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Do Your Research

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You Don’t Really Know Your Target Audience Until You Ask the Right Questions

If you’re buying a gift for someone and want it to be something they will appreciate, you have to know at least a little bit about that person’s likes and dislikes. You might find yourself asking questions of the person (or someone who knows them well) to learn these personal details.

Creating messaging that resonates with your target audience is really no different; however, we often skip the step of seeking out those important details about our personas.

Why is that?

While we have access to many tools and platforms (especially social media) that provide insight into target audience groups, there is a far lesser emphasis on learning about our customers on a deeper and more reliable level.

Only research allows us to go beyond tools and social platforms and truly understand our audience personas.

These 6 research tactics will help you get deeper insights into your target audience and empower you with the information you need to create robust content strategies that drive effective buyer journeys.

  1. Tap Into Their Challenges

If you sell a product, you know all about that product. And you want to tell prospective customers all about it, too.

But wait!

Your customers have real challenges they’re trying to solve, and they want to know how you can help solve their problem.

Maybe you sell software that makes a cumbersome process faster and more efficient. That may seem like a great value proposition, but your target customer wants to know how your product’s speed and efficiency can help them. They might be spending revenue on additional software they would no longer need with your solution. Or, perhaps they are having trouble hiring because of the system they currently use.

Be sure your messaging speaks directly to the problem your customer is trying to solve. Here are a few easy research tactics:

  • Ask existing customers for specifics on how your product has helped them. This step can be done using a survey or having sales reach out.
  • Include specific questions about business challenges on forms for lead generation purposes.
  • Leverage conversational marketing to identify specific challenges at the time leads visit your website or landing page.

48% of B2B buyers are more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues. (ITMSA)

  1. Build Detailed and Robust Customer Personas

There’s irrefutable evidence that building personas, and mapping content to those personas and where they are in the buyer journey, generates results for businesses.

Customer personas today are far more detailed than ever before. It’s not enough just to know, for example, that your audience is largely made up of female owners of investment firms in New England.

Your personas should be specific to the individual so when you put content in front of them, it speaks directly to their situation. Even something as basic as knowing a user lives in Vermont versus Connecticut can make a huge difference along their buyer journey.

Build your personas using the following criteria, and get as detailed as you can:

  • Give the persona a name and state their unmet need/business challenge.
  • Identify the action you want them to take based on that unmet need/business challenge.
  • Apply specific information to each persona based on the research you have conducted. This would typically include geographic and demographic data, personal preferences, and psychographic data such as behaviors, reactions to marketing activity, ethics and mentality.
  • Analyze and segment your audience data so you can identify the trends that uniquely set each persona apart from another. Resources like Chambers of Commerce, industry and trade research, and even the Bureau of Labor and Statistics can provide validating or insightful data.

55% of marketers create content that is relevant to the buyer journey and/or ideal customer profiles. (Uberflip)

  1. Map Keywords to Your Target Audience

The way each of us search for information online could almost be considered a fingerprint of our individuality. If two users who own different travel agencies are searching for a specialized software solution, one might search “CRM for small travel agency” while the other might search, “booking software easy for travel agency business”.

If you understand that your target audience has business challenges that include managing customer relationships and cumbersome booking software, you can incorporate keywords that speak to those needs to ensure users find your content–and find it useful.

  1. Pay Attention to Feedback and Negative Reviews

It can be so easy to view negative reviews or undesirable feedback as an irritating side-effect of being in business. But the truth is, all feedback–negative or positive–is an opportunity to learn more about your customers’ experiences.

Jet Blue airlines is wonderful at responding to customer feedback, and always replies to comments on social media in an effort to understand more about the situation and how they can help. If a customer has a negative experience because of something that’s simple to correct, wouldn’t it be worth knowing about?

This information can help you in several key ways:

  • Learn more about the particular customer and their mindset, which can deeply inform that persona.
  • Identify gaps in your messaging based on whether their issue stemmed from a misunderstanding or confusion after engaging with your brand.
  • Discover trends among personas by assessing similar feedback, positive or negative feedback, or the type of persona authoring the feedback. Then, you can be more strategic in how you message to those personas going forward.
  1. Hold an Event and/or Go Where Your Customers Are

Nothing brings customers together quite like a conference or networking event. It’s a veritable trove of opportunity to learn more about your target audience–and yet, many companies don’t prioritize hosting or attending industry events; and if they do, they often fail to execute marketing tactics that would provide more information about their audience personas.

The first step, of course, is to hold an event for your customers and others in your network, or attend events at which you know your customer base will be. After doing so, you’ll want to execute on the following:

  • Engage directly with customers by asking leading questions that delve into the information you need and want – their key business challenges, their current processes, and other information critical to building a persona.
  • Collect information from leads to ensure you can follow up with correspondence and a piece of content that demonstrates you understand their needs and can help solve their challenges.
  • View the opportunity as a long-term benefit to your business rather than trying to secure a single sale. The more you research your target audience, the better positioned you’ll be to drive greater business in the long run.
  1. Be Involved in Your Support Platform

If your company leverages a support platform, this is a great place to learn more about your customers and fuel your target audience research. Share this information with other departments–support should not be done in a silo as it can provide critical data for sales and marketing.

Paying attention to your support platform could provide information about:

  • Which aspects of your solution or product matter most to your customers and why.
  • Where frustrations or confusion lie when using or implementing your solution or product.
  • What aspect of your solution or product provides the most value, and why.

We live in a fast-paced digital world that makes it easy to use certain tools and social media and feel like you’ve adequately researched your audience. But in truth, there’s nothing more informative than speaking directly with customers to learn how they think, feel and act. Doing this type of boots-on-the-ground research will be far more effective for your business in the long run.

Want help with market research? Contact us!