What is a target market? A target market is simply a collection of consumers that have characteristics in common that make them likely to become one of your lucky customers. Why is it important to find your target audience? Defining your target audience is the best way to make sure you’re reaching the right people in the right way. Instead of claiming that your product or service is for ‘everyone’ (because it rarely ever is), understanding your particular niche means you’ll have the authority to dominate it.
The better you understand who you’re targeting, what they like and where they go, the better you can target your ads and promotions to reach them. Not only will this save time and money, but it’ll also boost the return you see on your investment and massively improve conversion rates.
This guide will give you a complete walkthrough in 5 easy steps to help you understand who your target audience is so you can build your brand around that select group.
Step 1: Collect Data
The starting point for understanding who you should be targeting is by conducting market research and collecting data that already exists. That will allow you to find out their most important problems, interests, and concerns – and therefore why they need your business. Here, we’ll run through a few key ways you can collect data to form your ideas around your target customer.
Current Customer Base
If you’re already an established business with an existing customer base, that’s going to act as a treasure trove for collecting data on your target market because these customers are already interested in your business. Take a look at the kinds of people who are currently using your business – what do they have in common? Here are a few different data points to look out for in your customer base:
- Spending power/disposable income
If you haven’t collected data on your current customer base, think about your product and who would want to buy it. Apply this to the points above to form a basic idea of your target consumer. Important questions to ask yourself are:
- Why would a customer be interested in this?
- What’s your core offering?
- What customer pain points do you address?
- What are your product or service’s USPs (unique selling points)?
This online web analytics tool by Google has loads of information about your audience. This tool lets you track the web activity of users on your business’s website, such as how long they stay on any particular page, how many pages they view in a session and how they found your site. This can have limitations, however, especially for businesses that don’t operate completely online.
Social Media Analytics
Another great way of analysing current and potential customers is through various social media analytic tools. Here are a few different ways you can use social media to find data on your target audience:
- Facebook Insights – available for every Page owner on Facebook for free! Allows you to determine the demographics of your most active users and their common interests and other factors such as age and gender
- Twitter Followers Dashboard – another fantastic tool for finding out which topics and interests your Twitter followers have in common, as well as the most common language they speak, their buying type and lifestyle summary
- Pinterest Analytics – this shows you basic audience demographics, such as language, gender, and country, as well as popular categories your followers interact with so you can fine-tune your strategy to connect with people at the right time of day and with content you know works well
- Instagram Insights – Instagram’s free and built-in analytics tools allows you to learn when your followers are online, what links they’re clicking on and which posts get the most interaction
- LinkedIn Analytics Dashboard – shows basic traffic from the past 30 days such as number of visitors, post impressions and followers gained
- YouTube Analytics – this tool shows you video watch time, basic demographics and where people are discovering your videos and what devices they’re using to view them on.
Social Listening Tools
There are various social listening tools available to use, and they’re a fantastic way to gather information on what topics your social media community are interested in, which can help you form relatable marketing content to directly target them. They allow you to track brand mentions for your business and other key terms related to the products and services you sell.
Knowing more about potential customers’ interests and hobbies also means you can easily choose a prize they’ll love for a giveaway or competition, or be able to write a blog they can’t help but want to read!
These tools also show you where your potential customers are having these conversations – such as on blogs, on social media and in forums. This means you can hand deliver your marketing content to them!
You can also use social listening tools, like Mention, to connect with influencers and get involved in Twitter conversations. If these Influencers have lots of followers that match your target audience, influencer marketing could be a great way to get your brand in front of as many relevant eyes as possible.
Sending out surveys regularly to current customers is another way to find out what your audience thinks about you and your product, which can then feed into a deeper understanding of what your target audience also wants from you.
We recommend keeping surveys short and sweet – around 10 questions along – with easy-to-answer questions (i.e. include more yes/no and tick box answers than written explanations) and know exactly what you want to uncover from each question.
You may wish to offer a prize or giveaway opportunity for taking part in a survey. This can increase the number of participants, however, proceed with caution! This might result in skewed answers where people are only taking part to be in with a chance to win.
Face-to-Face Interviews & Discussions
One limitation of online surveys is being unable to press someone for more information from their answer. Sometimes an online survey isn’t enough to get the nitty-gritty information out of your questions, which is where having face-to-face discussions will always give you the best results.
You can either go out at talk to people at events, at other businesses, or wherever it is your customers are, or do this online over a video interview or conversation. The best way to get unbiased feedback is to remain completely anonymous when talking to your target audience. There are many companies in existence in the UK that will reach out to your target demographic to capture information that can help you shape your business's products and services.
