The Science of Seeking Your Customer | Alexis Sanders

Key Takeaway: Audience research is always evolving, it’s not a one and done process. In her presentation, "The Science of Seeking Your Customer", Alexis Sanders shares how you can learn about your customers using data you already have, communicating effectively with your team and never shying away from personalization.

What is an Audience Research?

Alexis dives into what it means to “find an audience”, she describes it as an art and a science (qualitative and quantitative data), multi-faceted, always evolving, and universally important to all divisions at a company.

With audience research, you are looking to answer a few questions:

  • Who are they?
  • Why do they buy?
  • What do they need?
  • What queries are they using?
  • What is their journey?
  • What matters to them?

The key demographics that effect purchasing decisions are age, gender, income, location, and # of children.

Defining Your Audience

Alexis recommends defining your audience through key areas: personal core, product related information, and relationship with technology.

Personal core

  • What are their motivators?
  • What do they value and see as a self-concept?

Product related information

  • What do they want out of the product?
  • How do you win them over?;

Relationship with technology

  • Where are they engaging online?
  • How do they interact with your website?

Audience Research Tools

Without data, we don’t have context and context changes everything. Context helps us to ask the right questions, connect meaningfully, ID what matters, understand values, and ultimately create better experiences. 

💡 Pro Tip: Start with the audience data you already have at your disposal

There are various ways to find audience data using first party tools: Google Analytics, Ranking and Surveying tools, CRM, Search performance.

Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, leverage affinity and in-market segments to understand users' interest in your product along with general hobbies and behaviors. 

As well as, User explorer reports, follow the user's customer journey through filtering by organic search and conversions with a User ID. 

💡 Pro tip: Leverage GA Intelligence to ask questions about your audience.

Other Tools

Surveys should be used to collect qualitative information from a subset of people. A few tips when running a survey: test, stay consistent, use plain lingo, avoid yes or no questions.

Find commonalities between users by asking “top fans” questions using Google Discover.

Finding audience data through third party tools can be done with:

  • Search data
  • Audience tools (Google and Facebook Audience Insights)
  • SparkToro (top active networks)
  • Research publications: High-level audience data to make generalizations (CDC, Pew Research, PWC)
  • CRM data: High frequency (% of respondents who meet criteria) and high index (in comparison to base audience)

Analysis Tips

Alexis lays out the hierarchy of data:

  • Panel level: Target based on logic using surveys, personas, sampled customer data
  • Cookie level: Target based on digital proxy-- audiences and segment level analysis
  • Person level: Matching anonymous people to ID

A few tips on how to organize an audience analysis: 

  1. Pre-meeting brainstorm with a clear process
  2. Using mini-charrettes, everyone writes their ideas and pulls out top insights from feedback

A few tips on how to present an audience analysis:

  1. Identify a user, their stages in the funnel and illustrate a common user journey: common traits, what website touch points exist? What is their primary focal point - information, etc?

Leverage the mean-ends model, what are the tangible benefits of the product that affect how the user feels and reflects on their values.

If you want more insight into how knowing your audience can drastically change your business, check out our audience webinar with Rand Fishkin and Teresa Lopez for practical strategies and tactics to implement.

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Caloua Lowe
Caloua Lowe
Manager, Marketing