What are the questions you need to constantly ask your audience?

In How to Define Your Target Audience—It’s Not What You Think, we discussed why it is important to find your target market. And to create content that connects with your target customer, you’ll want to create customer profiles that give you a vivid idea of the people you want to appeal to with your marketing content.

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Crafting detailed and highly relevant buyer personas, also referred to as marketing personas, will help you accomplish several segmentation feats:

  • Target your audience, engage and connect with buyer intent
  • Stand out in the competition
  • Craft amazing messaging by improving the depth and breadth of your content
  • Attract superior quality leads
  • Inform objective decision-making
  • Help you realize positive ROI on your campaign  dollars

However, the worst thing you can do is assume you know your customer base outright — or rely on outdated client personas that you created decades ago! How do you continually get to know your customers? By continually asking them questions!

In this post, we share the vital questions you need to constantly ask your ideal customer on top of the fundamental targeting questions. Asking the right questions gets you the relevant answers you need.

So you can use this guide to research, create and add detail to your buyer personas for your business.

There is no magic number as to how many times in a year you should be engaging your core audience. Often times, doing it every six months is a concrete spot to take off from.

If you’re looking for a bigger guide on your business’ brand, or how to get your branding right, check out The Ultimate Small Business Branding Guide.

How to Strengthen Your Content Marketing Strategy: Ask the Right Questions!

In his epic, new content marketing book, Audience: Marketing in The Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers, author Jeff Rohr goes into the deep revealing the three core types of audiences you are likely to encounter in your branding campaign.

Jeff and his team offer an impressive dive into what makes different audiences tick. And ultimately, what you can do to signal the right signs to them and gain the information you need to craft engaging messaging that connects with the most valuable potential customer.

Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi’s breaks down what Jeff Rohr delves into in this post, digging out useful insight about audience types:

What are Seekers?

Who are the Seekers?: Seekers have a need and are looking for ways to meet it online. Seekers may be browsers, listeners, readers, shoppers, or visitors to your website. The attributes of seekers include:

  • They are looking for something of personal interest.
  • You can get their attention by providing relevant content that matches this interest.
  • However, you won’t get their attention unless you use paid, earned, or owned media to draw them in.
  • They are in control of their consumption process, coming and going as they please.

The key point is this last one: You have no way of controlling their connection to you, or how they will choose to communicate with you. They hold all the cards.

Who are Amplifiers?

Who are the Amplifiers?: Think of amplifiers as mini-media companies. Amplifiers have their own audiences and can serve as your army for helping spread your content marketing. You may already be working with them, and refer to them as influencers, reporters, reviewers, or analysts.

The attributes of amplifiers include:

  • class=”first-child”>They share content that is interesting to them, either personally or professionally.
  • Amplifiers share content when and how they want to, through both public and private channels.
  • Most often, their primary purpose is to grow their own audiences.
  • class=”last-child”>When they’ve stopped sharing your content, they are no longer your amplifier.

Who are Joiners?

Who are the Joiners?: Ultimately, we leverage seekers and amplifiers to find and keep joiners. The goal of our content marketing is to find and keep an audience, so Joiners are the ones who “bring the magic.”

Joiners give you permission to communicate with them. They raise their hands, and actively let your content in every month, week, or day that you deliver it.

The three key attributes of Joiners include:

  • class=”first-child”>They allow you to send them direct messages (permission marketing).
  • They provide you with a way to contact them (e.g., an email address).
  • class=”last-child”>Their interactions give you personal data about them, which in turn gives you the means to create customized content for them and turn them into better customers for your business.

This is why joiners are the most powerful audience: This group has granted you at least a bit of control over your message delivery. Also, because they have raised their hands as Joiners, you can start collecting information about them — demographics, click behavior and content consumption behavior (this is where marketing automation platforms really earn their stripes).

(Expert from Joe Pulizzi, 3 Audience Types that Are Essential to Successful Content Marketing).

Now, you have to figure out what your engagement needs are. For example, depending on your engagement needs, you might consider making Amplifiers happy a top priority because they help influence both the Joiners and Seekers.

Still, you might prefer to create powerful messaging that caters to the curious needs of the Seeker. Or you might choose to emphasize on building irresistible incentives that attract Joiners by the masses.

