You’ve likely done in-depth audience research on your primary target market using a combination of audience research methods. You know exactly what your ideal customers care about, what they need, where they access content and how they speak. But can you say the same about your international target audience?

Understanding your various target audiences is an important element of entering new markets, and it can’t just be a copy-paste of your primary target market. While there’ll be some similarities, you’re unlikely to target the same segment in each country you enter.

If you want to reach a global audience, you need to invest in local target market research. Here’s more on what audience research is, why it’s so important when entering new markets and a few effective audience research methods.

What is audience research?

Audience research includes all forms of research conducted on a specific target audience to learn more about their behaviors, knowledge, habits, preferences and attitudes. In short, it’s the act of gathering information to understand your audience better.

The purpose of researching your audience is asking questions and getting insightful answers around what interests, inspires, influences and frustrates them. This information helps you understand who is buying from you, why they’re buying from you, how they’re buying from you and what they think about your brand.

When you know this information, you’re in a better position to communicate with your audience and provide a product or service they’ll respond to.

International audience research is the same thing, just on an audience in another country. And in this case, it’s even more important—we’ll get into why further down, along with a few audience research methods.

Audience research vs. market research: They’re not the same thing

How to localize a website and do international audience research methods

Audience research is often confused with market research. And, while both are essential to do when entering a new market, they’re not the same thing. 

The differences are actually right in the name. Audience research focuses on the audience—meaning the people—while market research focuses on the market—where the audience operates.

Market research can include competitors, pricing, economic climate, industry standards and audience potential. Usually, it’s something that you do before entering the market as it helps you assess how viable your business is in the new market. Audience research, meanwhile, is ongoing and is used to inform your marketing strategy.

See also: Knowing your audience is the key to great marketing: 20 quotes from industry experts

Why is international audience research important when entering new markets?

It’s tempting to use just one marketing strategy across all new markets to capture as broad an audience as possible. But, audiences worldwide expect personalization, and this personalization comes from more than just demographics. Perceptions, interests, attitudes, culture and behaviors all play a part in how in-depth your personalization’s should be.

Without personalization, your audience will simply head to another brand that “gets” them.

Target audience research helps you better understand your audience in each region and enables you to speak to them in a way that resonates with them. By doing so, you’ll undoubtedly form a better connection with them. It also helps you prioritize how best to meet their needs and decide who to focus on, what to offer them and how to reach them.

Relevance is key in localized content marketing—and that relevance comes from understanding your local target audiences.

See also: Translation vs. localization: What’s the difference and why should you care?

“It doesn’t make sense to create a content strategy without knowing the reality of the customers in that country. You need to talk to the right people close to the customers and your marketing colleagues in each country . And, of course, you need a lot of international research as well. Many research companies can help you get the right data and actionable insights before creating a strategy. So you need to go both ways: talk with local colleagues that are really close to the customers and also the methodical approach.” – Mário Costa, Portugal-based marketing & communications director at MANZ.

What to focus on when doing international audience research

International audience research methods involves SEO and analytics

You can’t build an effective localization strategy without understanding the market you’re trying to target.

The best place to start is partnering with a local agency or someone physically located in the market—first-hand knowledge and experience will always triumph online research.

There are a few different ways of researching audiences. No matter which method you choose, make sure to find information on:

  • The standard demographics like age, gender, education, income, region, etc.
  • Psychographics like characteristics and opinions
  • Interests and activities like hobbies and passions
  • How people purchase within that country
  • The key cultural differences that you need to pay attention to
  • Local nuances and idioms that your audience is familiar with—along with their type of humor
  • High or low-context cultures—for example, countries like the UK, US and Germany are low-context cultures meaning they prefer everything to be spelt out and kept simple
  • The language of your audience—bearing in mind that many countries are multilingual
  • How they search for content—for example Google search vs. voice search

See also: US vs. German marketing content: Why localization is key

“Listen to your audience. Really look at what they care for. What are their problems? What is their critique as well? If you don’t listen to your audience, it’s going to be really difficult these days.” – Carlo Speth, Germany-based chief editor at HolidayPirates.

Audience research methods: How to conduct audience research on your new market

Building localized websites

Various audience research methods are available to use, including customer interviews, focus groups, social media insights, surveys, competitive analysis, etc.

Here are three methods that form a great place to start your new audience research:

1. Audience intelligence and social listening tools

Audience intelligence and social listening tools help you segment online audiences based on location, language, affinities and interests. 

They’re both an excellent way to start getting an idea of potential audiences and how they interact with similar brands to yours. Using these audience research tools is a smart way to figure out what “works” and what doesn’t with your target audience based on their behavior and communication on social media.

Examples of audience intelligence and social listening tools include Buzzsumo, SocialBakers and Mentionlytics.

“We do social listening to understand a little bit about the market. We do brand tracking exercises, have customer panels, and do qualitative and quantitative research. Then we also look at our data, and we’ll have a look to see what posts are performing well and why.” – Euan Brown, UK-based head of digital & content at Virgin Red.

See also: Best content marketing platforms and tools: A comprehensive list

2. Competitor analysis

A competitive analysis usually involves observing your biggest competitors in each market, including their messaging, content marketing, social media engagement and reviews.

Analyzing your competition in each new market helps you find information about how your audience is currently interacting with similar brands to yours—including what they like and don’t like.

You can find information like what channels your competitors are doing well on, what they rank for on search engines, their main traffic sources and the types of content that work for them.

Go through their social media channels and look out for the below:

  • What topics resonate more than others
  • What their followers are saying in the comments
  • Which platforms get the most engagement
  • The messaging they use in their captions
  • The types of images used and the people featured in them

3. Owned data

If you’re already established in your home market, you likely already have some available data on your international audience. For many businesses, a portion of all consumers fall outside of home markets—even if you’re not yet internationalized.

So, take a look at your analytics and see what content is already organically gaining traction in global markets and start there. 

Analytics alone isn’t enough, but it’s a good jumping-off point!

See also: How to localize your website and why it matters

Get local to go global

Understanding your audience is key to making a real impact in a new market.

When entering a new market, focus on understanding your new market using a combination of audience research methods. While you can do a fair share of audience research online, it’s usually best to partner with an agency specializing in each region. Teaming up with the right partner is key as it’s the difference between getting surface-level insights and real in-depth lived experiences within the market.

At VeraContent, we work with content specialists based throughout Europe and can tap into local market and audience insights. Get in touch with us to find out more about our localization services in Europe.

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