6 Ways to Research Your Audience

Knowing your audience is the first step towards crafting compelling content that adds value at every step of the buyer’s decision-making journey. Getting a clear picture of who is searching for your product or company, and knowing the hurdles they face, allows you to cut through the noise, get found, and win loyal customers.

In this flight plan, we’ll cover 6 effective ways to get to know your visitors.

  1. Analyze your website visitors
  2. Dig into your search data
  3. Get on the phone
  4. Add open ended fields to your forms
  5. Send a survey
  6. Practice social media listening

1. Analyze your website visitors with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that gives you access to a wealth of information about your audience and their activity on your website.

As you’re diving in to the analytics, pay special attention to:

  • Demographics. What is your audience’s age range? Gender? This matters because how you talk with a 48-year-old woman is incredibly different than how you talk with a 19-year-old college guy.
  • Interests. Do they like movies? Are they travel buffs? What industry do they work in? Your audience’s interests give insight into where they hang out and potentially the best places to advertise.
  • Geography. Where are they located? What language do they speak? Let’s say you discover a cluster of customers in Des Moines, Iowa who are absolutely crazy about your product…hosting an event there could grow your business and brand. Or what if a large number of French speakers are coming to your site in droves? It may be time to translate it to Francais.
  • Technology. What browsers do they use? What devices do they use? Imagine 87% of your website visitors access your website through Safari on their iPhone…but it’s not formatted for mobile. A redesign focused on making your website responsive might be worth adding to your list of next projects.
  • Behaviors. What web behaviors led to a conversion? What are your top referral channels? What are the pages most viewed on your website? What is the average time spent on your site? What are your best performing blog posts? All of this data can help you learn how visitors are using your website to learn about your company and guide your web optimization strategy.


2. Dig into your search data

Chances are if you are a marketer, you have ad campaigns running with Google Adwords. A quick way to discover how your audience is searching for solutions and products like yours is by reviewing their search terms on a weekly basis.

Go to your Keywords tab → Click Details → Select “All” under Search Terms

This will generate a report of the actual searches in Google which caused your ads to appear. Use this list to identify new keywords for your SEO strategy to use in future Adwords campaigns or your content strategy to show up organically in search results.

3. Get on the phone

A direct way to get to know your visitors is through talking and listening to them one-on-one.

Dedicate a person on your team to proactively reach out to people who have expressed interest in you. By adding a 10-minute phone call to your lead qualification process, you gain the rare opportunity to actively listen to your customers, learn their individual needs, offer personalized support, overcome objections and make sure the person or company is a fit for your business.

Use this email script as is or modify it however you’d like to ask customers for a quick call:

Subject Line: Quick call about [insert their company here]

Hi [insert name here],

I’m [your name]. I work at company name and saw that you recently signed up for a free trial. I wanted to reach out because our team values feedback and learning specifically how we can make your life easier.

With that said, are you available for a quick 10-minute phone call sometime this week to ask you a few questions to understand how we can craft a better service for you?

I’ll even throw in [insert incentive here] to sweeten the deal. No problem if now isn’t a good time, just let me know.


[Insert your name here]

To keep your phone conversations consistent and organized, develop a standardized list of questions to ask on every call. When it comes time to analyze your responses, you’ll be glad to be able to compare them apples to apples.

Below is an example set of questions that a B2B software company may ask of new inquirers:

  1. What is your role?
  2. How did you hear about ABC Company?
  3. What are your highest-priority needs?
  4. What is your impression of ABC Company so far? What’s working/not working?
  5. What does your current environment look like? What tools do you use daily?
  6. What others tools or solutions are you evaluating to solve this need?
  7. Is there anything preventing you from moving forward? And how can ABC Company help make your life easier?

After every call, document the responses in a centralized place whether that’s in your CRM, marketing automation platform or an excel spreadsheet.

Set up a calendar reminder to review and analyze the responses regularly. At a minimum, plan to do this on a quarterly basis. Look for trends and patterns in the responses and document an action plan based off your findings.

