Understanding your audience is a key part of marketing. It allows you to reach out to new, similar populations and more effectively communicate with the people who already know you.

What steps can you take to get to know your audience better? Fortunately, there are a lot of tricks, tips, and tools to get the job done.

Meet Them Where They Are

The first step to understanding your audience more fully is finding out where they are. The best way to learn where leads are coming from is to institute lead tracking.

There are a number of ways to go about this process. For example, you can implement UTM codes into links you share across marketing channels.

These unique codes are added to the end of your website’s URL. When you assign a different UTM code to your Instagram advertising and organic Facebook posts and offer codes in your email marketing, you can see exactly how many people are coming to your website from each source.

If your business gets a lot of phone calls, call tracking is another way to understand where leads are coming from. By assigning different phone numbers to different marketing tactics (one for your direct mail pieces, one for your print ads, and one for your delivery trucks), you’ll see how people heard about you. Or, you can just implement a lead management system that allows you to track all your marketing in one place.

Once you understand which channels are most successful in reaching your audience, you can focus more of your attention on those areas and forget about the ones that aren’t generating results.

See How They Spend Their Time

Understanding how your audience spends their time can empower you to become a smarter marketer and can even help you develop new products or services that best address their needs. You can infer some of this by looking at your current customers’ habits.

Are there days of the week when your brick and mortar store is busiest? Which products are most popular? Do you get more traffic on your website or attention on your social media channels at certain times of day?

With a lead management system in place, you can track many of the behaviors and attributes of existing customers. This allows you to better understand what they want and need and how best to reach them.

However, if you feel like there are gaps in your knowledge, a survey is a great way to fill in those blanks. Consider reaching out to your customers with a quick online survey. These questions can cover anything, from demographic information to inquiries about what they like to do in their free time. Before sending out the survey, think about the pieces of information you’d like to collect and how having that knowledge could improve your business strategy.

With surveys, it’s important to be respectful of your customers’ time, so keep the questions as brief as possible. It sometimes helps to include an incentive”“offering a discount as a thank you for completing the survey will boost response rate.

You, or your marketing partner, can also take a look at the demographic information available in certain analytics tools, like through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google. Many of these platforms offer some great insights into your existing audience.

Study What They Like & Don’t Like

Beyond what you know from the data you have access to and what you can learn from surveys, reviews can be a great way to understand what people like and don’t like. Customers sometimes forget to complete a survey, but if they have a really incredible or terribly upsetting experience with your business, they will take the time to leave a review online.

These reviews can help you understand all sorts of things about your audiences’ needs and preferences. If you’re seeing a lot of reviews stating that it was hard to get a hold of someone on the phone when they had a question, then you know that your audience really cares about speaking to a live person. And, you can put a fix in place to make sure your phone is answered whenever a call comes in.

Or maybe you get a lot of great feedback about a new product you just launched. Are there similar or companion products you could introduce that would further delight your audience? Consider how can you put this beloved product front and center in your marketing to others.

Knowing your audience and understanding your audience are different things, but are both critical parts of better reaching and serving consumers throughout the customer journey. It allows you to generate better marketing campaigns, appeal to your target audience, introduce successful products and offerings, and delight customers with excellent customer service.