What is audience analysis? A complete guide

Audience analysis is a powerful technique which allows you to better understand the group of people who are on the receiving end of your communications.

Conducting a deep audience analysis allows you to create more impactful, higher-resonance messages, to target those messages more precisely to the segments of the public which you are intending to reach, as well as to understand the top concerns or goals of the people you want to reach. 

Rather than spending months and huge wads of cash on in-person market research and survey recruitment, brands are turning increasingly to audience intelligence. Audience analysis is a relatively easy and inexpensive way for brands to improve their marketing strategy, customer experience, and brand perception. 

But audience analysis is not only more cost-efficient than traditional methods: if carried out correctly, it also allows for much deeper knowledge about your audience to be gained in a fraction of the time.

screenshot of pulsar

In this guide, we’ll take you through

  • What audience analysis is and why you should be using it
  • How to carry out an audience analysis
  • How audience analysis helps you deliver better creative and content
  • How it also helps you inform targeting and reach the right people for that same creative and content 
  • Which types of audiences can be analyzed
  • Why brands need to examine audience attitudes and behaviors: case study with Thinx
  • How audience analysis can be leveraged to find influencers, creative partnerships and sponsorships
  • How audience analysis will affect your brand


What is audience analysis and why is it important?

Conducting audience analysis holds the keys to understanding your audience to the fullest. Without it, you risk not fully understanding your audience’s attitudes and beliefs, meaning your brand strategy might not align with their needs & expectations.  

It’s obvious to many businesses that targeted advertising makes a lot of sense – especially when advertising on social media platforms. But audience analysis can give brands benefits that reach way further than simply finding which age range to put a sponsored Facebook post out to. The insights that audience analysis offers can be used all the way up and across your marketing chain, from socials to product. 

Audience analysis is a multi-faceted approach that interrogates a group by their aspects, behaviors, psychology, situation and more. This could be simply down to their location, age and other identity demographics. It can also encompass looking at their interests, what they engage with most online, any factors that unite them from hobbies to TV shows to sports. What are your audience’s hobbies, core beliefs, political affiliations, values, morals, principals and social circles?

Audience analysis by bio keyword

Are your audience the kind of consumers who make snap decisions on purchases, or do they put in hours of research? Do they want to pay using cash, online banking, PayPal or cryptocurrency? Where are your audience spending their time? Maybe they hang out in online spaces, gaming spaces or the metaverse. Perhaps they spend very little of their time online and have a huge social emphasis on in-person contact.

When looking at how to communicate with your audience, you must find where their time, money and attention is being spent to adjust your marketing and content plans in line with this. This way you’ll need to fight less for their attention – put your brand where they’re already looking.

This multifarious approach with many types of audience analysis means that you have more to gain the deeper your analysis goes. 

After you’ve analyzed your audience demographics and interests, it’s key not to generalize them. Utilizing stereotypes in your content will never look good for your brand. To capture your audience fully, you’ve got to understand them on a deeper level…


How to carry out an audience analysis

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to analyze your digital audience.

1. Define the topic you want to analyze:

Find where this topic overlaps with other areas – define exactly what remains inside and outside your scope. For example, are you looking for how people specifically relate to your brand, or any mention of your brand in general? Are you looking for audiences who are only interested in one facet of your brand or superfans who stan anything your brand puts out?

keyword example

Use your brand’s unique industry knowledge to consider what keywords and terms are contained in your analysis search. You can use what you learned above to inform this too. Perhaps there are key lenses you want to apply, such as your brand in relation to another brand, your brand in relation to a topical keyword or your brand in relation to a certain sentiment.

You can also use your industry expertise to locate exactly where this search is conducted – both real-life location geographically and online location in terms of platform(s), sub-sections of platform(s) and online communities. Is there a place where your audience is most likely to be? Is there a place where you want to trial a new product or service?

2. Listen to that public conversation online:

Get into the details of the online conversation surrounding your brand and your search parameters. Find how audiences on different social media platforms mention your brand, what news stories are saying, and what searches people are conducting. Use Pulsar’s engagement measurement tools to find which parts of the conversation gain the most traction online.

Pulsar TRAC allows you to sort all results by engagements, impressions, visibility and more. Using Pulsar’s partnership with NewsGuard allows you to measure the credibility of online conversation surrounding your brand – it’s imperative to your brand that you find if your audience is being exposed to misinformation about your products, content or services.

3. After listening, segment the audience:

Once you’ve got the above information, it’s time to segment your audience using Pulsar’s partnership with Audiense. Remember, audiences contain multitudes and it’s important to understand their various sub-communities in order to not generalize your marketing approach.

Seeing where your communities interact is important to find out what approaches will appeal. Pulsar’s Communities integration allows you to do this quickly and seamlessly to your entire audience or specific subsections of it.

4. Understand each Community segment:

Looking at each audience segment can give unparalleled insight into your brand’s presence online. Our partnership with Audiense allows you to dig into what makes each segment tick. You can analyze each community through various facets, showing each characteristic against the average for your audience.

Demographics allows you to see segments’ geographic spread, age range, name, language and bio keywords. You can explore the socio-economics of each segment with estimated education levels, income, relationship status, job industry and parental status. 

Analyze each segment by the influencers and brands they follow online. This can be sorted by uniqueness to find any niche celebrities that this particular segment is affiliated with, which can be leveraged as a key tool in finding creative partnerships for your brand. 

Looking into the interests of each segment allows you to see the topics they are interested in from travel to technology, soccer to celebrity gossip. These interests can be looked at even further to find niches like anime, paintballing, mythology and business operations.

