As a business owner or marketer, one of the most critical aspects of your marketing strategy is understanding your target audience. A well-defined target audience helps ensure your marketing campaigns reach the right people.
Defining your target audience does more than help save you time and money. Marketing toward a specific audience can help you meet your goals and grow your business.
So let’s explore target audiences and the steps you can take to identify them!
What is a target audience?
A target audience is a specific group likely to be interested in your products or services. The individuals in your target audience typically share a trait or a set of traits. This helps you define your target audience so you can focus your marketing toward them more effectively. By targeting the individuals with the highest potential to become customers, you have a better chance of growing your customer base.
There is a wide range of traits and characteristics that can help define your target audience, such as:
- Pain points
Identifying your target audience involves understanding and using these characteristics to segment your potential customers.
Why is a target audience important?
Understanding what individuals make up your target audience is crucial for several reasons. Some of the most important reasons to define your target audience include:
More effective marketing
By identifying your target audience, you can tailor your marketing strategy to their needs, preferences, and behaviors. This is important even if your product or service can technically appeal to a wide range of customers. Unfortunately, broad marketing strategies can often miss their market.
I’ve mentioned this in other blogs, but it bears repeating. There’s an oddly backward truth when trying to appeal to humans: the more specific you make something, the more universal it becomes.
Marketing focused on specific people and situations can help your marketing efforts resonate with your audience. This can drive conversions and improve sales.
Targeting a specific audience allows you to focus your marketing efforts on the people most likely to convert. This helps you avoid wasting time and resources on campaigns that won’t reach your target audience or resonate with them.
Types of Target Audiences
Defining a target audience typically takes the form of creating subsets called audience or customer segments. To create segments, you must first perform research. Most marketing platforms have tools to help you conduct research and find the information you need.
As mentioned above, your target audience should share a trait or set of traits. But deciding what characteristics to use is only the first step. You can use these traits to segment your target audience into different subsets to help you better understand how to market to them.
Some of the common types of target audiences include:
1. Demographic: Defined by characteristics such as age, gender, income, education, and occupation.
2. Geographic: Defined by location, such as country, region, city, or neighborhood.
3. Psychographic: Defined by interests, hobbies, values, and personality traits.
4. Behavioral: Defined by actions, such as purchasing habits, product usage, and brand loyalty.
The content for your marketing campaign can be more effective if it feels personal to your audience. It helps to create your content as if it’s being made for a single individual rather than a group. To do this, we usually create a fictional representation of our ideal customer. This imaginary person should match the data and research you’ve collected about your target audience.
This fictional representation is known as an audience persona. It helps to think of them as a real person with thoughts, feelings, and desires.
Ideally, your audience persona matches your target audience’s needs, preferences, and behaviors. Consider demographics, pain points, interests, and behaviors when creating the persona. And don’t forget to give your persona a name and a backstory to help humanize them!
Remember: specificity is universal!
Target Audience vs Target Market
While researching your target audience, you might encounter the term “target market.” While “target audience” and “target market” are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings.
We define a target market as the broader group of potential customers who may be interested in your product or service. By identifying your target market, you identify everyone who might ever need or like what you offer. However, because the target market is broad, there might be significant subgroups who can’t or won’t make a purchase.
Your target audience is a more specific subset of that market, identified by characteristics that make them more likely to convert.
For example, your target market might be women aged 18-34, while your target audience could be college-educated women aged 22-28 who are interested in fitness and live in urban areas.
How to Find Your Target Audience
Finding your target audience takes time and research, but it can pay off by increasing conversions and sales. Depending on your marketing, data analysis platforms, and personal preferences, the specific methods you use to find your audience can differ. However, there are a few common steps you can take to improve your chances of finding the audience that matches your needs.
The most common steps that can help you define your target audience are:
Analyze your existing customers
As I mentioned, your digital marketing platform probably has built-in analysis tools. If not, you can utilize a tool like Google Analytics to help collect data. Whatever your preference, you can use these tools to identify common characteristics and behavioral patterns among your current customer base. Collecting this data yourself is an important part of a first-person data strategy.
This is a good starting point because it can help you discover what types of customers buy your product and services. It can also help focus your marketing by determining whether your customers prefer interacting with your app, website, emails, or other points of contact.
As an added bonus, this can also help you uncover potential new customer segments you didn’t realize you had!
Research your competitors
To a lesser extent, analyzing your competitors’ marketing efforts can help by identifying who they are targeting. This can help you identify market gaps or refine your target audience. However, this doesn’t typically result in much data. But you can compare your competitors’ marketing with your customer research for a more complete picture.
Use social media
Social media platforms offer more than just a way to interact with customers. Most business accounts offer analytics options that provide information about your potential customers. You can also browse customer accounts to better understand their wants, needs, and what matters to them.
You can analyze your brand’s followers and those of your competitors, then engage with them to gain insights into their preferences and behaviors. You can also learn what type of content they prefer and what CTAs help boost conversions.
Conduct audience research
Want to know more about your customers? Why not ask them directly?
You likely have direct access to your audience with social media and email lists (make sure you ask permission first). You can make the most of this access by performing surveys, focus groups, and interviews with the individuals you hope to target. This can help provide information about your audience’s needs, preferences, pain points, and more.
This can inform your marketing strategy and help you create more targeted campaigns.
Identify pain points
Your audience is composed of humans. As such, they probably face challenges and problems daily. By identifying these pain points, you can market your product or service as a solution to those challenges!
By focusing on these pain points, you can create content and messaging that resonates with your audience and drives conversions.
Monitor and adjust
Since you already have analytics tools at your disposal, keep using them! They can help you track your campaign’s performance to determine what’s working, what’s not, who’s converting, and how your audience interacts with each piece of marketing.
This is a lot of data. And it’s all beneficial.
For one, you can use it to digitally nurture leads.
But you can also track performance! By tracking performance, you can continue to refine your target audience and marketing strategy. Your campaigns can become increasingly successful as you eliminate the methods that work least and focus on those that work best.
As your business grows, your target audience might evolve. Monitoring customer engagement and interaction can help you adjust future campaigns to your ever-changing audience.