The Best Audience Research Methods

How often do you ask yourself this question: How well do I know my audience?

A lot of people think they know their audience – which is their first mistake. Knowing your audience means knowing exactly what they think and feel, as well as what they want and what they need. If you aren’t hitting on these points, your marketing campaigns aren’t useful.

What the most successful businesses do is this: Research their audiences to understand all of their desires, and then tailor their strategies accordingly.

But where is the best starting point? To put it simply, there are two different kinds of data: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative data involves quantities and numbers, and is fairly easy to measure. When using this data, it’s most helpful in infographics or graphs, as you can clearly lay-out important statistics.

On the flip side, qualitative data is a more in-depth analysis of your audience. It’ll answer the question of why your customers act in a certain way. And while this data isn’t measured as easily, it’s extremely useful when it comes to results.

There’s no need to pick sides with these two – you can mix them together. Count on quantitative data to help you clearly define what your findings are, while qualitative data is going to answer the question of “Why?” with your findings.

And while there are tons of processes you can use to research your audience, here are the best:

As old-school as it might sound, surveys and questionnaires are one of the best – and easiest – ways to gather some data. Plus, it’ll offer you quantitative results (and, if you’re lucky, qualitative) that are easy to dissect and measure. Plus, there are several ways they can be created: online, through email, social media, websites, or various other tools like Survey Monkey or PollDaddy.

Or if you’d rather do it offline, you can always ask people questions in person. Some people prefer this method, because you’re better able to gauge the person’s response.

The good:
It’s quick to design and easy to send out several samples, not to mention easy to measure.

The bad:
You can’t get any detail once you get the responses. Plus, you aren’t sure the people responding are relevant to your business.

Another winner for research gathering is interviews. This is a basic conversation between two people, as the interviewer asks questions to gather insight into the audience and their behavior. The goal here is to collect qualitative data and luckily, an interview can be conducted in several different forms, from in person to on the phone or on a type of instant messenger.

One key here is to remember to record your interviews. This way, there won’t be any confusion when it comes to what you’re doing and that the interviewee has agreed to it. If you don’t want to do these interviews in person, you can do them on applications like Skype or GoToMeeting. Interviews are a great way to really get some detail behind the responses.

The good:
You can gather a lot of detail and explanations. You will also be able to see your participants and make sure the research is relevant to your research.

The bad:
Interview results aren’t as easy to measure or dissect. Plus, things like the environment and even the interviewer easily influence participants.

None of these sound like the right fit? Try giving focus groups a try. A focus group is much like group interviews. How it works is like this: The researcher asks a group of people a relevant question. Then, the focus group has the chance to discuss it and share their opinions. The researcher watches all of this, taking it all in. During this time, as the researcher, you’ll want to listen to the conversation very, very carefully. There may be one person who takes the lead and influences the opinions of others.

The good:
You’ll be able to gather more data from an entire group interaction. Since there is a larger sample size, you’ll have more qualitative data.

The bad:
This type of data isn’t easy to analyze or measure. Additionally, the researcher doesn’t have much control in a group setting.

Finally, observation is another choice for research. This is similar to focus groups. The researcher watches participants and collects data in a natural setting. This can be done online or in a similar situation to the focus group.

The good:
You’re able to compare responses from the participants and gather extremely useful information.

The bad:
These observations are individual and can’t be grouped together. And, because the group knows they’re being watched, they may change their responses.

All of these research methods can be effective when it comes to your business’s success. However, if you’re looking for a simple and easy way to gather intel on your customers, Frictionless is the way to go. We’ll take care of all these methods for you, delivering you with the results and methods you need.