How to Conduct Audience Analysis

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This article was written in collaboration with Janet Peischel. Janet Peischel is a writer and digital media expert and owner of Top of Mind Marketing. With over 15 years of consulting experience, she develops content strategies and builds online brands for her clients. Prior to becoming a consultant, Janet spent more than 15 years in the marketing industry, holding positions such as Vice President of Marketing Communications for Bank of America. Janet received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington. This article has been viewed 485,882 times.

For any type of writing to be as effective as possible, it is important for the writer to understand their audience. What the reader wants, needs, knows, and feels about the topic are important factors in how the work will be received, and the more you know about the reader, the more effective your writing can be. This is true whether you’re writing a speech, a research paper, or instructions for someone looking for a loan or installing software. These instructions will help you analyze your audience and develop a strategy to target your writing appropriately.

Audience sample analysis

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    Decide who your audience is. In other words, who will read this document? You probably can’t give a detailed answer to this question yet; that’s why you do audience analysis. However, you should be able to answer the question in general terms.[1]

    • For example, will your document be read by someone trying to install some shelves? Employees of a particular company? Computer programmers trying to fix a bug in some new software?
    • Consider why this audience will read your document. What task will it help them do or what do they need to know?
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    Decide what you need to know about your audience. Depending on who you’re writing for, there are different types of information that will be helpful as you work to make your document as useful and persuasive as possible.[2]

    • You will almost always want to determine your audience’s level of knowledge and interest in the topic.
    • Depending on the audience, the situation, and the type of document you are preparing, there are many other pieces of information that could be valuable, such as where the audience is likely to read your document, and a variety of demographic factors such as age, gender, etc. , education, professional background, cultural background, etc. .[3]
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    Decide how you will carry out the analysis. Your audience analysis can be formal (ie, using a survey or other questionnaire, structured interviews, etc.) or informal (ie, based on more informal conversations with audience members). The best method will depend on the audience you are trying to reach, how much information you need about them, and what resources are available to you to perform the analysis.[4]

    • At times, you may be able to find information that someone else has already collected in the form of surveys or market research that can supersede your own data collection.
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    Create your analysis tool. Your analytics tool is the instrument you will use to collect information, for example a real questionnaire or interview questions. The content should be driven by your thinking in step two.[5]

    • Try to avoid asking questions that lead your participants to a certain answer, even if you think it is correct. For example: “Now that we’ve shown you how effective our product can be, what is the probability that you’ll buy it?” or “What do you think of the president’s repressive fiscal policies?”
    • Avoid “double” questions. Questions that ask more than one thing may confuse participants or lead to unreliable data. For example, you shouldn’t ask, “How often do you read scientific papers and share them with other people?” Instead, break this down into two questions: “How often do you read scientific papers?” and “How often do you share scientific articles with other people?”
    • If you use a survey, keep it as simple and short as possible.[6]
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    Choose your pattern. Once you’ve decided what questions to ask, it’s time to decide who to ask them. If you can’t include all audience members in your analysis, try to select a group of people who you think represent the audience you hope to understand.

    • For example, if you think the majority of your audience is women, try to choose a pattern that reflects that.
    • Other characteristics that may be helpful in selecting participants may be their occupation or employer (especially if you are writing for people in a particular area), their ethnicity, the city or neighborhood in which they live, or their membership in a particular organization.
    • The most important features will depend on the type of document you are creating and the audience you hope to reach.
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    Collect your information. Conduct a survey, interviews, or conversations with potential audience members.

    • If you’re using a survey, you may want to allow your participants to remain anonymous, especially if you ask them about something sensitive or personal. This can lead to more honest answers.
    • If you are interviewing participants in person, you may find it helpful to ask clarifying questions or ask for more information by saying things like “can you tell me more about that?” or “tell me why you feel that way.” At the same time, the way you conduct interviews can affect how people answer your questions, so you’ll need to be careful not to show your own biases or make your participants feel they have to answer a certain way.
    • For interviews or informal conversations, it is often a good idea to record the conversation for later use, if the participants agree. Never film anyone without their permission as this may be a violation of state law.
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    Analyze your findings. Now is the time to look at the information you’ve collected and see what it tells you about your audience. How familiar or interested are they in the topic you are going to write about? How old is the average person in your sample? What proportion of them subscribe to the publication you write for?[7]

    • If you need to perform in-depth statistical analysis of your data, there are software programs that can help, such as Stata or SPSS. However, these programs are expensive, and for most cases, the calculation of simple percentages is more than adequate. Common applications like Excel can help you organize and analyze your data. By placing your questions in the top row of the data table and then placing each participant’s response in the lower rows, you will provide a quick summary of the range of responses you received for each question.
    • If your analytics tool used open-ended questions—that is, questions that don’t specify a limited range of possible answers (for example, “What do you think of Company X?”), you’ll probably want to sort people’s responses into categories. (for example: “skeptical”, “optimistic hostile”, “unsure” or “positive”) so that you can summarize how a large number of your participants responded (for example, “the majority had a negative impression of company X”) .
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    Create an audience profile. After analyzing your data, compile your findings into a single document that briefly describes who your audience is and what their needs are. Putting this together will help you organize your thoughts and create a coherent picture in your mind of who your audience is.

    • The sample document at the top of this article is a good example of an audience profile.
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    Consider your format. Depending on your audience, some formats may be more effective than others. If your employer has not yet made this decision for you, choose a format that you think will be appropriate for your hearing.[8]

    • If your audience will be reading your document as they perform a task, a technical manual or instruction sheet made up of bullet points and possibly diagrams may be more effective.
    • On the other hand, if you hope to inform professionals about new research in your field, an article or newsletter format would be best.
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    Make a scheme. Before writing your document, create an outline to organize and plan your content. This will not only make writing easier, but it’s also a good way to make sure that all the information you think is most important is present and organized in a way that makes sense to your audience.

    • Outlines are also a good way to develop headings for different sections of your document, which will be useful in helping readers identify the key information they’re looking for.
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    Set the tone. One of the most valuable things about audience analysis is that it allows you to choose a writer’s voice that will be compelling and effective in reaching your audience. The right choice of words and sentence structure can have a significant impact on getting your message across to your audience.

    • For example, if your audience is highly educated and/or knowledgeable about the subject you are writing about, using very specific and technical vocabulary may be acceptable or even helpful. If your audience is not well-informed on your topic, you should avoid that kind of language.
    • Also, if your audience is likely to read your work while performing a specific task or in a highly distracting work environment, it’s a good idea to use short, simple sentences. If they are going to read your work at home and give it their full attention, varying the length and structure of your sentences will make your writing more persuasive and enjoyable.
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    Address the needs and objectives of the audience. Most importantly, knowing what your audience expects to learn from the document you’re creating will help you ensure that the information they need most is presented in a way that’s easy for them to find and understand.[9]

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Categories: How to
Source: HIS Education

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