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Basic Audience Analysis: Identify the Right Customers for Your Target Market


Tailoring media messaging to target specific audiences is essential for marketing and other communications-based professions. Understanding the nuances of an audience helps communicators connect and engage with that audience effectively, which is where audience analysis comes into play.   

Audience market analysis is a core area of study in the Arkansas State University (A-State) online Master of Science (M.S.) in Media Management (MM) programs. The versatile career applications of A-State's customizable M.S. in MM program tracks rely on audience analysis to inform messaging, communications and multi-channel marketing strategy.

What Is Audience Analysis?

Audience analysis starts with research. It involves gathering information about an audience's interests, demographics, values, beliefs, attitudes, location, buying habits, media channel use and more. All this information is analyzed to provide actionable insights regarding how to find, connect with and influence a target audience. Finally, these insights inform and optimize communications strategy.

Audience analysis rose from the traditional study and practice of communications like speech and composition. Modern applications of audience analysis to fields like marketing have evolved substantially along with the technological advancement of cutting-edge analytics tools and software.

Why Is Audience Analysis So Important in Marketing?

Many fields rely on audience analysis, from politics to public health to entertainment. For the media management student focusing on messaging in the digital media environment, audience analysis' application to marketing practices is particularly pertinent.

The digital environment is saturated with advertising content and messaging. As a Forrester Consulting research paper explains, today's customers are developing "an expectation of seamless, real-time, and relevant brand experiences and content across all touchpoints." However, the sheer multitude of digital channels, content and customer preferences can make cutting through the noise and creating a seamless customer experience challenging.

But, according to Forrester, "digital channels also leave a trail of valuable data that can be used to drive more meaningful customer moments." Forrester emphasizes that marketers must "go beyond traditional personalization," and "deliver both personalized and contextual experiences in their customers' exact moment of need."

This customer satisfaction is the essence of audience analysis put to work in the digital era. Marketers can leverage person-level data to identify potential customers and personalize messaging, content and delivery channels to their needs and preferences.

But with the proliferation of personalized content, marketers need to analyze and act on granular, person-level data contextually, in real-time. This necessity means taking a customer-centric approach to delivering a cohesive brand experience capable of iterating and developing along with the customer's journey. Professionals do this by applying insight derived from audience analysis to strategy. The components of traditional marketing funnels still exist, but the buyer journey may look less like a funnel.

The customer relationship is no longer a task that follows conversion. Instead, the customer relationship is now central to every stage, from awareness and exposure to purchase. This process relies on an iterative form of audience analysis, continuously improving the customer experience.

How Can Marketers Accomplish This at Scale?

Employing a person-level, granular approach at scale without an underlying framework is unfeasible. Audience market analysis is key to identifying the right potential consumers to target and direct marketing efforts. Deeper-level analysis of that audience informs overarching marketing strategy and framework development.

Students in A-State's M.S. in MM programs explore the applications of social science and other research methods to audience market analysis. Coursework focuses on using aggregate consumer media data sources like Nielsen, Arbitron and SDRS to find high-potential target markets.

A plethora of modern analytics services and tools facilitate further analysis of target audiences. For instance, Facebook Audience Insights allows marketers to drill down into content performance metrics and Facebook data on demographics, location and interests. Marketers use this information to better understand their current audience, refine strategy, expand target audiences and design meaningful data-informed content.

Numerous other sources like Instagram Insights and Google Analytics provide data and insight drawn from social media, geolocation analysis, website traffic and more. Advanced analytics software can aggregate big data from disparate internal and external sources, providing broad-spectrum audience analysis.

Along with direct customer feedback, buying history, focus groups and other audience research, this aggregated analysis helps marketers identify their brand's buyer persona. Hubspot defines a buyer persona as "a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers."

Identifying an accurate buyer persona helps brands understand and respond to their audience. This insight drives product, content and marketing strategy development aligned with ideal customer interests, values, habits and motivations.

Buyer persona insights informed by audience analysis help companies develop customer-centric frameworks for marketing approaches. Ongoing audience analysis of person-level, granular data guides the responsive, timely engagement and relationship-building modern customers expect.

Learn more about Arkansas State University's online M.S. in Media Management program.



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