Audience Analysis: The Essential Guide for Marketers in 2021

Audience Analysis: The Essential Guide for Marketers in 2021

Audience analysis is an evolution of social intelligence and it enables marketers to segment specific audiences into smaller groups.

By: Michael Brito

Category: Influencer Marketing

If you’re strapped for time but want a quick summary of audience analysis, we created this audience intelligence eBook for you. It’s only 6 pages.

Before defining audience analysis, it’s important to first talk about the complexities of the B2B buyer’s journey. It’s complex because it doesn’t play out in any kind of predictable, linear order. It’s pretty much chaos. Buyers weave in and out through their journey, revisiting each of the below buying phases multiple times during the process.

This is a challenge and opportunity for marketers. Every entry point and purchase factor below can directionally inform a marketing program, advertising campaign, editorial approach and content strategy. Additionally, third-party validation can reinforce purchase decision-making and accelerate the buying cycle. In this context, third-party validation could be in the form of influencer marketing or peer validation.

B2B Buyers Journey

Audience analysis sits right in the middle of the buyer’s journey. 

The more you know about your customers and prospects, the better equipped you’ll be to intercept them in the right channels with clear and concise messaging.  In the old days, all marketers had at their disposal was social intelligence, often referred to as “online monitoring” or “social listening”. Social intelligence is the process of using technology to monitor the internet for specific keywords, topics, brand mentions, competitors, and industries. It gives marketers the ability to segment and mine online conversations by the news media, blogs, forums and social media.

Social listening platforms like Brandwatch, Pulsar, Synthesio, Talkwalker and Netbase have come a long way in recent years, integrating audience analysis, natural language processing (NLP), AI, machine learning and linguistic analysis to decipher social media conversations.

Typically, social intelligence starts with building advanced Boolean logic to isolate and exclude specific topics, brands, phrases and keywords. Here’s an example of boolean logic basics:

Social intelligence is still common practice today, and while there is value in this approach, audience analysis provides more in-depth research enabling marketers to make data-driven marketing decisions.

By segmenting and clustering specific audiences into smaller groups, marketers can be more laser focused when planning for marketing and communications programs, especially for B2B and technology brands.

USING DATA-INFORMED AUDIENCE PERSONAS

As mentioned, the buyer’s journey is complex and building audience personas from intuition is a thing of the past. While it may seem convenient to download a persona template from Hubspot, customize it to your brand identify and fill in the blanks, personas that are not backed by data, simply don’t work. They may look good on a slide, but they won’t get you the results you expect.

On the other hand, data-informed audience analysis and persona creation gives marketers actionable insights they need to create data-driven content marketing programs that deliver real business value and make an impact.

Here’s a quick summary of the types of data you can expect from an audience analysis:

  • Brand Affinities: What brands are they most connected to and reference more than others
  • Buyers Journey: What keywords (triggers) are they using as they research and purchase products and services
  • Influencers: Who are they influenced by as they weave in and out of the buying cycle
  • Media: What media publications do they read and share by topic of interest

The beauty about building data-informed audience personas is that they will benefit everyone in the organization, from PR and social media to channel sales and direct marketing.

Audience Architecture is Art, But Mostly Science

Together, human intuition and data-driven insights can identify unique audiences, where to find them, and how best to engage them. There are three ways to build audiences:

Specialized Audiences: This type of audience architecture begins with a bio search and is effective for more technical audiences like engineers, developers, IT decision makers and the C-suite, mainly because they aren’t shy about telling the world what they do for a living. To find engineers or developers that are talking about #AIOps, #DevOps or Robotics Process Automation (RPA) would require a combination of bio search and public social media conversations. Other specialized audiences like technology journalists, analysts, architects, real-estate agents, physicians, nurses and human resources professionals can be built effectively using this methodology.

Affinity-based Audiences: This approach is good for finding like-minded audiences that have similar interests, affinities and characteristics. It uses a combination of bio search, follower relationships and social media conversations as its source. So you can use this architecture to build niche audiences like millennial sneaker heads who live in New York, prefer drinking craft beer and listen to 90’s R&B & Hip Hop or Los Angeles Lakers Fans who live outside of Los Angeles.

Micro-Audiences: These are smaller audiences (<500), consist of influencers and are built for the purpose of real-time content marketing or organic influencer engagement. The audience size is large enough to extract directional insights to inform content yet small enough to use for the creation of highly-targeted creative assets.

Why An Audience First Content Strategy Works

Marketers must ensure that their supply of content meets the demand of the audience by providing relevant stories and creative content.

Audience data is a blueprint. Just like an architect who designs a house using 3D software, marketers can build data informed programs using audience architecture. The result: creative storytelling and advertising that can break through clutter and reach audiences with memorable, impactful and game-changing programs.

ACTIVATING THE REAL-TIME CONTENT ENGINE

The goal of real-time content marketing isn’t to be relevant to everyone. It’s to be extremely relevant to your audience. Everyone remembers the Oreo Tweet in 2013 during Super Bowl XLVII. Since then, many brands have tried to “hijack” cultural moments to insert themselves into an existing narrative and reach a broad audience. Sometimes it works, but most times it doesn’t.

This is where real-time audience listening comes in – rather than trying to align your brand with everyone, this approach leverages the audiences that are most important to amplify your success.

Once you build your audience, the content engine works like this:

There are two paths that can potentially be taken based on what it is you are trying to do. The first path is requires no action other than reporting and making recommendations. The second path requires immediate action where you will activate the real-time content engine.

Reporting & Recommendations

  1. Monitor the conversations of your audience in real-time to see what’s top of mind and trending.
  2. Provide daily, weekly or monthly reporting based on the audience analysis.
  3. Recommend activation opportunities based on the insights.
  4. Provide content recommendations for employees and executives to be used for employee advocacy programs and executive activation.

Content Engine

  1. Monitor the conversations of your audience in real-time to see what’s top of mind and trending.
  2. Provide daily, weekly or monthly reporting based on the audience analysis.
  3. Scrum with a team of analysts, creatives, community managers, content strategists and paid social experts to brainstorm content and activation opportunities.
  4. Create the shareable content usually consisting of an animated video, gif or digital asset. In some cases, a blog post could be produced.
  5. Post & amplify the content with strategic paid social.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT AUDIENCE INTELLIGENCE PLATFORM 

There are several audience intelligence platforms in the market today. Below is a list of the top platforms I have tested over the years or have used.

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