Examining Some Audience Listening Tools For Digital Marketers
By definition, audience listening is the process of monitoring digital media channels, terms, products, and concepts associated with your brand to devise a strategy that will influence consumers. Taking information from places that consumers participate in online can be invaluable for discovering consumer insights.
Every day, countless members of your target audience discuss topics that relate to your brand, either directly or indirectly. They don’t care whether you hear about it or not, and they’re not taking special steps to comment and discuss their topics of interest on your social media channels.
These are precious consumer insights that you could be missing. By engaging in audience listening you make these insights visible to the marketing and business organization.
Audience listening can help marketers assess some of the audience research data but also assess your community density. Multiple tools exist in order to track, gather and analyze conversations that happen online.
For example, you can try creating an account on TweetDeck to monitor conversations on Twitter, but then you have another platform that will work across all social media such as Hootsuite, HubSpot, Klout, Social Mention, and many others.
We have seen how audience research can be used, and what type of data can be collected. Now let’s have a look at some of the audience research tools offered in the digital landscape. Each can bring different types of data to the table but will generally be valid for all three.
The main type of platform that marketers will use in the digital landscape to conduct audience research will be social media, marketing research companies, survey providers and behavior analytics platforms. These cover a broad scope to provide primary and secondary research and help marketers focus their attention on the type of information they need to develop the most relevant strategy.
From knowing what media is the best point of contact, to raising awareness, to understanding the words and images that the audience will want to engage with, all these tools will give access to direct consumer insights such as Tweets, comments, engagements, or third party data analysis such as a report from Nielsen on the media or food consumption of the 18 to 30 years old.
#1 Social Media
You can use your social media analytics and platforms to analyze the existing data on your community of followers, likes, and friends and start creating a picture of who your current customers are. You can also research social media to look at audiences that follow competitors and understand more about their profile. Social media is great for collecting demographics and psychographic data as users are putting this information out themselves so it is a direct link to what they like, think and do.
Similarly, this brings the ability to monitor discussions, needs, and potential obstacles by monitoring conversations around a specific topic or hashtag. Hashtags can be a great way to understand trends and sentiments around one topic that you think interest your audience. This goes across all social media that have strong analytic tools developed such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Social media platforms are all accompanied by social Intelligence tools that are at the heart of each social media analytics tool.
The platforms gather knowledge or insights gained from analyzing social media data and these are useful for removing the manual work by accessing collected and analyzed data directly. Some examples of social intelligence tools are Hootsuite, HubSpot, Social Intel, Nuivi, and Affinio.
Most of these are paid services as they provide extra data visualization and analysis but allow to gather the data from several social media in one place and additionally monitor conversations.
#2 Marketing Research
Marketers can tap on secondary research developed by third-party research companies such as Prizm from Claritas, Emarketer, Euromonitor, Nielsen, Spark. These can be given as free reports or might require a business subscription to the platform providing the research data. Some of them can also conduct new researches specifically designed for your business under primary research demands.
Most commonly, as it is less expensive, marketers will use pre-existing sets of data collected. This is a quick way to get strong data but as it is a somewhat public and shared resource, the data will less likely bring novelty to the discovery and decision taken on the bases of the provided insights. Or if it does, the direction might be chosen by competition who had access to the research as well.
At the same time, the research might not be specific enough to provide the right level of granularity about your audience. The more specific the research is, the better, in order to successfully communicate with the audience. This should be kept in mind when using secondary data, as it is always better to have a mix.
To collect specific data related to your product or a specific trend you are interested in, researching within your current audience using online survey platforms is a cheap and convenient way to carry primary audience research. Platforms like Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, Zoomerang or AYTM surveys are a great source of primary data.
They can be very powerful if well designed and if they ask the right questions. Because you are asking your existing audience, the information collected is highly relevant and are most likely to drive similar customers that potentially can become as loyal the one you may have surveyed. Surveys, to an extent, can be conducted live through focus groups or interviews.
Online interviews are another way to collect qualitative primary research, and direct interaction with relevant customers, one-to-one or in focus groups, without the inconvenience of the location. Tools such as Nebu or Skype are good for this.
#4 Behavior Analytics
This category gathers all platforms that are used to understand a user’s online behavior. A classic example is Google Analytics recording the users’ online behavior. If you are using tracking codes on your website, you can easily analyze the visitors’ journey on your website and understand what triggered their interest.
This can be done through content, CTR, page visits, length of page visits, etc. In these tools, audience sections even provide data collected through cookie and social media. Google Search data provides insightful sources of consumer behavior.
The keywords data provides a glance into the thinking and association patterns of the consumers. And as it is based on actual facts and consumer search, it removes the guesswork and is extremely accurate. A good example of a more modern form of user behavior tracking is Lucky Orange which provides heat maps of your website to see where traffic and clicks are concentrated.
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