Knowing who you’re writing for is a major part of any project, so it goes without saying that researching your target audience should be a high priority. But where should you start if you’ve decided to branch out into a new market? And what if you’re just getting started and don’t already know what your target audience likes or how best to engage with them? Here are three of the best ways you can do background research on your audience.
This may sound like cheating, but there are loads of companies out there that make researching customer behaviour their business. The reports they publish make a great place to start. Organisations like the Pew Research Center compile reports on all sorts of trends and customer attitudes. These are free to access, but Pew also then goes on to publish the datasets they used later down the line. And this gives you access to some great raw data to crunch more specifically for what you’re interested in.
Forums and Q&A sites
If you need to know what issues your target audience may be facing, forums or Q&A sites are a good place to look. It can be a bit time-consuming to read through all the posts, but they’re full of people asking questions. And the most commonly asked questions often express your audience’s pains and worries.
As a general Q&A site, Quora is pretty popular and often has more detailed questions and answers. Reddit is also a great source because it automatically brings popular topics/questions to the top. It also works using lots of sub-forums (subreddits) that cater to specific topic areas (e.g. r/politics for discussions about US politics), making it easier to find audience-specific issues.
And lastly, if you want people to see your posts and online content through searches, then you’re going to need to optimise it for search engines. Keyword planners are great for this and Google’s is the go-to for many people.
Using a keyword planner allows you to quickly find words or phrases related to your topic that people are actually searching for. By using these keywords in your titles and adding them into your content, you can then increase the chances of people seeing it.
Once you’ve got a grasp of your target audience’s behaviour, what they are worried about and what people are actually searching for, it simply becomes a case of writing copy that connects the dots.
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