Competitors’ Customer Bases
Chances are, your competitors’ customers are probably your target market too. By analysing who buys from your competitors you can find new avenues of customers to try and target.
It also means you can target ads based on what you can offer customers over your competitors – maybe you’re a cheaper option, or you have faster delivery for customers on the go.
To perform a competitive analysis, you’ll need to look at:
- Direct competition – businesses that offer the same product or service to the same kinds of customers as your business
- Indirect competition – businesses that offer slightly different products or services or target a similar audience to your business
- Substitute competition – businesses that offer completely different products to the same kinds of customers as your business
Then you’ll need to collect information, such as what products and services they sell, the prices they offer, their USPs, target markets and the reputation they have amongst their customers (you can get this by talking to their customers and asking their opinions on your competitors’ brand).
Step 2: Profiling
Now you’ve worked really hard gathering data, it’s time to put it to use! The next step to gaining an understanding of your customer base is to create profiles, or personas, to represent different segments of your target audience.
This persona should be made up of the demographic details that you’ve gathered through your research. The most common examples of demographics are:
- Marital status
- Number of children
- Annual income
- Education level
- Living status
From then, you can bulk up your personas with psychographic information. This is information based on personality, interests, opinions and emotional triggers, which are all factors that can influence decision-making. One popular way of segmenting an audience based on psychographics is the Cambridge Analytica OCEAN model of personality, which ranks consumers based on the following:
Once you’ve decided what an example a segment of your target audience would look like, you can use free tools like Xtensio to create a persona. This represents a real living person who might engage with your product. By having a profile of a consumer to target, this can help you create more relevant content, make decisions on your product offering and solve customer problems more easily.
Step 3: Target Market Statement
You’ve now got loads of data to help inform your marketing decisions. Feeling overwhelmed yet? Not a problem! A target market statement is all the information you’ve gained boiled down into one super simple sentence. This statement can be used by your whole marketing department to keep everyone on track and target the right demographic for your business.
Try and use 3-4 key demographic or behavioural qualities to inform your statement, for example:
Our target market is [gender] aged [age range], who live in [location] and are interested in [interests].
Maybe gender and location aren’t the right demographics to represent your target market – maybe occupation or number of children would be a better fit. Pick and choose the demographics based on what you’ve learned about your audience.
For instantprint for example, our target market statement would look a little something like this:
Our target market is small business owners who live in the UK and are interested in buying print marketing materials but are worried about accessing this kind of service online.
This is an easy way to picture your target audience whenever you create a promotion, piece of content or new product or service for your customers because it will be something that is genuinely useful for them.
Step 4: Targeted Content
Now you know who you’re targeting, everything you create to promote your business or guide your customer along the buying journey should be extremely relevant to them.
We believe that the best way to learn how to create awesome targeted marketing content is through example, so we’ve picked out some of our favourite ads where marketers have completely nailed their target audience research.
This advert touches on a pain point of many a driver – parallel parking. By representing the car as a hedgehog surrounded by delicate, easy-to-pop bags with fish inside, this perfectly promotes VW’s precision park assist feature. A great way to show how your product can make your customers’ lives a lot easier!
Attracting your target market isn’t just about posters and other prints; your paid ads on search engine results pages should also completely encompass why the customer searching for your product should choose you.
This example from 1and1 does this perfectly! By using the price in the title, this emphasises the USP that this brand is cheap. However, to counteract any negative connotations that affordable brands can sometimes have, it also includes their Google star rating, ranking them at an extremely trustable 4.3/5 stars.
(Website Builder Expert)
This is an example of how a target market can influence the user experience on your business’s website. Lemonade’s chatbot is ultra-personalised, from the image and greeting right down to the location tracker, which makes it feel like you’re talking to a real person. As an insurance company, Lemonade aims to keep things hassle-free and easy to use, and this feature is the perfect way to do just that.
Step 5: Revisit & Test
The best way to make sure you’re always on target with your customers is to keep testing and revising your marketing and UX. You can easily us A/B testing to track the performance of your marketing emails, social ads and even features on your website. This is where you serve a percentage of users one version of something, and the rest another version.
Review the results of these tests to finetune your creative approach so that it speaks directly to your target audience.
You can also use regular surveys, say annually, to gauge your customers’ perception of your brand. If the feedback matches your target market statement, you know that what you’re doing is working. If not, there may be some improvements to be made!
You can always revisit your research as much as needed – your audience might change over time, so it’s best to keep on top of who your most valuable customers are and what has influenced this change.
Over to You!
Ready to put these steps into action? Remember that your business is completely unique and will, therefore, have a completely unique audience to any other business, including your competitors. Find the best ways to create content to target your audience and you’ll be onto a winner!