How Audience Research Puts You in Your One Reader’s Shoes

94% of consumers report that they are likely to purchase more from a company with (a)“very good” customer experience,” according to Qualtrics research.

What defines a very good experience and how do you connect your One Reader to it? Ask your audience. Converting content and copywriting starts with audience research.

“Get closer to your customers than ever. So close that you can tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.”

Steve Jobs

The first step of converting is getting your audience’s attention and the only way to get it is to walk a mile in their shoes. Listen to your One Reader. Personalize your content marketing/copywriting for different segments of your audience and you’ll convert more people. 

Insights into your buyer’s journey allow you to speak to them directly. Understanding their desires inspires action. Learning about their motivations and anxieties will have you speaking your One Reader’s language. Use their words to communicate to your audience how your product makes them a better version of themselves.  

After reading this blog post you’ll be able to:

  • Define who you are writing content for
  • Get an understanding of your customer’s journey
  • Craft relevant content, messaging, copy that connects
  • Create content faster
  • Drive higher conversion rates

What is Audience Research

Voice of Customer (VoC) research is pulled from prospective customers and past customers’ voice of customer data. It’s discovering your audience’s pain points, preferred keywords, buying behaviors, language, and more. VoC is everywhere so get as much information as possible.

Swipe words and phrases from your audience. Double down on understanding your audience by starting with the Rule of One. Determine the perfect lead for your research or let the research determine who the perfect lead is. 

McDonald’s used audience research to make significant changes.

Look no further than McDonald’s for an example of audience research making a significant change in a company’s marketing (and menu). After research and pressure from their customers, McDonald’s started serving healthy and organic food. 

The Rule of One

“Write copy that targets 20-35% of your audience that will be most likely to purchase your product.” – Joanna Wiebe

The rule of one consists of:

  • One Reader
  • One Big Idea
  • One Promise
  • One Offer

Focused web copywriting comes from a clear understanding of your audience. Your One Reader represents people in your audience interested in your content and products. Imagining the perfect lead allows you to craft specific copy because you know what details are important to them. You can uncover trends like how they find and consume your content.  

The rule of one and audience research go hand in hand.

Your one reader is the foundation of your audience. You have to know your ideal prospect to persuade them. If you’re not sure who’s the right fit to become a lifelong customer then research will tell you who needs your offer. You can’t write for everyone, you’ll end up reaching no one. The best suited One Readers:

  • Need and want what you’re offering
  • Buy your product and tell their friends
  • Keep buying your product

Speak directly to your One Reader, they represent the target audience you want to convert into customers. During audience research look for specific examples that will help your One Reader convince themselves to buy your product.

For example, you may be searching for testimonials that they can relate to or even look for a pattern of problems when you do review mining.

What are you Looking for?

You’re narrowing your focus so you can expand your reach. You’ll want to look for:

  • Recurring messages and ideas
  • The problem/pain of the One Reader
  • Objections to your solution 
  • Customer expectations
  • Info about the One Reader 
  • How do they make decisions with their emotions or logic
  • Sticky messages 

As you’re looking, remember recurring messages and ideas become trends. Discovering the problems/pains of your One Reader helps you because customer’s love when you solve their problems. You’ll find objections to your solution and their biggest gripes that’ll you be able to address in your copy. 

Discovery will outline your customer expectations so you’ll know where they hang out online. And you find key information about your One Reader’s journey like the type of content/articles they enjoy reading the most. Plus, you’ll find out how much your customers are willing to spend on your products or how they approach purchasing your service.

You’ll find:

  • Spending power and patterns
  • Buying beliefs
  • Buying triggers
  • Desired transformations
  • Positioning

Using external and internal research, swipe your One Reader’s:

  • Words
  • Phrases
  • Sentences
  • Language
  • Ideas
  • Objections
  • Expectations

All of the information you gathered will help you come up with the One Big Idea and One Promise for your One Offer. 

External Audience Research

The converting messaging you are trying to write isn’t inside your head, it’s outside in the world. Get to know your One Reader through research before you write anything. Find the best words from the people who are already customers or customers of your competitors. Do research to find what’ll motivate your One Reader to buy.

“Research writes 50-80% of your copy for you.”

Samuel Woods


In Pain Killer Marketing (2008), Chris Stielhl and Henry DeVries show that 12 to 15 one-on-one interviews will generate about 80% of all possible pain points for your segment.

Asking the right questions reveals all the right answers. Learn from your current customers and you’ll get more customers. Gain insight by going straight to the customers and getting the answers you need from the horse’s mouth. 

Interview the following people to get the best answers:

  • Customers
  • Prospects
  • Team
  • Founder
  • Forums

Often blog posts have quotes from the interviews that give you important perspectives on the issue. Youtube has interviews with experts on topics of interest. Also, check out people using reviews on your product or your competitors’ products.