But Jeff et al is just one set of questions to engage your target customer segment and only one way to look at connecting with your audience. Brilliant marketers also ask themselves this set of targeted questions.

The Right Targeting Questions to Ask Your Target Customer

Now, which right questions do you ask your customers to keep them happy?

Kissmetrics compiled a brilliant set here, but there is more do drafting the best questions to continually ask your core customer to retain them, broaden your scope while narrowing down your search and improvement strategy.

Here’s another way to look at this.

Imagine this B2C scenario, where you are a baby items store targeting pre-school toddlers. You might already have a solid idea of branding your products or services and what to offer. But do you get to whom to fine-tune your messaging?

While the child’s parents make the final buying decision regarding whether or not to buy a particular item, it is the nanny or daycare personnel that are likely to influence what the parent will or will not buy—after all, they’ll still buy something from someone.

There are three personas in this case you’ll want to ask what they’d like to see, experience and have added to your product or service to improve it.

For example, in this case, you might consistently ask:

  • What baby items do they want to see and buy?
  • Why do they want those items, and what do they use the items for?
  • Are the items you provide helping them solve their needs?
  • What trouble are they having while trying to get great baby items or a variety of those from your business?
  • How do they prefer to get those items? Online or off? Delivered or not?
  • What do they suggest you do to ensure they access these great baby items and in ways they prefer?

Now picture a B2B scenario, where you are a website design business targeting enterprises keen on broadening their online presence and digital marketing strategy.

When you gather up data to create strong personas, there are likely to be at least three steps or levels of people to satisfy in your marketing:

Marketer Doreen:

She may not be the boss to make the final decision regarding which web design company to hire, but she is likely the one to recommend you to her boss—Richard, the Marketing Director. Doreen is the one searching and rating your services (and comparing your competition).

You might want to ask the demographic and psychographic she represents:

  • What kind of information are you looking for to be able to make a good recommendation to your boss?
  • Are you able to find this information on our website?
  • Is there a way we could help you get more in-depth information to help your search? E-books, live chat, articles, and so on.

Director of Marketing, Richard:

Richard will make the decision regarding which web dev company to hire. He is motivated by boosting marketing effectiveness and is interested in increasing number of leads generated through the website.

You’ll want to ask his persona:

  • Is your website appealing to customers and generating leads like you hoped it would?
  • What features, visual cues, media content, and so on do they plan on installing on their site to better appeal to prospects? For example, is your social media integration helpful to them?
  • Does the web design layout you offer help point their readers in the right direction, encouraging them to take the next step towards the call-to-action?
  • Does the design impress Richard with the delivery of information to help them broaden and reach their marketing goals?
  • Is it easy and quick for their customers to find the information they are looking for?

CEO of the company, John:

John ultimately makes the decision to hire a web development company or not—or ask Richard to come up with another digital marketing strategy (social media and video channels, e.g.).

Courtesy: Intechnic

He is driven by what return on investment the web design project should return. Your questions should seek to find out if John sees the money trail and whether the information you market to him answers to “where is the money?”

Often, to this persona, the most important question to follow up on is:

  • Do our features help you achieve your objectives and ROI?
  • What else would you want to have us serve you in order to help you reach your ROI goal?

The Bottomline: Know What Questions to Ask Before You do Your Market Research

Constantly ask the right questions to learn and understand your customer pain-points and empower your problem-solving decisions to keep your audience happy—and buying from just you. The data you collect will help you to accurately organize your customer segments, and inject power and zest into your marketing. Continuing to interview your audience and customers is a practice that you’ll have to continue if you want to stay competitive in the market. Not anticipating the trends, pain points, problems, and desires of your audience could cost you big time!

We’ve talked a lot about marketing here at Canny. If you want to continue to develop key client personas, you’ll want to read our latest post on How to Create Killer Client Personas that Actually Work! 

Use the data that you’ve uncovered in your targeted market research done here to really get clear on who your audience is, what they want, and how you can meet those needs with your company. Building brand loyalty is like building a strong relationship — it takes back and forth listening from both parties to make it work. If you want to build a lasting brand, keep listening to your audience!

Amy Aitman is the owner of 8menCan, a content agency based in Toronto, Canada. She works to create content strategies and digital marketing plans for businesses around the world. Away from the office, Amy takes her team out for chicken tacos and martins, extra dirty, extra olives of course.

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