What Is a Target Audience (& How to Find Them in 2024!) 🎯
If you’re a business owner or digital marketer, the key to your marketing plan depends on finding your target audience. 🎯
If you’re marketing to just anyone — or everyone — you’re wasting your time.
When you reach the right customers, you can fine-tune your business promotion to those most likely to buy from you.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right?
But you’re here so you must have some questions about honing in on your ideal customers.
We’re going to show you how to find your target audience, so your content marketing strategy reaches the right people.
What Is a Target Audience?
Your target audience is the group of consumers who are the focus of your business's digital marketing efforts.
These are the people most likely to want or need your product or service.
You can categorize them by behaviors and demographic data, such as age, gender, and income.
Different businesses have different target audiences.
Even though both businesses sell clothing, a high-end clothing boutique won’t have the same target audience as a local mom-and-pop consignment shop.
A grocery store like Whole Foods has a different target customer base than Walmart, though they both sell groceries.
You use different inbound marketing strategies to reach your target audience.
Your methods depend on your product type and what market research says about your customer’s needs and desires.
Target Audience vs. Target Market
Your target market is larger and more general than your specific target audience and shares common needs, interests, and expectations.
Your target audience is a specific audience segment of people within your target market.
For example, if you’re a chocolatier, your target market is people who like chocolate.
But your target audience might be college-educated chocolate lovers between the ages of 45 and 60 who use their disposable income for rare chocolate confectioneries.
Depending on the size of your business, you may have multiple target audiences, but you likely have just one or two target markets.
Benefits of Targeting the Right Audience
It’s essential to find the right target audiences for several reasons.
When you create personalized content for your audience, your marketing campaign resonates with those you want to reach.
If your content isn’t specific to your target audience, you risk drawing in people who aren’t a good fit for your digital product or service.
And when you know the ideal audience, you know what to say to them and where to find them.
That means you don’t need to be marketing everywhere on the internet. You only need to be where your target audience is.
Target Audience Types
There are three types of target audiences in marketing.
Purchase intent — This is the measure of how likely someone is to make a purchase if they have the chance to do so.
For many businesses, this is one of their most important metrics. A business with high purchase intent is more likely to succeed than one with low purchase intent.
Interest — Interests are groups with shared hobbies and interests. They might meet to socialize, share their collections, or discuss and explore their shared interests.
For example, knitting or crochet clubs are popular with yarn businesses.
Subcultures — These are groups of people who share similar interests and lifestyles different from mainstream society.
There are many subcultures, such as gamers or hipsters.
Each group has different food, clothing, and entertainment tastes, so you need different marketing efforts when marketing your products to them.
Roles of Your Target Audience
There are two key role players in your target audience: the decision-maker and the supporter.
The parent/child dynamic is the most straightforward example of how these roles work.
The parent is the decision-maker. They are the ones with the money to spend, so you need to sell the value of your product to them.
But often, the supporter, or child, influences the decision-maker. Mom or Dad want to make their children happy — within reason, of course.
If you sell Nikes, you’ll focus on appealing to the child with messages about style and belonging to the group (or subculture) who wears those shoes.
But to get Mom or Dad to pay for those Nikes, you need to impress them with the longevity, durability, and overall value of your fine sneakers.
Questions to Define Your Target Audience
To understand your target audience, here are some questions you should ask.
1. Who are they?
To get your message in front of the right people — your target audience — you need to know who the right people are.
Look at your current customers. How old are they? What is their education level? Where do they live? Do they have children? These are the details you need to know to tailor your message to the right people.
2. What do they need?
To create content that resonates with your target audience, you need to understand the problems they face.
What gets them up in the morning, and what keeps them awake at night?
When you know what they’re thinking and feeling, what they desire, and what they fear, your content will reach them on a deeper level.
3. Where are they?
Where does your target audience spend time?
Are they on YouTube consuming video content?
Is LinkedIn the place they go to network?
You can’t be everywhere on the internet. And you don’t need to be. You only need to be on the same platforms as your target audience.
4. How can you help?
How can you get results for your target audience?
What benefits do they get from working with you?
Your potential customer needs to understand precisely how you can help them and how their lives will be better for using your product or service.
They're more likely to buy when they understand how you help them.
5. What don’t they like?
What scares your audience? What do they want to avoid? What do they dislike with a passion?
Brand yourself by being the opposite of the things they dislike.
For example, does your target audience eschew mass-produced goods?
Then stand out with your bespoke services and products.
6. Who do they trust?
As your business grows, you’ll generate good reviews and testimonials from other clients and customers.
Use these testimonials on your website. Share them on social media platforms. Write case studies about your successful customers.
People do business with those they trust. Your target audience needs to see evidence that others trust you.
How to Find Your Target Audience
Before you can get to know your target audience, you have to find them. Here are some suggestions.
1. Use Google Analytics.
One of the easiest places to find out more about your target audience is to start with your website.
