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5 Audience Research Methods You Should Use

Understanding your audience is crucial to your success. Studying buyers’ pain points, expectations and emotional connections to your brand will help you tailor your marketing campaigns and get better results. You can start by adopting the right audience research strategies. Here are five audience research methods you should be using.


Online surveys are more accessible than ever before, thanks to tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey. You can send a satisfaction survey link after a customer has made a purchase and boost participation rates by offering a coupon.

Even though data can be unreliable due to the challenge of controlling your pool, you can use online surveys to gain insights into these areas for audience research:

  • Your current customer satisfaction rate.
  • How this satisfaction rate changes over time.
  • Key areas that need to be improved.
  • Basic demographic insights into who your typical buyer is.

You can also explore mail, telephone and in-person surveys. These methods are more expensive but give you more control over the pool of participants.


Interviews allow you to obtain qualitative insights. You can either structure interviews with customers by asking them to answer a list of questions or extend your audience research to have a moderator engage with participants to have a more informal discussion about your brand and products.

Follow these best practices to get the most out of interviews:

  • Try to match each participant with a buyer’s persona.
  • Ask about customers’ journey before making a purchase and focus on identifying their pain points.
  • Create an environment where participants feel comfortable about speaking up.
  • Ask open-ended questions, so participants have to elaborate when they answer.
  • Prepare some questions that will help you explore and understand how people connect with your brand.

    • Focus Groups

      Focus groups are another strategy used to gather qualitative insights. You would typically present a product, service, or marketing campaign to a small group of participants and see how they react. The purpose of a focus group is often to assess reactions and perceptions.

      Keep your focus groups small. Each group should have a few characteristics in common, such as gender, age or other factors so you can assess the reactions and perceptions of a specific buyer profile.

      You should have a moderator who keeps the discussion flowing without abruptly changing the topic. The moderator needs to make sure everyone feels free to speak up and that everyone gets to express their opinion. Engage participants by asking thoughtful questions.

      Virtual focus groups are a relatively new trend. This is something you should look into if you want to keep costs down or need to reach out to participants in different locations to put together a group that is representative of your audience.

      Social Media Analytics

      You can derive a lot of information about your audience by using social media analytics. The great thing about this audience research method is that you probably already have a good amount of data available.

      Social media has become a crucial aspect of how consumers interact with brands. Here is what you can learn about your audience by using social media analytics:

      • Which platforms they are likely to use.
      • The best time to post content on these platforms to achieve optimal visibility.
      • How likely your followers are to share or interact with a text, image, or video.

      These are quantitative data points that will help you improve your social media marketing strategy. You can also use social media for qualitative insights into what people are saying about your brand.

      What social media users say about your brand and products might not be representative of how your audience feels, but this type of qualitative insights can be a good way to identify areas that need to be improved or to determine if your online reputation needs improvement.

      Input From Employees

      Create a company culture where employees feel like they can share their ideas and input regarding customer satisfaction. The employees who interact with customers, whether they work in brick-and-mortar stores or in customer service, should have some valuable insights to share.

      Here are a few examples of questions these employees can answer to help you understand your audience:

      • Which questions do customers often ask?
      • What are the frustrations that customers share with them?
      • What seems to influence a customer’s decision when they purchase a product?
      • Which issues do they often deal with if they work in customer service?

      Keep in mind that some interactions with customers are going to stand out because they are unusual. Focus on getting employees to talk about what a typical interaction is like, so you can gain insights that are representative of your audience.

      You can obtain a more accurate picture of your target audience by using these five research methods. You will get better results if you combine quantitative and qualitative data, implement ongoing campaigns such as customer satisfaction surveys, and plan focus groups or interviews when launching a new product or marketing campaign.

      Do you need a partner to help your business with audience research on your target demographic? HJR Global is a business that specializes in helping small businesses succeed in all things from planning to securing funding. Contact a member of our team today for more information.

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