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Best Practice: Audience Profiling Tools

Before you dive head first into creating content you think your potential customers will be interested in, there are a wealth of free to use tools out there that can help you conduct customer research. Below is an overview of some of the tools available to you to profile your audience.

Google Trends really simple but effective tool for understanding how your audiences are searching online –

Is there a particular time of year, month, day of week that your service or product is in demand?

Has your service had a sudden surge in demand? Or worse a gradual loss of interest over time?

What are some of the similar trending searches around your brands?

Google Trends has the answer to all of these – take advantage of this data to ensure you are launching marketing campaigns at the right time; effectively handle surges in demand; and spot opportunities for growth.

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Keyword planner is a free tool, but it does require an Adwords account, Google Keyword Planner is not only great for building PPC campaigns and prioritising your SEO activity – it is also a great starting point for content ideation, especially when creating useful resources to answer your customers’ questions.

Simply type in a keyword related to your business, set your location (the whole world, country or city depending on your ambitions) and the tool will bring back hundreds of related keywords showing the monthly volumes of people searching on Google.

It is imperative to have your Google Analytics set up correctly for your website to understand what pages are making you money, what pages are causing people to leave, what marketing campaigns are working and much more.

However, the tool also has some much underused features that can help you understand who your audience are. Under the Audience drop-down are numerous reports that show more information about your users: age, gender, location (city and country), browser or mobile device used and finally Interest.

This final bit of data can often be the first insight into what makes your customer “tick”, a difficult sentiment to pin down. This insight goes beyond merely what they are actively searching for as the previous tools do, but uses past behavior to categorise users into 100s of personality “buckets”, such as Movie Lovers, Technophiles, Celebrity News Junkies or Outdoor Enthusiasts.

This data can be a great starting point for understanding what your customers are interested in away from your business and is fantastic for creating content and even products that will resonate with them. For example, a fashion brand may find its customers are fitness obsessed – could they create a gym clothing line?  The same brand may also find their customers are really into music – could they create a video series of around what to wear to this year’s festivals?

Everyone and their dog uses Facebook right? In the UK there are around 40 million active users – that’s over 50% of the population.

And as every like, share and comment is gathered, it has become one of, if not the, largest database of public opinion available.

Through the Facebook Audience Insights tool, you can analyse your own fan base, competitors, or even chosen segments, to find out data such as age, gender, location, relationship status, education level, job title, what other pages they like, what devices they use, how engaged they are on Facebook (do they comment/ like/ share more than the average user)

Much like Google’s interest segments, this data can be very useful to understand what sort of people your customers are and what resonates with them. Create content that reflects this, simples.

And, of course, all this research into your audience is a great starting point for your distribution strategy and making sure your content is seen by the right people.

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It is also fascinating seeing where there are crossovers in people’s interests that you may have not expected to use to your benefit

In the summer of 2016, adidas launched a campaign with rising grime star Stormzy. To anyone under the age of 30, this may have seemed odd and frightening.

However, looking at the audience overlap between the rapper and the sportswear brand, it may brilliant sense with 60% of Stormzy’s fans also followers of Adidas. This means that a collaboration between the two is going to amplify the campaign really well.

The YouGov profiler is one of my favourite tools, simply because it shows the results of a large data set in an incredibly easy to consume format with friendly graphical style to go along with it.

As well as the usual data around age, gender, location and social grade, it also provides wonderful insights into your average customer: political leaning, monthly spare budget, preferred brands, media consumption habits, entertainment, even favourite dish and most likely pet.

All great insights into your customers that would otherwise cost the earth to gather through other means.

Do beware though of smaller sample sizes however – it may throw up unhelpful anomalies.

The Global Web Index is another expansive paid for tool, but their daily emails of digital trends are brilliant at giving insight into how different audiences are behaving online.

One day it could be the growth of Snapchat amongst teens, the next it could be the decline of tablets as a second screen.

This is really useful information for planning your online and media strategies, making sure that you are visible on the platforms your audience is using.

With a wealth of data about who your customers are, what they are searching for online, and what they are interested in, you should be ready to start to put together your content strategy.

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