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Why is audience research important?

Marketing strategies are often built on assumptions about audiences, especially when we’ve been part of an industry or sector for so long.
Rachel Oliver

Rachel Oliver

3 minute read
February 3, 2023
Marketing strategies are often built on assumptions about audiences, especially when we’ve been part of an industry or sector for so long.
Why is audience research important? Image

We often believe we know everything there is to know about the people we’re trying to reach.

However, relying on old customer personas, especially when your competitors are doing the same, can quickly become irrelevant. Through audience research, we can explore more than just their demographics and start making smarter marketing decisions.

Here are our top reasons why audience research is important:


It delivers the best results every time

When it comes to setting your marketing up for success, spending the time to understand and define your audience is a no-brainer. Not only are you able to drill down into their interests, likes, dislikes, and frustrations, audience research stops you wasting time and money. With a confident understanding of who your audiences are, you can confidently pick channels where your audience spends their time and serve them content that resonates with them.

Knowing your target audience is what allows you to determine where to focus your marketing efforts for better results.

In our recent campaign for Network Rail and Mattel, the organisations had collaborated to launch a special episode of Thomas & Friends™ to help teach young people about rail safety. While it appeared that children were the main audience for this campaign, we identified that parents were in fact our primary target audience and the ones we needed to consider when it came to channel selection.

This understanding enabled us to advise on the best direction to take with influencer partnerships. Our approach made the best use of the client’s available budget and delivered fantastic results, with a 5% influencer engagement rate from the target audience – vs an industry average of 1.67%.


It builds a deeper connection

Move from ‘knowing’ your audience and focus on ‘understanding’ them. Acknowledging what motivates them, what challenges they face, and what their values are, allows you to build a more rounded picture of your audience, and understand how to talk to them.

These kinds of insights build a sense of trust and loyalty because your audience feels listened to. The more nuanced and insightful you can be with your communications, the more it resonates with people. It also helps avoid being tone deaf when it comes to campaigns with a regional spin or that reflect on social issues.

It’s key that audience research planning also values existing audiences and understanding how their attitudes and priorities change. Ask for feedback and act on it. By continuing to invest in this ongoing relationship with your audience, you not only create loyalty but advocacy for your brand or organisation.


It gives you the competitive advantage

Cutting through the noise when your audience is faced with so much choice is essential. Using your audience insights from focus groups, surveys and previous campaigns creates a clearer picture of what your audience is looking for.

Organisations rarely invest in the time or money to dig deeper into their audiences. By placing more value on your strategy at the early stages, you create more cost-effective and impactful communications that pay-off in the long run.

The more audience intelligence you have to work with the more relevant and engaging your content, services and experiences can be.


It sets up your campaign for success

Particularly when working in public sector or third sector industries, our objectives are a lot less quantifiable than X amount sold or X amount increase in sales. Understanding why someone decides to become a foster carer or what campaign creative make their eyes roll, are all incredibly valuable insights from audience research.

Even with a ton of historical data, there’s really nothing like hearing it ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ – especially when it comes to inspiring behaviour change.

We worked with Samaritans, Network Rail and the British Transport Police to develop their national ‘Small talk, Saves lives’ campaign. Their aim was to encourage people to trust their instincts to start a conversation with someone on the railway if they felt something wasn’t quite right and that person needed help.

Collecting audience feedback before and during the campaign led to a better understanding of how campaign messages were being received. We also worked with a specialist research agency to drill deeper into the performance of the different creatives, their impact on attitudes and actions, their effect on brand reputation and how the individual executions could be optimised. This research revealed the messages that the audiences responded to best.

Read more about our award-winning campaign for ‘Small talk, Saves lives’


It uncovers uncomfortable truths

When carrying out your audience research, if you’re looking for truly honest feedback, ensure it’s carried out by a neutral party. Using a third-party organisation or specialist ensures that no one feels unsafe to speak truthfully about their experiences or opinions. Participants are often swayed or silenced by the presence of superiors or people involved in the project, so do everything you can to make your audience testing as accessible and anonymous as possible.

It may lead to some harsh truths, but there is so much value in listening your audience's unique perspective can help your organisation to innovate and grow.

Audience research and testing takes your marketing to the next level, and we want to help you get there. If you’re looking for an agency partner with a customer-led approach, we’re here for you!