Understanding Your Audience & Where to Reach Them
Easier Said Than Done
Knowing your audience is not only the cornerstone to successful marketing and media campaigns, but also to successful businesses. It’s no surprise, and we’ve heard it before; the best companies and brands go to the extent of being ‘audience obsessed’. But what does it mean to ‘understand your audience’ and how do you do it successfully?
It’s easier said than done. Understanding your audience is an ongoing process as you get to more intimately know the patterns in their behaviors, interests, concerns, and purchase/decision journey. These patterns are realized through both quantitative and qualitative data.
Quality Data At the Core
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, you’re likely capturing first-party data that can inform a foundational understanding your audience including their demographics, location, purchase behavior, etc. You might also be gathering specific analytics on your ‘owned assets’ including engagement on your website, and tracking of activity across different content types. Common tools, like Google Analytics, Facebook, and Twitter’s Audience Insights, are beneficial ways of gathering this information across your owned properties.
In the case where first-party data is unavailable, third-party data can be sourced from well-known providers such as Adobe, Oracle, Axiom, etc. There is no shortage of third-party data sets in today’s marketplace and, while it may come at a premium, it’s important to know the quality of the data that you may be applying to understand and target your audience.
Additionally, it’s helpful to stay attuned to overarching trends on your target, their behavior, consumption patterns, and mindset through sources such as eMarketer, Forrester or WARC. In many cases, this foundational information and data mining is synthesized into a target persona, such as The Fashionista, an 18-34 female, with HHI of $X, working professional, who loves designer brands, is always on the hunt for a ‘deal’, etc. The trouble with personas is that they are often times over simplified and only scratch the surface of your full audience understanding.
ABL- Always Be Listening
Data sources are extremely valuable for any advertiser, but to truly know your audience there must be deeper insight into their attitudes, beliefs, understandings, and feelings. This is best done by talking to real people in your audience. As with any successful relationship, you must always be willing to listen.
Some of the best practices that allow you to consistently listen and be aware of your audience’s changing concerns, beliefs, and feelings, include:
Surveys: The quality of your solution is based on the quality of the questions you’re asking and this age-old tactic allows you to ask tailored questions to a specific group of respondents. With simple tools like Google Forms or Typeform, you can get candid feedback on their beliefs and may also inform the tone that they want to be spoken to in your messaging.
Review Mining: Through online forums, like Reddit, Facebook groups, Amazon Reviews, or websites like Quora, you can gather on-going insight into people’s natural conversations along with responses. Listen to your audiences’s concerns and feelings, along with the tone they communicate in. This can help dictate the messaging they are most responsive to.
Interviews/Focus Groups: What better way to understand your audience than speaking with them face-to-face. Whether it be 1:1 conversations or focus group discussions, this approach allows you to dig a layer deeper on audience responses and ask following-up questions where surveys may have stopped you short.
Once you ‘know your audience’ and have a deep understanding of their concerns and feelings, your messaging should not only address those concerns, but reach them when it’s most relevant and mirror their own tone of voice. So how do you know where to speak to them? This requires an understanding of the media properties, and their audience, where you’ll be distributing your message, content, or experience.
Using common syndicated tools like comScore or Nielsen you may be able to get a better understanding of which properties are able to reach your audience best, but as mentioned in last week’s blog, media companies are experts on their consumers too. They can provide you with valuable data and, in many cases proprietary research, about their key targets. Tap into this expertise and knowledge to better understand how their audiences are consuming content, what resonates best, and how they’re able to target people, whether it be done contextually or with specific data sets. This will ensure there is alignment with the audience your looking to reach
It’s An Ongoing Relationship
Being an audience-centric advertiser will require an on-going relationship with your target market, consistently leaning-in to qualified data, qualitative research, and strategic media partnerships to understand their changing needs, perceptions, background, etc. This comprehensive understanding will translate into a more a strategic approach to your marketing and media investment, where messaging and experiences can be personalized and targeting not only fosters an ongoing relationship with your brand, but results in a more efficient ROI.
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