Target Audience Research – 3 Steps

Target Audience Research
Nobody wants to invest time and money in starting a business blog, only to have no one read it. Start on the right foot with audience research. Here's how.

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Know Your Audience When Starting a Business Blog

For your business to survive the Cronoavirus slump, you need things to come back with a boom. One thing you can do while you’re waiting to set yourself up for success is get your business blog started.

Our goal in the starting a business blog series is to give you just the basics, so you can quickly get your content posted and start seeing results. There isn’t really a step you can skip, but of all of them, this might be the most critical. Before you write a word, get to know your target audience.

Marketers sometimes call it creating a buyer persona. Instead of starting a business blog written for everyone on the planet, you’re going to write it as if it had one recipient with a very specific set of characteristics.

How Creating a Buyer Persona Gets You Traffic and Sales

When businesses get the green light, they’re all going to be offering their best pricing, yelling through megaphones to get attention. If you’re starting a business blog now, you’re going to be speaking articulately when ears are still open, but you want to reach the people looking for you.

A buyer persona is a made up person who stands for target audience. Ideally, your persona has a name, an occupation, an income level, maybe even a hair color.

More importantly, he or she has problems you can solve.

Hubspot says, “Buyer personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.”

Think of it like really good authentic Mexican food. It’s not for everybody, but the people who like it actually crave it on a regular basis. If you make it right, and consistently, word spreads and you attract more people looking for the same. You’re not trying to appeal to people who want pizza or snow cones, you’re never going to get them anyway. You have one target audience, and you create experiences with the spices, colors, music and atmosphere that appeals to them.

Creating a buyer persona when starting a business blog involves finding out exactly what flavors and scents attract consumers to your brand. You get to know what they crave, what they hate, what they struggle with and what they celebrate. Then you speak directly to what matters.

How Many Buyer Personas Do You Need?

“Our customers aren’t just one type of person,” you might be saying. That’s common. Over time, you’ll want to identify subgroups and create a buyer persona for each, but you’re just starting your business blog, and you have to start somewhere.

Pick the largest group and focus your target audience research there. Write your beginning blog posts for them. Then work on subgroups as you have time.

Remember, this series is for the business owner or marketing person stuck home during Coronavirus. If you’re working with a team, you have a big budget, paid research tools and training in content marketing, your research process is going to look different.

This is to help one person who has never before written blog posts for content marketing, and who wants to grow their business while they shelter in place. So let’s get to the three steps of audience analysis.

Step 1 – Use These 3 Free Tools for Audience Analysis

So where do you get the information to get started? You probably already have some data from these tools.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool offered by (who’d have guessed) Google that tracks website traffic. If you don’t have access, here are Google’s step by step instructions for signing up.

You’ll also need to connect the Google Analytics tracking code to your website. Those steps depend on what CMS you use. In some situations you can find a tutorial on YouTube, or you might give your website developer a shout out. If your website is designed in WordPress, give us a call. We’ll walk you through adding that tracking code for free.

Gather This Data

Google Analytics can be intimidating, but don’t worry about learning all of it. Let’s focus on the target audience data that’s easy to find for even beginners starting a business blog.

From your Google Analytics Home page, scroll through and start taking notes. You’ll see data on the following:

  • Traffic channels – Whether website visitors come from referral, organic search, direct (they type in your web address), social media or somewhere else.
  • When users visit – the time of day they click to your website tells you what they might be doing when they seek you out.
  • Sessions by country – Note where in the world they’re located
  • Top devices – Do they mostly look you up on desktop or mobile?
  • Most frequently visited pages – What are they looking at when they visit your website?
  • Activity over time and user retention – How many people come back after the first visit?

Facebook Insights

If you have a Facebook account for your business, you already have data available through Facebook Insights. It changes all the time, but at the time this article is being written, getting there is pretty simple.

On desktop, log into your business Facebook account. On your top menu bar, click on “insights” to see a page summary.

target audience research for SEO

Facebook has around 1.66 billion daily users, and it logs what each of them is doing. Get a bird’s eye overview from the main panel, then click through the menu on page left to see what other information you can gather.

You’ll see data that reveals when your audience is online and what posts they interact with most. Note what they don’t like as much as what they do – if they don’t engage with your content, that indicates they either don’t care about that topic or the way you presented it wasn’t effective.

Take notes on when you see spikes in follows or unfollows. What was your company doing at the time? Set up Facebook Audience Insights to see more information on gender, interests, relationship status, job titles, geographic location and much, much more.

Surveys

This one is a little different, because you’ll have to create questions based on the information you’re looking for and figure out the best way to distribute it.

However, surveys are powerful because you give them to people who already use what you offer. They’re you’re best customers, your target audience.

Getting inside their heads could help you attract more of the same. You want to identify their pain points and challenges, to find out what motivates them to act.

It doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact, if you want a response it shouldn’t be.) For example, you might send out a two-question survey that asks 1. What’s your biggest challenge right now? 2. What product or service could help? The answers you receive will be invaluable when you start writing business blog posts.

Send the survey to your customer database email list. SurveyMonkey and Google Surveys have tools for making it easier and more user-friendly. Post polls on social media. Ask customers to complete surveys while in store.

Consider offering something in exchange for their time, but make sure the language of your offer doesn’t influence results.

Step 2 – Stalk Your Competition

There are a lot of paid and free tools out there that will allow you to gather data on the people who could choose your competitor over you. We like SEMrush and SpyFu.

However, This series is about getting your blog off the ground during quarantine in the most efficient way possible without having to buy tools and learn a new system. If you have the money and the time for a tool like SEMrush, it will simplify comparing your marketing efforts to your competitors. If not, you can still gather information the old fashioned way.

Google your main products and services and note what businesses show up on the first page. Scroll through competitor social media accounts and note what they do that draws engagement.

Also, go back to your Facebook Insights overview. Scroll to the bottom and check out the “Pages to Watch” section. From there you can choose up to five competitor pages to monitor.

Step 3 – Create Your Buyer Persona

At this point, you’ve seen common characteristics emerge. If you have separate demographic groups, focus on the one with the greatest number of people and circle back to the others later. It’s time to create one buyer persona that represents all the people of your biggest target audience.

Start by answering these questions:

  • Is your person a man or a woman?
  • Where does he or she live?
  • What is your buyer persona’s occupation and annual income?
  • What are his or her hobbies and interests?
  • What daily challenges does he or she face?
  • What objections will he or she have to what you offer?

Make it an Actual Person

This part feels strange, but we guarantee it will help when you sit down to write business blog posts. Don’t just make a list of characteristics and set it aside. Generate a person based on that data.

This isn’t something you’re going to get wrong. Don’t stress you might choose the wrong hair color and that will ruin your chances of business blogging success. Go off your data, but where you don’t have a clear answer, just follow your gut.

Give your buyer persona a name and a job title. If he or she has pets and kids, indicate what kind and how many. Add as much detail as you can.

Writing for a female professional age 25-32 with one to three children and likes fitness is hard.

It’s easier to write for Whitney the dental assistant who has an elderly male pug and a two-year-old daughter, likes to jog, has a weakness for dark chocolate and hates anything that derails her schedule.

buyer persona
Best Customer Whitney

Print out her photo and characteristics. When you write your blog posts, she’s the one you’re writing for.

Hire a Business Blog Writer

For some people, starting a business blog is a fascinating process. Others have different interests. If you don’t want to be the person who actually creates posts, you can still enjoy business blogging benefits.

Hire an expert content writer to start your business blog for you. Contact us for a quote.

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