Your Audience Is Talking. Are You Listening?

For anybody who has an Internet connection, silence is never an option. You are constantly surrounded by noise, from social media to news notifications. While you can choose to actively manage your access to this background noise as a way to free up your mind and improve your individual productivity, it’s not an option that is viable for business owners.

Indeed, in a business environment, noise is not only helpful, but it is also essential to your survival. Noise is the way a company can measure the trends on their specific market, figure out what competitors are doing and, last but not least, noise is your audience talking. You can’t keep your business afloat if you don’t listen carefully and plan accordingly. Unfortunately, everyday workflow and routine processes can come in the way and distract you from what your audience is saying. More than one entrepreneur has experienced the cost of distraction, losing customers and reputation in the process. So, if you’re in the process of preparing your strategy for next year, now’s the perfect time to stay still and listen.

See no audience, speak to no audience, hear no audience

You don’t have the tools in place to serve them

It’s fair to say that the first rule of knowing what your audience is saying is – even before choosing to pay attention – to have the tools in place that let you listen. Indeed, if your business is not equipped with the relevant solutions, it’s likely that you will fail to gain from any interaction with your target demographics. Something as obvious as keeping a dedicated social media team can make a great deal of difference. Indeed, most customers are active on their favorite social media platform, where they express their opinions, criticism, issues, and voice out their expectations. Failure to notice or even to respond to social media mentions doesn’t only affect the trust users put in your brand. It also affects your future strategies as you are missing out on essential feedback. Other standard tools include web analytics tools such as Google Analytics and AdWords – but they are other alternatives –, SEO monitoring tools to track trends, and an automated feedback collecting tool such as Feefo.

You hear them, but you don’t understand

Having all the right tools, though, is no guarantee of obtaining the knowledge you need. Indeed, data collecting tools are traditionally used to highlight audience trends and changes. However, in order to do so, you need to understand what types of data analytics you’re dealing with and how to read it. A common mistake for inexperienced marketers is to use a descriptive approach to diagnose issues. Descriptive analytics is the most frequently used type of analytics in offices as it serves as a summary of a given period. However, it doesn’t provide insight into potential business disruptions and anomalies, or even forecast as to future trends. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop many small businesses to rely extensively on a descriptive report, which leads to audience misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

You don’t know how to ask for information

Everyone has, once in their lifetime, had to fill up a survey questionnaire. Surveys are, by far, the favorite tools of a marketing strategist, as they provide valuable insights into what their audience groups expect from the company. However, how many useful surveys have you completed in a lifetime? Indeed, as polls are easy to plan and schedule with affordable online tools, too many businesses tend to follow the same generic template. A simple example lies in the granular approach of the answers. Age-related questions tend to encompass a broad range of age, often creating micro-segments for each life phase: teens, students, young adults, adult, middle-aged adults, etc. If you choose to use more specific age data, you might cause survey fatigue. But similarly, offering low granularity perspectives can also affect the very purpose of the survey.

You think you know better

Last, but not least, an issue that happens far too frequently to new entrepreneurs and business owners is to assume who their audience is. As a result, you might be tempted to skip the market and audience analysis, which can lead to the unintentional pursuit of the wrong target. Two things inevitably occur. Firstly, you struggle to get your business noticed on the market. But secondly, and most importantly, you can’t hear your true audience because you don’t know where they are. There are obvious giveaway signs that you’re not marketing to the best-suited target, such as low engagement and conversion rates. Unfortunately, if no research is done to define the target segment, these signs risk being misinterpreted.

There is none so deaf as he who will not listen. Failing to hear your audience means, for businesses, a significant loss of opportunities and impaired growth, if any at all. Give your business a chance: Learn to listen to the noise your audience is making.  

By John-Shea

Internet Marketing Entrepreneur

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