- AUDIENCE RESEARCH
- AUDIENCE LISTENING TOOLS
- COMPETITIVE RESEARCH
- INDUSTRY RESEARCH
- CULTURAL RESEARCH
So audience research is simply what it’s like. It’s doing research on your audience. But why do you do it is the question. Audience research is really here to help you understand the size, the composition, and the characteristics of your audience because you want to go outside and talk to people that you know. Think about the first interaction you have with someone you don’t know.
You’re not sure how to talk to them, what to talk to them about. You’re not sure what the common interests are here. So having all this information with you will help you know exactly what you have to say to get their interest. So this is the benefit of doing audience research, it’s to identify obstacles. So maybe your audience is into something but there’s no solution, or maybe other brands are trying to communicate with this audience but something is in the way because they’re not interested, they don’t use the product the same way you think they do, or they don’t want to be talked to the way we usually think they would.
Then it helps you develop appropriate personalized content by knowing what they are into, what they’re interested in, what they usually…what TV show they watch. You can be relevant and then you want to identify current and future trends. You want to be ahead of your customers, of any consumers that you want to target to make sure that you can provide them what exactly it is that they need.
Before looking at the tools, let’s look at the different type of data that you want to gather when you do audience research. So we have three types of data: demographic, psychographics, and behavioral. You want to have a good understanding of the three of these because each of them will give you a different side of your audience.
So if we start with demographics, demographics are really the hard facts about your audience. Are they male or female? How old are they? What is their profession? Are they married? Where do they live? Did they go to college?
So all this information is about where can you find them, who they are. It’s about their social aspect. And society, it’s kind of, like, what number are they? It’s not very personal, but it helps you create the first layer of understanding of your audience. Just create this mental picture.
Is it an old person? Is it a young person? Are they very busy? Do they have kids? It also gives you some insight and, like, generally what’s going to be their mood like? Their interest like? And that’s when you bring on the psychographics.
The psychographics are much more detailed and complex. They can uncover anything that your audience is interested in. Their beliefs, what’s their life goal? What’s their opinion? It’s about knowing them to the core, to their aspirations, so that then you can talk to them and it resonates with what it is that they really want.
It’s about their lifestyle, their personality. Do they do kite surfing outside work? So maybe you want to reach someone that’s 21 and works as an accountant, but they also love basketball. Because there’s so many face to your audience, you need to do those demographic and psychographic research so that you really know who they are and you’re not making any assumptions.
Because you can’t assume what people are going to be interested in or what they’re going to want to read on their news feed, on your Facebook page, or what they want to see on your ad, what’s going to motivate them to actually go and check your brand out. You need to research all this because everyone is very different, and even though you might think, “Oh, yeah, all people that like this also like this,”it might not be true with the audience that is actually suited for your product.
And last is the behavioral data. This is about how people use your product, or even how they navigate on your website. How they use the different media that you want to use as your marketing channels. What do they do on Facebook? How long do they stay?
Why do they click? Where do they click? All this is very important because it will allow you to transform the journey of your audience on your website, on your social media, and know exactly where you need to target your effort. Being on your page, being what time they’re on Facebook. Maybe it’s in the morning, maybe it’s at night, and you don’t want to miss that.
So audience research is really here to give you all the context that you need. What do they do in their life? What are their aspirations? What are their dreams? And how does your product match this? And then where do you meet them and how do you communicate effectively with them? This is core to any digital marketing strategy because if you don’t have those data, how do you know where you’re going to communicate and how you’re going to communicate?
You don’t want to make any assumptions. So now that you know who your target audience is, that you have demographics, psychographic, behavioral data, you know everything about them, there’s another concept that you want to keep in mind. It’s community density. So community density is the measurement of how concentrated relationship and conversation are within a community of interest.
So let’s say you’re a baker and you want to know what’s the interest in your area about a specific type of bread, just to see if you have a market target or how you should communicate about this new type of bread to your audience. If we think about community density, you can find that online and we’ll see the different tools that you can use.
