6 Ways to Get To Know Your *Actual* Audience
What if I told you that the vast majority of problems that small businesses run into are caused by one simple issue:
They don’t really know their audience.
They might know roughly who their audience is and where they are located. But what a small business really needs to know is what their audience is looking for. In marketing we call this the “point of pain.” Your audience’s point of pain is the thing that drives them to actually engage you in business. If you’re a dentist, then usually this is quite literal. But everything from fast food to local handicrafts to consumer electronics results from a point of pain sale.
Learning what, exactly, your audience is looking for is one of the best lessons a business can learn. But it’s not as easy as it might seem. As you get to know your audience, you learn that their point of pain is actually a complex of different things. The faster you learn about your audience and understand what they’re looking for, the faster you’ll be converting the masses.
Here are 6 ways to get to know your real audience.
- Create Personas
- Use A/B tests to find out how your audience responds
- Customer surveys, sometimes
- Check out the competition
- Use Google Analytics to compare your own customer personas with the people who are actually visiting your site.
Make a list of what you think your audience is looking for, and continually add to it. Start with the product or service that you offer: “high quality chocolates” for instance. But don’t stop there: “fast service,” “wedding gifts,” “treats for children,” “family friendly products,” “friendly, familiar service,” “a competitive price point” or “quality over price,” “a hip, stylish brand.” Once you have a broad list, start to organize and categorize them into Personas – or typical people that do business with you (or would, potentially) and share certain traits. “Affluent parents with children in a hurry” could be one, and “Wedding planners looking for small gifts from a trustworthy seller” could be another – and list what they are looking for below each Persona.
A great way to fine-tune your understanding of your audience is to create content that you can use to A/B test your audience. It’s simple – write an email to your subscribers. But before sending it out, make two versions that cater to two different personas. Give the emails two different tracking codes and see how they do with your subscriber audience. You might find that one Persona doesn’t respond at all; maybe you imagined them. Or maybe they don’t use email. As you investigate further you’ll begin to see how different personas engage (or don’t) with your marketing efforts.
An obvious way to get to know your audience is through customer surveys. In exchange for an exclusive offer, ask your customers to fill out a short survey. If you tailor your survey well, you can start to understand the different kinds of people that you serve. But be careful: your customers don’t necessarily identify with their own point of pain. And they will get annoyed if you are forever asking them to fill in a survey – make it optional, and fun!
Each time we get a new client for our marketing services we send a short questionnaire for them to fill in, including telling us about their competition. You’d be surprised how often they don’t know who their competition is!
Do you know your competition? Perhaps you have a sense of your local competition. But do you know who your Google competition is? Just search on Google for the product or service you offer. The top ten search results are competitors too. Check out their sites and their businesses: you can learn a lot about your audience by seeing how your competition has catered to them. Take notes!
Find out what your customers are saying to each other about your business or about a service or product you offer. You can use Google notifications or track conversations on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. This has the potential to give you huge insight into your potential and actual customers
Using Google Analytics, you can learn where your audience is coming from and how they are finding you by checking out the Audience and Acquisition data. You can also learn how they behave on the site and which pages they favor using the Behavior data. It’s a great way to reconcile who you think your customers are with who they actually are. (If you’re new to Google Analytics, we’ll have a new post soon about how to best use this great, free service.)
By creating customer personas that you can use to organize and categorize your audience, you’ll be better equipped to meet their needs and respond to their point of pain. A combination of techniques is required to fill in the most complete picture of your target audience: by listening to what they are saying, by testing how different messages resonate with them, by asking them directly, by investigating how the competition meets their needs, and by observing how they find and use your website.
Of course, these are just a few of the ways we have found to understand our audience. If you have other techniques, please share them with us!
Once you understand your audience’s multiple points of pain, it will be much easier to find and serve them. Connecting your business to your audience is one of the best ways to improve profitability and increase volume. Good luck!