If you want to achieve the best marketing success, simply putting content out there and hoping it will bring in the right customers isn't the best method to use. While many small businesses, or businesses new to marketing, may feel that just creating relevant content is enough to attract potential customers, there's more to marketing than just hoping you'll connect with the right people.
That's where your target audience comes in. By identifying your target audience and understanding what they want and how they want it, you're far better placed to create targeted, compelling content that delivers real results. It may be tempting to think your business is for everyone, but your audience is likely to be far more specific than just homeowners or young professionals, for example.
Our comprehensive guide covers all you need to know about target markets. From target audience demographics to target audience examples to help you understand exactly why a more targeted approach to your advertising can be more effective, more practical, and more affordable in one. Read on now to find out more:
What is a target audience?
The definition of a target audience is a collective group of potential customers that may use or buy from your business. Typically, your target audience is the kind of person your products and services are 'made for'. There are many ways to define the target audience, from demographic to psychological factors. By finding the right audience for your marketing, you're far more likely to see an increase in efficiency and sales for your brand.
When companies speak about their target audience, they're often referring to a specific persona or identified group of people that their products are aimed towards. This target audience is then used to decide marketing, choose the types of content they produce, and even tailor the business's branding itself.
Why do you need a target audience?
So, what makes a target audience such an integral component of your business strategy? Without identifying the people you're hoping to sell to, you're leaving yourself in the dark when it comes to the content you're creating and the marketing you're putting out. Reaching everyone at once isn't feasible for any business. When it comes down to it, what one customer will love another won't like.
Generalising is a mistake many newer companies make and can lead to you losing potential customers instead of gaining more from a wider pool. Targeting that specific market is a far easier task with a target audience that's well-researched and that you understand inside and out. You know how to talk to those people, you know what they want, and you know how your product or service could help them.
How do I research my target audience?
When you start to define your target audience, the number of demographics and markets out there can be challenging to navigate. If you want to drill down to exactly what kind of person would buy your products, your best starting point is to look at what's already there. Here's how you can research what your target audience should be:
Look at who buys from you now
If you already have an established business with existing customers, that pre-existing audience can be a goldmine in discovering precisely what your target market is. Whether it's checking out the typical characteristics of the people that buy from you or even sending out a survey to loyal customers to investigate directly, starting at home is the best way to identify your market. You may find patterns in behaviour and demographics that can be invaluable to help form your final, definitive target audience.
Take a peek at your competition
Your competition in your specific sector or niche is another avenue that shouldn't be understated for target market research. Not only does their customer base let you know what kinds of customers work for your market, but you may also find gaps in the audience they are targeting that you can use to your advantage. Niche marketing – targeting particular customer wants and needs – is a powerful form of targeted audience marketing when done right.
Check out online stats and demographics
If you've already built up a good following on social media, or you have a steady flow of traffic to your website, that's demographics data that's sitting there waiting to be used. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all provide insights to businesses, allowing them to know what kind of people like your page. Whether it's a specific area, gender, or even a particular age.
Similarly, Google Analytics offers the same kind of things for websites. If you want to see what most people who find your website are like, your analytics is a great place to start. However, it is worth noting that these insights only offer information on your existing audience. If you're planning to change audiences or reach out to different markets, this information won't be quite as valuable – but it's still well-worth knowing.
Analyse the products and services you offer
Every product you sell or service you offer is designed to provide something beneficial to your customers. Making a list of everything you sell and each item's benefits can give a solid foundation for target audience research. Once you've created that list, you can then think about what kind of person benefits from your product or service. Understanding how what you sell benefits a specific audience, you can then better define what your target customer base is.
How do I define my target audience for marketing?
Once you've carried out your research and developed an understanding of the target audiences' general nature, you can then start defining in further detail what that target audience is. Many businesses pull their target audience out of thin air based on who they want to target. Defining your target audience is about who needs your product, is most likely to benefit from it, and most likely to pay for it.
