Find Your Target Audience With These 14 Free Tools

discovering your target audience
You have a lot of customers.

Hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions (if you’re lucky). They’re out there somewhere, but the problem is finding them.

What do they do online? What sites do they visit? Who do they follow? What do they share? What are their pain points? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself as you try discovering your target audience.

Without answering those questions, marketing your product or service is going to be an arduous journey so best start by finding out where and how your potential customers spend their time online. These tools are meant to help you get started in finding your next batch of targeted customers.

I’ve broken them down into a few of categories to make it a little more organized for you: Social, Surveys, Traffic, Keywords, Forums and Content. Let’s get started!

Social

Social media is going to play a big role no matter what. Even if you’re not that active on social platforms, your audience is out there telling you exactly what they’re interested in. You’re shooting yourself in the foot by not listening to them.

1. Followerwonk

followerwonk active time graph
This is a very powerful analytics tool for Twitter. Not only will you be able to analyze your own followers and the followers of competitors, but you have at your fingertips an extremely powerful search engine for finding new customers and influencers in your niche.

What you’ll discover:

  • What times of day your followers are most engaged on Twitter
  • The most used words in your followers’ bios
  • Gender breakdown of followers
  • A map of where your followers are located
  • A quick way to find new influencers and followers

 

2. Tweriod

This is another Twitter analyzer but it’s less powerful than Followerwonk. But Tweriod does get a little more specific when it comes to analyzing your follower engagement.

What you’ll discover:

  • Peak engagement times of followers on Twitter
  • Peak times of day you are receiving @replies

 

3. SumAll
There are plenty of tools that look at just one social platform at a time. That’s where SumAll comes in. Link it to what seems like an infinite number of profiles including Moz, Basecamp Google+ and much more! The interface has some kinks to work out but this could prove to become a very valuable tool.

What you’ll discover:

  • Engagement on your posts across multiple platforms
  • Engagement overtime
  • How you’re meeting your goals by setting “benchmarks”

 

4. Facebook Insights

facebook insights
If you have a Facebook page for your product, business or blog you probably already know about Facebook Insights. If you haven’t been checking it out, do it now. Facebook keeps improving their analytics and you can get a lot of good data about your fans here.

What you’ll discover:

  • Demographics breakdown of your fans by location, gender and age
  • Peak engagement times
  • Detailed data about how users engaged with your posts
  • Referring sites sending traffic to your page

Surveys

Surveying the visitors coming to your site is one of the most overlooked strategies for learning about your audience. It’s the most accurate way to learn about the type of content your visitors are interested in and what it will take to get qualified traffic to buy from you.

5. Opinion Stage
After creating your free account with Opinion Stage you’ll be able to build survey forms that you can easily embed on your site with a simple script. There is also a WordPress plugin for even easier implementation. The free version is limited in capabilities but you’ll be able to gather your visitors’ answers in one central location.

What you’ll discover:

  • Honest insight directly from your customers
  • Customer preferences (run a comparison survey to test 2 different features or products)

 

6. Zopim Live Chat

zopim live chat
You might be thinking live chats on sites is so ‘90s. Lately though, new companies like Zopim and Olark have improved the live chat experience with better design and functionality. An automatic popup from a real person ready to talk could be the difference between losing and earning a sale, plus you can get direct feedback from your visitors in real time.

What you’ll discover:

  • What your customers are looking for
  • What problem areas your site has
  • The pain points of your customers
  • What features are important to your customers

Site Traffic

Taking an in-depth look at the traffic coming to your site is still an extremely effective way to learn about your audience.

7. Google Analytics

google analytics
It might be an obvious one, but I know some people only look at the visitor numbers in their Analytics account. Dig deeper and check out the Audience section. Also, turn on Demographics and get even more insights.

What you’ll discover:

  • Demographics of your site visitors
  • Your peak traffic times and days
  • Your most popular pages

 

8. Google Webmaster Tools
Again, probably an obvious one, but if you haven’t set up Google Webmaster tools do it right now. Google is reporting less and less keyword data to webmasters but this tool is still going strong. I don’t know how accurate it really is but the Search Queries section will give you some great insight into what people are searching for to find your site and the most popular pages on your site as well.

