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Do You Really Know Your Audience, or Are You Just Guessing?

Business owners - Who do you speak to when you're writing content? When you're sharing on social media? Or when you're advertising your product or service?

While you could have the greatest product, social media strategy, and digital marketing strategy… it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not speaking to the right audience. Content should be created for people who are most likely to turn into customers – our target audience. As marketers, our first goal is to define who our target audience is.

When there is a clearly defined audience, we can: 

  1. Ensure our marketing will resonate with our audience.
  2. Ensure our marketing dollars are invested in the right places.

By taking the time to identify and understand your target audience, you are in a better position to boost conversions and improve customer loyalty through the marketing you share. Understanding and identifying your target audience is the foundation of any good marketing strategy. This includes understanding your ideal customer, where they spend their time, what their needs are, and most importantly, what challenges they face and how your product will fix that. 

But is your identified target audience actually your audience, or are you just guessing? 

In this article, we’ll be discussing what a target audience is, why it’s important, how they’re identified, and how to create personas to better market your business. 

Table of Contents: 

What is a Target Audience? 

A target audience is a demographic of people who are most likely to be interested in your product, service, or brand. The group of people most likely to buy from you. 

When creating a target audience, you take several things into account, including their age, gender, geography, income, or marital status. By understanding your target audience and what they care about, you can be intentional about your sales and marketing efforts. In addition, defining your audience will make it possible to answer questions about who is purchasing your product, where they spend time, and how to get in contact with them. 

Why is it Important?

Regardless of your role or position, it’s essential to know your target audience because it’s a necessary piece to building a successful business. Your audience impacts every aspect of your business – from what content you publish to where you spend your advertising dollars. It’s important to fully understand your audience because not everyone is your customer. If you haven’t clearly defined who your customer is, you could risk spending a lot of money with little to no return on investment. 

A little analysis can go a long way, so do your research, use that information to create a campaign that will target shoppers and turn them into loyal customers. 

A targeted audience allows you to appropriately tailor your content to support their needs and help you pinpoint the types of services they want and need. By building a thoughtful, targeted audience and doing proper research on them, you can use that information to create content and products that will resonate with the people who matter. By pinpointing your audience, you’re better positioned to build stronger, long-term relationships between your audience and business. 

You’ll also be able to use that information to show up consistently in places where they’re spending time online because constant recognition will support you in building brand loyalty. 

By creating long-term relationships and building brand loyalty, you’re in the best position possible to build a profitable business. 

How is it identified?

A target audience is identified through an analysis of your data and insights. It’s not something business owners can take a guess on or assume. 

Here are a few ways to start identifying your target audience: 

  • Email surveys 
  • Analyzing web traffic
  • Social Media Insights

Email Surveys

Your email list is your best friend. That is a direct link to your and your customers. Send out surveys and ask them questions to help you understand your audience better. 

For example, ask their age range, favorite social media app, interests, etc. When putting these surveys together, keep your questions simple and direct for easy and quick answers. 

Also, incentivize your customers to respond by including a discount or offer at the end of the survey. 

Analyze Your Web Traffic

Assuming your business has a website, look at your website traffic. You can do this on your website platform or through Google Analytics. 

Use this information to see where your customers are coming from, how much time they’re spending on your website, and what they’re clicking on. 

Social Media Insights

One last way to start identifying your audience is to check your social media analytics. If you have a business account, you should be able to automatically see any insights regarding your audience’s demographic and what posts they’re engaging with the most. You can also post surveys or polls on those social media platforms to ask questions and gather information to understand your audience better.

Couple working with a loan officer.

Questions to ask to narrow down your audience

Email surveys, website analytics, and social media insights are ways to understand your audience, help you start identifying your target audience, and fine-turn your messaging to reach them more effectively. 

However, that is only meant to get the ball rolling. We laid out a few ways to find your audience, but we can take it further. By getting even more targeted and detailing who your audience is, there’s no confusion in who you’re trying to communicate with, and you can tailor your message or pitch accordingly.  

Here are 4 Questions to Continue Describing Your Target Audience: 

What do you want from your target audience? 

Do you want them to donate? Buy your product? Use your service? 

Work to understand what you want, so you can fill in the customer’s “Why?” Why should they buy your product? Why should they use your service? 

What’s your demographic? 

