Do you know your audience? I mean, really know your audience?
Most people might respond “sure! They’re people who care about (company’s purpose)” which is fine for an accountant or HR associate to say. But if you’re creating content this isn’t good enough, if you want your content to grab your audience’s attention and be shared across the internet, you have to understand intimately what your audience cares about.
This is easier said than done, though. Visitors aren’t always keen to give you MORE of their valuable information. These tools should help make the job a little easier though.
Qualaroo – $$
When it comes to knowing your audience better, there’s no more direct source than simply asking your audience. This nifty tool makes this not only possible, but easy. In a self proclaimed “2 minute set up”, you can place a pop up survey question in the bottom right hand corner of your site. Used wisely, this is a powerful tool for getting to know your audience better.
This tool has a couple of specific features that make it particularly useful for learning your audience. For one, you can create unique questions for each page. By carefully pairing questions to the users’ position in “the funnel” you can learn about what might be keeping your visitors from donating or signing up for your newsletter. Additionally, with the ability to ask a variety of types of questions (multiple choice, open ended) and sequences, you can really dig into the motivations of your audience.
The ones who answer, that is. This is the one downside. You only get answers from people who, well, answer. This could be a small sample or, worse yet, misrepresentative sample. Regardless, you can get some powerful qualitative data from this simple tool.
Lucky Orange – $
If you are looking for a tool that does it all, literally does it all, then try Lucky Orange. Even though it does it all, today I am mostly interested in how it can help you understand your audience better. Among its bevy of tools, the most interesting ones are the heatmaps and the recordings (as well as polls but we covered that with Qualaroo).
The heatmaps show “Hot Spots” on your pages where your visitors clicked, where they moved their mouse, and how deep they scrolled. With this you can see how users interact with your pages (or don’t interact) to understand whether the pages are working or not. Even more importantly, though, Lucky Orange will record entire sessions.
That’s right, you read correctly. It’ll create video recordings of every user’s entire sessions. You can literally watch how every user goes through your site. As far as understanding the user experience, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Of course, there is a downside. Honestly, how many video recordings do you think you can watch? If you have 100 sessions at an average of three minutes long… you have an average of five hours of sessions to watch. So you’ll have to pick and choose wisely and hope that you’ll catch 80% of the errors.
Optimizely – $$
But that’s an A/B testing tool! What can it tell me about my audience? Everything, it turns out. That is, if it’s carefully used. In this case, you learn more from comparison than watching. Previously I wrote about A/B testing and how it can be used to tell whether you can improve the performance of a page or not.
The key here is why the performance of the page increased. This can tell you everything you need to know about your audience. And you can begin to design tests around your assumptions too! Do you think your audience is hesitant to provide their phone numbers? Test a donation form without the phone number. Wonder if your copy isn’t really hitting home? A/B test some different copy.
The downside is the steep learning curve involved in doing A/B testing. While it’s fairly easy to run tests, it’s difficult to do them right. With potential issues such as corrupted data and statistical confidence, using A/B testing effectively can be tricky.
Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities are legendary. A core competency that has rocketed the platform into one of the most successful companies in the world. Over a billion people have voluntarily told Facebook exactly what they like and you have access to it! Well… some of it.
But Facebook has this neat little trick where you can create a “remarketing” audience. This means you can create an audience of people who have already been to your website. This is great for marketing to your audience but even better for knowing your audience better. You literally have the information of the kind of people who visit your site!
Of course, as with all of these tools, there is a downside. In this case, getting this information is going to cost you and you’re going to have to work for it (ugh). Because of “privacy reasons” Facebook doesn’t just GIVE you this information. If you run ads though, you can get a very specific snapshot of your audience and their demographics.
Additional Tip: While this doesn’t tell you about your audience, this tip is too juicy to not share when talking about remarketing audiences. Facebook allows you to take your remarketing audience and build a “lookalike” audience based off of the common traits of your remarketing audience. So essentially you can market to people who are exactly like your audience, but haven’t discovered you yet (so you know they’ll like you.)
On site search queries – Free
A lesser known tool is the on site search queries. If you have a search bar on your site, you’re sitting on a gold mine of information about your audience. Or in some cases, user experience errors on your site.
Google Analytics can help you track site search queries, if you set it up. And you should set it up. When people are on your site and they can’t find what they’re looking for, they search for it. And let’s be honest, we only use that feature when we’re desperate. So, if you set it up, you literally have a list of stuff your audience wants to know but can’t find.
It doesn’t get much better than that! Oh, were you looking for a downside? With tracking on-site search queries there aren’t any so you better be doing it.
Each of these tools can help us in the endeavor to better understand our audience through a variety of methods. Of course, these are only five of a multitude of tools that can help (though some darn good ones if I may say so myself). Are you using any tools I didn’t mention that you love?