Here are some examples of action items that could come from your analysis:

  • Develop target personas to focus your marketing audience
  • Publish an ebook addressing a common pain point
  • Add a new section to your website that speaks to use a case for a specific job function or industry
  • Test ad copy using the same language your visitors do
  • Gather competitive or pricing intelligence
  • Identify common roadblocks in product that are slowing down adoption

4. Add open ended fields to your forms

The forms on your website are an opportunity to build your customer records over time. Start basic by asking for core information like their name and email address and perhaps 1-2 custom fields. As you develop trust, you can progressively ask more questions like their company size, industry, role, experience level, etc.

As an example, we’ve added the question, “How did you hear about us?” to our Free Trial form.


Adding this simple open-ended field has the potential to reveal where your leads are coming from and give insight into places that would be beneficial to market to potential customers. You’ll even get the occasional funny response from time to time that brightens up your day.

5. Conduct a customer survey

Another way to gather information about your visitors is through a survey. Surveys allow you to quickly get feedback from your customers to questions that may have otherwise gone unanswered. For example, if you own a clothing store and find out that 80% of your most loyal customers have children via a survey, you could consider adding a children’s clothing line to your inventory.

Encourage survey completions by offering an incentive, like a product discount or gift card, to thank them for their time and input.

You can easily create a survey in minutes with a tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform. When developing your survey questions, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Keep them short. SurveyMonkey research has shown that surveys with the highest completion rates take less than 5 minutes. 6-10 minutes is acceptable, but you’re likely to see significant abandonment rates occurring after 11 minutes.
  • Keep your scales consistent. If you’re using a scale in any of your questions, don’t confuse your audience by changing it halfway through the survey.
  • Avoid leading or loaded questions. These are questions that suggest answers you hope to hear or contain words that are emotionally charged. Rather than asking “Now that you’ve seen how you can save money, would you buy our product?”, ask “What factors are important to you when buying X?”
  • Ask smart open-ended questions. Examples:
    • What would you Google to find a business like ours?
    • How would you describe ABC company to your friends?
    • If you could change one thing about our product, what would it be?
    • What is one thing we could do better?
    • How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague? (Scale of 1 to 10 with 1=not likely at all and 10=extremely likely)

6. Practice social media listening

When you are living and breathing your company messaging or “drinking your company kool-aid” so to speak, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening in the real world. Social media is a treasure trove of publicly available consumer opinion. People are willingly sharing their likes, dislikes, desires, complaints, and what they had for breakfast on any given day.

Monitoring social media is not only a great way to listen actively to what people are saying about you or your space, but it also give you a more casual environment for participating in conversations with your audience.

Here are a few social media tips to getting to know your audience:

  • Set up a feed in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to track the use of a specific keyword or hashtag.
  • Don’t just follow industry influencers, follow your customers and listen to what they say. What language and humor do they use? Do they use social media to ask support questions? To discover new products? To share interesting news?
  • Learn what time of day your audience is online. Take the time to monitor and participate in conversations with them during peak hours.
  • Save tweets by adding them to your “favorites” or create a collection on Tweetdeck to review in the future.
  • Be where your audience is. If they aren’t on Twitter, pay attention to Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube, Reddit or Instagram.
  • When participating in conversations, don’t just use it to create “buzz” for your company. Be relevant, add value and ask questions. For example, instead of “Hey, try my service now!!!”, say “I thought this might be helpful for you.”

Wrapping it all up

This article introduces six highly effective strategies for researching your audience. Analyzing your website traffic, collecting more data on web forms, calling or visiting a broad cross-section of your contact base, conducting an online survey, and listening and engaging on social media, all offer primary sources of insight into your customer’s engagement.

Now that you’ve researched your audience, it is time to build your target personas 

blog comments powered by Disqus
Join now

Join the Flight School community to get up to speed on the latest marketing tips, tricks and strategies.