4 Ways to Get to Know Your Audience

“Know your audience” is a classic adage of sales and marketing. It’s key to crafting persuasive sales pitches and relevant content. The better you understand who you’re talking to, the better you can appeal to their interests, aspirations, and struggles.

But what happens if you don’t know your audience?

Maybe your emails aren’t getting enough engagement to justify the work you put into them. Or your blog posts aren’t leading to conversions of any kind. Those could be signs you need to get to know your audience better.

Here are four ways you can do that.

1. Listen

Your audience is out there somewhere on the Internet, voicing concerns, asking questions, and sharing what they think and feel. You need to be there, too, whether it’s in groups or hashtags on social media, online forums, or somewhere else. If you want to have relevant things to say to your audience, you need to know what they’re already saying—and how they’re saying it.

Look for repetition. One person’s perspective probably doesn’t represent your entire audience, so look for the ideas, problems, and sentiments that come up again and again—or the ones that seem to resonate the most.

Listening is especially important within your own communication channels. What are the questions and frustrations people constantly share with your customer service team? What are people saying on your blog or social media channels? These insights should shape the way you communicate with your audience moving forward.

2. Ask

One of the best ways to get to know your audience is incredibly simple: ask them questions. There are plenty of free, reputable sites that let you create your own surveys (like SurveyMonkey), but you can also just pose questions to your audience via email or social media.

You might ask them to:

  • Choose the type of content they want to see more of
  • Identify their role or years of experience
  • Tell you about their biggest problems or goals
  • Rate their interests
  • Indicate how familiar they are with your brand, products, or services

These basic insights are incredibly valuable for helping you create more relevant messaging and segment your email list. But this is also just scratching the surface of what you can learn about your audience through questions.

You could craft a detailed survey that helps your audience to learn more about themselves, enforces your expertise, and leads into something else you do, such as:

  • What’s your leadership style?
  • Are you a saver or a spender?
  • What kind of Bible reader are you?

Asking questions is a great way to get to know your audience—and with a well-designed survey, it can be a great way to generate leads, too.

3. Test

Part of getting to know your audience is finding out what they respond to. Your audience is unique, so you can’t just rely on someone else’s data or insights to decide what works and what doesn’t. You need to run your own A/B tests regularly, and you need to pay attention to what types of messaging and imagery gain traction.

As you start to learn what works and why, you can do a better job giving your audience what they want, and avoiding what they don’t.

4. Research

In addition to listening to your audience, you should do as much as you can to get to know them from other sources and more in-depth explorations.

If your target audience is pastors, for example, are there local pastors you can meet with and talk about their goals, challenges, and day-to-day life?

What brands are they following? What influencers are they listening to? What are those brands and influencers saying to them?

What is your audience searching for on Google? What kinds of questions are they asking? What are they finding there?

Research everything you can about your audience. Even if what you learn doesn’t directly pertain to your industry or product category, it can inform the way you talk to your audience and create a deeper empathy for them—which ultimately makes your sales and marketing teams more effective.

Who are you talking to?

Some people in your organization may be intimately familiar with your audience because they were once part of it. Maybe they still are. But just because you’ve never been a church tech director or small group leader doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to relate to them. If you want your sales and marketing efforts to be as effective as possible, you need to continually get to know your audience.