• Dana Yatsenko

How to Get to Know Your Target Audience: 4 Tips from Marketing Pros

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

If you want to run campaigns that touch a nerve and emails that your readers can’t wait to open, you really need to understand your customers.

As long as you know who your people are, what they want, and what makes them tick, you are best friends. But once your customer engagement isn’t there, you’ll get into a blind spot along with telemarketers and door-to-door sellers.

People easily blow aggressive sales hidden behind marketing cliches and make their mission to resist. You’d better identify your customer’s issue, offer a helpful solution, and then give freedom to make a decision. The main word here is 'being helpful.'

Let’s unpack some strategies & tools that my colleagues from Fullest Media sustainability marketing agency use when they want to make sure they are helpful in every step of the customer's way.

How to Survey Your Audience (and Get Your Answers)

Supriya, Fullest Media's strategic advisor, believes there's no better way to get to know one than to ask a question. Why invent what your buyers want when you can ask them?

If you have a customer base, Supriya recommends taking online or offline surveys, running focus group discussions, and phone interviews with customers. Open-ended questions can be a source of unexpected insights you couldn't have even thought about.

NPS surveys are always a good option to start with if you struggle to decide what to ask. It's a two-part questionnaire that measures the customer experience. In the first part, you ask customers to rate from 0 to 10 their willingness to recommend your product or service to friends. The second question is a follow-up, open-ended question as to why the specific score was given. If NPS isn't high, you have a good reason to reach your respondent out asking what went wrong.

An example of an on-site NPS questionnaire
An example of an on-site NPS questionnaire

To create an offline survey, try Google Forms. It's a perfect basic tool, totally free and easy to use. Another popular option is Typeform, a more comprehensive form-builder application with very pleasing aesthetics.

On-site polls work great to survey specific users in context while they are looking at your product or service. Get actionable user insights based on where visitors are on your site, who they are, how much they pay, visit history, and more using a conversational app such as Intercom, or a dedicated survey app like Qualaroo.

When asking questions, let users know how important their feedback is and give something in return for their time and thoughtful answers.

“Once I tried to run a user survey but didn’t see a good response. One of the learnings was that users like to be rewarded for the information they have shared with you”, — Supriya, a strategic advisor at Fullest Media

As a reward, you may offer a gift card, your brand swag, or an ebook that repurpose some of your most requested content.

What Keyword Research Teaches You About Your Audience

Our social marketing manager chooses keyword research when it comes to discovering what to write about, organizing ideas into topics, and tracking the ROI of his content efforts. I can certainly understand the impulse.

Keywords are valuable because they show you exactly what your audience is typing into Google in what words and phrases. It allows you to create content that gives a definitive answer to the questions asked.

There is one small catch. Mapping the search intent with keywords is not as easy as it sounds. Let’s take one of Fullest Media’s core keywords. Green marketing. What was the goal of people googling this phrase? Did they want a definition for a classroom discussion? Or did they look for a job? Or maybe for an agency offering green marketing services?

We never know. But we know that students are not among Fullest Media’s target audience, in contrast to business people.

Different searchers’ intends example
Different searchers’ intends example

Single keyword used for multiple search intents usually means that you shouldn’t focus on its volume alone, since not every gain in volume is significant to your bottom line.

If the average visitor of a ‘green marketing’ article has а 5% chance of being interested in our services, among 1,000 readers, we’ll find 50 potential clients.

A ‘choosing the right green marketing strategy’ article cuts off students and job-seekers, dramatically increasing the chances to engage the audience. Thus, saving your time and budget. If a reader has a 20% chance of being interested, it will be enough for you to win 250 readers to get 50 potential customers.

Split across multiple search intents to determine the fraction of volume relevant to your people. ‘Choosing the right green marketing strategy’ will work better to reach our target audience than generic and hyper-competitive ‘green marketing.’

How to Use Social Listening and Shadow Users’ Behaviour

The Internet itself is the priceless gift and endless source of insights for observant marketers like Janhvi, a content writer at Fullest Media.

No matter what industry you’re in, your audience probably has niche communities. Your job is to find those communities and start engaging. Observe what content they share, ask questions, and promote your expertise. For marketing topics, for instance, my personal favorite is Jimmy Daly’s Slack group, where I can shadow my workmates, discuss hot issues, and useful tools.

The other simple thing to do is to scour question & answer sites like Quora and Reddit. When people ask a question on Reddit, that question must be really important for them. Moreover, they’ve probably typed it into Google and didn’t find a proper answer. If you have the answer, you’ve just hit the jackpot.

After 30 seconds in Reddit
After 30 seconds in Reddit

And finally, support tickets, aka insights goldmine. We often overlook how many customers tell us what they need every day, in places like support tickets and CRM notes. By pulling in information from your customer relationship management (CRM) software and help center, you get a clear overview of the company’s relationship with the consumer.

By the way, now, when you know how Janhvi gets into the readers’ shoes, you might want to check out her latest article for Fullest Media to see if social listening works right.

Create Marketing Personas (But Do It Right)

Personas would be the last option I'd personally choose. Pray tell who are middle-class and middle-aged Sale Sallies, and how should I write for them?

Fullest Media's brand and marketing manager always did have a way with personas. He has kindly agreed to explain what I'm doing wrong.

Persona is not a self-sufficient tool. It's a framework that depends on what you put inside. If you're told to "figure one out," you'll probably create a plastic mannequin from a department store with imaginary problems and goals. If it doesn't come from a buyer's mouth, it's guesswork.

Why doing guesswork if you can investigate your audience using surveys, keywords, social listening, and shadowing? Pull from real-life (your customers) and use your understanding of your business to create the rest.

And one last piece of advice for today: more isn't always better. Four personas are an optimal number to start with. It's totally acceptable to have multiple personas broken by industry types, pay scales, or whatever else makes sense for your business. Creating too many buyer personas, however, may blur your focus away from the core audience.

P.S. Have you tried any other ways to get to understand your target audience? If so, let me know, and please share this post if you found it helpful!