Audience intelligence should guide the strategy around everything you do as a business. It reveals not only the best audience for your goals, but also what they are trying to achieve.
Imagine you had to speak to an audience about climate change.
Over the next week, you build your presentation. You gather data from multiple reputable research organizations and use charts to show the vast differences in temperature over the last few years, and their environmental effects. You even sneak in some fun gifs to keep your listeners engaged.
You built the perfect presentation. Or so you thought.
It turns out, your audience doesn’t care about data, because they’re a bunch of seven-year-olds who wanted a nice picture book.
Don’t create marketing campaigns that your target audience won’t enjoy. Get to know your audience through audience intelligence before you start planning to increase your chances at success.
What is audience intelligence?
Audience intelligence is the act of learning more about a business’s target audience. Companies that understand their audience can create more personalized marketing material that converts better, and improve products based on what potential customers actually need.
After gathering information, companies usually create a report that contains the following information:
- Demographics (e.g., age, occupation, location, etc.)
- Hobbies and behaviors
- Interests and opinions
Unlike buyer personas and ideal customer profiles, audience intelligence reports contain raw data. That means different departments across your company can use your audience intelligence report to build their own understanding of your customers.
For example, your marketing department might use audience intelligence to guide messaging. Your product development team may use it to create a user profile and develop features based on those users’ specific problems.
Why you need audience intelligence to connect with your target markets
The Internet has brought consumers closer to brands than ever. Which means that the way they interact with brands is changing—specifically, they want more personalization. 56% of consumers expect only personalized messages while 89% of buyers choose companies that show a clear understanding of their goals.
You can use your audience intelligence reports to:
- Find niche audiences that are more relevant to your brand
- Understand how your target audience perceives your brand
- Find market opportunities
- Segment your existing audiences
- Identify potential brand advocates
The bottom-line is you need to know your audience. Otherwise, they won’t go through the trouble of getting to know you, either.
5 Ways to gather audience insights
There are many different ways you can gather audience intelligence data, ranging from a simple Google search to gathering data points from multiple sources using specialized tools.
Let’s get into it.
1) Talk to your existing customers
The simplest way to learn more about your target audience is to talk to them. Luckily, you already have easily-accessible subject matter experts—your existing customers.
Talk to your customers through surveys and interviews to learn:
- What their affinities are (i.e., a businessperson, a family oriented person, etc.)
- What their hobbies and interests are
- What their current major challenges are
- Who they turn to for help when they’re lost
- Where they hang out (both physically and online)
- Where they spend the most of their time
- How you’ve helped them solve a problem (following the JTBD framework)
You can ask them your questions through an email, a Typeform survey, a scheduled call, or however else you usually get in touch with your customers.
Gather all of your information and add it into a spreadsheet. Highlight answers that you hear repeatedly and note reoccurring themes—those words, phrases, struggles, and motivations that come up often will show what your audience members have in common.
2) Monitor social media and look through forums
Observe your target audience’s behaviors and how they interact with others by looking at how they communicate on social media. That way, you can find out how you should communicate with them, based on how they communicate amongst themselves.
Regularly browse through your followers’ accounts to get insights into what they do on a daily basis. Look at their posts, comments, what they like, and what they react to. In addition to that, take note of how your audience describes and interacts with your brand.
There are two ways you can do this…
Do a site search on social media sites and forums
Look through Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit, and Quora and find mentions of your brand quickly with the Google site search.
To find these, type “site:https://site.com [your brand]” in your search bar and hit enter. That should bring up all the mentions of your brand (both tagged and untagged) on a specific site.
For example, here’s how we looked through Reddit for all mentions of Shopify:
The second result shows us that Shopify’s users and target audience talk about how to start successful Shopify stores. From there, the Shopify team can decide to create marketing material about successful Shopify store owners or release a free course on getting started with Shopify.
Set up a social listening tool
Another way to observe audience behavior is through social listening tools like BuzzSumo and Mention. Both tools allow users to generate reports about how your audience behaves on the internet.
When you’re just starting out, gathering audience insights manually is easy. But if you get 100,000 mentions everyday, you might want to invest in a tool that automatically tracks and organizes what your audience is saying about you.
3) Analyze reviews
A great way to gauge general sentiment around your brand is through analyzing reviews on review sites like G2, Capterra, Google Reviews, and Trustpilot.
Similar to how you gather data through calls, create a spreadsheet that contains all of your reviews. Then, look for recurring words and themes to find out how your audience feels about your brand. Take note of how they describe your brand, their pain points, and your best features.
