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Audience Research Dimensions

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Attitudes and behaviors

Some of the dimensions you will be looking for are the attitudes and behaviors of people within a community.

  • An attitude is a set of emotions, beliefs, and experience that the audience brings with them toward a particular object, person, thing, or event. Examples of attitudes are, “I get stressed out over holidays,” or “I’m afraid of spiders.” Attitudes are usually the result of past experiences, lack of past experiences, or outside influence. Attitudes determine behavior.
  • Behavior is the way that somebody acts because of their attitude. Examples of behaviors affected by attitudes are, “I eat more and drink more during the holidays to reduce my stress,” and “I run and scream when I see a spider.”

Attitudes and behaviors change, but only when there’s an intrinsic motivation to change them.

Needs, wants, and goals

  • A need is basic. It’s what people believe they require like food, and shelter, and water.
  • A want is more of a luxury. You may need food, but what you want is to eat at a local farm-to-table restaurant.
  • A goal is something which someone has in their life. So you may need shelter, but you set a goal to buy a nice house in a nice neighborhood.

Different cultures have different definitions of what needs, wants, and goals are. It’s important to understand the needs, wants, and goals of a particular culture in order to help you determine your messaging for that audience. If you can appeal to a need, want, or goal, you will capture the attention of that potential customer.

Beyond Maslow – hierarchy of needs

A popular theory of needs is by Abraham Maslow. It’s known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theory demonstrates that certain needs are more fundamental than others and once those needs have been taken care of, people will work their way up the pyramid. So if you’re hungry, for instance, self-actualization is far beyond your immediate goals.

In different cultures, there are different needs that are defined. Understanding that these needs are relative to a specific audience will help you frame your proposition when approaching them.

Identifying goals related to your brand

Apart from understanding that different communities have different needs, you should also be on the lookout for the goals and the wants related to your brand. This does not mean that you’re scanning for opportunities to jump in and pitch your product to someone though. What it does mean is that you’re learning how to create content and messaging in a language that speaks to those wants and goals.

Levels of understanding

Understanding where your audience lies in the spectrum of knowledge about your product offering or brand is extremely important. If they are experts in the area, you’ll lose them with 101 messages. If they’re beginners, you don’t want to go over their heads. So when it comes to knowledge in the area of your industry, consider the four levels of understanding:

  • Novice/beginner. This means having zero to little knowledge. So you’ll need to stick to the basics.
  • Basic understanding. This means having a little bit of knowledge. So don’t start at the very beginning, but also don’t get too technical.
  • Advanced knowledge. This means don’t waste your time with the basics, start to get technical.
  • You’ll need to speak to this audience through their peers. And not the popular ones - the ones that are highly respected in the community.

Brand affinities

Another dimension to note is brand affinity. This is not limited to your industry. Looking across all of the brand affinities that your audience has, will help you get a better understanding of the whole person.

Knowing what other brands your audience is interested in can give you all sorts of ideas on how to reach them, bond with them, and build trust with them.

General interests

You need to understand the broader interests of your audience too. For example, where they find affinities in categories such as popular culture, sports, and hobbies. Once you understand their broader interests, you can create more relevant content for them.

You can get interests from tools such as Twitter Analytics, Affinio, and social listening. In the example (see slide ‘General interests’), you can see that the audience is interested in technology and entrepreneurship. So you know what kind of content is going to appeal to them. It also helps you understand how to speak to them in order to build relationships.

Motivations – why people share

What motivates an audience and stirs them to share content? Different audiences respond to different types of content. Jonah Berger in his book Contagious, Why Things Catch On provides a classification of shareable content:

  • Social currency. Sharing this will make me look smarter, cooler, funnier, hipper.
  • I want to share this because it reminds me of something familiar and comfortable.
  • I want to share this because it made me feel something or it blew my mind.
  • I want to share this so that I can find my tribe.
  • Practical value. I want to share this because I learned something from this, and I think you’ll learn something from this too.
  • I want to share this because I connected to the story.

Are there any patterns that you can find in the content that people are sharing that follow this classification? By recognizing people’s motivations for sharing, you not only discover their interests, but you can tap into them when creating your own content and personalizing tour social media messaging.

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Tara Hunt

Tara Hunt is an executive-level digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience. She is the founder of Truly Inc., the author of one of the first books on how the social web is changing business, and a professional public speaker. Tara has created and executed proven digital and social strategies across multiple industries. She specializes in relationship and inbound marketing, with a passion for data-driven strategy.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

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.

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    Social Research
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    The Social Research module introduces key social media concepts, including the Digital Marketing Institute’s 3i Principles for successful digital marketing, and the role and responsibilities of the social media marketer. It then dives into the topic of social research and explains its importance to digital marketers. It equips marketers with the research tools and techniques needed to engage in effective audience research, competitive and industry research, and cultural research. It also explains how marketers can gain valuable insights from their research data.