But how is it that it evolves? What creates community density around an interest? So there’s multiple things. You know, people get an influence because they are passionate about something. Or maybe they’re lonely, they go online, they start chatting about this specific topic. All those little things that are happening that bring people together will create community density.
And it can be increased by isolation, uncertainty, taste, competition, or, you know, being close to your friends and just talking about a topic that someone started. And you want to use the community density to understand what exactly, and how exactly, is going to be your impact.
How much people can you actually reach out there? You want to know the overall density, the community needs, and the community experience because these are the people who are going to talk about it. And this brings us back to the behavioral data. You want to see how they’re talking about you and how is it going to better help you talk to them.
AUDIENCE LISTENING TOOLS
So now that you know how important it is to know your audience through audience research, to know your community density, how do you go about finding this out? Well, digital marketing is great for this, because the digital era has brought us so many tools and so much information. So, it’s no longer about finding that information about who is online and who is watching what, but it’s about narrowing it down and finding the correct tools to pinpoint the information that you need.
So, for instance, when you’re trying to understand your community density and the conversations that are going on about your brand, you want to use audience listening tools to monitor your digital media activity that is associated with your brand to know where consumers are participating, and you can use tools like you can see on the screen.
This is TweetDeck. So basically, those tools will really help you pinpoint key words, brands, competition, influencers, and see all content that is created around them. And then, you can refine by user, and this will help you, give you one overview of what’s being said when in life, and even help you react to that life if there’s something that’s relevant to your brand, and that you think you need to go out there and talk to the community.
That will help you pinpoint those conversations without having to go through Twitter and scroll the entire Twitter environment. Now, for broader audience research, there’s multiple platforms that you can use to get demographics, psychographics, and behavioral.
So, you can use social media, marketing research, surveys, behavior analytics. There’s so much online that you can find, it’s just about knowing, kind of, where to go, and we’re going to see that in the next slide. We’re going to see what are the benefits of those different platforms where you can find more and do more research, and some of the main ones. So, insights for audience research, if we start with social media, this I’m not going to need to teach you anything, because everyone knows about Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, any social media that you want, LinkedIn.
They all have really great targeting options, and a really great database. So, it will help you identify interest, discussions, needs, and obstacles, because that’s where people talk, and that’s where people talk about things that interest them. Especially with Twitter, there’s so much content. And on Facebook, there’s so much page and things that people like.
Just the action of “liking”brings you so much data. And you can go on those platforms and, through re-targeting, being able to understand how many people are you going to be able to target. What’s their interests? You can leverage those tools. Facebook and Twitter, they also provide reports about their audience, who they are, and what they do, and you can really leverage this to understand how you’re going to talk to them.
Then, you have marketing research platforms. These are more for, maybe, behavioral or demographics, to know how people of a certain age from a certain background interact with certain social media, or a certain type of digital media. So, they’re mostly already made, so you just have to go online, maybe have a subscription, and then you get all those data.
I’m personally subscribing to the newsletter of eMarketer, because I get so much information from there every day. So, it can be divided into subject, audience, and behavior, and it’ll give you information such as people from 15 to 25 consume 40%more social media than another audience, and really give you information on where you’re going to find them.
There’s so much in there, I really encourage you to go and find that. Then, if you need some research that’s more precise, maybe more around something very specific that you want to know about how people know your product, know your brand, or about their behavior, or their needs and interests, this is really if you can’t find online information for this. You only use surveys, and they’re great because they help you to be very personalized, and create questions that will resonate with exactly what you need to know to put your strategy together.
So, it’s going to be your own research, and you can spread it now that it’s digital. You don’t have to be on the street and ask people to fill out your survey. You can do it online really easily through Facebook, emailing, or sharing with your existing database. It’s going to be your own research, and really help you pinpoint special requests, special interests that you have in your audience, that other research cannot provide.
And then, you have other platforms that are specialized in behavioral. So, if you think about Google, it gives you how many people click, or how many people search for a specific word. It’s all about the behavior. But also, on websites, you can find keywords, interests, and traffic.
