Whether you are speaking at an event, writing a blog post or making a presentation at work, you want listeners to understand what you are saying and respond positively. You want readers to like, comment and share. You want to engage with people, you want to inspire them, you want them to like you and maybe, even buy from you. To get this kind of response, you need to create content that speak to and for them. Give your audience what they want and they will show you love. If people can see themselves in what you are saying or writing, you will never struggle to convince them. But you can't connect with an audience you don't know, you need to know who it is exactly that you are talking to. Here is a list of simple [and incredibly useful] tools you can use to learn more about your audience:
- Create personas: You may choose to call this an avatar or profile but the point is to know your audience so well that within 5 minutes of meeting someone, you can tell whether you should recommend your blog to him or ask him to play Pro Evolution Soccer with you. A persona is a fictional character who has all the traits an “average” person in your target audience is expected to have. I have a persona for you reading this post right now – your age range, where you live, what type of dreams you have and all sorts. Most times I make personas on sticky notes, with bullet points. Some times, I use Personapp. It’s simple, informal and you can name each persona. Just the way I like it.
- Solicit feedback: Have you seen those smiley faces ranging from 🙁 to 😀 asking you to rate your experience? They are asking for feedback. The simplest tool for soliciting feedback is your mouth or hands (for texting). Ask good questions. Instead of ‘what do you think of these 20 designs‘, select your best 5, send to a friend that is in your target audience and ask, ‘which of these connects with you and why’ The feedback you’ll get is precious. I remember one time my dear friend told me she preferred a design because it was easier on her eyes. I forgot that many people in my target audience wear eyeglasses and would rather not stress their eyes, so her feedback was precious! There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know that my friends know, so, I ask them all the time.
- Conduct surveys: Surveys are good when you want many opinions but do not have the time to text 50 people. They are also good for getting anonymous information. Some people are more inclined to be honest when they know that you can’t trace their handwriting. But beware, people lie in surveys especially when you ask questions about how much they earn or how much they are willing to spend. I use Google Forms because it’s free and syncs with my Google Accounts seamlessly. I really really like TypeForms and my team at Godlovers Fellowship prefer it too. Why? It’s pretty, human and has interesting features. By the way, forms have many more uses that just getting opinions. You can use them for feedback, RSVPs, pre-orders, etc. Please don’t be scared of surveys, human beings are quite generous. If you ask the right way, you’ll get great response.
- Research: Research is as simple as reading case-studies, examples and reports from other people. Look to your competitors and colleagues in the industry – If someone targets the same audience you do, observe and learn from the way they write and talk. They may have already done research and put it into action. For instance, when you have to speak somewhere, watch videos of people you admire, at an event where they spoke to people in same target audience you’ll be speaking to. As you observe how they speak, you learn a lot about the non-verbal communication going on. I’ve done this countless times, and learn something new every time. Still on research, Google Trends is your cool tool when you just want to know what is trending, what people are looking for, and how they are looking for it. I like to use Google Trends because it features insights curated by Google himself, and please what kind of target audience would you have that is not captured by Google?
- Analyze follower data: If you have a business IG account or Facebook page, one of the quickest ways to learn about your audience is to look at the analytic insights. You can see the gender of your followers, where they are, what time they are most active, etc. With these, you know what to post and when it’s best to post. That’s why many people have ‘business’ version of IG accounts. It’s not just because they want to look important, they need the data in the insights to dig into their community and connect better with their audience.
- Listen in: If you have actual clients (customers, readers, members, tribe, whatever name you call your audience), get to know them on a personal level. What are they usually concerned about when they talk to you? How do they talk that’s different from other demographics? What appeals to them, scares them, or excites them? The more you do this, the more easily you can make connections and useful conclusions about these type of people. As you know, people are different, so this won’t work 100% for everybody but real relationships trump numbers and graphs any day. My favourite tool for this is good ol’ Whatsapp 😀
- Comment Section: The comment section is a great tool for learning about your audience. Read the comment section of bloggers you follow – I’ll assume that some of the bloggers you follow are writing to your target audience. So, read what the readers have to say. The more you read their insights, questions, and concerns, you get useful information about your target audience. On your own blog, invite engagement. For example, I’ll be really happy to know what tool you found most useful in this post. Please comment below.
- Breathe: This one, you only need Oxygen to do. Audience seems to be a buzz word online these days, and there are manyyy posts talking about questions to ask and where to go to learn about your target audience. Calm down, you cannot finish knowing your audience. For all you know, people evolve and change every day. No tool can give you the perfect portrait of your audience but if you make effort to understand your audience a little bit better, I can promise that you’ll be able to create better content for your audience, from slide decks to headlines to calls to action.
All of the above tools can be incorporated quickly into your daily schedule. Have you used any of them before? Are there others you prefer? I’d love to hear all about it!