What you’ll discover:

  • Keywords users are searching to find your site
  • Your most popular pages
  • What sites are linking to yours

Keywords

Knowing what people are searching for or the words they’re using to describe your niche is invaluable. If you aren’t speaking your customer’s language, forget about them ever finding your great content. Use these tools to fine tune your content strategy and stay on the same page as your audience.

9. Uber Suggest
This simple tool basically pulls data from Google’s auto-complete search. You know when you start typing a search term and Google suggests a bunch of popular phrases? That’s what Uber Suggest provides. It’s a good look into the semantics of how people search for your topic. For example, maybe you didn’t realize the majority of your customers search “where to buy red shoes online” versus “red shoe store”.

What you’ll discover:

  • How your audience searches for certain keywords
  • The most popular search terms in your niche

 

10. Google Trends
An easy-to-use search tool that shows the trend of any keyword over time. You can compare keywords to see which phrases are on their way in or out. You can even see trending searches for the day to help you decide on some content to produce for quick viral pickup.

What you’ll discover:

  • Popular search terms
  • Trends overtime for any keyword or phrase

 

11. Social Mention

social mention
I just recently discovered this tool and haven’t had nearly enough time to delve into its full capability but so far it seems pretty powerful. Type in a phrase and you’ll get all kinds of data from across the web.

What you’ll discover:

  • Emotional sentiment towards your keyword
  • Top related keywords
  • Amount of social engagement surrounding this keyword
  • Specific mentions and links about the keyword
  • Top users, hashtags and sources using that keyword

Forums

Again, something you may have thought died in the ‘90s, but I’m here to tell you forums are alive and well and a great resource for getting to know your possible customers. Online communities are where consumers go to talk, complain, compare and review. If you’re not tuning and listening to them, you’re missing valuable data.

12. Quora
One of my favorite social forums these days is Quora. They have a community for literally every topic you can think of. You know building authority in your niche is important, so start by searching for unanswered questions and proving your expertise. You can also get a good deal of insight into what people are having issues with and their pain points.

What you’ll discover:

  • The pain points your target audience is experiencing
  • Who are some of the experts in the niche you’re focusing on
  • Similar topics your audience is interested in

Forums that are limited to a specific niche might be a better use of your time. The users in those forums will be more engaged and definitely more relevant to your industry. Open Forum by American Express, for example, is centered around business and marketing topics while Do It Yourself is a forum for service industry and DIY topics.

Content

One of the most valuable things to know about your target audience is the kind of content they consume. Do they prefer to laugh or learn? Do they want something useful or something emotional. These 2 tools will help you get an insight into the influencers and types of content your customers are interested in.

13. Buzzsumo

buzzsumo
This online tool is my new favorite and I really hope they keep it free (but I would totally pay for it). You simply type a keyword or phrase into Buzzsumo and it outputs links and reports how many times each was shared by which networks. It’s a great way to find out the top content in your niche and the reactions to it.

What you’ll discover:

  • The influencers in your niche
  • What types of content your audience enjoys
  • Which social networks are utilized the most by your audience

 

14. Topsy
Similar to Buzzsumo, Topsy is a content search engine but on top of that you can search for Twitter posts as well. They boast that they have every tweet since 2006 in their databse and I believe they were just bought out by Apple so who knows what it will become.

What you’ll discover:

  • What people are saying about certain topics on Twitter
  • The most popular pieces of content on certain topics

Now go find your audience

They’re out there, waiting to read about your new product and how it’s going to improve their lives. Chances are they have problems and your product will help them. With these tools you can find your audience and listen in to the problems they are discussing within their various communities. So what are you waiting for? Go find them!

 


If you enjoyed this post...

Enter your email below and I'll let you know when I publish the next one.

About the author: Scott Taft
Scott loves good writing, good coffee and good music. He currently works at SEER Interactive in Philadelphia but in his spare time he loves blogging about content right here on OG Content.
  • http://www.cakephpexpert.com/ Cakephp Expert

    Great post Scott!! Some tools are new for me here. This article is really helpful for small businesses and beginners too. I have bookmarked it for future references. Thanks

    • http://ogcontent.com/ Scott Taft

      Thanks, glad it was helpful :)

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Scott,

    Many of these tools are new to me. Good stuff!

    Use tech to find your audience. Make your job easier.

    Also a good note to get back on topsy again ;)

    Thanks!

    • http://ogcontent.com/ Scott Taft

      Thanks Ryan. Topsy is great. Check out BuzzSumo as well. It provides some similar insight.