Digital Marketing Blog

Join thousands of digital marketers and get our email newsletter and updates delivered directly to your inbox!

< Go Back

What Is Target Audience?

Posted by Gary Henderson on Jan 12, 2021 11:45:00 AM

There are over 4.66 billion active internet users in the world.

Do you think every one of them can be your customer? I don’t think so. 

When it comes to establishing an online presence, most businesses lack the ability to go after the right people.

Why? Because they aren’t sure who is their audience. 

You have to put a lot of effort and money into marketing. Why waste your resources going after the wrong people? 

That’s exactly why it’s vital to define what is the target audience and how to find your target market, especially if you’re just getting started. 

Let me outline things we’re going to discuss in this post: 

What Is A Target Audience? 

Let’s keep things simple! 

A target audience is a group of people defined based on their common characteristics such as demographics and behaviors: 

  • Gender 

  • Age 

  • Location 

  • Purchasing power 

  • Profession 

  • Income 

  • Marital Status, etc. 

The objective here is to target a specific market so that you can deliver the right message at the right time and have more meaningful communication. 

Whether you’re a passionate entrepreneur looking to grow your business or an individual struggling to build a personal brand, you have to identify your audience.

It’s the only way you can launch highly focused and result-oriented marketing campaigns. Besides, you can have more than one buyer persona, target audience or marketing segment.

For example, if a business offers two different products, they may need to create two different audiences. 

Your target audience would be a group of people who shares the same problems, goals, and interests. They would need your product or services to solve a problem, want or need. In other words, your target audience is people who will be interested or need whatever you’re offering. 

When you try to target everyone on the web, you’ll likely end up getting traffic that doesn’t want to buy your products or sign up for your services. 

You know -- the people who follow you but do absolutely nothing.

We see it happen to too many businesses. They get irrelevant traffic and wonder why none of their visitors are interested in their business. 

Still don't get my point?

Here is a quick question to help you understand: 

Would you rather attract 10 ideal website visitors who really need your products/services and will invest in your business or do you want thousands of visitors who will do absolutely nothing?

Those 10 people will more than likely be the right target audience and you should be focusing on them while creating content for your campaigns.

Market segmentation

Before we dig deep into strategies to find your target audience, let’s take a look at the difference between a target audience and a customer avatar. 

What Is The Difference Between A Target Audience And A Customer Avatar?

⭐ Related Post: How To Create A Customer Avatar

Many people confuse customer avatars with a target audience and often use these terms interchangeably. So, it’s time to understand the difference. 

If we just want to know the main difference between a target audience and a customer avatar, I’d say the latter is a more specific form while the former considers the whole. 

Now that I've given you a brief introduction of what a target audience really means, let's dive into customer avatars.

A customer avatar, on the other hand, is a fictional representation of a person who embodies your ideal customer or potential customer.

Here is an example: 

Let’s say a company sells high priced athletic gears. Its target audience is women aged roughly 18-50. We can understand people behave differently as they age. 

Now, the company can’t speak to a young woman the same way as it speaks to a 50-years old. This means they can’t use the same content to engage different segments of their audience. Women ranging from 18 to 50 would be too broad to create single messaging.

So, they have to create different content to fit the context. This is where you need to build customer avatars.

One of the customer avatars might look like this: 

“A 25-year-old woman, living in Texas, with a passion for yoga, and have money to spend or maybe doing a job or own a house.”

We can name the customer avatar as “Julie”. Likewise, a customer avatar can be created for older women. 

Now, the company in question can create unique content speaking directly to different customer avatars.  

While the company’s product is meant for their whole target audience, their content such as blogs, ads, web copy, and visuals would speak to customer avatars differently.

For example, the music preferences of an old woman might be different from a young one. Too many marketers and entrepreneurs go too wide with their target audience and end up communicating with no one.

Creating a customer avatar can surely solve this problem. 

 

FREE Download!

CUSTOMER AVATAR WORKSHEET

Download this FREE worksheet that will help you identify the perfect customer avatar for your business.

 

Here is an example where we created a custom audience on Facebook: 

 

How to create a custom Facebook audience

 

Need more explanation on Customer avatar/persona?

When you create a customer avatar, try to think of your ideal customer.

List their age, income, interests, hobbies, likes/dislikes, what platform they use, their marital status, and so on. 

To make things easier, you can create multiple avatars if you think you can divide your ideal customers into different categories, just like the above-mentioned example of a company selling athletic gear. 

Buyer personas or avatars are profiles of your ideal customers. They’re developed based on target audience research.

When compared to the target audience, you need to perform deeper and detailed research to build personas. Like including their audience psychographics and audience demographics.

For example, you might need to consider lifestyles, interests, engagement in social networks, personal traits, or professional information of your target audience to create different avatars/personas. 

So, find your customer persona and align the right message with the right audience at the right time to have a maximum impact. 

How To Find Your Target Audience  

Targeting Facebook ads to all genders, ages, interests, etc. when your product or services are clearly for men over 45 doesn’t make any sense.

