Get down to keeping up with your target audience
You can never know enough about your target audience—but you’ll never learn it all without the help of technology
Here’s the deal:
No matter how unique or innovative your product or service is, your business venture simply will not succeed if you don’t have a clear idea of who will actually see the value in what you have to offer.
In short, you need to know your target market.
And we’re not merely talking demographics here—that’s only the first step in true target market analysis. What’s more important is that you come to know as much as you possibly can about your target customers, so that you can present your offering in a way that makes its value crystal clear to them.
Knowing and understanding your target audience is the key to success for all of your marketing initiatives moving forward, including:
- The development and improvement of your products or services
- Your choice of marketing and commerce channels/platforms
- Your approach to branding overall
- Your specific campaign messaging
The question, then, is:
Do you know enough about your target market to fully optimize your marketing and other customer-facing initiatives?
Well, we hate to be a downer, but the answer is a resounding “No.”
Now, we’re not picking on your company, per se. What we mean here, is that it’s impossible to know enough about your target audience to the point of truly optimizing everything you do for them. There will always be more information to uncover, and more ways to improve the value of your offering in the eyes of your customers.
That is, as long as you remain laser-focused on learning as much as you can about them.
Which is exactly what we’re going to be discussing throughout this article.
Keeping up with the customer in-flux
There are two key reasons why it’s impossible to know everything there is to know about your target audience.
For one thing, your target customers are all individual people, with individual personalities, needs, and lives. Not only are there things you’ll never know about them, there are also things that you aren’t even aware you don’t know about them. As the old saying goes, you can’t know what you don’t know.
As if that’s not enough, the modern consumer is also constantly evolving in a variety of ways. From how they shop, to the types of products and services they seek, to their overall expectations of the brands they do business with, today’s consumers are always in-flux.
That being the case, there’s a pretty good chance that what you know about your customers today might not be so accurate in the very near future. Unfortunately, this means that the highly-homogeneous audience segments you’ve worked so hard to develop might not be relevant in the months to come.
For that reason, target audience analysis isn’t something that you do once, ten times, or even hundreds of times. Rather, it’s something that should constantly be occurring throughout your organization at all times.
Of course, this is much easier said than done.
Whether you’re a fresh startup or an established company, you’re probably already coming close to maxing out your marketing budget and other resources as it is. Adding manual ongoing target audience research and analysis to the equation, then, is likely to stretch your team to its absolute capacity.
While you certainly don’t want to overextend your team members and your company’s resources, you also don’t want to be lackadaisical when it comes to keeping up with the evolution of your target audience. For one thing, poor targeting will lead to poor marketing efforts, which will in turn lead to a low ROI for your initiatives. On the other side of all this, you’re also likely to miss out on a ton of opportunities that passed right under your nose—with your team being none the wiser.
So, now the question becomes:
How, exactly, are you supposed to keep up with your fluctuating and evolving audience?
Technology and target market analysis
As is the case in most areas of modern life (be it business or personal), technology is at the forefront of the drive toward ongoing, real-time market analysis.
More specifically, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are becoming the go-to tools for marketing teams conducting research on their target audience—with very good reason.
AI-driven audience analysis tools excel at two tasks that are exceedingly hard (actually, downright impossible) for humans. They can cover a colossal amount of data, and correlate effectively between the boundless attributes inherent in that data to find significant patterns. To oversimplify this to the max, robust platforms can crunch through the information on the open internet and uncover, for example, the fact that young men from the Chicago Bay Area with an interest in country music have a high propensity to convert to your brand.
So, these technologies not only automate the process of collecting and organizing consumer and industry-related data, but they also analyze the meaning behind the data. AI-based tools can also enable marketing teams to uncover the hidden opportunities mentioned earlier that otherwise may have gone overlooked. Another key benefit of using modern technology for market research purposes is that it understands what data matters most in a given scenario (and learns more the more it “works”).
This is important for two reasons—two opposite sides of the same coin. On the one side, you can be sure that the information being presented will allow you to improve your marketing efforts in a way that will positively influence your audience. On the other side, you won’t need to wade through thousands of pieces of superfluous data just to find the one needle in the haystack that will help improve your campaigns moving forward.
What it all comes down to is effectiveness and efficiency.
Is it possible to manually keep up with your customers’ evolving needs, and other trends in your industry? Sure...but it’s not easy, and there’s no guarantee that your team will always be moving on the right track. In other words, it’s not efficient—and it may or may not be effective.
But, through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, you’ll be able to collect any and all relevant and up-to-date information you need—and instantly start putting the data to good use.
Qualities of best-in-class market analysis technology
Not every market and audience analysis tool available will provide the same quality of service to your team. Some of the key features to look for in an AI-based market learning tool include:
- Continuous Audience Analysis: As we’ve mentioned, the data you collected on your audience yesterday will be at least somewhat obsolete tomorrow. With tools that provide ongoing audience analysis, you can be sure you always have the most current data in hand at all times.
- Surfaces Unknown Audiences: AI- and machine learning-based audience analysis tools don’t just analyze the audiences you tell them to. Rather, they analyze any and all data within your industry (and any other relevant source)—in turn allowing them to discover new potential audiences, as well.
- Proactive Delivery of Target Segments as They Form: Because these tools will uncover new target audiences and customers, they can also use this information to create audience segments your team would never have known existed. In turn, you can create marketing initiatives and campaigns laser-focused on these newly-developed segments.
- Based on Multiple Data Sources: High-quality audience analysis tools collect data from much more than a single source. For one thing, this ensures the data being collected and presented to your team is as accurate and objective as possible. Secondly, more data sources means more complete data—which translates into a more fully-developed “picture” of a given audience base
- Integrated with Competitive Analysis: As we’ve talked about in previous articles, competitive analysis and audience analysis go hand-in-hand in a variety of ways. Audience analysis tools that take data and information regarding your competitors add yet another layer of context to the data being collected—allowing you to be even more laser-focused in your marketing initiatives.
Your choice of audience analysis tools and software can have a far-reaching impact on your marketing efforts for the foreseeable future. While the various options at your disposal will be unique in a number of ways, you need to be absolutely certain that the tool(s) you commit to using cover all of the bases discussed above.
To reiterate the point we made at the beginning of this article, there’s no such thing as knowing too much about your customers.
But, with so much information available in our modern world, it’s essential that you pare away at the data that doesn’t matter all that much—and squeeze as much meaning as you can from the info that does matter.
To be blunt, going about this manually would immediately prove to be an unending, Sisyphean task for your marketing team. Chances are, this approach would lead to a ton of wasted time, money, and energy that could have been put to better use elsewhere.
That being said, by today’s standards, robust audience analysis tools steeped in artificial intelligence and machine learning are a must for marketing teams operating in any industry. With these tools, the vast majority of “legwork” becomes automated—allowing your team to focus on the more intensive initiatives that will lead to your company to massive growth in the future.