Great content is a crucial part of your business. But before you begin with content creation, you need to be clear on your niche market.
That’s why in one of my previous blog posts, I talked about researching and choosing your target audience.
But just deciding on your target market is not enough. You need to dig deeper to get to know as much about your target audience as possible.
Your ability to understand and meet the content needs of your target audience is how you capture their interest and create value.
You want to reach the right people at the right time. And you want to generate content that drives your audience to take action. This implies that your content audience analysis has to be on point.
Why Analyze Your Audience?
By having a deep understanding of people in your niche market, you’ll be able to:
- Generate content that appeals directly to their needs and pain points, making them more likely to buy your product or service.
- Cut down marketing costs since you’ll be running manageable, focused campaigns.
- Receive a better ROI because your content will build trust and foster relationships, increasing word-of-mouth.
In other words, knowing who your target audience is, the challenges they face, and what your product or service does to help will let you take a personalized approach.
So in this post, I’ll take you through the process of how to research, analyze and understand your target audience. And then apply this understanding to your content creation process. Let’s dive right in.
Know The Brand Inside Out
If you know the business/product you are writing content for in depth, your path is set. But if not, you’ll have to get this out of the way first.
It’s dangerous to start writing content for a business you have little understanding of. It can limit you in a number of ways.
- You can miss out on a potential target audience
- The quality of your content would not be as good
- You won’t be able to fully convey the value of your product/service.
Your content has to connect the dots between your product/services and end consumers. And that requires you to increase mastery of your product or service.
In other words, you need to be clear on the brand first. If the business you plan to write content for hasn’t done that already, they must first establish and document their brand identity and personality.
Once the company is clear on who they are, what they value and how they add value in the marketplace, only then it makes sense to work on identifying and refining their audience.
If the brand you’re writing for has these things figured out already, here’s how you can learn more:
- Test-drive the product or service yourself. Take it for a spin.
- Read the company’s website and go over the essential pages.
- Get information from subject matter experts within the company
While all your content won’t be only about the product or service offered by the brand, having a clear understanding will still help. It’ll get easier to come up with ideas for even the non-promotional content.
You’ll be able to strike the right balance between plugging your business and just creating selfless content for the sake of helping your target audience.
Research Target Audience
The goal of conducting market research is to have enough data to build personas for the one or more of your target audience segments.
Note: Technically, research comes first and then the personas. But it might help to read the next section on customer personas before you read this section on research tactics.
This way when you employ the research tactics I cover in this section, you’ll know what type of data you’re looking for to build reader personas.
Once you have a sense of what goes into audience personas, there are several ways you can use to dig deeper into the lives of your audience, identify their problems and get a deeper sense of who they are.
Let’s talk about the most prominent tactics that you’re likely to succeed with.
Surveys can be really effective in gaining useful insights, but only when you have a plan to begin with. You need to be clear on:
- The goals of your survey - what exactly do you hope to know.
- Who will you survey - customers, social media followers, leads etc
- How will you reach those people - email list, advertising, social media etc.
Once you have a concrete survey strategy in place, there are a number of tools you can use to help with setting up and distributing your survey. Some of the well known ones are Google Forms, Survey Monkey and Typeform.
Also remember that it can be challenging to reach out to and get people to fill out your survey. So consider offering an incentive to get more responses to your survey.
Having one on one conversations with people in your target audience can provide benefits which simply can’t be achieved with other methods. There are often blind spots you won’t have considered on your own.
When you actually talk to someone in your audience, problems and uses you didn’t know will come into the picture.
Your personas (covered in the next section) will be more authentic and accurate. And you’ll be able to create content that your target audience will just eat up. Here’s a great article on the process you can follow to conduct these interviews.
Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are a goldmine for audience data. And they all offer some type of analytics solution to get more information about your niche market.
Facebook Audience Insights, for instance, is a powerful marketing analytics tool available. It gives you aggregated information about two groups of people:
- People connected to your Page
- All the people on Facebook
So you can easily find more people like the ones in your current audience. Here’s how it typically looks like.
The left part allows you to select the audience attributes you already know and the right part shows you the data.
There is also a demographics overview which lets you see details like age, gender breakdowns, education levels, job titles, relationship statuses and more.
Forums & QAs
Another great way to find out what your target audience is like and what is troubling them is through online communities and forums. This is where people connect on shared interests and discuss their problems and solutions.
We live in an era where public conversations are going on about almost all the topics.
Based on your brand’s area of interest, you can find dozens of relevant Facebook groups, subreddits, Quora communities, Twitter threads and niche forums.
Let’s take Quora for example. It’s a website where people come together to ask and answer questions on anything that strikes their curiosity.
It is one of the most high-traffic platforms on the web and full of questions covering a wide spectrum of topics. It also has a great interface to quickly skim through a lot of questions on a given topic.