But, how can you find your target audience online? 

Here are six steps to help you find your target audience:

1. Research Competitors

Let’s start with the easy one. 

Perform competitor research to know who are your competitors targeting. It could help you find your competitors’ weak spots and overlooked market segments. 

Pro Tip: Go read the comments on your competitors social media posts and see how you can fill in where they are missing opportunities.

For example, if someone complains about something see if you can solve that problem or fill in the gap to become better than your competitor.

You can not only know more about your target audience but also learn how your competitors market their products to potential customers. Also, it becomes easy to find ways to distinguish yourself and create content that stands out.

Use your expertise and tools to find out the following : 

  • Who is buying from your competitors?

  • What type of people are your competitors targeting?

  • What type of customers are your competitors successfully attracting? 

  • What market segments are your competitors missing out on? 

Social media is probably the best place to find out the answers.

If your competitors are running Facebook Ads, for instance, you can easily gather information about the exact audience demographics they’re targeting. 

When you see a Facebook ad, it’s often labeled as “suggested post” or “sponsored”.

If you click on the downward button on the right side of the ad and choose “Why am I seeing this”, you’ll see the demographics your competitors are buying the ad for. 

 

Facebook ad example

 

Easy. Isn’t it?

Similarly, you can browse through other platforms to see what your competition is up to. 

2. Figure Out Pain Points, Wants, And Needs Of Your Target Customer

It's important to clearly understand your customers’ perspective. What’s amazing or right for you might not be for your customers. 

When defining your prospective customers’ pain points, wants, or needs, put yourself in their shoes.

The good thing about digital marketing is that it allows you to make decisions based on real-time data rather than assumptions and opinions. 

And it’s not wise to build solutions based on what you or your friends think.

Use existing customer data, their potential behavior, and previous experiences to figure out problems your products can solve. Start with the greatest difficulties your current customers are going through. 

Apart from competition analysis, look at your previous survey results, talk to your sales team, or read reviews to learn more about what your current customers think of your brand.  

You have to understand what your customers really think in order to get their attention through personalized content.

Also, know your products or services and how they contribute to any intended audience.

3. Use Existing Data

Existing data can be of great help when it comes to finding your ideal customers on the web.

If you’re not just getting started with your business, you probably have some knowledge from your previous experiences. 

For example, studying your website traffic and how they interact with your content is a good way to accurately identify how well you target audience aligns with your messaging and brand. 

Here's an example of how our content topic clusters perform in HubSpot.

Every day we take a look at our top performing blog posts and keywords to decide what our audience is most interested in.

 

target audience research

 

Don’t forget to include offline data to enrich your findings. Face-to-face interactions can be a great source of relevant information. 

Let’s go back to times when there was no internet or when the internet wasn’t that popular.

Businesses used to think about value in terms of plants, equipment, inventory, and other physical assets. And then we created the internet and everything changed forever. 

Over the last couple of decades, our definition of what’s valuable has completely changed. 

You know today many organizations consider customer data their most valuable asset. You can leverage the web to gain all sorts of information about any specific audience and consumer behavior.

Make sure if you are using Facebook ads you have your Facebook pixel accurately installed to track the patterns of your audience. 

For example, when someone visits a website, the website owner can generate a lot of insights from the average time spent on a page to the physical location.

As the data collection has become easier, you can constantly generate new information about your customers and create dedicated content for each stage in the buyers journey. 

Look at the characteristics of your best existing customers or clients and create at least one target audience profile based on those shared characteristics.

Identifying the easiest customers you would like to work with again and again will give you a clear picture of what I am talking about. 

How you can track customers’ data online would lead us to the next heading. 

4. Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics can do wonders for your business or personal brand. No doubt about it. 

While it provides you with all the necessary information about your website performance, you can use the tool to find and refine your target audience. 

For example, the audience overview report is useful in knowing more about your audience.

All you have to do is visit your Google Analytics dashboard. Find the navigation menu on the left side of the screen and click on the “Audience” button. 

The report will tell you what percentage of visitors are returning customers and what percentage are new ones. It also shows the number of page views, sessions, users, bounce rate, percentage of new sessions, and a lot more. 

Google Analytics enables you to categorize your audience in terms of demographics: language, city, country, etc. You can also distinguish data by operating systems, screen resolutions, and browser. 

The real fun begins when you find out where your current traffic is coming from or what language they speak. After gathering all this intel, you can go to other advertising platforms to develop well-targeted ads to gain new customers just like the ones who are already engaging in your content. 

However, the purpose here is to learn more about your target audience. 

5. Define Who Your Target Audience Isn’t

One of the effective ways to identify your potential customers is to determine people with whom you don’t want to do business. 

We use the term “negative audience” to refer to this technique.

Negative audiences are people you want to exclude from your advertising efforts. 

When defining your negative audiences, think of your unhappy customers or people who don’t fit to use your products or services. 

Let me tell you a quick secret. When it comes to paid advertising, less is more. So, make sure not to invest your energy in people who don’t care about your business. 

