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Tips and Tools for Understanding Your Online Audience

Becca Godsey, Marketing Analyst

Posted on June 22, 2018

Getting your audience’s attention might be harder than you think it is.

As the digital age continues its reach to more communities, we see an increasing number of individuals accessing digital content. Not only are digital audiences increasing in size, but so is the amount of time they spend engaging digital content. 

According to a 2018 Hootsuite and We Are Social survey, audiences averaged 6 hours and 30 minutes on the internet every day. Since the previous year, mobile audiences now make up 41% of internet consumers. 

Yet, while the internet hosts a massive engaged audience it doesn’t mean your content is getting to them. On Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and every other digital platform there are other businesses competing for your audience’s attention. The challenge isn’t knowing if you have a potential online audience, it’s if you can get them to engage you. As Ash Read from Buffer Social notes, “The internet is a daily battle for attention.” 

Keeping your audience’s attention is difficult. Very little content holds their attention and much less motivates them to engage. Moz found that over 50% of Facebook posts garnered 2 or fewer engagements and 50% of tweets had fewer than 11 retweets. Creating compelling content that holds their attention and drives them to action happens when you know who your digital audience is.

By analyzing and profiling your target audience, you can apply strategies that not only find the right audience out of the billions of internet users but also get them to engage you. 

Let the user data guide you.

While Google Analytics and all the social media platforms provide an immense amount of data, not all data is equally important. Companies in the B2B space will likely value different data than companies in the B2C space. For example, as a B2B, variables like an individual’s industry and seniority might be more useful in identifying a prospect than their marital status, a variable that could be potentially useful in the B2C setting.

Additionally, different types of user data will reveal different aspects of your audience. 

  • Demographics provide general user data like age, gender, location, socio-economic status, marital status, and education level. These characteristics can indicate where your audience is living, what social media platforms they might prefer, what needs they might have and more. 
  • Behavioral data shows how users get to your website, what terms they use to find you and the products or services they’re searching for, if they click on advertisements, what content they’re interested in (or not interested in), and more. 

Data provided by Google Analytics and social media platforms isn’t comprehensive of all of your online audience, but it is a good indicator of most of your audience. The digital data providers like Facebook prioritize protecting user identity and generalize or withhold data that might identify individual users. (You can thank GDPR and Cambridge Analytica for Facebook really doubling down on user privacy.) Additionally, the data received is as good as the user gives - meaning that if a user hasn’t updated their profile in a while, the data you receive may be inaccurate.

Know what metrics matter. 

Once you understand your online audience, you can begin to target them. Similar to user data, there is a lot of data you can gather to see if your targeting is effective. To know what your key metrics are for measuring efficacy, begin by identifying what goals you want a particular campaign to achieve. Remember, while the final goal may be “making a sale,” most customer journeys involve multiple touch points before making a purchase. As such, creating unique content for target audiences at different points in the decision-making process can shepherd prospects through the sales process.

To begin, identify a goal that you want to achieve. 

Common digital goals are:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Increased engagement
  • Increased web traffic
  • Conversions on key call to actions
  • Community building

Then, identify which metrics will indicate success. By matching key metrics to an appropriate goal, you can create targeted content and advertisements to prompt your audience to respond a certain way. As a business, you might run a brand awareness campaign with the hopes of becoming a familiar brand to your audience. As you run your campaign, you’ll monitor your reach to determine how many unique individuals at least saw your content. And, many of the social platforms will track common metrics tied to those common digital goals. 

Common key metrics are:

  • Impressions and reach (brand awareness)
  • Reactions, engagements, and engagement rate (engagement)
  • Audience match, acquisition, browsing Habits (web traffic)
  • Clicks, direct message, call to action (conversions)
  • Behavior insights, comments, page likes (community building)

Whether you have an active campaign tracking these metrics or not, it is recommended to always record them to establish benchmarks for future campaigns.

Use available tools to track your targeting. 

