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How to Identify and Define Your Target Audience

Learn effective strategies for pinpointing and clarifying your target audience with expert guidance. Discover how to identify and define your audience to enhance your marketing efforts and boost engagement
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The target audience is one of the vital elements of any business. Without it, no company would know how to allocate their marketing resources and create their brand message to turn prospects into customers. 

Establishing a target audience enables you to create and deliver compelling content and marketing materials. In this article, we explore how to identify and define your target audience.

What is a Target Audience?

Target Audience

A target audience is a group of people most likely to be interested in your products, services or brand message. It represents segments of the population who share features, interests or demographics and is often defined with tools like market research, competitive analysis or customer feedback.

 

Target audience is a key element in defining marketing strategies, as it dictates what product to launch, where and how much money to spend on advertising and how to create tailored messages that resonate with potential customers. 

What is Target Audience Research?

Target audience research represents the understanding of people most likely to buy your products or services – who they are, where to find them and when they are most responsive to your content and brand message. 

 

Demographic and psychographic information you learn during target audience research enables you to create marketing strategies that contribute to establishing a long-term relationship with this audience. 

 

Demographics include age, gender, income, family status, race, nationality, religion and education.

 

Psychographics represent the psychological characteristics of customers, like values, likes, dislikes, lifestyle choices and tastes.

Why is Target Audience Research Important?

Target Audience Research is important

Target audience research helps stay in touch with prospects: learning their age, occupation, education level, preferences, or pain points allows marketers to see prospects as real people and not just abstract numbers and to create connections based on their personalities. Knowing how prospects think or live and what drives them helps businesses attract new customers, improve the retention of existing customers and increase their revenues.

Target audience research helps identify the challenges and opportunities encountered by your brand. If, for example, one of your main competitors can’t deliver a brand message that resonates with their audience, your target audience analysis can highlight how you could achieve this objective. 

 

Target audience research requires the definition of a buyer persona, which represents the ideal customer. This persona gives target audience analysis a “human face“, enabling you to deliver the right message to the right people in the right way.

Main Types of Target Audience Research

Target audience research can be quantitative or qualitative based on the metrics it collects.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research includes demographic information like age, education level, location, profession, and prospects’ behaviour like buying patterns or habits. These facts and figures are usually collected with the help of tools that detect the location of potential customers and how they interact with your business’s products, services and marketing messages.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is conducted with the help of tools such as feedback forms, focus groups, reviews or surveys that reveal psychographic information about prospects like opinions, beliefs or interests. Automated research tools help avoid human processing errors and keep the target audience’s research correct and complete.

What are the 4 Key Ways to Identify a Target Audience?

Identify a Target Audience

1

Check your base of existing customers

One of the handiest ways to identify your target audience is to check the base of existing customers and learn their areas of interest and characteristics. Determine who they are, their age, job titles, interests, location, and why they bought from you. Check if there are any common patterns in repeated and one-time customers. 

 

People similar to your customers would likely be interested in your products and services, and this is why analysing your base of existing customers can help you define your target audience

2

Engage with prospects

You can engage with your potential customers in several ways:

Engaging with potential customers enables you to identify opportunities for partnerships and collaborations, find ways to improve your products and services and learn more about competition.

3

Research your competitors

Checking your competition is an efficient way to identify segments of potential customers you would not otherwise consider. Go through the content your competitors publish – where, how often, check their presence on social media, the type of people who interact most often with their posts and which posts receive the most engagement. 

 

Researching your competitors means analysing what they are doing, their weaknesses and where they fail in fulfilling the target audience’s needs. Finding out what needs to be added to their marketing strategies and learning their customers’ pain points will help you determine the gap they leave in the market and design solutions to fill it with your products and solutions. 

4

Use marketing analytic tools

Marketing analytics tools are software solutions essential for any company, and you can use them to monitor your marketing activities, including the performance of campaigns, align marketing goals with business goals, understand your target audience and existing customers better, predict marketing trends and track return on investment (ROI).

For example, Google Analytics can thoroughly analyse the audience that visits your site, offering valuable insights like their location, gender, age, language, demographics, affinities and interests.

This enables you to establish the profile of people who spend time on your site and learn what they buy or like, allowing you to design better-results marketing campaigns and know when and where to launch a new product.

Customised audience reports can offer demographic and psychographic data and information about the technology used by your site visitors.

 

The most frequent marketing analytics tools are web analytics, social media and email marketing

Web analytics tools

Indicate the sources your website draws the most visits from, whether social media or search engines. They also show information about the pages or web sections where your site visitors spend the most time and how long they stay there. This big data is accessible with a few clicks instead of manual, time-consuming processing. 

Social media analytics tools

Enable you to gather data from various social media channels and use it to adjust your marketing activities and strategies. They help you detect conversations and perceptions of “real-life” people regarding your company, products or brand and those of your competitors.

Email marketing analytics tools

Indicate how the email subscribers interact with your emails, showing how many of them opened these messages and whether they read them to the end or closed them shortly after opening. These tools enable marketers to improve their email marketing campaigns for better results.

marketing analytics tools

Target audience example

Is my audience segment large enough?” is one of the most relevant questions you need to ask yourself when defining your target audience. Except if your objective is a niche campaign, your target audience must represent a group large enough to reach through the channels you have chosen for your marketing efforts.

If you want to reach new parents, your general target audience could look like this:

 

  • Demographics Age range: 20-40 Gender: 50% female, 50% male
  • Psychographics Concerned about the well-being of their child
  • Challenges Choosing the right products for their child from all available offers
  • Interests Parenting and childcare, breastfeeding, child development stages, food for babies, sleep training
  • Preferred channels Blogs, forums for parents
  • Preferred content types Practical tips and solutions that fulfil the needs of babies and help them manage parenthood. Websites of companies with tradition in selling products for babies

 

Starbucks and Dunkin's target audience

target audience

Starbucks’ target audience consists mainly of students and professionals with higher incomes. Its snacks, couches, free WiFi and in-store merchandise are addressed to people who enjoy drinking coffee while working, chatting with friends or spending time alone.

Dunkin’ has more affordable prices and less in-store experience and targets segments like families, students and professionals with lower income who are always on the move.

While Starbucks operates globally at a large scale, only a part of Dunkin’s sales come from outside the U.S.

The online world has become vital for effective marketing strategies. The key to building a successful business is meeting potential and existing customers online where they are and offering them the information they need. The immense online universe makes competition fierce between companies, and the only way they can succeed is to know who their customers are, where to find them and how to spark their interest in the products and services they offer. 

Regardless of how the online world evolves, the target audience will always play a major role in developing the right marketing strategies for the right people.

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Picture of Janet Podham

Janet Podham

Janet Podham is the owner of Openbox Marketing Limited. She has a post-graduate diploma from the University of Otago, majoring in Data Science. She has spent two years studying website design and SEO in the Champions Masters Program at the eBusiness Institute in Australia. She loves helping people and knits for local foster children in her spare time.

Connect with Janet on LinkedIn.

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