Analyzing your audience

About three weeks ago,  I wrote a post about the necessity of knowing your audience. We ourselves are currently investigating our audience. We asked our newsletter readers to fill out a questionnaire. After we have collected the results of our survey, I started analyzing the results. It has been a great week for me! In this post, I would like to present some of our results and try to translate it to some practical tips for you all to use.

What did we want to know?

Our audience has grown rapidly during the last few years. Yoast began as a WordPress blog, but is currently much more than just a blog. Few years ago Joost was writing and working alone in a small room in our house, while we currently have a nice office and over 10 employees. That made me wonder: who is our audience nowadays? Do we still appeal to a technical (nerdy) group of people? Are our customers mainly developers? Or is not all of our audience that technically skilled? And which products appeal to our audiences?

My first analysis of our audience focused on whether or not there exist different groups within our audience. My hypotheses was that we would at least have two types of visitors on a technical ‘nerdy’ group and a less technically skilled group. The aim of my analysis was to investigate whether or not these different groups (intend) to buy different products.

How did we do our audience analysis?

We collected the data for our audience analysis via an online survey for which we invited all of our newsletter readers to participate. Our final sample consists of 2796 individuals. We asked all kinds of questions, including age and sex, intentions to buy our products and questions about the extent to which individuals liked Yoast. We also measured the level of experience with internet and WordPress by asking people to grade the extent to which they agreed to the following statements:

  • I have a high level of knowledge about WordPress;
  • I am an experienced WordPress User;
  • I am a skilled Web Developer and I am capable of maintaining my own website.

A total of the scores on these statements was calculated (resulting in a range from 4 through 16). As people score higher on this scale (or nerdiness as we like to call it) they’re more experienced. This measurement of experience is important in our analyses, because it is one of the variables on which we assume groups within our audience to differ.

Table 1: descriptive statistics of the four identified groups (N=2796)
mean internet experience mean age % women N
group 1 : the women 11,4 45,9 100 600
group 2: the nerds 14,6 36,0 0 666
group 3: the young, male, non-nerds 10,5 32,6 0 615
group 4: the old, male, non -nerds 11,1 54,1 0 910

After computing the scale of experience, we executed a so-called cluster analysis. This is hardcore statistics indeed. You can try this at home using SPSS (expensive, but nice) or R (open source, and nice). A cluster analysis results in the identification of a number of different groups of individuals who display similar scores on the variables of your choice. We identified four groups based on sex, age and the level of experience.

Table 1 shows that the four groups score differently on variables used in this cluster analysis.

Our first group consists of women, with an (for our sample) average level of internet experience. The second group consists of men with a very high score on internet experience. We will call them the nerds. Then the cluster analysis revealed two other groups, both containing solely men. One group contains young men with a relatively low level of internet experience and the last group contains older men with an average level of internet experience.

What did we find out?

On the base of sex, age and experience, we can differentiate between four distinct groups within our total audience. Interesting. But quite useless as well. We have to investigate a bit more. Do these different audiences also buy different products?

Table 2: % individuals intending to buy Yoast products (N=2796)
WP SEO Premium Video SEO Local SEO Theme Website review
group 1 : the women 37 9 11 20 11
group 2: the nerds 50 19 26 17 14
group 3: the young, male, non-nerds 43 15 21 19 19
group 4: the old, male, non -nerds 39 12 16 15 12

As you can read from table 2, the different groups within our sample do have different preferences. The nerds have a higher intention to buy one of our SEO plugins than the other groups. However, the highest intention to buy a Yoast Theme is found among the group of women. Website reviews appear most popular among the young, male, non-nerds. Of course, some differences are small. These results nevertheless show that different groups within our audience prefer different products. We are now looking into possible strategies to optimize our sales. How can we better address women at our theme page? How can we reach young, male, non-nerds with our reviews? Conclusion: we are not done investigating…

Why could an audience analysis be important for you?

Knowing your audience means that you can anticipate upon the needs of your audience. And this in turn can increase your sales. Knowing the preferences of your public allows you to adapt your marketing and sales strategies. You should consider doing similar research if you don’t know your target audience well.  Even if you think you do, the results of research like this may well surprise you!

8 Responses

  1. Andy Brown
    By Andy Brown on 25 March, 2014

    Thanks for sharing your insights on how you conducted your analysis. While many people claim to know who their target market is, most really do not. They think anyone with a credit card is their market.

    In-depth target market analysis helps small businesses decide how to spend their marketing budget and can help determine which form of advertising resonates best with their market.

    I think that your conclusion that you are not done investigating is spot on. In reality, most successful companies are never done investigating. As soon as they figure out what is working the market could shift, or a new product or service could revolutionize the industry. Those people that take the time to focus on their audience will be the most successful.

  2. Guljit
    By Guljit on 25 March, 2014

    May i asked can you tell me how to make lovely table like you create above?

    • Joost de Valk
      By Joost de Valk on 26 March, 2014

      Hi Guljit,

      The table is marked up with CSS, the caption below the table is using the <caption> attribute of a table. This is then styled with the following CSS:

      caption { caption-side: bottom; }

      We then have a line underlining thead and the “empty” cell gets class="empty", which has its borders removed. In all, it’s reasonably simple and we think it looks cool too :)

  3. Dwight
    By Dwight on 25 March, 2014

    I would love to be able to collect some data about my readers, however I doubt if they would take the time to do a survey for me unless there was some kind of incentive given. How did you get your readers to complete your survey? Was there any incentive given? Its hard enough getting people to sign up to an email list these days.


    • Marieke van de Rakt
      By Marieke van de Rakt on 26 March, 2014

      I totally agree that it is hard to find enough people. If you have only few subscriptions, I would adept my survey, asking more in depth questions.
      An incentive is a good way to increase the number of people who participate in your survey. We gave away 5 free plugins amongst all the participants. You do not have to give everyone an incentive, you could work with some kind of lottery as well.
      Good Luck!

  4. Akash Agarwal
    By Akash Agarwal on 27 March, 2014

    The points ‘how to audience analysis’ is very helpful. This is such useful post. Thanks for sharing.

  5. ?????? ????
    By ?????? ???? on 4 April, 2014

    Hi pal , are there any free plugins that can connect my wordpress to google analytics?