Example communities

It’s also possible to see your audience’s media affinity – this covers what TV stations and shows, radio stations, newspapers, apps, events and places they’re affiliated with. The content tab looks at their most mentioned domains, users, hashtags and keywords, along with most popular media recently shared.

Personality and buying mindset analysis lets you see each audience segment’s values, personality traits and driving factors as well as factors that go into purchasing decisions and consumer behavior. Are they using credit cards? Do they make snap decisions? This can help you find out each segment’s purchasing behavior. 

Finally, analyze the segment’s online habits. What apps are they using? What devices are they accessing the web through? When are they active online and what are they doing? Are they creating their own content or reposting others’?

Cross reference all the above factors and you have a recipe for a comprehensive analysis of your segmented audience.

5. See in Pulsar how each audience talks about the same topic differently

Did you think you were done? It’s only just beginning. Back on the Pulsar platform, you can cross-reference your topical analysis with your segment analysis to give the fullest audience analysis possible.

Using Pulsar’s Community filter you can interrogate how each segment performs in your searches. Is one segment creating content that is particularly meme-based? Is one Community posting more gripes and struggles in relation to your brand? 

This multi-faceted method of audience analysis can provide a goldmine full of nuggets of information that your brand wasn’t previously aware of.


How audience analysis helps in delivering better creative and content

Creative and content that resonates with your audience can be optimized using audience analysis. Demographic audience analysis as mentioned can take the full picture of your audience’s identity and give you a broad-picture view into what kind of content you may want to be making. However, there are further steps you can take in using audience analysis to deliver with even more specificity.

Consider the psyche of your audience. Their core values and socially-engaged interests can be called upon within your creative and content to show that your brand holds those same values. If your audience holds diversity as a core value, ask yourself: Is my brand using inclusive language? Do our marketing materials have a range of people represented in them? If the answer to these is no, you could be alienating large factions of your target audience. From racial justice to politics to environment and sustainability, consider how your brand can seamlessly fold your audience’s values into your content.

Audience segments behaviors

Use your audience analysis to learn how multifaceted your audience is. This helps you inform targeting and reach the right people for that same creative and content. There are likely many paths your communication, creative and content can take to reach them and capture them. If one post, product, partnership or service isn’t performing well, take the time to consider if you’re only appealing to one facet of your disparate audience.

Finally, consider the temporal aspect of your content. How long will your content be sticking around in front of your audience’s faces? Are there any occasions, trends or events that your audience show interest in that you can leverage to your brand’s advantage? Are there times of the year or your marketing cycle that your audience is likely to be smaller or more niche? 

Similarly, if there is creative or content that you want to be around for a long time, consider putting it in a place that has longevity – a special place on your website, a pinned social post, or even an ongoing advertising campaign. 


Which audience should I analyze?

When deciding how to analyze your audience, it’s important to determine if you should look at your own audience – those actively interacting with your brand – or market-based – those interacting with your brand’s type of product or service.

As well as analyzing your own audience, it could be fruitful to analyze competitors’ audiences too. The insights gained from seeing two audiences side by side can be invaluable – not only where they differ, but also where they converge.

Segmenting your audience is key to understanding how sub-sections of your audience interact with your brand. Once you’ve located clear sub-sections, your brand can use this to speak to an audience efficiently in a way tailored specifically to them.

Here is our in-depth guide to finding & defining your target audience.


Audience behaviors, attitudes and beliefs: Case Study with period makers Thinx

Thinx used Pulsar CORE’s function to analyze their audience members’ user-generated content. Taking the time to find exactly what your audience cares about will bring new opportunities for your brand. 

Alice Warren, Director of CX at Thinx told us that through using Pulsar CORE, “it became clear that there was definitely an understanding we can get from our customers about what they want to see. These kind of share-outs we did from the Pulsar data along with other platform data became crucial to understanding that feedback.”

Finding their affinities and interests can lead your brand to new enthusiastic audiences. Analyzing audiences can also give you a key idea into where there are gaps in your customer base waiting to be filled. 

Quote from Thinx

To take this strategy further, Thinx used Pulsar CORE to analyze their competitors’ responses to user-generated content. They found that their target audience were responding to images that showed a variety of ages of models and, through this audience analysis, were able to update their marketing strategies accordingly. 

Warren knew it was imperative that Thinx conduct multiple audience analysis as “all brands are approaching these same things simultaneously.” If your brand isn’t thinking ahead, it runs the risk of falling behind.


Analyzing influencers & creative partnerships 

It’s important that brands ask themselves: who is reaching and influencing my audience? Are there opportunities for creative partnerships, general sponsorship and sponsored posts from influencers or publications they respect and listen to?

If you can find influencers or brands that your existing or target audience are heavily engaged with and respond positively to, this can be leveraged to speak to your target audience in their own language. For many companies, paid partnerships are an essential part of their marketing and growth strategy.

Paid partnerships can capitalize on a trend’s wave, so timing is key. The partnership can take a perfect piece of content and throw it in front of thought leaders, influencers and target audience groups exactly when it needs to be there.

Locating which brands, celebrities or social media bigwigs are the right choice for you to involve in an ad campaign will enable your audience to have wide-reaching, positive associations with your brand.


How will audience analysis affect my brand?

Using these techniques to figure out exactly what makes your audience tick will boost your brand strategy to one that can have maximum impact on not only its target audiences, but its competitors too. The deeper your brand’s audience analysis goes, the more fruitful your results will be. 

Reaching outside of basic demographic analysis will give you the tools to look back at its losses and successes and leverage this into predicting trends, virality and developments among your audience. Audience analysis is key to making informed decisions about your brand’s marketing and product strategies.


Where next?

Use Case Guide: leveraging Social Listening & Audience Intelligence for Superior CX

How universities use social media listening to manage the application process