How To Determine Your Target Audience
We’ve all received a piece of junk mail before. This letter or flyer has nothing to do with your interests, lifestyle, or career path. Instead, you received it solely because you lived in a certain zip code.
So, you toss the mail and move on with your day.
If you don’t know who your target audience is, that’s exactly what people will do with your content and campaigns.
Rather than wasting valuable time and resources by shouting to the masses, focus your efforts on attracting the attention of a specific audience.
Identifying the right target audience is the key to long-term success for all aspects of a marketing and brand strategy. Otherwise, you’ll fall into the trap of creating vague content—all in an attempt to captivate an audience that’s just not that into you!
Target Market vs. Target Audience: What’s the Difference?
Those in the marketing and advertising industry have heard the terms “target market” and “target audience” tossed around interchangeably. In reality, these two phrases refer to different groups.
A target market is the group of consumers you plan to sell your products/services to.
A target audience is a subset of this market, or the group being served specific promotions and campaigns.
Let’s look at a clothing line as an example. The clothing brand’s target market may be young adults interested in business casual attire for the office. However, the brand’s target audience for a particular campaign may be women ages 25+ located in Nashville, TN searching for office attire online.
This is why it’s critical to define both your target market and your target audience.
Research from Hubspot has found that marketers create content for multiple audience segments at a time, with three segments being the most common.
6 Ways to Find Your Target Audience
As a business, you should already have an understanding of your target market. These are the individuals most likely to buy your products and services based on their interests, demographic information, and lifestyles.
However, understanding which audiences within the market to target can be a little trickier to determine.
Use these quick steps for identifying your ideal target audience.
1. Think About Your Marketing Goals
Why are you searching for an audience to target? For most marketers, it’s because they’re running a new campaign or launching a new company initiative.
These campaigns and initiatives have specific goals attached to them, from increased social media followers to a specific number of units sold.
Before going down the audience research rabbit hole, look at your specific goals. These objectives will help you determine the audience that’ll help you reach them.
2. Look at Existing Customers
The best way to define a target audience is to look at your existing customers.
*If you’re a new company, skip to the next step!
While reviewing their information, ask yourself:
- Why do they buy from my brand?
- What needs do they have? Do my products and services fulfill that need?
- How do my customers benefit from my brand’s offerings?
- What groups do my customers fall into?
On top of data compiled by your POS or CRM system, look at tools like Google Analytics for more customer information. These tools will help you identify customer trends, groupings, and opportunities.
3. Check Out the Competition
One of the best forms of customer research is to see what your biggest competitor is doing and who they’re targeting.
While you’ll be looking for information regarding who they target and why always keep an eye out for opportunities. Look for differences between your audience and theirs. You never know what audiences they may be overlooking!
4. Conduct Market Research
Once you’ve got an idea of who you’d like to target in your next campaign, it’s time to conduct market research. This information will help you narrow down your precise audience.
Using the basic market data you have, look for insight into your customers:
- Buying habits
- Consumption tendencies and preferences
- Lifestyle choices
- Social media behaviors
The more information you can find, the better!
5. Dive Into Customer Subgroups
Within your target audience, you’ll have several subgroups.
Take coffee for instance. The majority of the country drinks coffee. It’s a morning staple! But does that mean that all coffee drinkers think and act the same way? Of course not.
There’s a coffee brand and product for everyone these days. From those who idolize the craft of pulling espresso shots to customers who prefer the convenience of a pod brewer.
Your market will have a variety of subgroups within it, all based on the personality traits, interests, and behaviors of these customers. Think about which subgroups make sense with your campaign goals.
6. Define Who You Don’t Want to Target
Determining who not to target is also a critical step. Doing so ensures that your team understands exactly who to tailor promotional materials and campaign assets toward.
Additionally, by thinking about who wouldn’t benefit from your product or services, this exercise helps better identify the right target audience for each campaign or objective.
Combine All Findings Into Your Perfect Target Audience
After going through each step, you’ll be able to determine which audience your campaigns should target.