Why is audience research is an important driver of digital transformation?

Driving a digital transformation requires that organizations understand the audience and target of the transformation. Similarly, and often used interchangeably for “audience” is “member”, “user”, “patron”, or “consumer”. We’ve found that most non-profit organizations hesitate to define their audience in this way. Importantly, when describing an audience we are considering both internal and external personas. For example both staff and membership.

Asking and seeking a definition of the audience will allow organizations to identify:

  1. Who are we serving?
  2. What are their needs?
  3. How can we better meet their expectations?

Audience Make-up at Macro and Micro Level

Deeper audience understanding allows organizations to further segment their audience. For example, a member becomes early, mid, and late-career members. For instance, with greater understanding, early career, mid, and late-career members are understood at both a holistic macro level and a micro level. For example, we may learn that early career members are in school or training and experiencing intense economic pressures like student debt and transitions from training to professional life. Certainly, understanding that the needs of an early-career member are very different than a late-career member’s needs provides needed insight for a digital transformation insight necessary to prioritize and guide decisions.

The Internal Audience

Importantly, audience understanding must capture the internal to the organization’s audience. That is to say, the internal audience is often internal constituents, for example, staff, leadership, core team, department heads, and subject matter experts or SMEs. Insight into the needs of these constituents is very valuable in determining the organization’s desire and tolerance for change.

Internal Constituents audience understanding allows organizations to identify:

  1. Desire for change
  2. Urgency for change
  3. Skill sets and training potential
  4. Alignment of vision for digital transformation

Why isn’t a member survey enough?

The best audience understanding is informed by the demographic data typical of a member survey. However, member surveys frequently take the form of a census type survey. This type of survey is commonly held on a yearly or bi-annual frequency. And while a member survey does provide value, the time passage from initiating a survey to finalizing insight is often on the scale of a quarter or two. In other words, member surveys are often too slow to provide topical, relevant, and timely data on audience sentiment and pain points. Importantly, for digital transformations to be successful requires a more timely approach to feedback loops.

Digital transformations will have an impact on audiences internally and externally to the organization. In conclusion, to effectively lead a digital transformation understanding the makeup and drivers for your audience is of fundamental importance.