I recently observed a chance encounter following a yoga class between a designer and a woman who’d bought her brand for over a decade.

After a star-struck moment, the customer returned to earth and shared her opinion of the items she owned. Visibly touched, the designer’s approachability and authentic curiosity made the customer comfortable enough to discuss a competitor’s product she’d also purchased.

During their warm 20-minute conversation, the designer learned details of the customer’s all-time favorite item, her buying patterns, why the woman had bought from a competitor, and her perspective on that product. She also had an opportunity to reveal new lines she’ll be featuring, heard a cute story about how the woman would hide her shopping from her husband and finally left with contact information to reconnect with the customer.

Learning about your audience can be that easy. According to a target market study by content marketing strategist Jordan Loftis, successful marketers are 242% more likely to conduct audience research at least once per quarter — while 56% of what he calls his most elite marketers conduct research once or more per month.

Here’s a compilation of best tips from expert marketers for going beyond basic demographics to glean important insight about your audience.

Feedback directly from customers

Along with social media and digital offerings, marketers are turning to tried and true basics like live conversations with potential and current customers. Opening up breathing room in your schedule to be available for synchronistic meetings during your daily routine and when you travel can boost your research as well as your mental health.

Understandably, getting all the information you need from people you encounter while shopping for groceries or at yoga studio is probably unrealistic. Valuable first-hand accounts from people in your target market can also come from feedback channels already in place in your business or by setting some up.

In a LinkedIn marketing blog, Sean Callahan recommends talking with your sales and support team whose daily contact with leads and customers can help you “unearth the most actionable audience insights available.”

“By opening a dialogue with sales and support, you suddenly gain premiere access to detailed scenarios, thoughts, and feelings that simply can’t be found from a search bar.”

Groups and forums

Learn what your target audience is talking about by being the fly on the wall in online groups where they hang out. Better yet, get involved in the discussion.

“Spending time in forums and groups allows you to see real-life conversations about the issues your audience is dealing with and what questions they’re looking for answers to,” explains Blair Williams in Inc’s young entrepreneur council marketing blog.

LinkedIn is a good place to start. Here you’ll find groups for nearly every industry niche as discussed in a previous MultiBriefs article about building your audience on Linkedin.

Another, often-underutilized resource is Quora, a question-and-answer platform that allows you to gauge the popularity of topics and questions within your target audience.

“For marketers, there are a handful of really great reasons why Quora might be worth considering including finding out the questions people are asking about your product or industry,” notes Kevan Lee, marketing director at Buffer, in a comprehensive guide to using Quora for marketing.


Hashtags offer another glimpse into what interests your audience.

“LinkedIn hashtags reveal the social conversations taking place concerning a specific topic,” explains Callahan. “By searching or clicking a hashtag, you’ll see which content is being shared, by whom, what they’re saying about it, and what others are saying about it.”

Along with seeing “what your audience is buzzing about in real time” by keeping track of trending hashtags and those related to your industry, Williams recommends using them to find out how people are reacting to your competitors.

Social media and website analytics

Finally, don’t forget about your own website as a valuable source of information about your target audience. For example, which posts and pages do they visit most?

“Tracking and understanding your website analytics will help you to determine what your audience is interested in based on what you’re already doing in regards to your products/services, content and marketing,” says Williams.

The same goes for your social media pages and posts. If you aren’t yet taking advantage of analytics here, Katie Sehl at Hootsuite provides a beginners’ guide to using analytics on each of the popular social media networks.

Beyond what’s offered by each network, several social media analytics tools are available for marketers. To find one that fits your needs and budget, Brent Barnard recently published a top 10 list on Sprout Social.

Whatever combination of tactics you choose, each bit of insight gained will help you more successfully pinpoint your content marketing.