This includes their age, gender, location, income, occupation, etc. However, let’s take it a step further. Will this demographic contribute to our first question?

For example, if you’re a clothing brand for young professionals, you would want to target someone in their mid-twenties who work a 9-5, but you would not target teenagers who might not want your product or be able to afford your product yet. 

How do they think, and what needs or challenges do they have? 

What trends do you see in how your audience thinks? What’s your target audience’s personality like? What are their values, interests, hobbies, etc.? By understanding how your audience thinks, you can ensure that your marketing relates to their personality or attitude. 

From there, reflect on their needs and challenges. This will help in answering their “why.” By understanding their needs, you can shift the conversation rather than asking them to buy your product. Instead, you are telling them why they should buy your product and how it will help them. 

You want to answer the question of how does your service or product benefits your customer. 

Where do they spend their time, and how can you reach them? 

Knowing where and how your audience spends their time is helpful in your marketing efforts. What do they read? What do they watch? What social media do they spend the most time on? 

If it’s Instagram, how much time do they spend on Instagram? When are they most active? 

There are so many ways to learn about your target audience, and some of them can be overlooked. But being thoughtful and taking time to understand them, learn about their habits, wants, and needs can make it that much easier to reach and connect with your audience. For example, if you know, they’re spending 5 hours a day on Instagram. You know you need to spend time building out an Instagram strategy. Or if you find that your audience is spending a lot of time on TikTok and you don’t have a presence there – you know it’s time to build one. 

With marketing, it’s all about being intentional, thorough, and balanced. If your marketing plan is to reach everyone and anyone, your pool of people is just too large, and you risk not reaching anyone. However, if you’re targeted and thorough, there’s a smaller number of people to reach, and you can be more intentional about the content you create or share. However, don’t go too targeted, or you will risk not having a pool of people large enough or diverse enough. Remember, it’s all about balance. 

Also, keep in mind that different products may have different targeted audiences. As you learn about your audience and can pinpoint the differences and similarities, you’ll learn that other customer niches may require different marketing strategies.

Creating a target audience can be challenging. While you want to get targeted and precise about who you’re reaching out to, you do not want to get too targeted and lose a chunk of your audience. 

These questions are meant to help you face the unavoidable assumptions we as business owners make about our audience. We also want you to take your “why” into account. How will you sell to them if you don’t grasp who your audience is? How will you answer their why? 

Two women working on their floral business.

Two Trees PPC Challenge

Now that you know where to look and what to ask let’s get even more analytical. 

Two Trees PPC Challenge: We encourage you to turn the information you found into customer personas. Create three customer personas of people that would be interested in your product or services. 

Building a customer persona is a way to help you digest all the research you’ve done so far. 

You looked at surveys, social media analytics, website analytics, you asked yourself questions, and spent the time reflecting on your answers. Now, it’s time to create your customer persona to help you quickly digest and outline your market research. You can go as detailed as creating a specific person with every trait and characteristic in your target audience. Or you can create a few different customer profiles that include some of your traits. This is a common marketing project when doing audience research; according to a survey done by Databox nearly 67% of marketers create personas to help drive marketing efforts regularly (source). 

When you’re creating your personas – make sure you’re taking the time to think about everyone who uses your website. Your large audience can then be broken down into smaller groups to help you eventually build out a specific profile. You should include their pain points, needs, any problems, etc. Then, as you create content, you can work to satisfy that customer profile’s wants and needs. 

While creating a customer profile, refer back to our target audience questions. For example, you may have multiple different target audiences for the various services or products. When creating these profiles, reference back to those questions and ensure they’re specific to each persona. 

Depending on your business, your audience can change. 

For example – a company would be targeting potential buyers and people interested in their product. On the other hand, if you’re a nonprofit, your target audience would be potential clients for a program or donors. 

Getting to know your audience is a step-by-step process, but it is oh-so-necessary. Knowing and understanding your audience, building profiles for your audience, and revisiting that profile to ensure it’s still correct takes time. Still, you’re confirming that you’re creating content that resonates with your audience and building services that your buyer persona and target audience want to buy.

Knowing your target audience and creating the right content can help you turn them into long-term paying customers who will eventually become loyal to your brand. Spend your time and marketing dollars reaching people who will impact your bottom line. By doing the hard work early on and identifying your target audience, you can start streamlining and identifying your messaging and strategy. 

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