5 Must-Have Audience Research Tools to Create Targeted Content

Jessica Thiefels on Tuesday, February 2, 2021

audience research

Audience research cannot be ignored if you’re creating content. If you’re writing blog posts or creating social media content based on hunches, assumptions or topics that appeal to you, you’re likely missing out on what your audience really wants to read about. This means you’re wasting time creating content that isn’t actually attracting potential customers and clients.

This audience research not only allows you to create more targeted content, but it also leads to greater authenticity. When you know what your ideal clients and customers want to read, you can speak their language and connect deeper. 

While this may not seem important compared to direct ROI, a Stackla survey found that 90 percent of consumers consider authenticity when deciding which brands they like and support. What’s more, 51 percent say less than half of brands actually create content that feels authentic.

To understand your audience you need the right tools. Here are the ones we recommend for uncovering who your audience is and what they want to know about. Bonus: you may already even use some of these simple yet powerful audience research tools.

1. CRM or Sales Data 

Who is your ideal reader?

Inform your content first and foremost with your CRM and sales data. This may seem like an odd place to do audience research, but the demographics of your customers tell you a lot about who you’re writing for—and knowing the “who” is step one. As you look at your CRM, keep any and all identifying data points in mind. If it tells you about who you’re writing for, it’s valuable. For example:

  • Zip code
  • Median income level
  • Lead source
  • Commonly asked questions
  • Career details
  • Education details

Don’t forget to look at qualitative data as well. As Hubspot explains, “Qualitative data can be stored in your CRM to inform you about your contact’s attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that relate to their buying decisions.”

For example, “What made you choose this product” might help you understand potential educational topics.

2. Audience Surveys 

What questions do they have?

If you have automated or post-conversion surveys already set up (I.E. customer satisfaction surveys), dig into this data for audience research. Use it to understand what they want to know more about, how you can better serve them with content, and even which product- or service-related topics might be most valuable for potential customers. 

For example, if clients often report struggling with a specific feature of your tool, you may create a piece of content to explain how that feature works. If you don’t already have surveys set up, use a free tool like Google Forms to start collecting this helpful data. New to this tool? Here’s a guide on how to use Google Forms!

3. Keyword Research

What are they searching for?

Keyword research is not only important for SEO, but for audience research as well. You may have an idea of what your clients or customers want to read about, but until you do this step, you don’t actually know what they’re searching for. 

For example, you may think they’re searching for “HR software” when really they’re using search terms like:

  • Collaborative team software
  • HR paperwork tools
  • HR management software

Using keyword research ensures that your content is as targeted as possible, allowing you to reach your ideal customers and clients in the search engine where they’re searching for the content you’re creating.

There are many keyword research tools you can use. The only free tool I recommend is Ubersuggest and the paid tool I prefer is Ahrefs.

Free Download: Keyword Research Guide

4. Social Media Analytics 

Where do they consume content?

If you’re appealing to multiple audiences, you may need to shift your language and messaging when sharing your targeted content on social media. You may even only share some content on one platform and some on another. This is key for keeping your social media posts authentic. The more you can speak the language of your followers, the more likely you are to get them to click to the link and read the content on your site.

When looking at your social media analytics, consider a few key data points:

  • Engagement and traffic: Which categories and types of content get more engagement and traffic from each site? For example, humorous content may get more clicks on Twitter than it does on Instagram. Use this data to determine where you’ll share what. 
  • Overall traffic: If some sites drive more traffic back to your content than others, focus on sharing your most important pieces—I.E. those that have a strong call to action—on those sites to get the most potential visibility. 

You can find this data through your social scheduling tool or the social media platforms themselves, each of which has an insights dashboard. Collect this data each month so you can continually check in.

5. Google Analytics

What are they reading?

Creating targeted and authentic content is all about knowing what your audience loves reading so you can create more of that. The best place to go for that data is Google Analytics, or if you’re using Hubspot, the insights tab of your website. A critical part of a successful content marketing strategy is continually coming back to the analytics to ask yourself a few key questions:

  • What are they interested in reading? Which blog posts are consistently number one across all sources of traffic? Those are likely topics your audience is interested in reading more about. Break your content down into categories and specify which categories continually perform better than others.
  • What is getting the most organic traffic? This is a signifier that your audience is interested in this content—because you’re beating other websites in the search results—but that your keywords are working. The more organic traffic, the better your SEO. 
  • Which articles have the longest time on page? If your readers are spending more time on that content, they’re likely reading more of it, rather than skimming it. This is a sign they like it. 

Use these data points to start getting more targeted with your content  planning. Refer to them each month or quarter, before planning your next set of content to make sure you’re creating content that will be consumed. 

Research Your Blog’s Audience Demographics to Create Targeted Content 

You can’t create content for your ideal content, and speak authentically, if you don’t know who you’re writing for. Use these audience research tools to create targeted content that drives leads and sales.