Understand What Your Audience WantsYou may have an understanding of your audience: who they are, their likes and dislikes, and what motivates them. But, do you know what your audience expects from you? Can you prove it with data? This can be a tricky process. This post is all about learning how to understand what your audience wants and identify perfect topics for them!

Topics catering to what your audience want will leave them hungry for more content – hopefully about what they want or need for future reference. But how do you determine what this content is?

A simple review of your comments board (if you have one on a blog) could help. However, to really wow your audience, you almost want to seem like you have read their minds. Give them what they didn’t even know they wanted or give them something they didn’t have to request.

KEYWORD RESEARCH

By researching your target market’s keyword demand, you can learn terms and phrases to target with SEO as well as gain more of an in-depth understanding of your audience and customers.

THE PROCESS

The first step in this process is brainstorming a list of keywords that you believe are relevant to your audience.

Try to think of “long-tail” keywords. These are keywords that are a longer and more specific phrase than a general term. For example, women’s running shoes vs sneakers. There will be less competition for the longer keyword and the traffic coming to your site is more likely to be a good fit for your business.

Next, you want to judge the value of a keyword. Is the keyword relevant to your website? Will someone using that keyword in that search find what they are looking for on your site?

Search for the term/phrase in the major search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Yes, you should actually check all three unless you are 100% positive that your audience only uses one or two. Knowing which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into what works for your competition.

We recommend that you regularly check your keyword rankings per your schedule and the frequency in which your data and content changes – especially if SEO is a key component of your marketing plan. If you are able to identify changing trends, you will be able to continue delivering great content because you will continue to understand what your audience wants.

THE TOOLS

Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool is another common starting point for keyword research because you can see search volumes and the level of competition for particular keywords without needing to subscribe to a tool or start a PPC campaign. If you do want to streamline the process, you may want to look at tools like Moz or SEMRush.

Again, by analyzing data about what keywords people are searching online, you can learn what your audience are looking for when it comes to topics related to your product/service.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP

A customer journey map is a roadmap of your customers’ experience from initial contact, through conversion, and into a long-term relationship. Customer journey maps allow you to prioritize your marketing and content investment by identifying what your audience wants and what they need to get them closer to a buying decision. If you get this right, then they may even refer more business to you.

One important step in the customer journey map is identifying the touchpoints where your customer interacts with your organization. You want your map to cover the entire journey from the time they first become aware of you to post-sale follow up surveys. Any distinct point where the customer interacts with your organization should be mapped.

By focusing on your customers’ overall experience you will likely see what content will resonate. Concentrate on these topics! By looking at your customers’ needs and where content will be most successfully distributed and published, you can begin to create content that meets the needs of your customer throughout their customer journey.

CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is a powerful tool to connect businesses to their audiences. Sometimes the best way to learn what your audience wants is to simply ask them! What do you think? What would you like to read? Thoughts? Questions? Ideas? The questions don’t need to be complicated. Asking questions simply shows your readers and audience that you care about them and their needs. Also, look at the comments and messages you receive and take note of topics that are repeated by multiple people. People love to know that their ideas are being taken into consideration – it makes them feel like part of the team. Which they are! No one knows more about what your audience wants than your audience themselves!

RESEARCH USERS’ ONLINE BEHAVIOR

Data speaks volumes. Understanding user behavior on your website examines: where they look, what they expect, how they read, how they find information etc. Depending on the nature of the site and target audience, users have expectations about how information is organized.

Spend time researching and learning how your user expects the information on your site to be laid out. How are your users reading your page? Users tend not to read pages, but scan them. When you take this information into account how can you adjust your content? Web usage is typically motivated by the desire to save time; users are only interested in a fraction of what is on the page. How can you help your user scan your website more efficiently while still converting them?

THE TOOLS

Google Analytics is a very useful (and free) tool that can help you gain detailed information on website traffic and user behavior. Items you may want to focus on in Google Analytics are: Page Views, Time on Page, Entry Pages, Exit Pages, Bounce Rate etc. There are endless possibilities on how to measure data with Google Analytics. (If Google Analytic is new to you, check out our blog post, Starter Kit: Google Analytics).

Two other tools that you may want to check out are CrazyEgg and HotJar. You’ll get access to visual data about how long users spent on certain sections of your pages. HotJar will even record a video of visitors to your site so you can an even better understanding of where you might be winning some customers and losing others.

Another helpful tool is Facebook Audience Manager, which you can access through your Facebook business page. Facebook has more than a billion users logging in every day, and offers a lot of information on what people buy, what they like, their demographics, etc. Twitter Audience Insights for those businesses who use Twitter, can use Twitter’s audience insight tool to figure out the different interests, demographics, occupations, lifestyle etc. You can use this analysis on your Twitter followers or any Twitter campaign you run.

A/B TESTING

Another way you can gather more insight about your audience’s expectations is A/B testing. At a basic level, A/B testing means that you put two almost identical versions of a webpage or app in front of your audience and see which one is more likely to generate the desired outcome. Variations may test different lengths of copy, different tones, different colored call-to-action buttons, or different images.

A/B testing allows companies to make changes to their users experiences while collecting data on results. Testing one change at a time helps businesses pinpoint which changes had an effect on their visitor’s behavior and which ones did not.

Once you’ve decided what to test, you want to select the tool for the job. There are free tools such as Google Web Optimizer (which requires you to work with HTML and JavaScript).

You may choose to A/B test landing pages or emails as well and there are several tools you can find to do this. Before you start running tests, create a calendar of the different experiments you want to run, outline their goals (i.e. what you hope to learn from each one), and how long each test will run.

TEST DURATION

Using a tool such as an A/B test duration calculator you can see how long your test should run. Tools such as these consider your current conversion rate and the number of visitors that are taking the desired action. If you choose not to use the calculator the minimum you should run experiments is seven days. By doing this you will rule out any effects that might only happen on certain days. The maximum runtime is about six weeks because you could potentially waste valuable resources, and could cause test results to become useless.

WHAT TO ANALYZE

When you’re reviewing your results, pay attention to a difference in reaction to tone or voice, to length of copy, to type of content. For instance, is your target customer more likely to give you their email address for a one-page checklist or an e-book? Over time, trends in preferences will emerge from your experiments.

WRAPPING UP

There are multiple tools available for you to understand what your audience wants, some more technical than others. Use a few different tactics to get a better picture of what your audience expects from you. Be confident that you have the knowledge to determine what your audience wants from your business.