Understanding your audience

Understanding your audience

Updated 12 December 2022

Learn what difference it makes to know your customers and how you get to truly understand your audience.

As Einstein said: “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” 

In the context of audiences, knowing who you are trying to reach is often focused on data and statistics. But understanding your audience goes beyond numbers and you need to learn about their motivations, needs, behaviours, challenges, pain points and goals.

It is essential to fully know your customers before you take action. Imagine using language that only millennials understand when your audience consists of the boomer generation. Or trying to sell your services in person when your consumers’ preferred point of sale is online. The results won’t be as effective because they don’t resonate with the people you are actually trying to reach and you potentially waste a lot of time and effort.

Read more: Jakob’s Law of user experience – Don’t make users think

Why understanding your audience matters

Understanding your audience is the first step in the design process which includes:

  • Know what makes your audience tick and the experiences and perspectives they have.

  • Know the words and frames of reference that make sense to your audience. 

  • Know the tone of voice, messages and content that resonates most with your audience.

  • Know how to best motivate your audience to take action on what you want them to do.

  • Know how to convert that audience into long-term, paying customers who will become loyal brand advocates.

How to understand your audience

Your mind is like a parachute. It works best when it’s open. This is especially true when trying to understand your audience. Avoid letting personal opinions, assumptions or biases get in the way. What you would do and what would appeal to yourself might not necessarily apply to your audience. 

Understanding your audience is a continual and necessary process that often includes the following aspects:

  1. Review current data and analytics
    This includes learning about your existing audience through all relevant analyses conducted about them since you’ve been in business. Consider what audience-related information you’re missing and need to obtain.

  2. Learn from previous successes
    Audiences have a continued need for enjoyable interactions, which is why building upon things that have already worked is useful.

  3. Create buyer personas
    Personas are the synthesis of audience needs and wants and should guide business decisions as well as align internal teams by staying focused on the same person.

  4. Conduct surveys, focus groups or interviews
    These are useful mechanisms for gaining a deeper understanding of both general statements and specific details about your audience.

  5. Keep an eye on your competitors
    Understand what your competitors are and aren’t doing well and what your audience members are and aren’t responding to. Know how to use this to stand out – don’t copy others.

  6. Monitor feedback, comments and engagements
    Serve your audience the content when and where they need it and monitor. Attract more of the same audience and review. Reach new audiences and observe. What have you learned?

  7. Learning and experimenting
    Testing out new ideas, content or updates with real audience members is a way to determine whether or not your business is effectively evolving with your audience as it grows.

Your audience consists of the people who matter most to your success and impact your bottom line.

We can help you work through the above steps. Simply get in touch and we bring you closer to knowing your audience better.

Written by

Linda Bailey

UX Director

Diverting from a career in Architecture, Linda uses the left and right side of her brain equally. She's been with Honest Fox from the beginning and is involved in all facets of the business. She's empathetic and kind and loves punk music.