological analysis conducted by more advanced marketers in your industry. For example, if you’re a digital marketer you can learn a lot from Moz, Content Marketing Institute, QuickSprout, and other credible digital marketing blogs.

Stay away from assumptions. Why?

Because, often times, your assumptions about your customer could be wrong. Yes, it’s acceptable to make intelligent guesses, however, that shouldn’t inform your decision making process.