Over the past 20 years, big tech firms like Google, Amazon, and Netflix have risen to the top of their respective markets. But looking at them today doesn’t reveal how they got where they are. To figure that out, you need to look back at what powered their meteoric rise in the first place. And when you do, you’ll find that they all followed a similar game plan.
All three devised data-driven methods to understand their target audience inside and out. In Google’s case, they used data to build and refine a search algorithm designed to think like a search user. Amazon used data to create a product recommendation engine that could think like a shopper. And Netflix analyzed media watching habits to first recommend new content to its members — and then used the same data to guide its original production efforts.
Although the average business doesn’t have the same ability to collect data as those tech titans do, there are ways that you can replicate those tactics using an audience research tool.
Let’s take a closer look at how audience research tools can unlock deeper insights into your customers.
What Is Audience Research?
To understand how audience research tools can help a business uncover actionable insight into its target market, you must first understand what audience research is — and what it isn’t. Put simply, audience research is the process of compiling varied data about groups of people you’re trying to sell products to, and then mining is to understand the similarities and differences between those groups.
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Doing that helps you to precisely define your audience, and to create customer segments based on commonalities among parts of that audience. That makes it easier to target those groups with customized advertising, emails, and other marketing materials.
When you consider that an estimated 60% of consumers say they are likely to become repeat buyers if their shopping experience is catered to their specific interests, you can start to understand the importance of staying intimately familiar with what those interests are. And that’s only one of the advantages you can gain by the use of audience research tools.
How Audience Research Tools Provide Insight
Today, there are several leading audience research tools built to serve the startup and small business market. Those tools enable companies to conduct audience analysis using all kinds of data, ranging from demographic information to customer shopping habits, trending content keywords, and preferred marketing channels.
At the end of the day, the key to turning that data to your advantage is to choose the right audience research tool for the particular type of data you’re working with. And when you do, you’ll be able to unlock some valuable customer insights, such as:
Changes in Audience Demographics
One of the benefits of gathering demographic data on your target audience is that you can better understand how to reach them with your marketing. But demographics aren’t static. That means various members of a target demographic may move in and out of a customer segment over time. And detecting those shifts when they happen leads to better marketing outcomes and higher ROI.
Identifying Competitor Weaknesses
Audience research doesn’t always have to target potential customers — not directly, anyway. Another way to use it is to analyze the marketing content of your competition to look for weaknesses you can exploit. For example, if you can determine that your target audience likes deep-dive blog posts and no competitor is providing them, you can fill that niche to take advantage.
While many businesses conduct audience research to find out what their potential customers want, it’s equally valuable to use it to discover what they don’t For example, analyzing customer complaint data and online reviews from people in your target audience can let you know how to avoid customer service missteps.
Optimal Marketing Times and Methods
One of the best ways to improve marketing ROI is to craft content that will reach a targeted audience when it’s most receptive to it. And audience research tools can make that possible by bringing together customer habit data, location data, and internet usage data to identify the proper times and places to reach a given audience segment.
At the end of the day, the key to business success is and always will be giving your audience what it wants. That’s how you drive sales, create the positive brand sentiment, and differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace.
And the fact is that audience research tools can help startups and small businesses to further those aims. While they won’t necessarily turn your business into the next market champion overnight — it’s an excellent way to get started on the road to the top.