Just your own website, if you have analytics on your website, you can know where people clicked the most, how long they stay on your website. But this data can also be found for more broader, how much articles people read on Facebook, how much of a video they’re viewing. Is it only the first two seconds or first three seconds? And all this information will be helpful in you building your content, and knowing how to provide it, and when to provide it.
Knowing your competition is probably also as important as knowing your audience. If you know your audience, you’ve done most of the work. You know what they want, you know where you’re going to find them, how you’re going to talk to them. And now, there are also other people talking online, other brands that are trying to get people’s interest. So, you kind of need to know what they’re about, how do they communicate, what their product is, how is it different from your product, and how can you differentiate from them.
So, conducting competitive research is really about creating this value proposition, and making sure that you’re going to stand out. It has multiple benefits. It will identify consumer needs. They might be talking online about a product that they bought that doesn’t actually work the way they want it to. It helps you identify opportunities from market gaps.
So, if you study your competition, you can see someone is solving for this issue, someone is solving for this other issue, but there’s an in-between where there’s nowhere, and maybe that’s where your product is fitting. And also, it’s going to help you refine your business positioning from those previous points. By knowing what your competition is talking about, how they position themselves on the market, you can make sure to know how to stand out and how to be different.
So, conducting competitive research is going to be about who’s the target market of your competition, what’s their strategy, what’s their messages. And now, with digital marketing, everything is online and most of this content is accessible. Let’s have a look at the tools that you can use. Different tools for competitive research, some are the same as audience research.
Social media, websites, they’re a great platform because brands, everyone, is sharing. You can easily go on a Facebook page of your competitor and see what they’re posting, what they’re talking about. How are they talking to their audience?
Do they answer people who are commenting? Are people commenting badly about the brand? This will give you information on, generally, where do they stand. Do people actually like them? Do they have a lot of followers? All of this will help you just watch the different brands. And you have some tools that actually do that for you, where you can just put in the brand that you want to look at and it brings you content about this brand.
Think about Feedly, Twitter, and Brandwatch, because they are really good platforms. Then, you can have a look at the competition assets. Go on their website, download their annual reports, download any content that they have just to see what they’re about, what they’re putting out there. Go to their events, even. And, if you go on their website, you have everything, their blog, their products, you have the pricing, how they sell so you have the selling points, so much information out there that you can use and compare with your own product, and how you can differentiate.
So, it can be the company website, the blog, and social media also, sometimes. Both are really linked. A third way, a third tool you can use for competitive research, is search, just search for keywords. Search for your competition. See what they rank for.
Put up Google Alerts to know whenever your competition is posting a new content. Use AdWords to know what keywords they rank the best on, to understand where you have a chance to stand out, because even though you might want to rank for the same keywords, there may be more refined keywords that would be more relevant, that they’re not using already.
There’s also lots of tools, like SpyFu, that can help you just get notification on, you know, keywords that your competition is using, and content they’re really pushing through their website and through search. And, last is content analysis. So, content analysis is about actual marketing content that they might be putting out there, maybe emailing campaign, or Facebook ads, or a Google search keyword that they bought.
So, some platforms will help you, you know, get a notification, get an email, or understand what is their strategy. Or, even yourself, you can go and subscribe to the newsletter or to their marketing emails, to receive their content, see how they create call-to-action, what content they’re pushing, how are they using discounts, all this information.
So, you want to be as close to your competition as you are to your audience, because your audience and your competition are more than likely already in touch. They know about each other, so you, yourself, need to know as much as your audience probably knows, to be able to then come in and change that relationship by providing added value that your competition is not providing.
Industry research in digital marketing is an important part of understanding exactly what’s going on in your industry. What are the trends in products? The simple definition of “industry trend research” is monitoring changes and advancements that are taking place in and around an industry category in order to stay ahead of competition.
You wouldn’t want to fall back because your product is no longer relevant to what people are used to, or is not designed a new way that people now want it to be designed. So, industry research really is key in understanding how to stay up-to-date, not only in your product but your communication style. Let’s see some of the benefits. So, the benefits of conducting industry trend research is, as I said, keep up with the audience communication style and medium.