Google Analytics

If you haven’t already, set up a Google Analytics account for your website. As one of the largest aggregators of data, Google Analytics is by far the most reliable source about your site visitors. Through Google Analytics you’ll have access to a wealth of knowledge about both users’ demographic and behavioral habits. If you’re not ready to dive deep into the sea of data, sticking to these five metrics is good for basic insights.

  • Visitor Demographics reveals characteristics such as age, gender, and interests. This data is great to use for digital advertising both for your website and on your social media platforms. 
  • Acquisition shows how your audience got to your site: through search results, social media, a newsletter, a partnering site, or some other source. This information can help guide you in knowing what other digital platforms are driving audiences to your website. 

Understand how your audience reaches your website by analyzing your Google Analytics Acquisition

  • Behavior shows how your visitors interact with your site, which can clue you into what’s working, what’s not working, and what opportunities exist for additional engagement. To do this, check out which pages are popular, which pages are making conversions, and what pages have high exit or bounce rates. Use that information to promote the more effective content, and either revise or remove the content that isn’t working. 

Learn how your audience interacts with your website with Google Analytics Behavior

  • Analyzing your visitors’ device usage on your site will help you get a better understanding of how your content performs across screens of all sizes. Remember that mobile audiences are increasing, so adapting and creating content tailored for mobile audiences is becoming increasingly important. 
  • Google Analytics can also help you compare your audience across mediums. With this feature, you can compare your site visitors to your other audiences. Word of caution - pay close attention to the percentage of data sampled. If you only have a small audience interacting with your website, Google Analytics’ sample may be less accurate to protect users’ identities. 

Pay attention to the percentage of data sampled to determine the accuracy of your data

Facebook

Of all social media platforms, Facebook is the largest - both in audience size and data shared. This pairing is extremely valuable to a marketer  - if you’re willing to pay. While some other social media platforms are more organic reach-friendly, Facebook has made a number of algorithm changes to minimize the chances of you reaching your target audience with quality posts alone. 

First, hop into your Page Insight tab on your Facebook Business Page. The initial overview offers some quick glances at your page’s performance, but you really want to head over to the People and Posts tabs to learn more about your audience and your content performance. 

When you’re ready to start advertising, or if you want a deeper dive, go to Facebook Audience Insights. This tool reveals top categories and pages that your audience likes, audience size, and age and gender breakdown. You can narrow your audience by basics like age, gender, and location or you can get more specific with interests, language, relationship status, life events, and more. 

Once you’ve pulled those insights and found the right audience match, you can save that audience and use it for targeted advertising. Pro tip: don’t use Facebook’s “Boost Post” feature. Instead, set up a targeted ad using your designed audience instead.

Access your Facebook Audience Insights to develop a deeper understanding for your targeted audience.

Twitter

Whether you’re using Twitter personally or for business, every Twitter account has access to their analytics. By visiting Twitter’s analytics you can discover lots of demographic information about your audience and behavioral habits as they interact with your tweets. 

Twitter is very friendly in providing data in consumable segments. You can see post analytics individually, by month summary, or by creating a custom date range. This makes it easier to track progress over time and capture historical data if you haven’t been tracking yet.

LinkedIn 

LinkedIn’s analytics is broken down into three categories: Visitors, Updates, and Followers. These three categories provide a mix of demographic and behavioral habits. However, you won’t find age or gender data. Instead, LinkedIn provides professional details such as job function, seniority, company size, and employment status. 

While LinkedIn’s provided user data is more limited, it does offer more targeting options when you begin to advertise. You can narrow your audience to include specific categories like job titles, companies, degrees, and years of experience.

LinkedIn can analyze your audience by company size, job function, industry and more.

Other Methods

Digital research isn’t the only way to learn more about your audience. Use other methods such as surveys, focus groups, and reviews in addition to your online research to create a more comprehensive understanding of your audience. 


Have questions? Mostly Serious is here to help. Scroll down a bit to get in touch, or continue the journey by reading about our unique approach to digital marketing, which we call Orbit Marketing, or read more on our blog.

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