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Identifying your target audience

Updated: May 11, 2022

Before you can start with any marketing activity, you need to know who you are trying to reach. Who is your target audience?

Marketing without this information will quickly drain your budget and won't yield much in the way of results. Why? Because not everyone is interested in your product or service, so why try and reach everyone?

Your ability to clearly define and focus-in on the customers who buy your product or service is essential to the success of your business.

This article gives some advice on how to get started with audience targeting. Even the most simple of information, found with just a bit of detective work, can help you narrow down your audience and make marketing decisions easier - and more effective.

Who are my customers?

The best place to start is your own customer base. After all, who is more likely to look like a potential customer than your existing customers?

Look at your own customer data and build a picture of what your typical customer looks like - chances are your customers share a number of similar characteristics that will quite quickly give you a sense of who to target. Basic information to gather might be:

  • Are your customers mostly male or female?

  • What is the typical age of your customers?

  • Where do they live, are they local, national or worldwide?

Look for common features and don't be afraid to group people based on these features, as this will make your marketing decisions easier.

If you don't hold customer data on file, now is a good time to start - but there are other ways to determine who your ideal customer might be.

Digging deeper

If you use social media for your business, then you probably already know this is a great place to find information on your customers and potential customers. This is useful data, as these are people who have already engaged with you online and expressed an interest in your business. Check out Insights on your Facebook and Instagram pages to see what information you can get. Look at this in conjunction with your customer data and see what common themes there are.

You'l find socio-economic factors such as income, education and occupation - all of which influence people's decisions about what to buy - plus detailed demographic data and lots of information on which of your posts were most successful.

And then there is Google Analytics. When your website is connected, you can find out how people arrived at your site, which websites they came from, and which pages they like best - all of which helps you understand your customers better. And best of all, it's free.

Ask questions

Another great way to find out more about your potential customers is simply to interact with them more. Put questions to your audience on social media, perhaps asking them what they'd like to know more about. Ultimately, the more you know about this group of people, the more you can tailor your marketing to their needs.

Depending on the nature and size of your business, you might want to consider asking customers to complete a short questionnaire, or hold informal interviews with some of your best customers. Doing this can provide more personal detail about things such as interests and hobbies, personality traits, and buying habits. Questions you may want to ask them are:

  • Where do you shop for our product?

  • What benefits do you get from our product or service?

  • What newspapers do you read/ which social media channels do you use?

  • How often do you buy our product?

You can use this information to build a picture of your customers habits and also use it to differentiate your product when promoting it.

Learn from competitors

Your competitors can be a great source of information. Rather than feeling threatened by them, let them aid your research. See what they are doing well and use this to generate new content ideas for your own audience. Regularly check out their website, their social media channels, and perhaps sign up for their newsletter or blog. Check out their followers on social media - how do they compare to yours?

Gather data through your own website

Do you have a contact form on your website? Where does that information get stored? If you're saving that data to a database it will provide you yet more insights on your visitors, depending on what you ask them in the form. Perhaps this lead data shows a group of potential customers not addressed in your customer data? How do they differ?

So what do I do with all this information now I have it?

Share the data you've gathered about what your potential customers look like with everyone involved in promoting the business. Try to keep it simple and accessible, then use it to:

1. Create targeted content, such as blog posts and social media posts, emails and newsletters, that you think your target audience will be interested in reading, based on your research.

2. Get your new content in front of the right people, by pushing it out through the channels that you know they use and at the optimum times for those channels.

3. Use your new target audience data to inform bigger decisions at the business level, further developing your product or service to better solve your customer's problems.

Stock photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

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