For example, if multiple reviews mention “great product” but “poor delivery time” or “wrong item” then you know that your audience enjoys your product but you need to invest more time into logistics and inventory management.
4) Learn what keywords you’re ranking for
If one of your pages is getting tons of traffic through a specific keyword, it’s highly likely that your target audience uses that search term often.
Look at the keywords you’re ranking for and then look at the click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate of each keywords. Use keyword tools like Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and Semrush to find specific data points.
For example, if you’re getting plenty of traffic and conversions from “best coffee shops near me,” then you know that your customers find you because they want to hang out at a nice café. If you’re getting more traffic through your brand name (e.g., “Starbucks”), then you know that your customers are loyal to your brand and are specifically looking for your coffee.
And if they’re finding you through the keyword, “How to stay awake past 12,” then you know your potential customers need an energy boost.
Optimize your content for keywords that bring in customers who are ready to buy what you have to offer.
5) Use audience intelligence platforms to automate data gathering
If you don’t have time to gather data manually, there are platforms and tools that will do it all for you. Using audience intelligence tools will get you more accurate data, faster.
Many of these tools parse through millions of data points on your behalf, and can compare likes, dislikes, and other attributes to put together an audience profile. In the next section, we’ll cover some of these tools more in-depth.
Top 4 tools for audience intelligence research
We’ve compiled a list of top four audience intelligence tools based on our own experience and the experiences of others.
1) Market Finder by Think With Google
Find out where your top customers are located with Google’s Market Finder. Market Finder tells you where your top customers are in the world.
To use the tool, first hit “Explore markets.” Then click, “Get started.”
You should be redirected to a page with two options: “Test your export readiness” and “Dive into new markets.” To find out where your customers are located, select the second option.
After which, follow the prompts. Enter your website, wait for Google’s AI to pull up a list of categories, then confirm your categories. After you hit confirm, Google will show you where your top customers are likely located.
For example, we looked at “shopify.com.” Sites similar to Shopify will want to target people in California, Texas, or New York as that’s where their target audience probably is.
Use Market Finder to figure out where your top customers are.
Pricing: This tool is free to use
2) AnswerThePublic by Ubersuggest
AnswerThePublic gives you a “direct line into your customers’ thoughts” by showing you how they search.
To see the search queries, plug in a topic, brand, or product into their search bar. We searched for queries around “audience intelligence” in the UK.
Hit “search” and the tool will show the questions, prepositions, and comparisons that your audience uses to search on Google, and present that data in a mind map.
In our search for audience intelligence, we got queries like, “What is audience data?”, “How do audiences interact with media”, and “how are audiences positioned.”
Pricing: This tool has a free trial and paid accounts
Audiense tells you more about your target audience by looking at your followers, your followers’ followers, and so on. They generate highly specific data about what your audience’s interests are, what they like doing, where they’re located, and more.
To create your first Audiense report, sign up and you’ll land on a page where you can “Create my first report.”
After which, you’ll need to choose an audience type. We chose “Profile attributes.”
Next, you need to define your audience based on who they’re following (presumably your account) and select where they’re located.
Afterwards, choose a segmentation type and click “Launch your report now!”
After your report is done rendering, it should contain demographic information, what your audience’s top brands are, which influencers they follow, and their top content sources. It should also contain a web of segments that you can study.
Pricing: This tool has a free account and paid plans
SparkToro is another market research tool that gives you a peek into your audience’s lives. The system can give you data about behaviors, most-used social platforms, frequently-visited websites, and more.
The tool was originally built for digital marketers and public relations (PR) specialists, although they are now making waves among larger agencies and startup founders. SparkToro’s reports can help you decide what content to create, where to publish your content, and who to reach out to for influencer marketing.
To use the platform for audience research, first head over to the Audience Research tab.
Afterwards, identify how you want the tool to find your audience: by what they talk about, words in their profile, who they follow, what websites they visit, or which hashtags they use. You can also analyze a website or social account.
The tool will then generate a report that tells you how many people in its database are talking about your search term. It will also recommend a few more search ideas to give you a clearer picture of how your audience behaves.
SparkToro pulls more specific data about what your audience is searching for, what words they use, what podcasts they’re listening to, and so on.
If you need audience insights on a continuous basis, SparkToro is an excellent tool to add to your belt.
Pricing: This tool has a free account and paid plans.
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Wrapping up — Use audience intelligence to guide your outreach
Your target audience isn’t a bunch of walking credit cards. They’re a lively bunch with real interests, hobbies, and everything else in between.
Get to know your audience—what they like and don’t like—to encourage more responses and engagement with your brand.