You didn’t do your audience research, and now that expensive, time-sucking campaign is going to flop – and you don’t even know it yet.
Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy, you have to design one that’s specific to your business and your audience. Without knowing who your customers are and what they want, you’re just winging it. Understanding who you’re marketing to will inform where, when, and how you reach your audience, as well as what you offer them.
Track the Right Type of Social Data
Your customers are likely using some type of social media to either engage with their social circles or your brand, or both. There are three types of social data your marketing department should track:
All of this data is useful for discovering more about your audience. Self-representation data will tell you the basic demographics you need to start forming a customer persona. Relationship data will show you how engaged your audience is with brands or influencers. Communication data will teach you about hot-button topics and trends, which you can then use to guide your own content.
Conduct Interviews with Current Customers
Conducting interviews can tell you a lot about the thoughts and opinions of your customers. You’ll learn about their motivations and problem areas, helping you better frame your marketing to meet their specific needs. Ultimately, interviews are a way to know your customers more personally.
Interviews can be time-consuming, and they’re not as efficient as something like a survey. Since they provide so much in-depth information, though, they’re definitely worth your time. Set a goal of 10 interviews with prospects and another 10 interviews with current customers. Choose individuals who are at different stages in the buying cycle so that you can get a broader view of the customer persona.
Ask a variety of questions and gear some of them toward their location in the buying cycle. Start with the basics to learn about their demographics, like their age, family life, education, and geographical location. Then, dig into their goals and challenges – what do they want to achieve and what’s getting in the way? When it comes to your current customers, don’t be afraid to find out their biggest complaints.
Connect with Other Departments
Chances are that your teams stick to themselves – the customer service team may not mingle with the sales team, for example. However, any team that comes in contact with customers on a regular basis will have a ton of insight:
Each of these departments has a wealth of information that the other departments can use to learn more about your customers. For example, the sales department can work with the marketing department to create content that answers pre-sale questions before the customer even asks them. The marketing department can clue the customer service department into an issue that’s arising on social media so they’re better prepared with answers to new FAQs.
Research Your Competitors
While you don’t want to depend solely on your competitors for audience research, analyzing what your competitors are doing will help you discover new ways to connect with your customers. Choose three of your strongest competitors who also share the same audience. Audit their marketing by looking at their messaging and their strategies. You also want to look at what their audience is and is not responding well to. Some comments will guide you to what’s missing and how to fill in the gap. For example, your competitor writes a blog post. There are several comments on it that say, “You didn’t cover XYZ.” You could then write a blog post on the same topic that covers it more thoroughly.
You won’t be able to attract, engage, and convert customers if you don’t know who they are and what they want. As you learn more about your audience, you can focus your targeting specifically on them. You have to go beyond gender, age range, and location. Learning your customers’ personalities, opinions, interests, and values will help you create products, services, and a customer experience that results in a loyal, long-lasting audience.