How to Get to Know Your Audience Better (Without Surveys)
Getting to know your audience really is the foundation of your business.
Whilst finding a niche and creating a product to solve a particular problem are also important, neither of these things can be done in isolation. They are still heavily dependent on finding your audience.
I’ve Found My Audience – I Just Don’t Know Them That Well (Yet)
So, you’ve found your audience but things still aren’t clicking. You seem to be making progress in the right direction, but it’s pretty tough going.
Not quite enough sales. Not quite enough engagement. Not quite enough email subscribers.
You can create lead magnets, opt-ins, throw sales and competitions until the cows come home but all of it will yield a small return on investment if you don’t know exactly who you are creating all those things for.
Why Your Audience is Not Everyone
You may know that ‘everyone’ is not you audience.
You know, for example, they are women who enjoy crafts.
However, that’s still a pretty wide net to cast.
Within that segment of people is a variety of ages, abilities, means and motivations.
You have mothers who want to craft with their children, you have young adults that need a creative outlet from a high stress job, and you have hobbyists, enthusiasts and semi-professionals.
But why do we need to narrow down, why do we need to know more?
Because the internet is vast. It has millions of options.
I know one of the primary concerns of my students is that they are worried their niche is too saturated.
Without a doubt, I can tell you now; your niche is over saturated.
There are very, very few niches that aren’t. There might be very particular sub-niches that are not quite as explored yet, but on the whole, the competition can be big.
From a customer point of view, it means that the very particular solution to their very particular desire, need or want is out there.
They know it exists and they are looking for it.
Anything less than exactly what they are looking for is going to be skipped over, no matter how valuable a resource it is.
For example, if I am a food photographer that specializes in desserts – I will be looking for specific resources that address the particular problems that I encounter as a dessert photographer. If I’m looking for a tutorial on how to set up my studio lights for a shoot, I am probably going to skip past any tutorials for setting up studio lights that aren’t specifically tailored to me – because I know that in the wide world of the internet, there is definitely going to be a tutorial out there just for me.
So if a visitor comes to your website and it doesn’t immediately scream:
“This is 100% the website just for you.”
Then they are going to leave. No matter how good, pretty or wonderful your resources are.
How Do We Fix That?
So how do we know what people want from us? How do we get to know them on a level that goes a little beyond simple demographic information?
Well the answer that gets trotted out the most is: survey your audience.
However, if you are reading this post, chances are that you’ve tried that and it didn’t go so well. If you have a super small audience then it certainly might be difficult to get enough feedback to get a really good picture.
But What If I’ve got a Small Audience?
Well first of all, I know having a small audience seems like a huge handicap right now and you can’t wait to grow it. However, remember there are pros and cons to everything in life and whilst the cons may sometimes out weigh the pros, it is important to look for the positives.
Not just because it’s a healthy outlook on life but because you can use those positives as an advantage.In business where there is a negative, there is a positive too. Capitalize on it.Click To Tweet
Small Audience Pros
We all know the drawbacks of a small audience, but what about the positives?
When I first started Creative and Coffee, it burst out the gate in terms of followers and traffic in the initial stages. Way beyond any of my previous blogs and businesses. It then started to plateau a little and I had to adjust my strategy, why was that?
Well when Creative and Coffee first started I had a small audience. A small audience that I took the time to get to know very, very well.
I’ll be honest, I make this sound like a strategic move but really I was just hanging out making friends.
However, this had a profound effect on the direction and content of Creative and Coffee in the early days. I never once had to think about what to write or what people wanted as I had a group of friends who just used to let me know.
As the website grew and numbers increased, this got to be harder and harder. Not only due to the numbers of people now involved with the equation but also as my time got less and less. As you grow and take on work, it gets harder to spend that valuable time chatting away to your followers.
So cherish this time you have right now with your small audience. You might be in a hurry to grow, but you’ve got the time and capability right now to really reach out and create some strong friendships which are going to dramatically influence your business.
Even if you think you don’t have the time now – trust me, as you grow your time is only going to get less, so make the commitment now.Cherish your small audience. When you grow you won't have the same amount of time to get to know them so well. Click To Tweet
How to Find Out What You Audience Wants
Set up a one to one session
It’s overlooked because it’s scary. I know that reaching out to someone who you have never met in person and asking to have a chat with them can be terrifying.
It is, undeniably, one of the best ways of getting feedback for your business at this stage. With a small email list, even if it comprises of a single person, you can reach out and personally ask your subscriber what it is that you can help them with.
Giving someone a chance to be part of the experience, to include them in your brand, is really exciting. Plus, you are giving that person the chance to help design a product/service/experience to be exactly the thing that they want.
Don’t think of it like you are burdening them or pestering them for information. Treat it like a boutique appointment to create something bespoke for your customer.
Complimentary champagne optional.
If you don’t have an email list yet and need help setting it up, you might want to hop on over to our MailChimp tutorials to help you get started.
Or, if you have gotten started but are struggling to get people on board – then check out our advanced email marketing series.
If that sounds like it might cause you several different types of heart failure, you might like to ease yourself into it and start with a broader view. Google Trends.
This isn’t going to get you any specific audience data but if you are just starting out and you want to gauge interest in a particular niche you can use Google to ascertain what’s trending right now.
Specifically, Google AdWords is a fantastic tool for this. Not only can you put keywords in to see how many searches per month are being made, you can also use ‘long-tail’ keywords, i.e. phrases and strings of words that you might actually use when creating a search term in Google.
