The Importance of Knowing Your Audience

Friday, February 24, 2023

How well do you know your audience? In many cases, they aren’t who you think they are. Knowing your audience is one of the most important things to know when planning your marketing strategy. Not only that, but it can also impact other aspects including creative, messaging or even the product or service offering itself.

Why is customer research important?

Customer research is key to understanding your existing customers and potential audience, including finding out who they are, what they want and what their pain points are. Knowing this information then allows you to plan and make improvements to your website, store, marketing and essentially any customer touch point you can think of. These improvements, whether they’re big or small, will lead to an improved customer experience, better targeting and ultimately business growth. If you’re reaching the right audience and they experience less barriers along their consumer journey, they are more likely to convert. 

Think about your own experiences when shopping online or in-store. Have you ever had a bad experience that has led you to abandoning your cart or leaving the store, despite still wanting and needing a specific product or service? I believe everyone has experienced this more than once. 

Current Challenges

There are some notable challenges that will be impacting how you gain your insights and how brands audiences are changing including; 

  • Data protection is making it harder to gain insights about your website audience from platforms like Google Analytics.

  • A lot of customer personas are often based on assumptions or aspirational target audiences, rather than driven by qualitative and quantitative data. 

  • The cost of living crisis is causing shopping behaviour habits to change, which means your customer base is likely changing as they can no longer afford the same things and are opting to trade down or not purchase certain products or use certain services at all. 

Ways to conduct consumer research

  • Surveys can be sent to your existing customer database via email campaigns or integrated into your email flows for continuous data collection. Alternatively, you can set-up pop-ups on your website or integrate short surveys into your order confirmation page. Top tip: Keep the questions to a minimum (around 10 questions) and keep them clear and easy to understand to avoid submission drop offs. 

  • Interviews are one of the best methods to gain qualitative data. You can host interviews either as 1-1s or within focus groups for a more open discussion. 

  • Customer care teams can collate pain points customers are experiencing and share these with the marketing team periodically. 

  • Social media can be a great place to observe what your customers or audience are saying about your brand, product or service within the comments, on posts they’ve shared or messages they’ve sent you. 

  • Customer Research Services, like Experian, can be a great way to gain large scale data that doesn’t require any direct input from your customers. The leg work is done by the provider, linking up the data you currently have and inputting it into their systems, however it can be a costly service. 


Collate your data and create your personas 

Once you’ve collected some data, you can begin to build out customer personas. You’ll likely find that you’ll have a variety of customers that have different demographics, lifestyles, wants, problems and needs, so you make sure to break these out into multiple different personas.   

A great way to build out your personas is to follow the 5 W’s and 1 H. This is where you break the persona down into different sections by who, what, when, where, why and how. 

  • Who? – Who are they? (age/gender/location/job/archetype)

  • What? – What are their needs, wants or values? What are their biggest pain points? 

  • When? – When are they shopping? When are they using your product or service? 

  • Where? – Where are they shopping or searching? Where are they discovering products or services? 

  • Why? – Why are they shopping or using certain products, brands or services?

  • How? – How are they shopping? How are they making their purchasing decisions? 

Once you’ve filled these out, it can become quite clear where there may be missed opportunities for your brand or service to reach your potential customers. 

Refine your marketing strategy 

With your personas in place and their current pain points outlined, now you can use this information to drive your marketing strategy. Make sure that you treat each persona differently and take a look at the ways you can address their wants, needs and pain points with your existing channels or new channels. A great way to do this is by having a team immersion day with your marketing team and marketing agencies to allow for a really collaborative session that will drive loads of ideas and solutions. Once you’ve done this, make sure to break down those plans and improvements into quick wins and longer term projects, prioritising those that’ll likely make the biggest impact. 

Here’s just a few ways your marketing strategy could change; 

  • Tone of voice: You may need to adapt this to resonate better with your audience. Some audiences will want fun and witty messaging, while others may prefer it to be more formal.

  • Target audience: This could change across paid search, paid social and other marketing channels.

  • Marketing channels: The platforms you choose to market on may change as a result of your research in order to reach your audience in the places they are.

  • Creative: You may find that your creative isn’t resonating as well with your audiences as it could be or that you need a variety of creatives to optimise towards multiple different audiences.

  • Message hierarchy: It’s important to make it clear how your brand or service is going to help with your potential customers wants or needs and the customer research will help you find out what messaging to prioritise across your marketing to entice customers.

  • Mobile vs Desktop: Research may indicate that your customers prefer shopping on one device over the other, so your focus should be to optimise the preferred platform as a priority, but ultimately do make sure both are optimised for the best user experience no matter where they land.

  • And so much more…

How often should you be refreshing your data? 

Your potential customers will be constantly evolving due to the ever changing landscape, so make sure to plan on gaining fresh insights at least every quarter to be able to stay on top of your customers wants and needs and continue making improvements off these. 

Key Takeaways

  • Get customer obsessed

  • Use data to help define your strategy

  • Refresh your research regularly