in Data & Insights

How Well Do You Know Your Audience?

By Sean Kilcullen

It’s probably happened to you before: You’re walking down the street and suddenly see someone you used to know. You haven’t seen her in quite a while but you’re certain — that’s Tania. You get excited. What a great surprise! You rush to close the distance between you, tap her on the shoulder, and expect a hearty hello. She turns, and you look at each other. Her face is blank, and yours is turning red. “I’m sorry,” you stammer, “I thought you were someone I knew.”

Later, you wonder why you felt so certain the woman you saw on the street was Tania when, in fact, the woman didn’t truly look like her. Who knows? Maybe it was her posture, hair, clothing — whatever it was, something about her transmitted a powerful feeling and you, as so many of us do, mistook that feeling for fact.

Many websites don’t recognize their true audience

Thousands of new websites appear online every year for multiple purposes: to sell a product, market a service, create a publication on a particular topic, gather a community around a hobby, or get their opinions out there. We often put so much energy into creating and maintaining these sites, there’s often little time to do audience research. Many site owners, driven by a passion for their ideas, operate on instinct. They’re sure they know exactly who they’ve created their site for and who will find it appealing.

But, much like the case of Tania’s mistaken identity, the world — and the passion we feel for our sites — can play tricks on our minds. In fact, it’s quite easy to fixate on a target you’re not actually hitting. That’s why it’s so important to get deep, accurate customer analytics on your site — before you start tapping the wrong customers on the shoulder. Going out of your way to get rigorous audience measurement means that you can guard against incorrect perceptions.

Audience analytics can help you see more clearly

To make this all more concrete, let’s look at a scenario:

You’re a fledgling clothing designer with a focus on making breathable, form-fitting athletic and wilderness wear. Your apparel is for men who love running, hiking, rock climbing, and other outdoor adventures. So you create a site to market and sell your clothing with the design elements you believe will appeal to men — masculine colors, terse and somewhat technical product descriptions, minimal use of models to display the clothing, etc.

When you start tracking your sales, however, you notice something odd. You’re selling mostly the smallest sizes of your unisex clothing while your larger sizes stay well stocked.

Since you made sure to have good web analytics on your site, you go to your analytics dashboard to check your audience data. Lo and behold, a huge portion of your website’s traffic is women, 18-24 years old.

It appears they like your clothing so much that, they’re scooping up the smaller sizes and wearing your apparel even though it’s not designed for them. Imagine what your sales could be if your site, not to mention more of your clothing, was designed for women, 18-24 years old?

Your customers would be more comfortable exploring your site, making them more likely to purchase more of your merchandise. They would be more likely to recommend your site to friends with the same interests as them. You will have created positive word of mouth by using audience analytics to focus on your best customers.

This example shows how audience analytics tools help web-based businesses understand their customers at a deeper level — in a way that breeds success. Imagine having more behavior and demographics information at your fingertips. Imagine how that information would inspire you to make your site a must-visit destination for that audience.

Get some analytics of your own

Without audience analytics, you’re making business decisions in the dark. You might uncover the actual characteristics of your customers through educated guesswork, but how many times do you want to change the direction of your content or revamp your product before you hit the right target?

You need the most in-depth audience data across desktop and mobile, and that’s what Quantcast Measure specializes in. We pioneered direct measurement in 2006, and since then, we’ve been helping marketers and publishers make smarter choices.

Download and install Quantcast Measure today.