If there's one thing every single marketer needs, it's good insights into their audience and customers.
Let's say you're a PPC account manager and you just won a new account.
Before you can begin party planning a PPC campaign for them, you need to know exactly who is going to be searching for your new client. Otherwise, how will you know what keywords to bid on?
Maybe you're a social media marketer.
You're working with a company that has no social presence and you need to decide what to focus on first. Well, you clearly want to focus on whatever network the company's customers are spending the most time on. But how do you figure that out?
You need to know your audience inside and out. But getting to know them isn't easy. You can't exactly walk up to someone and say "Are you my customer? Yes? Great! Tell me everything about you." You'd scare them away, and maybe lose a customer.
It sucks. You need to know as much as possible, without asking people directly. Doing that may earn you a "creeper" label, and no brand wants to be seen as a stage-five clinger. (Tweet this)
Getting insights into your audience is a task best approached with caution. Having the internet makes it easier, but it's still not easy.
But if you need to learn more about who you should be marketing to, try these tools:
You can learn a lot of information from how your audience interacts with your website. But even if you know what they're clicking on and how long they're spending there, one thing will always be missing from Google Analytics: the why.
That's where Qualaroo comes in. You've most likely seen a website using Qualaroo "out in the wild." It's a tool that lets you target questions to website visitors based on their activity on your website.
Ask visitors questions about why they're on your website, what's keeping them from taking the next step, or for a little bit of background information. Take, for example, this example from Qualaroo's gallery:
The website seems to target business professionals, but knowing where those professionals are in their career will help Bizsnack better understand the people coming to their website to learn, what information they likely already know, and what they might be interested in learning on the site.
Or take this question Qualaroo asked me when I was looking at their pricing page:
If a lot of people answered their form stating they don't have enough information yet, the company may want to rethink how much product information they have on their website, thus improving conversions by giving visitors the information they need to make a decision.
But maybe you need to ask your audience more than one question at a time.
In that case, you're going to want a dedicated survey tool. If you've ever administered or taken an online survey, you're probably familiar with SurveyMonkey, since they seem to be the leader in online surveys. Their cute logo is at the bottom of most surveys I take.
If you were, for example, reworking the features of one of your products and wanted to know real details about what your existing customers are looking for, you might design a survey similar to this market research survey template.
The difficult thing about dedicated surveys is that they require more of a commitment on the recipient's end. They have to go to a new page, take a little more time, etc. But if you want to have control over who you're sending your questions to, sending a link to your email list and offering a drawing with a small prize (even a $10 gift card) for survey participants can boost your engagement rates.
And if you do choose to create a survey, SurveyMonkey has such great features that you may not even need to go beyond the free plan.
One of the best things about Qualaroo is that it captures your audience while they're already engaging with you on your website. That "in the moment" aspect, combined with the low barrier to entry (read: it's easy for visitors to complete and doesn't take much time), works in your favor in terms of response rate.
Another way to engage your audience "in the moment" is asking a quick question in your email campaigns. A quick "P.S." at the end of your email with something like "We'd love to know more about you! Reply to this email and introduce yourself!" can do wonders.
It won't take long for customers to hit "Reply" and tell you their name and some basic information about themselves. Not to mention how personal this will make the email seem, like you're talking directly to your customer. No one wants to feel like a sheep in the herd of your email list.
4. Social Media
Another great option for one-off questions. We've always known asking questions on social media is good for engagement, but the answers your followers give you are more valuable than you think.
Asking questions to your social media audience, and actually paying attention to and analyzing the answers, gives you greater insight into who looks at your page and thinks, "Hey, this looks interesting enough to follow."
If you need to do some in-depth market research but don't have an existing audience to draw on, ask your target market. Literally. That's the name of the website. Simple, huh?
It will only take a few minutes to define your audience, write your survey questions, and launch your market research. It's also a lot cheaper than traditional market research, sometimes less than a dollar per survey response.
But Keep in Mind...
No one tool will give you all the information you need. Remember that your social media audience may not be the same as your actual customers. Same with email. The best market research will be well-rounded, pulling respondents from a variety of sources.