3 Ways for Small Businesses to Tune into Audience Insights

Small businesses don't have a lot of options, budget or expertise in identifying or targeting their niche markets. Digging into analytics and getting feedback from customers can do wonders for their business strategy.

3 Ways for Small Businesses to Tune into Audience Insights

The most innovative ad can fall flat on its face if it’s not reaching the right audience.

How, as a marketer, do you ensure you are reaching the right audience? The answer lies in “audience insights.” If you listen to what your audience has to say, you will always have a better idea of how to position your product, customize your ad, and reach more potential customers.

There are several ways to tune into audience insights, from tagging along with your customer representatives to arranging calls and meetings with loyal customers. However, this method is practically feasible neither for small businesses (as they don’t have so much time to spare) nor for large enterprises (which may have millions of customers spread over the world).

In this article, we will discuss three short cuts to tune into audience insights:

Analytics – Let Google Do the Numbers

Google Analytics offers Audience Reports based on various characteristics of your audience such as demographics, interests, behaviour and lifetime value or performance.

The first step to targeting your audience is to determine age-gender composition, followed by language and location; this makes up your demographics and geolocation part.

While this seems easy, many marketers fail to narrow down their audience. I have seen umpteen local cake shops and professional services targeting the whole of their state or even a neighboring large city, whereas they should in fact be targeting specific neighborhoods – per physical location / branch – that Google so helpfully designates.

While it may seem like a good idea to spread your word far and wide, and the increased audience figures seem tempting, it can be the worst mistake you make for your ad campaign, resulting in a large number of useless clicks and totally avoidable budget overruns.

Another of Google Analytics’ amazing features is Cohort Analysis, which allows you to isolate and analyze behaviour of “cohorts.” Cohorts are a group of people who share a set of characteristics defined by you, e.g. all customers acquired on Cyber Monday. You can then market to these cohorts with specific messages on a specific channel and track day-to-day changes in their buying behavior.

You can dig further into your audience’s behavior, preferences and responses using various custom reports and dashboards available online. Such reports help you determine if the trends you see are random, coincidental or a result of your marketing efforts. For instance, you can determine if there is a peak in events following your single-day email campaign or if the events are pretty much regular based on weekly or monthly data. You can design different multi-channel campaigns for different cohorts and verify which campaign did best. You can monitor the performance of micro trends and gauge exactly how they affect the corresponding macro trend.

Insights – Social Advertising at Rescue

If you want to know which people matter to your business, you need to know what matters to them. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social networking websites help you create advertisements and messages that resonate with your audience. You can tailor your messages based on their relationship status, location, job, education level, lifestyle, location and buying behaviour. You can also check their mobile footprint in order to improve the services you offer from your app, should you have one.

Social media is very helpful for companies who don’t have enough resources or customer data to draw insights. Basically, what you are doing here is defining your target audience based on your intuition, limited market analysis and competitor research. If your campaign works, you know you have defined your audience well. If not, you need to start from scratch. The fact that social media advertising is inexpensive and you are promoting and doing research both together adds more value to your investment.

Facebook Audience Insights offers an interesting outlook on US demographics. For instance, it has segregated audience as Apple Pie families, Country-living, Urban Tenants, Lavish Lifestyles, etc. so you can target exact audiences without putting in too many efforts into segmentation. Facebook can also help you dig into the interests and shopping behavior of your followers. Once you select an audience, you can dig deeper into their activities like retail spending, online purchases, etc. The results you get from your ads – such as event attendance, website clicks and page likes – will tell you how successful you were in tuning into audience insights.

Twitter Audience Insights offers something similar. From interests to income categories, you have well-defined segments. The success of your social ad campaign will depend on how well you narrowed down your audience or how well you understood their interests.

Customer Feedback – The Ultimate Weapon

Another shortcut method to listen to your customers or audience is to use online forms and customer surveys, which can give a quick insight into your audience behaviour and interests, leaving out much of the guesswork.

While your audience might be lurking on multiple channels, you can be sure of one thing – the bulk of these channels are digital. And the availability of simple and free tools such as Google Forms and 123 Contact Form – which enable you to put together online surveys in a jiffy, without a line of coding – leaves you with no excuse not to ask customers what they want. These forms can be sent via email, used during event registration, or put up on your website or blog.

You can even integrate your forms with all major social media platforms and third-party applications such as Dropbox, Salesforce, WordPress, etc. Better yet, you can embed them in your social media posts on Facebook and Twitter. This means you can now gather critical, real-time information (and leads) from every possible digital source.

Parting Thoughts

The possibilities to tune into what your audience is thinking are endless. You just need to be smart enough to understand these possibilities, ask the right questions, and ensure you reach out to the right people at the right time.

Even if you are new to digital marketing and can’t define or monitor key metrics, I suggest you read up on and start using the powerful analytics tools from Google, Facebook and Twitter. Rest assured that capitalizing on audience insights gleaned from most analytics tools is no rocket science, and with consistency and practice, you’ll become a seasoned marketer in just a few months.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Tracy Vides Tracy Vides is a content marketer who started off doing a little social media and community management at The Hartford Business Insurance to increase their online visibility. Although new to the digital marketing scene and working in a saturated niche, Tracy capitalized on her writing acumen and is now a "serial blogger" with posts featured on Business 2 Community, Sprout Content, Steamfeed, and elsewhere.
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