What is audience analysis?
What is audience analysis, anyway? Audience analysis is the research of demographics, language, location, preferences, interests, and other metrics within a group. It is then analyzed to provide useful and actionable consumer insights for a brand in the form of buyer personas. These are semi-fictionalized profiles that are built from your target audience analysis.
There was a time when this kind of analysis was a painstaking and time-consuming process that all-but required you to hire an agency to help you complete it if you wanted to be sure the information you were getting would be useful and properly sourced. The pace of campaigns has also ramped up, therefore making it difficult to keep up with conventional methods. Thankfully the age of digital and social media analytics has also made gathering the information you need more efficient.
The analytics tools we now have access to have sped up research and data collection significantly. What would have taken months of work before can be completed in a few clicks- whether its data on your own audiences or if you’re keeping track of your competitors’ performance.
This is not to say that agencies have been made obsolete. On the contrary, a combination approach can be the best method to collect as much valuable information about your audiences as possible.
On the other hand, agencies are always looking to keep up with client demands and deliver the best actionable data possible. With multiple clients running an increasing number of campaigns simultaneously, digital audience analysis seems the only way to go.
Why audience analysis?
Why should you be using audience analysis as the cornerstone of your marketing strategies?
You’re likely already familiar with the stages that make up the marketing funnel: starting from the top you have Awareness and Interest, where your work will be all about the visibility of your brand to consumers.
The middle of the funnel is where audiences will be considering your brand and you will be working on developing customers’ buying intent in order to secure conversions.
At the bottom of the funnel you can find those who have purchased, meaning that your work switches to efforts to maintain relationships and retain customers.
Each of these steps requires different kinds of content and timing, but what they share is a reliance on you understanding who your audiences are, where should you be reaching them- with what content, at what time- and how much will you have to spend to convert them? To answer all of the following you need to rely on as much data as possible - luckily, digital marketing has made it readily accessible.
Cut your costs
Marketing campaigns are trending towards a smaller scale format, but along with that we’re seeing an increase in frequency. Keeping up with that trend and maintaining effective campaigns is costly. Meanwhile, slacking and allowing campaigns to be poorly evaluated can be costly in terms of your time and reputation as a marketer.
However, knowing your audiences and gearing your marketing strategy to reach out to them effectively helps to counter that problem in a big way. Case studies have shown a reduction in costs of up to 56% for businesses using quality audience analysis to back their marketing efforts. Numbers like that can go a long way in improving your ROI and allowing you to re-allocate some of that budget.
Beat The competition
Blanket advertisement and poor targeting on social not only reduce the amount of leads and conversions you generate, but they also allow your competition to catch the customers you’re missing out on. Every audience is limited, so it’s important to focus on catching the attention of the people who will be most interested in what your brand has to offer.
Pinning down what your ideal audiences look like will go a long way in helping you attract people who will not only engage with your content and brand, but boost your conversions.
Don’t bore your customers
There’s a problem in marketing: the symptoms lie in the gap between what marketers think they are doing and how customers feel about those same marketing efforts.
The Marketo Engagement Gap report puts this in clear numbers:
61% of marketers believe they engage with the right content.
56% of consumers believe businesses need to have a deeper understanding of their needs.
51% of consumers believe brands send too much irrelevant content.
One way to perceive this information is that currently, we as marketers are failing our customers by not reaching out to them in the right way, at the right time, with the right content. Another way to view it is as a major opportunity: if more than half of consumers feel that businesses don’t fully understand their needs, there’s a hole in the market for you to be one of the businesses that does.
To do that, you need to understand your audience inside and out. How well do they know your brand? How close are they to a buying decision? What are their motivations? You will need gather whatever data you can at every level of your marketing funnel. To get the job done, you’ll need to bring in different tools.
The opportunity exists to do very well in business by understanding who your audiences really are.
Known and unknown audiences: What’s the difference?
Targeting audiences comes with a catalog of options for how to go about it and where to set your focus. This is where a somewhat new idea comes in: known and unknown audiences. Making the distinction between these can help you be more effective across the funnel and collect the right data to help you cut costs and improve targeting.
Known audiences are those you have had some kind of contact with already. They might have visited your site and used a free tool or signed up for a mailing list, giving you their email. They might have even made a purchase. Whichever way it happened, you have a unique trackable identification for that individual which you can then use for your remarketing efforts.
On the other hand, unknown audiences are those you don’t have a lead or specific identifier for (yet!). Also in the category of unknown audience are people who match up with your current audiences, but who don’t know about your product. You know they’re out there, but they aren’t easily targeted. In attracting new customers, it’s up to you to target these unknown audiences effectively and successfully.
Cost-efficiency in the funnel
Conventional marketing wisdom tells us that it is around ten times more expensive to acquire and convert new leads than to reach out to people that have already been added to your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. That is, it’s cheaper to operate your business at the lower end of the marketing funnel where people are closer to conversion than it is to focus on the top of the funnel where you would be developing awareness of your brand and acquiring new followers.
This, of course, has merit: the customers at the bottom of your funnel are already interested, and have either passed through the other steps already or simply entered lower in the funnel. But there are a couple caveats to this. Times, tech, and the tools you have access to as a marketer are constantly changing; so is the market.
Improving on convention
No matter what kind of business you are, it’s likely that the market is saturated to the point where it may not be about the bottom of the funnel, but rather the kind of experience you offer potential customers at the top of the funnel. This highlights why tactics like influencer marketing have become such successful marketing tools.
