How to Conduct Audience Research to Build a Better Digital Marketing Strategy

by Sara Vicioso   |   Mar 14, 2023   |   Clock Icon 8 min read
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How does audience research help my digital marketing strategy?

Audience research is a critical part of developing any digital marketing strategy. By understanding your audience, where they spend their time, and what their needs are, you can build a more tailored and effective marketing plan. There are multiple factors that audience research can help identify, such as key demographics, interests, motivations, pain points, and communication preferences.

Once you understand who your audience is, and what motivates them, you can build a better marketing plan, focused on engaging a more enthusiastic audience who are interested in the products or services you offer.

Where To Start When Conducting Audience Research

Develop a Comprehensive Strategy by Outlining Your Service or Product Offering

You can start by creating a document to house everything you know about your product or service.

  • Start with the mission statement for the company: Positioning the mission statement at the top of every research project will allow you to align the research back to the company's value and purpose.

  • Better understand your unique value proposition (UVP) in the market: What makes you stand out from your competitors? What makes you unique?

  • Identify what your product or service solves within the market: How do you bring value to your customers?

  • Provide a clear and strategic roadmap: Identify where you’d like to be in 3 years, 5 years, or even 10 years from now. This will allow you to better understand where you’re at today, and where you hope to be in order to build a scalable digital marketing strategy.

Know Your Customers Better: How Leveraging Your Own Data Can Help You Build More Accurate Audience Profiles

This one may seem like an obvious step to include within any audience research project, but it’s one that is often overlooked. There is so much data already at your fingertips that you can easily filter through and organize in a manner that makes sense to you.

  • Here are a few helpful tools and strategies you can include:
    • Dig into your Analytics: There’s a ton of information on your audience such as user behavior, demographics, and interests to help you identify how users digest your site and which product or service they are most interested in.

    • Leverage your own CRM Data: Better understand your customer's behaviors, purchasing trends, and preferences by service or product. This data can help inform future marketing strategies and help retain valuable customers.

    • Talk with your sales representatives: Sales representatives have a breadth of knowledge in your industry, as they directly interact with your customers or prospects. They know what your customers are looking for, and how your company can provide a solution to their needs.

    • Aggregate your reviews: Aggregate the feedback from your customers on platforms like Yelp, Google, Bing, etc. to understand what they liked (or did not like) about your product or service.

    • Surveys: Collect data directly from your customers! By gathering feedback on your products and services, you can start to better understand your audience and their needs.

    • Social Media: Your audience is likely not quiet on social media about what they do or do not like about your business (or your competitors’ businesses, for that matter). Leverage social listening tools such as SproutSocial or Hootsuite to make your analysis more efficient. You can also start by digging into each social media platform’s native analytics if you aren’t ready to invest in a tool!

Conduct Extensive Market Research

By performing industry and competitor research, you can start to identify potential gaps in the market.

  • Industry Research
    • Analyze the overall market opportunity and compare it against your market share today. Having a baseline understanding of your current position in the market helps set the stage for where you want to go.

    • Identify current and emerging trends in the market. You can use resources such as, but not limited to, Google Trends, Google Ads Keyword Planner, Google Ads Insights Finder, Microsoft Ads Keyword Planner Tool, industry reports, and industry news to remain innovative and anticipate potential needs from your customers.

    • Understand the economic landscape and how your industry might be affected by things such as interest rates or inflation. This can help identify the right times to more efficiently and effectively execute your digital marketing strategies.

  • Competitor Research
    • Analyze your competitors’ marketing strategies, including where they are investing in the digital ecosystem, their social media presence, and content marketing efforts. This can help you better understand the channels they are using to reach their target audiences, and which messaging or UVP is resonating with their customers.
      • Some tools we typically like to leverage that provide ample information include Semrush, AdClarity by Semrush, or Ahrefs to assist in the research.

    • Compare your competitors’ pricing strategies to yours. By clearly outlining your pricing in comparison to your competitors you can start to understand how you may be able to position yourself more strategically in the market.

