Understanding Your Target Audience

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Understand Your Target Audience - Woman holding a dart
Julie FrostJulie Frost
January 10, 2022
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UPDATED:
January 24, 2022

Social Media Series - Part 2 of 6

No one's business appeals to everyone. Find your target audience and market your business to that demographic instead of aiming for an audience that won't buy your product. You'll see increased sales, more conversions, and higher profits that widen your marketing budget. As your brand gains recognition, you'll become a leader in your industry.

What is a Target Audience?

Groups of people with one group colored blue and a target mark

Your target audience is the primary demographic for your business. These customers are most likely to buy and benefit from your product. When you build a target audience, you'll consider your clients' age, gender, location, lifestyle, income, hobbies, work history, and other factors. Some businesses have multiple demographics who buy their products or services.

An example demographic would be women aged 18-25 to live in the United States, use Instagram and stay on top of fashion trends. A business that sells makeup for younger women would target this demographic in its marketing. Conversely, men aged 35-55 who don't use technology would be the wrong demographic because they typically don't buy these products.

Some businesses have a niche demographic, while others appeal to broader audiences. If you sell canned goods, your business appeals to many people. However, if you sell emergency food rations, you'll only appeal to campers, hikers, and survivalists. An excellent demographic finds a balance between appealing to your niche audience and throwing marketing at everyone.

Why Should You Identify Your Target Audience?

Making a post on Facebook or buying a TV commercial slot isn't enough to promote your business. You’ll waste time with demographics that won't buy your product if you advertise to everyone. Finding a target audience helps you get the most out of your marketing budget. When you focus on the right audience, you'll see a higher percentage of clicks per advertisement.

Finding a target audience also shows you the right marketing platform. If your demographic includes people in their 50s and 60s, they probably don't use social media as much as younger generations. Instead, you'd focus on print, radio, and TV marketing. However, if you're aiming for millennials and Gen Z-ers, you'd promote your business on Facebook and Twitter. This saves money on ad campaigns that would otherwise be useless.

Similarly, you'll tailor your marketing toward your target audience. You could appeal to older generations' nostalgia or provide short content blocks for younger demographics. Your graphics, branding, rhetoric, and content production change according to your demographic. This creates consistent branding and increases brand recognition.

When you know your customers, you'll learn how to communicate with them, which improves your customer service. Customers feel like you understand them, encouraging them to repurchase your products or leave positive reviews. Personalized interactions show customers that you're a real person behind the screen, not a faceless business that just wants to take their money.

How to Identify Your Target Audience

Magnifying glass showing a group of people

You might have a general idea of your current demographic. For example, if you sell purses, you probably know that your demographic includes women aged 18-35. However, narrowing down your audience enhances your strategy. You don't need expensive tools to find your audience--you just need knowledge and research.

If you have an established business, you'll use data on existing customers and social media interactions. Otherwise, think about who would buy your product before launching your company. Planning saves thousands of dollars before you even get started.

Study Your Existing Customers

If you have an existing customer base, evaluate their demographics. Not everyone falls under the same target audience, but you'll get a general idea of who needs your products. Depending on your business, you might have access to limited information like your customers' names, genders, interests, and locations.

Other businesses collect little information from their customers. However, you can use the data to gauge who buys your products and why they need them. Even a list of names offers a starting point--you'll see if women favor your business more than men or vice versa.

Consider Your Customers' Needs

What needs or desires does your business satisfy? This information helps you isolate a demographic. If you're a photography business, you won't market your company to fellow photographers. However, you could sell your business to people in adjacent industries, like artists who need pictures for their portfolios. These people often have similar interests, age ranges, and other stats.

List the benefits that your product or service provides to get started. Note the difference between "features" and "benefits"--a feature is an aspect of your product while a benefit is a need that the product fulfills. With this information, you'll create effective marketing materials.

Review Customer Feedback

Review feedback - faces (sad, ok, happy)

Send customer surveys to see what they need from your business. You'll gather data from existing customers, which already tells you who's buying your product. Next, you'll see what clients look for when they visit your website. Are they looking for a helpful product, how-to videos, personalized services, or educational blog posts? This tells you who you need to target.

After identifying the target audience, figure out how to reach this demographic. You might learn how to create engaging posts, film social media videos, or personalize your services to meet your customers' needs. You'll reach a wider audience who wouldn't have found your website otherwise.

Research Your Competitors

Check out your competitors with a bigger following, and see who buys their products or services. Start by visiting their social media profiles to see who follows these businesses. Do their followers include a large percentage of women in their 20s, men in their 40s, or college students about to graduate? Visit a few different competitors to get a clear picture of your audience.

Afterward, review their marketing to see how they attract their audience. For example, if they target millennials, you'll probably find short videos, tutorials, and colorful illustrations. Note how they interact with their customers to maintain a loyal base.

Monitor Social Media

Monitoring social media

Similarly, study your own social media pages to see who interacts with you. You'll have a few bots and spam accounts, but most people follow your business because they want to. Study your followers' demographics, particularly the followers who interact with your posts. See which social media accounts have the most followers--different demographics prefer different platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Use Google Analytics to learn more about your audience for your website. Google Analytics is a free tool that provides demographic information about your visitors, including their age, gender, and country. You'll also get traffic reports and other data.

Find a Niche--But Don't Go Too Small

Every business has a niche. Even if you own an online grocery store, your demographic includes younger generations who are more likely to use the Internet and live in your region, which has a higher percentage of certain ages and lifestyles than others. For more specific businesses, your niche might be much smaller.

Find your target audience, but don't narrow down your audience too much. Just because an individual is part of your audience doesn't mean they'll buy your product. For example, instead of exclusively targeting 18-year-olds, expand your audience to 18 to 29. You'll always have a few buyers outside your core demographic.

Create the Ideal Customer

Who is your ideal customer? written in a notebook

Now that you've narrowed down your demographic, create a profile of the ideal customer. Most customers won't match this exact profile, but it gives you an idea of promoting your business. You'll keep this fictional profile in mind when you create branded material.

Your profile could include the following information:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Place of work
  • Number of children
  • Hobbies
  • Needs and wants
  • Income
  • Job history
  • Personality traits

An example profile would be a 30-year-old woman named Sally, who owns a freelance photography business. She makes $30,000 a year and is married with two children. As a busy parent, she has trouble promoting herself on Instagram. Since you're a social media manager, hiring you would boost her career and give her more time with her family.

Don't target every trait, but keep her mind when you advertise yourself and interact with customers. Creating a profile makes your customers more "real" instead of a faceless group of people.

Reach Out to E-Marketing Associates

After identifying your target audience, you'll need a strong marketing strategy to reach the right people. E-Marketing Associates helps small businesses grow with products, software, and digital marketing expertise. Services include SEO, web design, review management, and visitor tracking.

To start, get a free business report that shows how your business is doing online and how you stack up against the competition. The report covers your website, social media presence, customer reviews, SEO, and how your business is listed across the web, giving each category a grade from A to F. After reviewing your report, contact E-Marketing Associates to get help turning those low grades into straight As.

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