You can ask questions like:

  1. What does your perfect customer really want?
  2. How can your product or service solve their problem(s)?
  3. What factors motivate their buying decisions?
  4. Why do your existing customers choose your business over your competitors?
  5. How will their lives be improved?
  6. What makes your business so different that prospective customers should choose your products or services? 

Interview up to 5 people but no more than 12. You can survey people if interviews are too time-consuming or you don’t have enough customers.

The Power of Interviews

P&G hired a researcher to interview customers to see how they used Febreeze after their original campaign flopped.

Audience research 2x Febreeze’s sales

During an interview, a housewife revealed after spraying Febreeze feels like a “mini-celebration” when she’s done cleaning the room. Using this insight, they positioned FeBreeze as the reward for cleaning a room instead of including it in their audience’s existing routine. As a result, the sales doubled within 2 months. 


Probe your current audience for answers and find out what they are thinking about your product, features, their anxieties, objections, the solutions they’re looking for, and the scenarios that cause the need for your product/service.

Use surveys to find messaging because they reveal the in-depth data about purchasing your solution. It’ll help you understand your value proposition from your One Reader’s point of view. That will help determine the messaging hierarchy. Keep your survey short so it only takes 5 minutes to complete and distribute via social media or email.

Survey the following people to get the best answers:

  • Customers
  • Past-customers
  • Visitors

Examples of Survey Questions 

  • “Is there anything else you’d like us to know?”
  • “Please describe yourself in 1-2 sentences.”
  • “What should we do to ‘WOW’ you?”
  • “What, if anything, almost stopped you from purchasing from us?”
  • “Where would individuals purchase your products or services from?”

Try these online survey platforms to get important information about your One Reader:

Social Media & Audience Research

Social media is often the first touchpoint of your business for your audience. It’s a huge resource for interacting with your customers. Utilize it by:

  • Using polls
  • Doing social listening
  • Using lookalike audiences

Use social media for deep audience research to get an understanding of how people feel about you and your competitors.

Social Media Polls

Most of the social media platforms will allow you to create a poll so utilize the tool to ask your audience what they want from you.

Do audience research with social media polls

Social media polls provide great insight for audience research

Social Listening & Audience Research

Monitor social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, product, keywords, and more. Track, analyze, and respond to your customers. You’ll discover frustrations about your industry and find the most important pain points. 

Competitor Content/Products/Services

Conduct a competitive content and product/service analysis to get to know your competition. Find the motivation that they are touching on to get conversions. Highlight your competitor’s messaging so you know what your One Reader has seen already. 

Use competitor’s social media ads to see how they position their product

Make sure you document their:

  • Value proposition/headline
  • Major messages
  • The primary call to action
  • Compelling offers 
  • Good copywriting

Swipe copy that differentiates your product from theirs. Look up industry/market news and trends to find out how your web copy will stand out.

Use Google to see what competitors are doing

Case Studies

Competitor’s case studies tell stories of how their product or service’ transformed their lives. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool so the insight you’ll get provides an opportunity to find your positioning in the market. Take note of:

  • The challenges faced
  • Solutions
  • Results
  • Call to actions

Identify who they are attracting, and how they use their case studies to generate more customers. 

Review Mining & Audience Research

“78% of Internet users conduct product research online.”


If your customers and prospects are researching online for the right product then you should be too. Focus on review mining in forums, blog/articles comments, and other sources of golden nuggets. 

Swipe language, problems, patterns during audience research

Amazon Reviews

Amazon review mining is looking up products like yours (competitors) and pulling out interesting insights into your One Reader’s objections, anxieties, and more. When searching Amazon look for:

  • Memorable phrases
  • What people want
  • What people are in pain over

People will tell you what to write

Review mining is a key component of audience research

Swiping messages from online reviews is a favorite practice of a lot of the top copywriters. 


The front page of the internet’s subreddits has insight into an abundance of industries, products, services, and beyond. 

Reddit is a great tool for audience research


Quora is a question-and-answer website with user-generated content. Use it as a resource to get knowledge of your audience’s experience through their own words.

Other Resources

Product Hunt, G2, and other review sites provide a lot of information about your competitors.

Keyword Research

Using academic studies and research papers can provide insight into market trends. You’ll find out things like product-market fit and the ecosystem in which the product/service lives. Use sites like:

What are your favorites sites for doing keyword research?

Keyword Research is a key part of Audience Research

Use tools like SEMRush for your audience research

Internal Audience Research

Use the information you already have to make an informed decision about your product/service’s marketing history, the previous conversion funnel details, and all the persona details about your targeted markets/segments.  Use any existing:

  • Interviews
  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • Persona research
  • Marketing and sales materials
  • Offers for your products/services

Also collect:

  • Previous tests and experiments
  • Analytics, tracking, heatmaps, session recordings
  • Support & chat transcripts

Use this information to see where your content should go and how you should position it. Get a good understanding of the questions your customers are asking.