Just type your topic in Quora’s search bar and it’ll present you with relevant questions. Another awesome thing is it also shows how many people are following a question, indicating how important it is for your target audience.
Moreover, by looking at the answers which got the most upvotes, you can get all sorts of data on what type of content your target market values and how they communicate.
Looking at the high-performing content your competitors are writing and sharing can also give you a wealth of data on who your audiences are and what they want.
In addition, there is wealth of information hidden in customer reviews on your competitors:
- If you sell a digital product, check reviews on websites like Product Hunt, Capterra, G2 and GetApp.
- If it’s a physical product, look at websites like Amazon, Consumer Reports and Consumer Search for reviews.
- To find reviews on service providers, sites like Clutch, GoodFirms and AgencyList are great.
Remember, your own customer reviews are not enough to get holistic data in your target audience. Including competitor reviews in your analysis gives you even more advantage.
What better way to learn more about your potential customer than to be able to see what they are searching for?
Keyword research allows you to know the common questions and phrases they use, which are also relevant to your brand.
All you need are one or more seed keywords, and to run them through a keyword research tool.
Most keyword research tools show useful statistics like search volume, SEO difficulty, PPC competition and the top content ranking for those keywords.
If you don’t have the budget for a premium keyword tool, there are several free options available to use.
Content Performance Analysis
What if you could see real, concrete data on what type of content has performed the best with your target audience in the past? That would be a jackpot right?
Thankfully, there are tools these days which make it easy to gather information on what topics or formats have been successful. One such tool is BuzzSumo.
Once you enter a seed topic in BuzzSumo, it shows a list of content on that topic, along with the social media engagement and number of backlinks it has. In fact, you can identify the actual people who shared or mentioned that topic on social media.
For example, let’s say you are a web design company. When you search for the term “web design” in BuzzSumo, you see the most popular content on that topic and how it’s performing on major social networks.
These insights are just the tip of the iceberg. With BuzzSumo’s paid plan, you can go even deeper to understand things like which content types and lengths got the most engagement and more.
Creating Audience Personas
Once you’ve dug deeper into who your target audience are from the various market research methods I outlined above, the next step is to build an audience persona.
It’s also referred to as a customer persona, buyer persona, target persona or user persona. All these terms essentially mean the same thing.
This is just a fancy of saying you need to create a fictional person who carries the attributes of someone in your target market.
This is done with the help of data you accumulated when you conducted the research I mentioned in the previous step. Here’s an example of what a persona might look like:
Bonus Tip: You’ll need a separate persona for each of your audience segments. For example, let’s say you’re selling some kind of business marketing software.
And you have identified 3 target segments: product managers, marketing managers and PR executives. So you’ll need to create individual personas for all three.
As you might have noticed, a persona consists of two major types of data about your target market:
This refers to the quantifiable characteristics of your ideal prospect or customer. You’re basically answering the question: Who are they?
- Profession & Income
- Marital Status
- Family Size
- Company Size (For B2B audience)
- Industry (For B2B audience)
- Business Lifecyle (For B2B audience)
Example: 30+ agency owner in London, UK. Has a college degree in web design. Small agency with less than 10 employees.
This refers to the character and lifestyle traits of your target audience. This is where you really get to know your persona on a personal level.
You figure their buying habits, personal quirks, behavioral nuances, pet peeves, interests, problems, motivations, favorite activities/websites and more:
What’s a typical day like for them?
Try to pinpoint how they work, when they read content, what type of situations and decisions they deal with.
What are their problems/frustrations?
Figure the pain points hindering them everyday. Describe the barriers in their personal and professional life.
What matters the most to them?
Explain what they value the most, especially in their decision to purchase the kind of product or service you sell.
What are their short term and long term objectives?
This will help you understand where your business fits into what they want and how to get them there.
What are their trusted sources of information?
What is their research process? Who are their friends and mentors? Which websites do they read or spend a lot of time browsing?
What objections could make them reject your offering?
Identify the negative aspects of your brand, or the weaknesses which may drive prospects away.
What type of content appeals the most to them?
Most importantly, you are trying to figure out the content they are the most likely to engage with.
Having solid answers to these questions will really help in shaping your personas into something concrete. So try to get as detailed as possible when creating each of your personas.
A study shows that producing engaging content is a challenge for 65% of marketers. So you really want to nail this part. If you need more help, check out the Make My Persona tool from Hubspot.
Target audience research doesn't have to be a complicated, tedious undertaking. It’s also a never-ending process. It’s not something you do once and then put in the attic for years.
Review your audience from time to time to see if their content needs have changed and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
Whether you’re a startup or fully established business, what matters is to have a reliable system in place to keep tabs on your target audience at all times. Once you’ve done that, here are some more ways to get content ideas.
Did I miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.