Maybe people were on Facebook a lot for a while, for your specific audience, but now they all switched to Twitter. But, if you don’t know this, you’re going to keep communicating on Facebook and miss all those conversations that are happening on Twitter. It’s going to help you identify new market opportunities, and plan the next marketing effort, because if you’ve just done a campaign that was very successful, you can’t expect the exact same thing to work again because trends are changing all the time.
Maybe people were into cat videos last year, and this year, they’re more into dog videos, so maybe you’re not going to use cats in your campaign. But in the next campaign, you should use dogs, because that’s kind of the new thing, or you’re going to do a mix of both of them. Industry trend research will really help you stay on top of this, and make sure you don’t become outdated. Some examples that we can have of industry trend research, for instance, if we take those lovely people on the slide, people might say, “Oh, I used to eat out a lot, but now I order in.”
So, if you’re a restaurant, maybe you’re going to start advertising that you actually deliver. People might be thinking that eating less meat is healthier for you, so maybe if you’re a plant-based burger company, you can use this trend, and maybe studies that have come up that it’s actually healthier, to provide another extra added value point, a new value proposition to your brand. “Yeah, it’s healthier to eat less meat,” and you’re going to communicate on this message.
Or, people might say, “I want to know what is in my food, and I buy organic food.” So, if you had an organic range, or were maybe already organic, but not communicated on this, maybe that’s going to be what you’re going to put on top of your packaging or on your ads, and maybe that’s going to be your core message on your website. Maybe it’s going to transform your whole positioning, so listening to consumers and how they change their behaviors, and the trends that are going on.
People maybe are using more iPads than iPhones. People are more watching TV online, for example, with Netflix, than they do actually watch real TV. And how is this going to impact your strategy? Keeping up with trends is really important to not fall out, and some of the tools are on this slide.
There’s this, social media. Social medias are going to help you for everything, because people are talking and people are giving you information about what they like, how they do things, and how they don’t want to do things anymore. Market research, so you have many platforms that actually conduct research now and then and give them publicly, or you have to buy them, but they’re really, really great to understand how people change their behavior, and how trends change over a certain media or a certain imagery.
So, you have things like Euromonitor, eMarketer, or Nielsen, who are always constantly monitoring population. They do those massive surveys, and they give you that information right there on the spot. You can do search analytics, so if you want to know how people talk differently or search differently.
You know, people used to just search with some keywords like “restaurant Dublin”, and now they would search, “Where can I eat in Dublin?” Those kind of different communication styles or interests, of way of asking questions, are also very important to understand how to position yourself on different keywords. And then, academics. Let’s not forget about those people who work really hard to search how people think, how people feel, how products will evolve.
This could be very beneficial. Going on a website like Google Scholar or Base, and reading some of the literature that academics are writing in the research lab, will help you understand what’s coming next, because not only you want to understand the trends that are changing as you’re speaking, as you’re creating your campaign, but maybe you want to be ahead, to be able to plan next year.
So, getting into that research that academics are putting together, or search analytics are putting together, will help you be one step ahead, maybe, of the competition, maybe of yourself, just to make sure that you’re prepared for what’s coming next, and what’s going to be the next big thing in video, or the next big thing on Facebook, and be sure that you will be there and you will be the one that will be the next big thing.
Cultural research might not be something you think about when you think about marketing, but it’s actually pretty important because even if you know about your audience, their interests, their dreams. Even if you know where to find them, how to speak to them, sometimes there are some hidden things that you are not seeing because you’re not considering what exactly is their background. So cultural research is basically investigating the way in which culture creates and transforms individual experiences, everyday life, social relationship, and power. Think for a second about culture and how it influences you. Maybe you’re from a background when you were a kid you were set things, and now you evolved in a different environment and other things are being set. How is this past or your social environment actually influencing your decisions, what you think about brands and products, what you buy or not buy? Because cultural research can be about geographical influences, influential figures, languages, memes, history, news, cultural rules.
