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Identifying your target audience is really important as it allows you to tailor your messaging effectively and optimise your marketing budget, finding the right audience who are most likely to convert. Who is it that needs your product or service the most? What type of person is most likely to buy your product or service? What channels do they use and how can you reach them?
When you understand the answers to these questions, you can begin to target the right kind of people, potentially increasing your sales and business growth. But how do you identify your target audience in the first place so that you can sell to them?
Written by Lauren Shaw
Why is it important to understand your target audience?
It’s just not possible to appeal to everyone, and this is why you should narrow down your audience to the people most likely to convert from prospects to customers. Once you’ve done this, you may find that it’s easier to focus your marketing and advertising efforts, targeting the right people instead of casting your net too wide and wasting budget. This could lead to improved leads, reduced advertising costs and increased sales, making this a win-win situation.
It’s also really important that you understand your customers’ needs. The Marketo Engagement report shows that 56 per cent of consumers want a business to understand them and that half of the respondents think that businesses send out too much irrelevant information and content. You don’t want frustrated customers as this can lead to a decrease in social media followers and email subscribers, which could be a blow if you use these channels to bring in new sales and leads.
How do you define your target audience?
1. Understand the customer’s problem
When a customer is looking to purchase a product or service, generally, they want to make the purchase to fix a problem or issue that they’re experiencing. Perhaps they want to switch energy suppliers, for instance, as they aren’t happy with their current provider. In order to find out their problems and how they are thinking of solving them, you should try to learn from the customer.
There are a few different ways you can do this and these methods are collectively known as ‘market research’. Surveys are one of the most popular forms of market research, and you can ask customers exactly what you need to know either in person, over the phone or by asking them to fill out an online form. There are also face-to-face interviews. These can be done one to one, or as a group, also known as a focus group. The conversations can be recorded and analysed later when trying to discover more about your customers and their ideas. Finally, you can use social media listening to track mentions of particular keywords and hashtags, such as your brand name or the name of some products.
The more you can find out from your customers, the better. You may find it beneficial to keep a note of the issues or comments that arise again and again, as these are clearly something that can be prioritised.
2. Consider who needs your product or service
Once you have the above information, you can narrow down your defined target audience even further. Is your product or service only relevant to certain people? For instance, if you’re a company that specialises in remortgaging, you will likely want to target homeowners. As the average age of first-time buyers is between 30 and 35, you may only want your target audience to be those aged 30 and above. Then, as people reach retirement age, they may downsize their property, paying off their mortgage altogether, providing you with a maximum target age of 68. This gives you an age range of approximately 38 years instead of everyone aged 18 and over, narrowing down your target audience significantly.
Other things to consider when thinking about your target audience includes their gender, goals and motivations, challenges and frustrations, location, interests, income and more. For instance, a window cleaning company will likely operate within a certain radius and therefore might want to target homeowners or business owners within a particular geographic area.
3. Check out the competition
It’s always important to keep an eye on your competitors in business, and seeing who they’re targeting could help you to define your own audience. You may want to look at their website, see who follows them on social media and even look at the content and language they use.
How to create a target audience profile
Now that you’ve narrowed down your target audience, you may want to consider creating an audience profile. Profiles, also known as personas, are characters that reflect your ideal customer. You can go into as much or as little detail as you want, but an audience profile generally includes:
- Age range
- Job title and salary
- Goals and motivations
- Problems/pain points
- Likes and dislikes
- Interests or hobbies
- How they shop (in-store, mobile device, etc.)
- Preferred social media sites
A B2C persona example
Martin is aged 40 to 45 and currently lives in a townhouse in London with his wife and their two children. His high-flying job means that he doesn’t have a lot of time to go out and view properties but he wants to buy a flat in London that can be rented out. He earns approximately £6,000 a month and requires a mortgage on the new property. He is tech-savvy and happy to view properties virtually and deal with issues over the phone rather than in person. He has signed up for email alerts to properties within his ideal location and budget that come on the market.
A B2B persona example
Debbie, a 25-30 year old, has just set up a new recruitment business with five employees. She lives in a rural area and travels to her work premises in a city centre each day. She wants to be able to connect with more businesses who are looking to hire a recruitment consultant to help them find new staff members. She also wants a way to set goals, track leads and keep up to date with communication between her clients and people looking for work.
How to research your target audience
If you’re already an established business, you may want to discover more about the types of people that are already buying your product or investing in your service.
The best way to find out more about your customers is through Google Analytics. This tool provides all sorts of insights about your website and if you already have it set up, you can find out much more about your audience too. You can find out the percentage of users that are male compared to female, where the majority of website users are located, what device they use to access your website and even their interests and hobbies. When you have this information, you can ask yourself, is it what you expected? For example, would you expect female users to be at 65 per cent and male at just 35 per cent? If you expected the male users to be higher, what can you do to try and target this audience?
You should also take a look at your social media followers, as this can give you an idea of the kind of people who are interested in your product, service or content. Are they mostly male or female? What region are they based in? Based on their profiles, what are they interested in? If you wish, you could make an audience profile positioned purely on your social followers. Try to look at all your social profiles, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Understanding your target audience is so important. If you wish to make your marketing spend go further and increase customer engagement and conversions, knowing exactly who you’re targeting is key. Indeed, investing in this crucial step could be the difference between success and failure.
Written by Lauren Shaw, Marketing Manager at FLG.