Analysing Audience Insight Tools For Digital Marketers
By definition, audience listening is the process of monitoring digital media channels, terms, products, and concepts associated with your brand to devise a strategy that will influence consumers. Taking information from places that consumers participate in online can be invaluable for discovering consumer insights.
Every day, countless members of your target audience discuss topics that relate to your brand, either directly or indirectly. They don’t care whether you hear about it or not, and they’re not taking special steps to comment and discuss their topics of interest on your social media channels. These are precious consumer insights that you could be missing. By engaging in audience listening you make these insights visible to the marketing and business organization.
Audience listening can help marketers assess some of the audience research data but also assess your community density. Multiple tools exist in order to track, gather and analyze conversations that happen online. For example, you can try creating an account on TweetDeck to monitor conversations on Twitter, but then you have another platform that will work across all social media such as Hootsuite, HubSpot, Klout, Social Mention and many others.
We have seen how audience research can be used, and what type of data can be collected. Now let’s have a look at some of the audience research tools offered in the digital landscape. Each can bring different types of data to the table but will generally be valid for all three.
The main type of platform that marketers will use in the digital landscape to conduct audience research will be social media, marketing research companies, survey providers and behaviour analytics platforms. These cover a broad scope to provide primary and secondary research and help marketers focus their attention on the type of information they need to develop the most relevant strategy.
From knowing what media is the best point of contact, to raising awareness, to understanding the words and images that the audience will want to engage with, all these tools will give access to direct consumer insights such as Tweets, comments, engagements, or third party data analysis such as a report from Nielsen on the media or food consumption of the 18 to 30 years old.
Social Media: You can use your social media analytics and platforms to analyze the existing data on your community of followers, likes and friends and start creating a picture of who your current customers are. You can also research social media to look at audiences that follow competitors and understand more about their profile. Social media is great for collecting demographics and psychographics data as users are putting this information out themselves so it is a direct link to what they like, think and do.
Similarly, this brings the ability to monitor discussions, needs and potential obstacles by monitoring conversations around a specific topic or hashtag. Hashtags can be a great way to understand trends and sentiments around one topic that you think interest your audience. This goes across all social media that have strong analytic tools developed such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Social media platforms are all accompanied by social Intelligence tools that are at the heart of each social media analytics tool. The platforms gather knowledge or insights gained from analyzing social media data and these are useful for removing the manual work by accessing collected and analyzed data directly. Some exampled of social intelligence tools are Hootsuite, HubSpot, Social Intel, Nuivi, and Affinio. Most of these are paid services as they provide extra data visualization and analysis but allow to gather the data from several social media in one place and additionally monitor conversations.
Marketing Research: Marketers can tap on secondary research developed by third-party research companies such as Prizm from Claritas, Emarketer, Euromonitor, Nielsen, Spark. These can be given as free reports or might require a business subscription to the platform providing the research data. Some of them can also conduct new researches specifically designed for your business under primary research demands. Most commonly, as it is less expensive, marketers will use pre-existing sets of data collected.
This is a quick way to get strong data but as it is a somewhat public and shared resource, the data will less likely bring novelty to the discovery and decision taken on the bases of the provided insights. Or if it does, the direction might be chosen by competition who had access to the research as well. At the same time, the research might not be specific enough to provide the right level of granularity about your audience. The more specific the research is, the better, in order to successfully communicate with the audience. This should be kept in mind when using secondary data, as it is always better to have a mix.
Surveys: To collect specific data related to your product or a specific trend you are interested in, researching within your current audience using online survey platforms is a cheap and convenient way to carry primary audience research. Platforms like Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, Zoomerang or AYTM surveys are a great source of primary data. They can be very powerful if well designed and if they ask the right questions.
Because you are asking your existing audience, the information collected is highly relevant and are most likely to drive similar customers that potentially can become as loyal the one you may have surveyed. Surveys, to an extent, can be conducted live through focus groups or interviews. Online interviews are another way to collect qualitative primary research, and direct interaction with relevant customers, one-to-one or in focus groups, without the inconvenience of the location. Tools such as Nebu or Skype are good for this.
Behaviour Analytics: This category gathers all platforms that are used to understand a user’s online behaviour. A classic example is Google Analytics recording the users’ online behaviour. If you are using tracking codes on your website you can easily analyze the visitors’ journey on your website and understand what triggered their interest. This can be done through content, CTR, page visits, length of page visits, etc.
In these tools, audience sections even provide data collected through cookie and social media. Google Search data provides insightful sources of consumer behaviour. The keywords data provides a glance into the thinking and association pattern of the consumers. And as it is based on actual facts and consumer search, it removes the guesswork and is extremely accurate. A good example of a more modern form of user behaviour tracking is Lucky Orange which provides heat maps of your website to see where traffic and clicks are concentrated.
Competitive research provides insight into what the competition is doing in term of marketing, what their message is, positioning, how well is it received, what part of the market they targeting, the success they are meeting online etc. When researching the competition there are three insights that you want to look for:
1.Strategy: Understanding what media and content strategy your competition has adopted can help reduce friction and prevent overlapping.
2.Target Market: Understanding their target audience more in-depth can provide insights on your own target audience and how it should differ, based on how your product solves the problem for them. It also can help understand the challenge depending on the similarity of your target audience.
3.Message: Understanding their message will allow you to differentiate yourself from them. Brands with similar messages get less credit and visibility and bring confusion in consumer’s minds. Your brand needs a differentiation element that will make it stand out at all stage of the buyers’ journey. Ideally, your message should be better and resonate with the audience so it sticks out more than the competition.
This is the benchmark for your competition. Depending on the position of the brand on the market, you want to look at the leader, the challenger and the rest of the companies on your market and product category. Then you need to understand where your company positions itself compared to these other brands. From there, you can start drawing conclusions on what makes your brand special, preferable, more attractive to your brand audience and know where the company is on the market at the moment and what the goal is. Some questions you can answer:
- Who are your competitors?
- What products or services do they sell?
- What is each competitor’s market share?
- What are their past strategies?
- What are their current strategies?
- What type of media is used to market their products or services?
- How many hours per week do they purchase to advertise through the media used in this market?
- What are each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses?
- What potential threats do your competitors pose?
- What potential opportunities do they make available for you?
The benefits of competitive research are the identification of the customer needs by looking at how the product of competition is solving them. Find opportunities in the market, in terms of target audience and messages, but also a solution as your product might solve a problem that is not currently fully addressed by the competition. This helps to refine all your strategy and assets based on competition failure, success, and differentiation factors.
I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you can drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.
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