Also, try ruling out customers who would make a lousy candidate for your niche market. 

 

FREE Download!

CUSTOMER AVATAR WORKSHEET

Download this FREE worksheet that will help you identify the perfect customer avatar for your business.

 

6. Do Research

Research and digital marketing go hand in hand.

Whether you need to define your target audience or market segments, you have to do some serious research to build a strong online foundation. 

You know why most people fail to take full advantage of digital means? It’s because they’re not willing to work on basics and develop a sustainable marketing strategy. 

Don’t be one of them. 

Take research as a powerful way to learn more about your audience and your offerings. You can use numerous tools to find relevant information along the way. 

Remember, the more you know about your primary audience, the better. 

How To Reach Your Target Audience On Social Media (at the right time) 

Social media isn’t just a place to find friends and communicate with loved ones. 

You simply can’t ignore social media.

Defining your social media target audience is quite similar to how you create buyer personas. Nonetheless, you need to follow different strategies to reach your ideal social media users. 

Here is how you can use social media to further your reach your target audience. 

Step 1: Find & Attract An Audience

With time, social media sites had developed into ideal marketing platforms for businesses. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram host billions of active users, it’s not easy to reach them. 

How to get heard in a noisy social world is what you need to focus on. Needless to mention how complicated it is to navigate through this noise. 

It would be almost impossible if you’re not sure who your target audience is in the first place. 

But if you’ve defined your target audience, it becomes a painless process to show your message to the right people and at the right time. 

Again, use your existing data to find and attract your social media audience.

For example, on Facebook, you can narrow down your audience using different targeting options. 

Just start building advertising campaigns on what you already know about your people. Analytics will give you plenty of useful demographic information down the road. 

Step 2: Create Content For That Audience

Your content must resonate with your audience. Brands that understand their audiences are able to create highly targeted and personalized content. 

Personalized content can only be created when you’re clear about your audience: who they are, what they like or dislike, where they live, what they do, etc. 

And when you understand that, it's time to create content that serves each one of those points through the stages of the buyers journey until they complete the desired call-to-action in the content. 

For example, here's an ugly video (raw and unedited) we created for one of our ideal audiences. This is the raw unedited footage that we shot inside our apartment.

We later have it professionally edited.

 

 

Step 3: Run Paid Advertising To That Audience 

Paid advertising is a good way to maximize the reach of your content and see who interacts with your content.

But your ads should be designed for specific audiences, and not for everyone active on a platform. 

It can be pretty expensive to run ads especially when you have no clue about your audience. Rather than creating an ad for one million random users or more, target a few thousands who meet your definition of ideal customers.  

If you aren't sure how to create the right Facebook ad audience for your business read our blog on what is a good audience size for Facebook ads. 

 

Want To Talk About Using Ads In Your Business?

 

Pro Tip: When you get 1,000 people to engage with your content you can take it a step further and create lookalike and remarketing audiences of the people who engaged with that content.

This generates more of the same highly engaged leads for your business automatically for you.

⭐ Related Post: How to Use Your Content Marketing to Seed Your Lookalike Audiences

Step 4: Track Data And Analytics

Don’t forget to track your performance. It’s the only way to improve your campaigns and targeting skills.

Every platform gives you a comprehensive range of analytics to track progress. 

Here's an example of the data Facebook gives you when you run an advertising campaign. This is the data from the raw video above compared to the professionally edited video. 

 

Target audience analysis

 

Finally, repeat the process as many times as you want until you reach your desired results. 

How To Create Customized Content For Your Audience  

Relevant, engaging, and high-quality content is the lifeblood of your marketing efforts. 

Whether you’re creating website copy or Facebook ads, create all of your content with a goal in mind backed by a solid content marketing strategy. 

Here is a simple rule.

Don’t waste your time creating any piece of content that you wouldn’t be willing to promote and spend ad dollars on. 

Generic, directionless content may produce more traffic, but it will not produce sales. That’s why it’s important to know exactly where your customers are, what they want, and when they want it. 

There are free tools like Ahrefs and Google’s real-time content insights that will help you know what your audience is trying to find on Google. 

Wondering what type of content you should create to engage your audience? Let me list some proven forms of content you can use to inspire your audience

  • Blogs

  • Videos

  • Facebook ads and Facebook Live

  • Instagram posts, IG stories, and IGTV

  • Ebooks 

  • Guides 

  • Simple tips and tricks 

  • Live streaming 

  • YouTube videos

Nothing is wrong with any type of content that resonates with your audience. Just focus on things that excite your people and make them take action. 

🔥 Related Post: 3 Types Of Content You Should Be Creating Every Day

Final Thoughts 

Some business models can quickly define their target audience.

However, in most cases, brands have to adopt a more granular approach to define their target audience. It is because a product can be valuable to a variety of buyers who may represent different characteristics, needs, or goals. 

Simply, a one-size-fits-all marketing approach wouldn’t work if you want to reach the right people online.

So, use the information I’ve shared in this post to identify the different types of buyers and get a strong handle on target audiences.