One of the main reasons that top-of-the-funnel marketing efforts tend to be more of expensive is that businesses cast too wide a net. That is to say that they use top-of-the-funnel marketing in a more catch-all way, targeting mostly the right people - but also wasting resources on marketing to people for whom their content is irrelevant. In order to make the top of the funnel efficient, you need to be reaching out to specifically targeted audiences you understand, with the content they are looking for in the places and times that they are online.
If you’re spending your budget on building awareness and interest in the wrong audiences, you won’t have many, if any, conversions. Yet, this highlights a method to make top-of-the-funnel marketing much more efficient and decrease its potential costs per new customer - by really knowing your audience throughout your marketing funnel and reaching out to the right people at the right time.
Remember: quality content is good, but the right content is even better.
So, now that you’ve made the decision to be more efficient, cut costs, and improve your audience analysis and targeting - where do you get the data for your audience research?
Where does your data come from?
Digital methods have left conventional data collection behind due to the sheer pace and scale at which data can be collected - especially at the top of the funnel. It’s good to have access to all the data you need - but where should you be getting it from?
Google Analytics and in-market segments
In-Market Audiences will show you users who are already active searching and comparing your brand to alternatives in the market. These are, in particular, people who might be interested in what your brand has to offer for a limited time.
A good example would be individuals who are currently looking to buy a car, or who are tourists looking for a hotel in a specific city. They have searched for options, compared possibilities, and maybe read up one some reviews - all indications that they are actively searching to make a purchase. More importantly, these actions are all tracked by Google.
With this information, you can consider how your brand can best position itself to reach out to this audience to grab their attention and show them that you have what they are looking for.
While In-Market Audiences look at fairly short-term prospects, Google Analytics also offers Affinity Audiences, which delves deeper into who your audiences are. It looks at a person’s lifestyle and interests to get a sense of their identity and habits.
These metrics help to develop an idea of a person’s general, long-standing interest. These can help you develop an idea of what people who like your product also like, which can in turn allow you to expand your reach.
Facebook Insights is, at its heart, a research and filtering platform allowing you to better understand and report on the audience and potential audiences of a Facebook page.
With page likes and self-reported information as the basis for its data, you can explore things in a range of informative metrics. You can view data on things like demographics, interests, page likes, and affinities, all of which will help you build a more complete picture of who your Facebook audiences are.
You can use it to see an overview of your Facebook audience or manually set up filters to segment your data to look at trends and characteristics within your audience.
Normal Instagram profiles don’t have access to analytics, beyond tracking likes and views for individual pieces of content yourself. The main Insights section you gain access to when you make the switch to an Instagram business account includes all the usual metrics on likes, follows, and impressions, along with data on profile visits, actions taken on your profile in general, and the reach of your account.
None of it is particularly in-depth, but Instagram does two things very well in terms of your audiences: engagement and influencers.
Influencer marketing has taken off and is now a mainstay in effective social media marketing strategy. There are a lot of reasons why you should embrace influencer marketing, but much of it boils down to the way consumers make decisions about what to purchase, with 86% of respondents stating that they take advice from their friends about making purchases. Influencers position themselves to pick up one this by functioning as amplified word-of-mouth.
Influencer campaigns have become a tour de force in social media marketing as an effective and flexible marketing option - you’ll want to incorporate them into your social media marketing strategy to get ahead of the game.
Consolidating your audience data
Now that you've collected your data, it's sitting in PDFs, powerpoints, screenshots - a maybe if you're really old school you've even printed it out. How do you deal with this mess of information? How do you begin to see the bigger picture?
Consolidating your data isn’t something that native tools will allow you to do, but that’s where those third party platforms and tools we mentioned earlier come in!
There are a few options for this, but the main goal here is to bring all your social media data into one place so you can view it holistically and really dive into the data. Once you have a full view of where you stand, you can get to work refining your content plan to more effectively engage with your audience.
How do you consolidate all that audience data without wasting too much time and make it start working for you? We’ve got it covered in Socialbakers Suite - give it a try and see how easy it can be.
Once you’ve consolidated your data, arrange it into buyer personas. If you need a little help creating these efficiently and accurately, you can turn to a buyer persona template, or use a tool for generating personas.
Making your data work for you: Actionable insights
Personas are the tool, but the goal here is to make your target audience analysis data actionable, here are 7 things you can do with it:
You’ll lower your targeting costs significantly.
Studies show significant reductions in Facebook advertising costs with effective audience analysis, allowing you to save time and money in the long run.
You'll improve ROI by converting easier and faster.
Knowing your audience’s affinities and behavior will help you target the right people at the right time to increase your Facebook relevance score.
You'll be able to dive into influencer marketing with confidence.
Audience Analysis will allow you to pinpoint your own audience and find the right influencers to help your brand reach them.
You'll know what content to produce and save money.
With quality audience analysis, you’ll understand where your audiences are in their customer journey. You’ll be able to distinguish between those who are ready to buy, and those who may need more time or awareness of your brand. All of which will help you organically, improve your SEO, and help to reduce your costs.
You'll improve loyalty and retention.
Similarly to the points above, improving your knowledge of your audiences will help you reach out to them more authentically and personally. In this day and age, customers stick with brands they trust, and a big part of earning that trust is being able to speak to them in their language.
You’ll be able to discover niche audience segments.
Your audience might not just be the people you’re already working to target. Audience analysis can give you insight into niche segments, allowing you to reach out to groups that you may not even know exist yet.
You’ll gain a competitive edge.
In an oversaturated market, getting leads is a race against your competition. With clearly defined audience personas, you can get an edge that will allow you to overtake the competition trying to target the same audience.
With all these benefits and more from quality, cross-platform target audience analysis, what are you waiting for?
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.