One of the hardest parts of developing a well defined and engaging target audience is doing the right research to reach a point where you truly understand the way they interact and utilize the internet.
The beautiful thing about the internet is that everyone is on it, all the time! Something I love about the way people interact online is that they tend to release their real selves rather than their outward selves. Interpreting your audience before you develop content and a strategy is crucial. This relates to the concept of the inner self and the projected self. In other words, the way people interact in the real world VS. the way they interact in the real world.
An example of this is the way that health supplements sell so well online, across the world. Admit, sometimes you find yourself asking, who orders this stuff… But, the truth is that people are conscious of themselves, and this is something that you should utilize in your ads. Take advantage of the psychology behind people’s purchase decisions.
Building a successful niche network has a lot to do with connecting with people’s’ emotions. For this reason, a better understanding will result in better quality and more relevant content which will result in a healthier online community and ultimately, stronger sales numbers.
Now, with the intro out of the way, here are my 5 steps to researching an audience.
This is always where I start. It’s pretty much a guarantee that if you have an idea or an action plan to make money online, someone has done it or is doing it too. That doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. Competitors have often spent a lot of time and money to gather the correct audiences and this is where you can pick up a huge amount of insights.
Look at how people engage with the competitor brand, where they engage and what content seem to gather the most momentum. Facebook is great for this because you can rabbit hole users and find commonalities amongst them.
This step is invaluable and I really consider it the easiest way to start gaining some ideas and traction around your audience. It’s also important to begin this process with a clear mind and without assumptions, they will only limit your scope of research.
This tool still makes me smile even after years of using it. Facebook Audience Insights allows you to crack open a topic or interest and gain a mountain of quality targeting information. If you are targeting the US you can go all the way into purchase behavior both online and offline.
This tool will also help you to get somewhat of an inside view into competitor audiences.You can then layer the audience and segment it by geo, age, sex and other interests or online behaviors. Once you have done this and feel confident, you can save your audience and add them to a promotion or ad in minutes.
Another useful function for this is that you can gain deeper insights into your own audiences and possibly identify new directions and opportunities that you may have previously missed. This tool will help you gain a solid perspective of how your community has grown organically and will help you to constantly improve your existing audience segmentation and targeting.
Forums are just awesome in terms of research. They are essentially little sheep pens where people who enjoy the same topic share the ins and outs of their hobby or passion, in amazing detail. From the pros to the newbies, these sites will help you to legitimately understand your audience. Interacting with these sites will give you an invaluable perspective on the people you are trying to connect with or sell to.
Think of this in some ways as gungho research. Your chance to live out Fear and Loathing from behind the keyboard. Get deep, get messy and don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with the communities on these forums. Just remember to play by their rules and respect the way things are done. Otherwise, you won’t be there long.
This is something I always do after enough research. Basically, the idea is to take what you have learned through your findings and to create a hypothetical character that exists within your target market. How do they access the internet, what is their breadcrumb trail look like, what devices do they use primarily, and not to forget, what is their offline lifelike.
The deeper you climb into this process the more accurate and valuable your content will be. It is a skill that takes time, but with enough pre-research, the picture will start to form by itself. A little detective work will help you save money by marketing smarter and using your time for things that matter, rather than things you thought mattered.
The core of good SEO is progressive and ongoing optimization. You will not get your audience right the first time, but if you start with the right research and direction, over time you will begin to see results and more improvements can be made. Patience is key in audience targeting and research.
Keep using the insights tool above and keep active on the forums. These actions will help you gain a deeper understanding as you go and also help you identify niche ideas that connect with people on a personal level.
Smart research means smart marketing!
Good luck 😉