    • Leverage a SWOT Analysis: Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each competitor. This is one of the ways to find those gaps in the market for your company to take advantage of.
      • Tip: Look at platforms such as Reddit to better understand what your competitors' audience is feeling about a service or product. This can help you map how to gain more market share within your industry by speaking to a consumer pain point that your service or product can alleviate.

Create Buyer Personas Based on All Research Conducted

Now is the time to tie all your research together by creating buyer personas. Provide a detailed description of a person who represents your target audience. There may be multiple personas created based on each product or service. These personas should include interests, habits, demographics, preferences, purchasing behavior, pain points, goals, and more. Give them a name, put a face to the name… have fun with it! The more you humanize your buyer persona, the easier it will be to speak to them within your digital marketing strategy.

Plan & Execute Your Marketing Strategy

Now you have all your audience information consolidated in one place; you know which channels they frequent, what their pain points and goals are, and have a better understanding of their purchasing behavior. Here are some of the key aspects to help you start building a media strategy:

  • Plan your campaign flights and channel mix.

  • Allocate ad budgets towards each channel – be sure your marketing budgets are fluid between channels, as you want to make sure you’re allocating budget based on performance.

  • Map proper KPIs per channel to measure the success of your marketing initiatives, considering upper, middle, and bottom funnel KPIs.
    • Upper Funnel KPI Examples: Impressions, CPM, Reach, Video Views

    • Middle Funnel KPI Examples: CTR, Engagement, Clicks, Micro Conversions

    • Bottom Funnel KPI Examples: Macro Conversions, CPA, ROI, CVR

  • Pull together your messaging strategy across channels, taking into consideration your audience’s interests, pain points, wants, and needs. You’ll also want to highlight in your messaging strategy how you differentiate yourself from the competition, alongside proper calls-to-action based on your desired outcome.

  • Don’t just set it and forget it. Measure the results, refine, and adjust!

How do I measure the success of my marketing campaigns targeting my audience?

As mentioned, your marketing efforts are not a set-it-and-forget-it type of deal! Continually analyze the success and effectiveness of your marketing campaigns across channels. You may be spending your digital marketing dollars on multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Display, and measuring the success of your campaigns may seem daunting.

At Workshop Digital, we typically use Google Looker Studio due to the seamless integration possibilities and visual output of the aggregated data. However, you may also find something like Tableau or PowerBI, both excellent reporting options, to be more in-line with your business model. By understanding how your audience is performing against your identified KPIs and goals, you’re able to more effectively optimize your marketing dollars.

What to remember

The key to a successful marketing strategy is to understand the needs, behaviors, preferences, and pain points of your target audience. This will allow you to build a marketing strategy that speaks to the individual behind the device. By creating relatable buyer personas backed by extensive research, you’ll start to make your digital marketing strategy a conversation rather than a sales pitch.

Start your audience research today

Audience research will benefit all aspects of your digital marketing, but it’s a crucial element of any paid media strategy. To start using audience insights to build better paid media programs, talk to the analysts and experts at Workshop Digital. We’ll show you how to build a media strategy that is aligned with your target audience, as well as how to track and share your success through analytics.

Portrait of Sara Vicioso

Sara Vicioso

Sara brings over 10 years of experience in the digital marketing space, having spent a large portion of her career focused on Paid Media strategy for her clients. However, paid media wasn't enough. Sara is passionate about audience-first marketing strategies, finding customers where they are regardless of channel (which may be heavily driven by her background in Sociology) which led to the desire to build multichannel marketing strategies for her clients.

She brings a wealth of knowledge in industries such as manufacturing, industrial, SaaS, healthcare, education, e-commerce, & more.

Originally from San Diego, California, Sara found her new home in Austin, Texas, a city that captured her heart with its BBQ scene, country music, paddleboarding scene, and welcoming community. Outside the office, Sara is a DIY enthusiast, a lover of dogs (particularly her shih-tzu, Peanut), and will never turn away from the next travel adventure.