Here are the ways you can further define your target audience:
Pick the demographics you want to target
Using the research you completed, you can then figure out the demographics of the kind of person most likely to buy your product or service. The more exact you are in your demographics, the easier it will be to create marketing that targets that market. Demographics you should consider are:
- Martial/Family Status
Examine the psychology of your audience
The psychology of your target audience, also known as their psychographics, is a way to define your target audience based on behaviour, values, and lifestyle. The thought process for whether that person would pick and purchase your product or service. Here' what you should consider as part of the psychology of your target audience:
- Personal Interests
While demographics are very much factual cut-and-dried information about customers, your audience's psychology may take a little more research and understanding to pin down. To get a handle on your target audience types of psychographics, you'll need to think about what appeals to that person, how they will use that product, and even how they research and access information where your product could be placed.
It may feel difficult to understand what your customer is thinking and feeling and what kind of person they are in general. But this kind of in-depth understanding can pay off when it comes to narrowing down the specific niche you'd want to appeal to.
Look at the challenges and pain points
The motivation behind purchasing a product is often overcoming a challenge or solving a pain point in our lives. As a business, your goal should be to problem-solve for your customers. If you're targeting too broad a demographic of people, that's far too many diverse problems that your product or service can't help.
Your target audience's pain points allow you to better focus on how your product or service benefits or adds value to their life. A simple example of this would be someone looking to buy a vacuum cleaner. Their pain point could be that their current vacuum doesn't meet their standards. As such, the benefit of your product is that it is high-quality and long-lasting, meaning they no longer have to worry about a sub-par vacuum again.
Create a customer persona to follow
Once you've got a firm idea of the demographics and psychology of the target audience, you'd like to market to, creating a customer persona can help to solidify those ideas into reality. A customer persona is essentially a detailed marketing document that breaks down your 'ideal customer'. You'll want to include plenty of information about their demographics, beliefs, motivations, personality and more.
At its most fundamental, a customer persona should cover all of the five key 'W's:
To answer all those questions, you'll need to use the research, demographics, psychology, and pain points you've explored above. A standard persona can look like this:
- Job and Employer
- Pain Points
Not only does this help to humanise your audience, but it also supports you in marketing towards a specific persona as opposed to hundreds or thousands of potential customers. The purpose of a customer persona when targeting audiences is to condense all the information you know about the people you want to market into a bitesize, easy to use format.
You can start by creating a single persona, but as you branch out in the product or services you offer, additional personas can help you identify individual niches for far more effective marketing. There are plenty of tools online to create a persona template quickly, such as Xtensio, or you can make it yourself in-house.
Targeting your content for your audience
Once you have a persona set in stone, you may be wondering how you can use that target audience to your advantage for future marketing and sales activity. Knowing your target market is incredibly valuable in several ways. When it comes to creating content, it can ensure what you're creating is relevant for both your business and the people you want to attract the attention of.
For example, if you were to create a blog post for your business selling baby clothes, you can refer to your persona to see whether your content will work for your audience. If your persona is stay-at-home young mothers with a low income, you may find that blog posts focused on making baby clothes last longer and how to clean stains to save garments would be more relevant than a post about how to decorate a luxury nursery.
As a tool, your target audience and your persona provide you with a starting point to create content that suits and appeals to your market. Instead of speaking to everyone in general, you're talking to the specific market you want to buy your products. Your content solves their pain points and provides benefit for their particular challenges and motivations. Successfully targeted marketing campaigns do so much better than more general campaigns for this specific reason.
What happens once my target audience is defined?
When you've completed the research and identification of your target market, the next step is creating marketing and content for that specific audience. But while a persona and target audience are excellent tools, they also need to be as adaptive as the rest of your marketing and sales strategy.
For example, if you start selling products aimed at a different market, you'll need to complete research and identify a new audience for that product specifically. Likewise, if you see that your sales demographics are changing over time, your persona will need to be adapted or altered to suit the changing market.
Understanding your audience better is the core reason behind identifying your target audience. That understanding then provides the compass needed to take the right directions for your business. From social media marketing to website content, blog copy, to comprehensive marketing campaigns. Start with a well-researched target audience in mind, and you'll put yourself on track for tangible success.