“The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.).”


With both external and internal research now it’s time to turn that information into the perfect prospect persona and/or converting messaging. Skip the persona part if you already have a clear understanding. 

Turn the Info into Your Perfect Prospect Persona

Create a data-driven persona to organize all your audience research into the perfect prospect profile. It’ll focus your content on engaging the audience that is most likely to convert. Segmentation allows you to create customized content for each One Reader. A snapshot of your One Reader will help you grow your list, and sell your products.

“Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.”


What use is a buyer persona if it doesn’t discuss their pain points? Or list competitor products they may have tried? To create a perfect prospect persona, answer the following questions:

  • What’s their level of awareness?
  • What’s their level of sophistication?
  • What’s their lifestyle state?
  • What’s their emotional journey?
  • What’s their primary emotion, attitude, or aspiration? 
  • What’s their primary belief, desire, or feeling?

Define your One Reader’s ideal identity, buying beliefs, buying triggers, and their desired transformation. Think about the answers for “before” they use your product, which will come from research. Think about the answers for “after” they use your product, which comes from the benefits they receive from your offer.

Remove the guesswork. Make the connection between your solution and your One Reader’s problem using the information from the research you have about your audience.

Apple gets close to their customer using audience research

Apple is a prime example of how detailed knowledge of your target audience can grow your company. With insight, Apple targets personas by appealing to their core desires. 

 5 Stages of Awareness

The master copywriter Gene Schwartz created the stages of awareness:

  • Unaware
  • Problem/Pain Unaware
  • Solution Aware
  • Product Aware
  • Most Aware

Determine their stage of awareness so you have an understanding of what is motivating them to come to a solution like yours. Their awareness consists of:

  • Their own pain or desire
  • The availability of the solution
  • The availability of your solution
Meet the One Reader at their level of awareness and you move them to the next stage.

One Reader’s Problem

What’s the unresolved frustration or challenge that is standing in their way? And how do they relate that problem to your product?

The best questions to ask are: 

“What problem are they facing in their lives that is driving them to a solution like yours?”

“How does that problem manifest in their lives?” 

One Reader’s Outcome

Next, break down the outcome your One Reader wants but they haven’t been able to achieve. Create the ideal identity for your One Reader and craft the copy so they’ll live up to it. Find compelling messaging that’ll propel your One Reader past their problem using your solution. Your product will provide the desired transformation when your audience buys it because your messaging will speak to their experience.

One Reader’s Desire

Tap into your One Reader’s unfulfilled desire by highlighting the copy that speaks to how they want their life to look. Emotions drive action. Use one of the seven deadly sins to draw the emotions that it relates to.

Seven Deadly Sins and Emotions

  • Envy =Jealous
  • Lust = Desire
  • Greed = Possessiveness
  • Gluttony = Self-interest
  • Pride=Confidence
  • Wrath = Anger/Annoyance
  • Sloth = Laziness

Once you discover their desires, you find their buying triggers and beliefs. You’ll activate it by knowing what they believe about themselves, your brand, and your offer. Keep in mind how exposed your One Reader is to your competitor’s content and what promises there are in your market. 

Convert the Audience Research into Messaging

Frame your target audience’s problems into messaging. Join the One Reader in their head (especially with your headline). Connect the dots by targeting their pain point and reflecting their motivation/desires into a beneficial value. Highlight the features of your product that correlate to it.

Establish your authority so when it comes time to make a purchase, your product is the first thing your #OneReader thinks of. Click To Tweet

Convert your audience research into converting web copy

Bridge the Benefits

Stress the underlying benefit of the most important feature to your audience. Think about the benefits of your product in relation to:

  • Your One Reader
  • Your product/service’s value proposition
  • Your hook
  • How your copy is going to be personal

Define the true benefit with the “how” and “why” it connects emotionally to your One Reader. Since most people make decisions based on emotions, ensure your copywriting speaks to the right brain.

Messaging Hierarchy

Organize the benefits you found with audience research by hierarchy. List the biggest benefits and the biggest objections in order of importance. Address your One Reader’s biggest pain points with the strongest benefits and create a clear path to your Offer.

Good Messaging Uses Tactics

There are a ton of effective copywriting formulas to use so your research will determine what’s the best one to use. Try a few simple copywriting techniques from the following list:

  • Think of messaging that you’ll craft into sets of three
  • Integrate metaphors (hyperbole and similies)
  • Include words that appeal to your One Reader’s emotions and their logic
  • Think about using repetitive mentions of a certain competitor

Include everything from their primary motivation to their tone, voice, and language. Before you write for your One Reader make sure you have an understanding of all these components.

Audience research is always first

Audience Research Conclusion

The more you know about your One Reader the more ability you have to gain their trust. Position your messaging the right way and you’ll have their business every time. Write for your One Reader and not a persona. Build a relationship with your audience but first start with asking them what they want. Do your research and your revenue will rise.

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