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Audience Research

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Definition and benefits

The main research that all marketers use before even thinking about the campaign is audience research. Audience research is designed to establish the size, composition, and characteristics of a group of individuals who are, or could be, potential customers. It’s important to note that this research is about the people and individuals who make up your target audience.


The goal of all audience research is to find consumer insights that can help you deliver on your campaign or business objectives. Because the goal of a digital marketing strategy is to influence the buyer's journey, marketers need to connect with the audience by knowing what they think, how they behave, and how they live their lives. You should know your audience as well as you know your best friend!


One of the key benefits to conducting audience research is the ability to identify obstacles. For example, are other brands trying to communicate with your audience but not experiencing much success? Why? By being aware of such obstacles you can then develop appropriate, personalized content that is more relevant to your audience. Moreover, you want to find ways to stay ahead of your customers and discover solutions that anticipate future needs they may have. Audience research allows you to understand your customers, and ultimately makes you more effective in delivering your digital marketing strategy by catering to their needs.

To focus efforts, it is common practice to create a buyer persona. This is a description of your ideal customer in terms of motivations, demographics, and channels used to access the internet. Buyer personas help digital marketers choose the channels and messaging that will resonate with their ideal customer and efficiently deliver on objectives.

Data types

Before we examine the various tools available to us, let's look at the data that you’ll want to gather when you conduct audience research.

We have three types of data:

  • Demographic
  • Psychographics
  • Behavioral

You want to have a good understanding of the three of these because each of them will give you different insights into your audience.


Demographics are the hard facts about your audience.

Some examples of facts would be:

  • Whether they are male or female
  • How old they are
  • What their profession is
  • Whether they are married
  • Where they live
  • Whether they go to college

This information is about their social aspect and relative place within their society. It's not very personal, but it helps you peel back the first layer of understanding your audience; it gives you an initial glance at their make-up.

The socio-economic data in demographics include: gender, age, income level, occupation, marital status, location, number of children, education, religion, family size, ethnicity, nationality, social class, industry, number of computers, and generation.


Psychographics are much more detailed and complex. They can uncover anything that your audience might be interested in: their beliefs, life goals, or opinions. It's about gaining a deep understanding of your audience’s aspirations so that, when you talk to them, you are speaking a language that resonates with what they really want.

Psychographics can include: activities, interests, opinions, attitudes, values, lifestyle, and loyalty. It's about their lifestyle, their personality. For instance, maybe you want to reach someone that's 21 years old and works as an accountant, but also loves basketball. As there can be many different people types in your audience, you need to conduct demographic and psychographic research so that you really know who they are and avoid making any assumptions. This will help you navigate away from potential pitfalls or running campaigns that target the wrong audience.

Behavioral data

This is about how people use your product, or even how they navigate on your website, and how they use the different media that you want to use as your marketing channels.

What do they do on Facebook? How long do they stay? Why do they click? Where do they click? All of this is very important because it will allow you to transform the journey of your audience on your website and social media and know exactly where you need to target your effort. This data can tell you a lot about your customer. For example, when are they on your website? What time are they on Facebook? Maybe it's in the morning, maybe it's at night, and you don't want to miss those opportunities to engage with your customer.

By observing what people do, and how they behave online, using your product or using your competition’s products, you can understand the limitations of the user experience and perception to improve your message and overcome obstacles.

Behavioral data can include:

  • Online activities such as social media use
  • Website visits
  • Product and content use
  • Where they click
  • What the usual consumer path is on your site
  • Other relevant buying habits including brand preferences and product usage

So audience research is really about giving you all the context and information you need. It is central to any digital marketing strategy because if you don't have this data, how do you know where and how you are going to communicate?

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Please note that the module slides are designed to work in collaboration with the module transcript document. It is recommended that you use both resources simultaneously.

Digital Marketing Resources:

Philippe Polman

Philippe is a digital engagement specialist with extensive experience helping clients to create and manage deeper, more personal relationships with their target audiences. In previous roles, Philippe has designed and executed international communications programs focused on internal communications, UX, brand management, media engagement (traditional and digital), investor relations, and corporate positioning. More recently, he has founded his own aviation consultancy business, which combines both his passion and experience for the aerospace industry.

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful. While relevant to this module, you will not be assessed on this content.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library


    Introduction to Digital Marketing
    Philippe Polman
    Skills Expert

    This module introduces the core principles and purpose of digital marketing. It will enable you to develop clear and actionable business objectives for a digital marketing plan, to gain audience and industry insight by conducting digital research, and to prepare the foundations for a fully integrated 360 digital marketing campaign by connecting effectively with your customers and target audience.