Digital Marketing 101: Understanding Your Audience

Learn about using data and research to discover right information to best engage your digital audience and convert them to customers.

In the first of a four-part series we discuss the basics of digital marketing – everything you need to understand when you start your first online campaign. First up is understanding your audience. Next, we’ll look at engaging your customers, enhancing your SEO for increasing search traffic, and finally paid digital marketing options.

The key to any good marketing strategy is understanding your audience, but not everyone knows how to do this well. Big brands can afford to spend thousands of dollars on market research, focus groups, and surveys - but what about small businesses who operate on a small budget?

Even with a limited budget, here are some ways you can do this.

Customer surveys

The most direct way of understanding your audience is to simply ask. Find out everything you can - lifestyle, preferences, goals, objections, challenges, ambitions, daily habits, behaviours, and so on. Your audience may be reluctant to answer long surveys without an incentive, so offer something in return for their time, like a coffee voucher or discount code for a product. Customers will be more likely to answer if it’s convenient, so don’t ask too much. A few easy to answer questions.

Even if you can’t get people to answer survey questions, Google Analytics can tell you a lot about your customers. Besides basic demographics like age, gender and location, Google Analytics can tell you what devices your customers prefer to use, what website pages they prefer and how they reached your website (through SEO, search campaign, social media or an EDM). You can tailor your website and offers based on this information.

Feedback and reviews

Enable feedback and reviews for your products or services on your website. You can also monitor business review sites like Yelp too. By listening to customer feedback you can better understand what they want from your business, what you can do better, what they like and what they dislike about your offering. If you’re open to feedback, this is a great channel for you to improve on your product and services.

Social media monitoring

Go where your audience is - social media. Setting up a business account will naturally open a channel for your audience to share feedback and reviews, and you can see the same on your competitors’ accounts too. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can search for hashtags to see what others are talking about under specific topics.

Campaign analytics

Here’s one way to look at paid campaigns if you’re running them - not only does it boost your business, it also provides you with customer data and analytics. A/B test different messages, products, promotional ideas and more with a small budget to see what works first, before putting in more money.

Drill into audience insights to review audience demographics - are you attracting more men than women? How old is your audience? How long do they stay on your page before making a purchase, how often do they abandon cart? Do discounts or free shipping work better for retargeting?

Test, and test again

Once you have acquired insights about your audience, conduct A/B tests to confirm your hypothesis and compare results. If 60% of your audience on Instagram say that they would choose free shipping over a 15% discount, try running a campaign for each promotion to test if the theory holds true. If your sales representatives share that their customers would not consider buying products on Facebook or Instagram, run a campaign on both platforms to test if there would be conversions.

Understanding your audience does not stop at finding out about them, it also includes testing hypotheses and finding what works. Only then can you best cater to your audience and gain a competitive advantage over your rivals.



  • The key to any good marketing plan is understanding your audience
  • Short customer surveys are an easy way to find out what your customers think
  • Google Analytics can tell you how effective your business website is
  • Monitoring customers reviews will give you valuable information about your business
  • Conduct A/B testing for different promotional ideas across different platforms to confirm your hypotheses