As a marketer, one of your primary jobs is to know your target audience. That includes who they are and where they hang out, what they care about, what their pain points are, and what’s going to motivate them to make a purchase. Ultimately, you need to be able to create detailed buyer personas that encapsulate this and a lot of other critical information to inform your marketing activities.
Of course before you can create buyer personas, or enhance the ones that you’ve already got, you have to gather information about your customers. There are lots of different ways to do so. Some are pretty straightforward, while others require a lot more work. In this post, I’ve decided to focus on the low-hanging fruit — the stuff you can do pretty easily and quickly yourself. I’ve got four suggestions for you, starting with the easiest ones first:
1) Talk to the customer-facing staff in your organization
As a marketer, chances are that you probably don’t interact with your customers enough directly to really know them. But there are others in your organization — members of your sales, support, and customer success teams for example — who do. So find opportunities to talk to these people about what they’re seeing. Ask them for anecdotes, trends, or any other observations they may have that will help you better understand your customers. You can do this ad hoc through informal conversations or systematically through a series of surveys or interviews.
2) Gate your content
An easy way to begin collecting data about your target audience is by gating your high-impact content. That way when visitors discover your eBooks, reports, white papers, and other valuable content, they have to share some basic information about themselves via a form to access it.
The key to using forms effectively is to avoid asking for too much information at any one time since long forms with a lot of fields can deter people. Instead, I recommend tracking visitors so that your website recognizes them when they come back. That way, when repeat visitors go to download a different piece of content, you can change up the form to ask them something new.
3) Conduct surveys and polls
Another great way to collect information is by creating surveys and polls for your customers and prospects to respond to. These can either be placed prominently on your website or they can be proactively sent out to your distribution list. The key to getting results is to make sure that they survey or poll is short (it should take less than three minutes to complete) and that you clearly articulate what you’re trying to achieve and how that’s going to help the participant.
For example, you might explain that the data you’re collecting will allow you to better serve your customers. It can also be helpful to offer a free giveaway. Tell participants that they’ll be entered into a raffle for a free prize. Even small things, like a $25 Amazon gift card, can go a long way toward motivating people to participate.
4) Analyze any data that you have available to you
We live in the digital age, where there are plenty of sources of customer data. If you’re a tech company you’ll likely have access to tons of data from your product about things like usage and customer behavior. Alternatively, you can often tap into public data or partner with third-party data vendors to get specific customer insights (for more information on this, check out this great article).
However, if you’re just getting started, the easiest thing may be to simply look at some basic tools that you’re probably already familiar with. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, for example, will give you insights into what keywords your audience is searching for while tools like Facebook Audience Manager and Twitter Audience Insights can give you an array of data about buying behaviors, demographics, and other useful information.