A great product and a beautiful website do not guarantee business success. You also need to find people who will buy from you.
One of the best ways to do that is to first identify your target audience, namely the group of people for whom your product or service is most relevant. Typically, this group will share common characteristics, demographics, behaviors, and interests making them a prime target for your marketing efforts.
The most important benefit of finding your target audience is that it will help you significantly reduce customer acquisition costs. In other words, instead of spending a lot of time and money advertising to everyone, you can focus your funds and energy on speaking to people who are more likely to buy your product or service.
In this article, we'll take a quick look at an example of the importance of identifying your target audience and then dive into seven ways how you can identify yours.
The importance of identifying your target audience: an example
Imagine you've created an e-commerce store that sells custom chess boards.
At first, your intuition would tell you to target chess players, since they would be the main users of your product. You would create social media posts with messaging like “Play in style”, post in chess-related Facebook groups, and you would spend some money on advertising, targeting primarily 18-34-year-olds.
This may sound reasonable at first until you consider that chess players might not be your primary customer. Chess players typically already have a chess set that's serving them just fine (or they might prefer to play online) and they have little incentive to upgrade. In this scenario, your real target audience could actually be their friends and family who would buy your custom chess boards as a gift to support their loved one's hobby.
If that's the case, your messaging and targeting should change immediately:
- From “Play in style” to “The perfect gift for chess players”.
- From posting in chess-related groups to posting in “gift ideas” ones.
- From targeting chess players to targeting friends of chess players.
What would happen if you didn't know your target audience is gift buyers? You would spend a lot of time and money marketing to people (the chess players themselves) who aren't that interested in your product – at least, not enough to buy it themselves. As a result, your business would grow much slower, if at all.
Every successful business must go through this “customer discovery” process.
Looking to sell T-shirts with national symbols to locals? Maybe tourists are your main audience.
Looking to sell creams and beauty products to young men and women? Maybe people with a specific skin condition are your main audience.
Looking to offer a furniture moving service to people moving to a new home? Maybe businesses are your main audience.
Whatever the scenario, it's important to put in an effort to understand who your target audience is, which will help accelerate business growth.
Let's take a look at seven ways how you can identify your target audience.
7 methods for identifying your target audience
Your goal is to understand who your customers are and see what are the commonalities between them.
There are several ways to do so and you'll find them in the list below. Keep in mind that you don't have to do all of them, though a healthy mix is recommended. Choose the ones that are most relevant to you and you're most comfortable with.
1. Use surveys and interviews
One of the easiest ways to understand who your customers are is to simply ask them. For example, you can create a survey with free tools such as Google Forms and ask your website visitors to fill it out in exchange for a discount. Or send it via email to people after they make a purchase.
The questions you ask depend on your business and the information that would be beneficial to you, but here are some general things you should consider inquiring about:
- How do they plan to use the product?
- How did they discover your product?
- Are they buying the product for themselves or someone else?
- What do they like and dislike about your products or services?
- Demographics – age, gender, where they live
Be cautious with sensitive and private questions. Plus, always offer the option to fill out the survey anonymously. You can then review the answers and look for patterns.
2. Social media analytics
Another valuable tool in your arsenal is social media. For example, in your Meta business profile analytics (for Facebook and Instagram), you can access various demographic information about who's visiting and following your pages.
You can view age and gender information, as well as what cities your visitors are from. You can easily track your most popular posts and infer information from that too – discover what kind of content your followers are interested in.
Social media is probably the easiest way to obtain (somewhat) accurate demographic information.
3. Paid advertising
Investing in paid advertising is an effective way to quickly identify your target audience. Platforms like Google Ads and social media advertising allow you to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors.
By analyzing the engagement and conversion rates of your ads that are targeted at different audiences, you can gather valuable insights about the audience that is most responsive to your messaging. For example, if your paid ads targeting young professionals in urban areas generate a higher click-through rate and more purchases compared to other demographics, it indicates that this group is likely part of your target audience.
At first, this will require a lot of trial and error. But after you've discovered what works and what doesn't, you'll be able to target your audience more effectively.
4. Participate in fairs and social media groups
Engaging with your potential customers in person or online through fairs and social media groups can provide valuable information about your target audience. By interacting with attendees at relevant industry fairs or joining online communities focused on your niche, you can gain insights into their preferences, needs, and behaviors.
Observe the discussions, questions, and interests shared within these groups to identify common patterns and understand the characteristics of your target audience better.
5. Collaborate with influencers
Working with influencers and micro-influencers in your industry can help you reach and identify your target audience more effectively.
Identify influencers who have a significant following among your potential customers and collaborate with them to promote your product or service. By leveraging their existing audience, you can tap into a community that is already interested in the influencer's content and recommendations.
Once your campaign is over, you can see whether and how much that particular audience is interested in your product. Don't hesitate to ask your influencer partner about demographics and related interests to better gauge who your target audience consists of. If the engagement was bad, then perhaps your target audience is somewhere else.
6. Leverage blogging
Using blogging as a strategy can help you attract and engage with your target audience – create informative and engaging blog posts that resonate with the interests and needs of your potential customers.
By analyzing the readership and engagement metrics of your blog, such as comments, social media shares, and time spent on page, you can gain insights into the types of content that resonate the most with your target audience. This can provide valuable insights into their preferences and behaviors.
To see the metrics for your blog, you need to connect Google Analytics. Here is a guide on how to do that for your Mozello website.
7. Create a referral campaign
One way to reach your target audience is to get other people to help you. For example, you can create a giveaway on social media where you ask people to tag somebody who would be interested in your product.
This way, even when your content or ads reach people who aren't interested in your product, they can pass it on to someone who is. Then, you can evaluate your target audience from the people who have been tagged – even if it means going through the tagged people one by one.
Investing in finding your target audience pays off in the long run
By identifying your target audience you'll give your business a very valuable boost. You'll no longer have to throw things at the wall to see what sticks, but rather you'll be able to deliver marketing campaigns with a clear target and purpose.
Of course, it's unlikely that your customer base consists of only one particular group of people – your customers will be diverse people with diverse needs. However, you still need to identify these groups to become better at sales by finding the best ways to reach and talk to each of them.
Remember, identifying your target audience is not a one-and-done type of thing. Since customer preferences change and new products appear, you should continuously update your understanding of who is buying from you and why.