There’s so much that can influence someone’s mind and trust and just view of the world. And doing cultural research is making sure that you understand that so that when you communicate with your audience, you know how they will react and you know they will react positively. Let’s see some of the benefits. Doing cultural research is very important, especially if you work across multiple languages and countries. If you work for, let’s say, seven European countries, they’re all very, very different. They have different communication styles, they react to different messages, different languages, of course, but doing cultural research will help you export your campaign. Because you can’t talk to a Japanese the same way you talk to a French person. Just because you can’t show the same thing, you can’t say the same thing, and just the way they talk is so different. It’s quite an extreme example, but it’s just to give you an insight of how cultural research can help you. It can al
so help you adapt your positioning and your offer depending on, maybe subgroups of your audience that are going to have different cultural influences.
And it will especially help you prevent any potential misconception or offensive content. Some brands have been in big troubles because they’ve put an ad out there without thinking of cultural influences and it was actually offensive to some people coming from a specific background. So conducting your cultural research about your audience, but also where your product stands, will really help you prevent this from happening but also be even more relevant. Because maybe you’re going spot on find, I don’t know, a cultural figure that no one’s talking about but that your audience and maybe the subgroup of your audience is really interested in and they know. And then you come in and you talk about this cultural figure and they’re like, “Oh wow, they know. They did their research. They’re really spot on, really interesting.Maybe I should check them out because they understand us better.” So cultural research is really key, especially when you work across different countries or in countries where you might have lots of cultural influences.
Some of the tools that you can use, very simply, social media conversations. Target hashtags, keywords, influencers that are part of those communities, that there’s part of those cultural aspects of your audience just to see what they’re on, what they’re talking about.
Do research online. Again, there’s so many platforms that will give you specificity into specific cultures, like Hispanic in the US or like any people that have come from immigration in other countries. And at the end, you can also use dedicated platforms. So you can go and go on blogs or websites that are specialized or they do attract a lot of different cultures that are a part of your audience. And by following those channels that the culture that influences your audience and your audience is following, you’ll get a better understanding on how they talk to each other and what is acceptable or not, or what’s the next big thing for them. So, once again, it’s not only just your target audience, their demographics, psychographics, what they like to do or not. It’s also about what they deeply care about and what influences them from their family, from their social background, and really get pin point on this to make sure you’re not making any mistakes, but also that you’re able to talk to more people across borders.
We can look at a case study to understand how audience research and research about trends and culture and your competition can really help you be successful in your campaign. I selected this example because it’s something that you probably will do, using Facebook targeting to help your brand grow bigger. So this example is Facebook targeting and Cartier. This is a jewelry brand. So their objective was to drive online sales of a selection of fine jewelry during the Valentine’s Day shopping period. So there it’s very, very large. Everyone is kind of celebrating Valentine’s Day. So you need to refine your audience and, according to your business goals, who are you going to try to engage? So here they were trying to drive online sales for Valentine’s Day shopping period, and maybe they were trying to leverage a new type of audience. And if we look at the tactics that they used, they targeted the UK markets, people age 18 and above that were interested in arts, jewelry, fashion accessories, luxury goods, and one of their high-end competitors.
So using Facebook targeting and knowing their audience, they had to do audience research to know that the people they wanted to leverage, they like art, they like fashion, they like accessories. They’re more than 18 because then they can maybe afford jewelry, and then they know where they want their audience to already be. What is their audience sensitive to already? What competition can they try to bring the audience from to them? So using all those targeting knowledge and those knowledge that they build during the audience research, and this is just a brief example, so they probably went into much more details, they’re able to actually target people that will see the ad and go, “Yes, I’m definitely interested. I’m going to click. That’s exactly what I need for Valentine’s Day.” And the results are there. They had 2X return on ad spend compared to their previous campaign, they increased by 40% their relevance score for male, and by 25% for female. So by creating content and targeting it the right way, they were able to become more relevant to their audience.
That’s pretty amazing, and I’d advise you to go and check out the video because it’s so relevant to the target audience that they chose. It makes total sense because not only did they do their research for the targeting, but also they did research for what exactly they’re going to put into the ad.