What's on Tap...
A brew of marketing and advertising news for your insatiable knowledge palette

How to Conduct Audience Research to Craft the Right Messaging

By Jenna Bruce on Mon, Nov 04, 2019 @ 10:00 AM |


Imagine your mother-in-law visits one afternoon and brings with her a little gift she picked up for you at a local flea market. You open it. It’s a set of clown salt and pepper shakers.

She asks if you like them and you say, “These are going in the garbage the minute you leave.”

That’s not really the right messaging for this particular audience, is it?

Messaging matters, with in-laws and with prospects. But how do you write messaging that will resonate with your target audience? You get to know them before you even put proverbial pen to paper.

Audience Research the Right Way

A lot of business owners make the mistake of assuming they know enough about their audience to get them to pay attention to their ads. And then they spend a lot of money creating ads that don’t convert.

You can’t connect with people you don’t know. You certainly can’t sell to people who feel like you haven’t taken the time to get to know them. So your job is to research your audience and uncover as much information about them as you can.

This means you don’t just take 10 minutes to figure out how old your target demographic is and what zip code they live in. It means you conduct a deep dive to get to know your audience on a more personal level.

Having said this, you also don’t want to waste time uncovering information that is irrelevant to your campaign objectives. This is why it’s important as a first step to figure out what questions you need answered to run a profitable campaign. These questions may relate to your specific product or service, or they may focus on your audience’s lifestyle, habits, and feelings about something.

Examples of questions could be:people crowd walking on busy street on daytime

  • What is my audience most worried about?
  • What goals do they have?
  • Where do they consume their information?
  • What sort of content do they enjoy the most?

Once you have these questions figured out, it’s time to move onto the next leg of research…

Focus on a Cross Section of Your Audience

The bigger your ad spend, the more confident you must be of your entire audience’s wants and needs. This will require you to take a broad view of your target to be sure you are familiar with as many segments of your audience as possible.

Unfortunately, there is some guesswork involved here, unless you happen to have the time and proficiency to mine the data at your disposal. This data can tell you exactly who buys from you and interacts regularly with your brand.

If you don’t have access to this data, then do your best. It’s often a good idea to start with a simple customer survey. This could be something you offer through your Facebook page or a piece of paper they fill out in the store. Offer some kind of incentive, like a discount in exchange for their participation. The more people you can get to fill out this survey, the bigger the cross section you can dive into.

The questions you ask should be open ended so you can allow for specific answers. Examples of questions may be:

“What frustrates you the most about X?”

“If you could change one thing about the way you currently X, what would it be?”

If you are selling a dog training service, you might ask, “What is the most frustrating thing about your dog’s behavior?”

Once you get some survey results, you may even want to follow up with a handful of people to conduct a phone or in-person interview to dive a bit deeper. It’s not necessary, but the more you know, the more relevant your ads will be.

Leverage Social Media

Besides asking followers to take your survey, you can also use social media to listen in on the conversations your customers and prospects are having about your product, service and about the problems they face in their own life.

You can track your @mentions through a tool like Tweetdeck or use something like Sprout Social’s dashboard. See who else your followers are following and what they have to offer and what their messaging is like. Does it seem to be hitting the mark and getting the right reaction?

Also, be sure to find out which of your own content your customers are sharing. These topics are obviously hitting a nerve and will point to specific problems they may be having.

Don’t Forget to Ask Internally

You have at your disposal a world of information that shouldn’t be overlooked. Spend some time asking your own customer-facing team members about your customers. This can be people on your sales and/or customer service teams. They will have big insights into who is buying from you, why, and any issues they may have had with your product or service.

Examples of questions you might ask are:

  • What is the main reason people buy from us?
  • What do they typically like about our product or service?
  • What frustrates them about our product or service?
  • How did they learn about us?
  • How many times did they see an ad before they made the purchase?

It’s Time to Get Creative

Once you’ve complied this data, you can start identifying themes and patterns. For instance, you should quickly be able to pull out the biggest 1-3 personas that buy from you, why they buy, and what problem your product or service solves. These personas are not actual people, but they represent the different segments of your audience.

So, for instance, you may see a pattern forming and your persona may be:

Christine is a 30-year-old single mother who is going back to school to get her degree. She is using your meal delivery service because she wants to prepare healthy meals for herself and kids but doesn’t have a lot of time.

Once you have your personas clearly defined, begin to brainstorm some creative ideas for your next ad campaign. Be sure to know exactly what your overall goal for the campaign is (lead generation, sales, more social media followers, etc.)

Things to keep in mind:

  • How can your messaging answer your audience’s problems and questions?
  • What kind of language will your target demographic respond to?
  • What medium do they enjoy engaging with the most?
  • What images might grab their attention?

Without question, the more you know about your audience the better able you’ll be to craft messaging that engages and converts them. If you follow these guidelines you should be able to uncover valuable insights into who is most likely to become a loyal customer.

Need some more help? We eat, sleep and breathe audience research so you don’t have to. Get in touch with us.

Reaching Your Audience integrated marketing target audience marketing goals