It’s 4PM on Thursday. Do you know where your audience is and what they’re doing? You should.
Listening to your audience is key to your marketing success because it will help you put together the best strategy. Once you know where your audience hangs out (social media channels, forums, blogs, areas of the city, etc.) and what they’re talking about then you can tailor your marketing strategy to reach them in the best ways possible. Even if they aren’t talking specifically about you, you can still gain insight into what makes them tic, which helps you create a stronger connection with each customer.
Before sitting down to do a little spy work, understand that your audience will fit into three categories based on their purchase stage:
- Get their attention
- Build trust
- Build loyalty
At each stage, your audience will need different things from you in terms of communication. At stage one, they will need more information and nurturing. At stage two, they will need access to you and to learn more about you as a brand. At stage three, you need to show more appreciation and personality.
Build audience listening into your strategy
#1: Just ask
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. While it can be easier said than done to get people to answer your questions, it can be a valuable tool for you.
Market research, if you have the budget for it, will always get you the most accurate results. However, you can use your current channels to speak to your customers and prospects at any stage – in many cases, for free! Often you will find that people are willing to give feedback (especially if you sweeten the deal with a chance of winning a prize!).
Conducting surveys and polls using your current email list will help you get to a targeted group of people that you know is already invested in your brand in some way. If you are just getting started and don’t have an email list, or you are trying to reach beyond your current list, use social media. By setting up your survey or poll as a paid social media opportunity, you can also expand your reach exponentially.
#2: Find out who’s talking about you on social?
There are tools for this sort of thing – some are free, like SocialMention or Hootsuite – but you can also just do a search or keep an eye on your individual channel analytics. Track your username mentions and any hashtags you use to promote your content to see who is talking about you.
The listening gold comes when you start to track and analyze your findings. It can be helpful to do this in a spreadsheet so you can identify patterns. Track both negative and positive mentions, how long it takes for a response to mentions, who is mentioning you – are they a customer or a prospect, and the general topics that are covered.
You will start to see what is working and what needs to be fixed over time.
#3: Who’s talking about your industry on social?
It’s great to know who’s talking about you on social media, but maybe the chatter isn’t all that great, or maybe you don’t have enough brand awareness to have a lot of mentions. Figure out keywords in your industry or hashtags that are used a lot and follow the conversation. It’s a great opportunity to learn how people feel about your industry and types of services in general. This will give you insight into how you should talk about your services – what points to stress, and whether you should take a totally different approach to explaining what it is you do.
#4: Follow the data
You can look at your digital channels to see what’s getting the most traction for you. Figure out what your most popular blogs are, what types of content get the most engagement on social media, and what links are getting the most click throughs on your email newsletter – or what’s being opened and what’s not!
To get specific results, try A/B testing where you alter only specific details of your outreach to find out what’s working best. For example, you could set up the same ad to two different audiences to see who responds most. You could also try sending your newsletter at different times of the day or different days of the week. The possibilities for testing are endless. If you are willing to invest the time, you will get results that you can use to help you target your marketing strategy better.
#5: Competitor watching
You should always know what your competitors are up to. In this case, you can see what types of content they are posting that is getting the most traction. If you are targeting a similar audience and they are doing something that is working well (or not!) then you can try to make it your own.
A great tool for monitoring your competitors’ website content is Buzzsumo (which has a free component. For social media, you can simply keep an eye on their channels through things like pages to watch on Facebook or through streams on Hootsuite.
#6: Be present
Engaging in dialogue with your audience is the best way for you to actively listen to what they have to say. You aren’t making a speech, it should be a conversation. The more back and forth with your audience, the more information you can get about how you should proceed with your marketing.
As a busy entrepreneur or manager, you need to step out of the business tornado for 15 – 30 minutes a day to acknowledge and respond to comments, showing your appreciation to your audience. If people think you aren’t listening, they will simply stop talking to you.
Actively listening to your audience will allow you to provide value to them because you will get to know their wants and needs. Your audience wants to be able to connect with you but you need to make an effort to figure out how they want to connect.
If you can’t make much sense of your current audience listening data, or you just don’t know where to start, we can point you in the right direction. You just need to give us a call.