This is going to give you a wonderful picture of the popularity of your search terms and keywords, which will indicate to you whether people are actually interested in what you are aiming to sell. It will also help you find related search terms, to help you generate some ideas and direct you towards more popular searches.
You know they say that if you provide excellent customer service and an amazing experience then your customer will probably tell one person. And if you give them a bad experience, they will tell everyone they know?
You can use this to your advantage.
Hop over to sites that sell products in the same niche as you. It might be a big site like Amazon or Anthropologie, it might be a small shop on Shopify. Even small shops online usually have some kind of review system.
Have a look through the reviews and take careful note of what people liked and what they didn’t like. Obviously we are not out to copy the competition but is there something that people found lacking, disappointing or would like added?
Well it would be rude not to give it to them right?
I left the best until last. The super powerful tool that is ‘the quiz’.
People love taking quizzes online. It is one of the most shareable pieces of content you can create. It also has the advantage of being an excellent way to collect information about your audience in a way that is much more appealing than a simple survey.
Although you can’t reasonably ask the super specific questions, as you might be able to in a survey, you can certainly ask questions which will help you gain a better understanding of your audience. For example, in our social media quiz, I can get a much better idea about what social platforms to concentrate my advice on by the seeing what kinds of numbers are receiving the results.
In this social media quiz, for example, 46% of participants received the result ‘Pinterest’ whilst only 5% of participants received the result ‘LinkedIn’. So, it’s pretty likely that I am going to find that content I produce about Pinterest is going to be of much more value to my audience than writing content based on using LinkedIn.
Of course, this goes for the questions also.
For example, if you have a quiz, ‘What is your Perfect Day Out?’ you might have a question about whether that person has children or not. After all, this is going to have a bearing on the result. However, by seeing the percentage of replies, you can get an accurate idea about the make up of your audience.
You might use the questions to ask people what their favorite kind of store is, their favorite scent, time of year, activity or method of winding down.
The only drawback here is that you can’t really ask for qualitative data. That is, asking people to type in answers in their own words. People will only be able to select from the answers that you give them. This means they will be responding to what might be the ‘best fit’ of the answers rather than exactly what their preference is.
For example, if you ask which someone prefers: ‘Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Twilight?’, people who aren’t fans or haven’t read any of those series might just click the one they know of or is closest to what they actually like. So, whilst you might think you have a bunch of raving Harry Potter fans, it might be that people just really hate Lord of the Rings and Twilight.
So, just bear in mind that whilst questions like this may give you a good starting point for collecting data, do take it with a pinch of salt.
However for questions where you can give a quantitative answer, like demographic information for example, this is an excellent way of gaining information.
Added Bonus: Shares & Emails
The added bonus of this method is that quizzes are super shareable. Like viral.
This quiz “What City Should You Actually Live In?” from BuzzFeed has been viewed more than 20.5 million times. Yep.
Why The Shares?
Well, we love to think about ourselves and quizzes are the perfect focal point for helping us to learn more about ourselves. It’s also a way to show those results to the world, perhaps to start a conversation between friends or to proudly display our results.
How many times have you seen people share their above average IQ results or above average number of books/films/grad school test answers they have read or completed?
Our level of commitment to finding out ‘What Game of Thrones Style Death’ we would suffer is high. In fact, according to data collected by Digiday “96 percent of users complete sponsored quizzes”.96 percent of Buzzfeed users completed sponsored quizzesClick To Tweet
96% is pretty high. How many of your readers consistently make it through 96% of your blog posts?
Even more interesting is the word you might have missed in that quote which is: sponsored.
Specifically the data is talking about sponsored posts on Buzzfeed, ie content which companies have paid to be shared on the site. So, not only do these quizzes have a staggeringly good engagement rate, people are essentially engaging with advertising content.
Not many sponsored posts of other varieties can boast such enthusiasm.
How Many Shares Are We Talking About?
If you are struggling to create share worthy content, a quiz could really help boost traffic to your site.
According to BuzzSumo, the average quiz gets 2000 shares.
Plus, if you want, you can collect email addresses all at the same time.
Whilst it might frustrate your readers to give an email address, just to get answers to a simple quiz like ‘what mythical creature are you?’ if you are providing more in-depth answers, like a personality profile for example – then it might be reasonable to ask for an email to send all that information over to when people complete the quiz.
More shares, more traffic, more email subscribers, more information. That’s what, five birds with one stone?
That’s an awful phrase when you think about it
If you’ve taken one of the quizzes on Creative and Coffee, you will have seen the front end of the quiz making program Interact and what it looks like. Interact is the quiz software provider that we use here over at Creative and Coffee.
Here’s another quiz we created using one of Interact’s pre-made templates. Interact has a handy library of pre-made templates created using the data they have collected from the best scoring quizzes.
You can also use the Interact platform to create viral giveaways and polls too, so it’s a pretty nifty tool. I like it personally because it’s just a few clicks and you are done.
Of course there are other quiz plug-ins and software out there, but if you want our recommendation, Interact takes all the podium spots.
The basic plan is free and you can try it out here.
So, there you have it, just a few ways to get to know your audience a little better. Plus, with some added benefits of creating shareable content and growing your email list.
Finding your audience can be difficult and getting to know them takes time. However, it really is the key to a successful business. All your decisions should be based around your audience’s, wants, needs and preferences. If you don’t know what those are, then making decisions is going to feel like you are stumbling around in the dark, grasping at straws.