How to find your target audience
Whether you’re a marketer, salesperson, or company leader, you know how important it is to connect with the right people. But who, exactly, are those people?
Though 7 billion people roam the planet, there’s probably only a small portion that will invest in your product or service. Unless, of course, you’re Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook who successfully sell to hundreds of millions each year — in which case… we’re absolutely humbled to have you here.
In the (much more probable) case that you’re part of a small but growing business or even an established corporation, there’s a specific pool of people who will truly find your product or service valuable, invest in it, and then become a loyal customer for life.
Even if you’ve been in the game for years, the people who are likely to become your customers will evolve as your industry and the world at large change over time. This special group of unicorns — er, people — are called your target audience, and it’s important that you pay close attention to who they are. But how do you recognize them, empathize with them, speak to them via your marketing and sales strategies and content, and successfully convert them into loyal customers?
Only kidding—read on to discover the ins and outs of finding your target audience and how to map your products and services to alleviate their pain points and help them achieve their goals.
What is a target audience and why does it matter for your brand?
By definition, a target audience is the demographic of people who are most likely to be interested in a product or service. Things like age, location, gender, education, job title, industry, and interests contribute to the demographic.
Here are some target audience examples:
- 25-50-year-old parents who work in education and speak English
- 14-18-year-old people identifying as female, who live in New York City, and have an interest in fashion
- London-based IT Directors who work at a mid-sized eCommerce company
Not to be confused with “target market”, the term “target audience” is narrower, and refers specifically to the group of consumers targeted by marketing messaging.
Identifying your target audience as a business can help refine your marketing strategies and define core customers. Instead of spending money and resources trying to cater to everyone, defining a target audience—or a target sub-audience for each service or product—allows for a more specific and intentional connection.
Why does connection matter?
Now more than ever it’s important to take an empathetic approach when communicating with and marketing to your audience. Regardless if you’re a B2B or B2C company, there’s still an actual human at the other end of your message, engaging with your content and brand, and making a decision based on their level of interest.
So go beyond the cookie-cutter approach of only understanding your ideal customer’s age, location, and job titles. Discover what their interests, fears, desires, and goals are then ask as you build your strategy: What solution are they in need of? How can my product or service help them achieve this solution?
How to find your target audience
Before you start conjuring up the perfect messaging and publishing it to your social media channels, email campaigns, and webinars, you need to understand who should be receiving it, and how to connect with them.
Discover these 4 actionable ways to successfully find your target audience and engage with them via digital marketing:
1. Conduct industry research
Whether your company is just starting out or is more established, the landscape of almost every industry is changing with the evolution of technology. This is why it’s so important to do research on a regular basis.
Find the answers to questions like:
- Have any core components of the industry changed due to a recent event?
- Has there been a sudden shift in focus?
- What are other experts predicting for the future?
- Who will be affected by these changes?
- How does your product or service fit into the larger picture?
The answers to these questions should lead you down a clear path of who is affected, who could benefit from your product or service, and who may no longer be interested.
Stay up-to-date on industry news by subscribing to reliable sources, sparking thoughtful conversations with industry leaders on social media, and getting up close and personal with each change that happens. By taking these measures, you remain a constant expert in your industry and can keep these valuable pieces of information top-of-mind as you’re connecting with your audience.
2. Analyze your existing customer base
It’s probably safe to assume that your company has sold its product or service to at least one person or business, right? Who is that person? What makes them unique? Why did they choose your product or service?
Take an analytical and anecdotal look at your past and current customers and learn as much as you can about:
- Their basic demographic information
- How they found your product or service
- Why they became interested in the first place
- Their initial pain points and challenges
- What led them to purchase your product—was it an informative blog post? A paid ad on Instagram?
- Their behavior as a customer—are they making you money on a regular basis?
- Their feedback on the product and their experience
There are many tools to uncover this information, but the favorite by-far is Google Analytics, which allows you to understand user behavior on your website and their demographics. Collaborate with your sales and customer experience teams to understand other specifics about their customer journey and any interactions you’ve had with them. It’s recommended to use a robust CRM system such as Salesforce or HubSpot to effectively track and monitor these details.
If your customers consistently have a couple of things in common, you can confidently conclude that these details should be present in who you target moving forward.
As David Hoos of The Good puts it, “Look at the characteristics of your best existing customers and organize that list into at least one profile based on shared characteristics. Some good metrics include those with the largest deal sizes, the longest retention, and the easiest customers to work with.”
Bobby Reed of Capitol Tech Solutions elaborates on this approach:
“Find the customers that are the top gross revenue for the least amount of work. Also, find the customers that may not be the most profitable, but that are repeat customers that keep the daily operations funded.
And find out which customer segments you may actually lose money on, and justify if there is a need to market to that customer segment. Knowing who you currently work with gives you the opportunity to really build upon and reach more of that target audience.”
3. Develop buyer personas and map products to them
Oftentimes, a business will offer multiple products or services. It’s time to get clear on how each product or service will serve a subset of your target audience. To do this, create a buyer persona for each type of potential customer, and then map your products to them.
This way, you can ensure that you speak to each specific type of buyer when creating specific content, while painting a clear picture for your marketing and sales team of how they should tailor their language, tone, and topics to each persona.
You can then strategically separate your targeted content through email audience lists, targeted paid campaigns on social media, or Google Ads Words.
4. Monitor and adjust your messaging
Now that you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to start engaging with them! As you publish more intentional content, keep track of the specific buyer persona you were targeting with each initiative. By doing this, you can monitor your efforts and adjust accordingly for each persona.
Experiment with different wording, design, CTA’s, topics, channels, content topics, and formats, and see which perform the best. Focus on creating marketing content that your prospects, customers, and community actually need and want. SEO ranking and high numbers of traffic, followers, downloads, etc. are all important to measure success, but what good are those numbers if the content doesn’t speak to the right person or help solve a problem they are facing?
Here are some messaging adjustment and performance monitoring examples:
- You find that your target audience engages social media posts that have a more playful tone, so you work with your branding team to slightly adjust the company’s voice and tone across the entire website.
- By investing in a social media management & reporting tool such as Sprout Social, you’ve discovered that your target audience is very active on LinkedIn, and not as much on Facebook. Instead of moving forward with a paid campaign on Facebook, you shift your efforts to LinkedIn where there is guaranteed to be more traction.
- Your content team has published a few downloadable guides to the website. One of them, in particular, is getting more downloads and thus generating more leads. This tells you that this specific topic is two things: 1) more valuable to your target audience and 2) revenue-driving.
- Through A/B testing, you’ve discovered that a particular email subject line has a higher open-rate, so you incorporate this copy into more emails going forward.
- Your audience tends to enjoy interacting with video content rather than images, so you incorporate more GIFs, how-to video tutorials, and YouTube videos into future content.
Keep in mind that each buyer persona will likely behave differently than the others, so it’s recommended to treat them as unique groups by targeting them thoughtfully. This will result in a more meaningful connection and a higher chance of closing the deal.
Hit the target every time
At the end of the day, your target audience is pretty simple: it’s a group of people who have certain things in common. Never forget to tailor your content and strategies with this in mind, and always strive to connect, compel, and offer them unique solutions. In order to turn your target audience into loyal customers, all you have to do is pay attention to who they are and adjust accordingly.
Now that you have perfect aim on your target audience, it’s time to turn them into leads. Read our article How to Generate Leads through Online Marketing to learn how.