You’ll also learn how your audience is finding your website.
2. Target blog content with a reader persona.
To write blog content that draws in your ideal audience, create a reader persona.
Your target audience is typically looking for information about the challenges they face. So, what kinds of questions can you answer around those topics?
For example, suppose you sell life insurance. Your blog content should answer the common questions asked by people shopping for life insurance.
How much life insurance protection do I need? Is whole life better than term life insurance? Do life insurance companies check medical records?
People searching for these questions are prime candidates for becoming clients and customers.
3. Utilize social media analytics.
If you already have an active social media audience, look to your followers for insights.
If your videos get a lot of shares and comments, you’ll want to consider using more video content in your social media marketing strategy.
Which social media channels are most active?
If you’re not getting any traction on Twitter, it’s likely your target audience isn’t there.
You need to be where your target audiences are.
☝️ Pro Tip: track your social media metrics with our excellent list of social media analytics tools!
4. Use Facebook Insights.
Facebook Insights is a great place to find analytics.
Your Facebook page analytics will give you demographics like age and gender, location, job titles, and interests.
Interests are critical because you’ll learn what your target audience likes to do, listen to, watch, eat, etc.
For example, if they’re all fans of the tv show Friends, you know they’ll appreciate a good Pivot! meme.
With these insights, you can build a clear picture of your target persona.
5. Monitor website performance.
Another metric found with Google Analytics is how well content is performing on your website.
Determine which posts and pages get the most traffic.
Those posts are likely hitting the pain points of your target audience.
Share this content on your social media channels to get more viewers.
Now, look at the posts and pages with the least traffic. This content might need some tweaking to resonate with your audience better.
6. Interact with social media.
Take advantage of social media and talk to your ideal audience.
Ask them what kinds of social media content they want to see from you.
Do they want more videos? Are they interested in seeing what happens behind the scenes?
Instagram Stories are a great way to run polls and get opinions.
Ask them questions about their challenges and listen to their answers.
Note the specific language they use. Use that language in your content to connect with your audience.
7. Check out your competitors.
Your competition is another source of audience insight.
What is their content marketing strategy? Which specific group does it target?
What sorts of content resonates with their audience? What’s happening in the comments? Is it decision-makers or supporters interacting with the brand?
Conduct a competitive analysis to mold your understanding of your target audience.
8. Leverage your current customers.
Looking to your existing customers is an excellent way to determine your target audience.
Build your email list to collect email addresses and ask them to tell you a bit about themselves.
Offer a discount or gift card if customers will hop on a 15-minute Zoom call with you. A face-to-face opportunity is a great way to learn more about the people you attract.
And don’t forget to look at the email marketing analytics from sales data and customer purchasing history.
9. Use social listening.
Social listening monitors social media and other online channels to track conversations about a topic or brand.
It is a great way to learn what your audience wants and how you can improve your brand awareness.
You can also use social listening on your competitors or your industry. The more data you gather, the better.
10. Conduct market research.
Market research is collecting and analyzing information about a market.
Customer behavior analysis is an essential business tool because it helps businesses understand consumers’ needs.
You can do market research by hiring a market research firm. It’s an expensive outlay for small businesses, but some firms offer target audience research for free.
The Small Business Administration has a list of resources.
But, because we're awesome, we also have a list of marketing analytics tools at your disposal! 😎
11. Use the data collected to define your target audience.
Now that you’ve gathered all the data on your target audience, you need to organize and analyze it.
Use market segmentation to look for common themes, pain points, etc., and pay attention to the details. You can find a lot of helpful information there.
Take your findings and build your buyer persona.
Create their identity. Detail audience demographics. Call out their problems.
The more detailed you can make your customer profile, the easier it will be to market to them.
Tips for Creating Personalized Content
A personalized content strategy helps your target audience feel you understand their pain points.
And it makes you unique in a world where brands are fighting for attention and customer loyalty.
1. Write about what your target audience wants.
Do keyword research to find the topics your target customer is searching for.
You can also find out what your competitors are covering and how popular those topics are with your target audience.
You can also use the Related Searches or People Also Ask features on Google when you search for a keyword.
2. Write content for different stages of your marketing funnel.
You want to create content that catches your ideal customer at every stage of your marketing funnel.
There are four stages to your marketing funnel.
Your content marketing strategy should talk to your potential customer at every one of these stages, moving them through the customer journey until they’re ready to buy your product or service.
3. Write content that solves the problems of your target audience.
Create content that highlights your product or service in action.
Highlight the inconveniences, the cost, and the fear associated with the problem.
Then show them how your product or service can help.
This might include demonstrations, tutorials, case studies, white papers, or testimonials from satisfied clients.
Be sure to highlight what makes you different from your competition.
4. Repurpose your content for multiple channels.
When you repurpose your content, you get more mileage from it, saving you time and money while allowing you to reach more people.
For example, if your primary content is video-based, take the audio from your video, and turn it into a podcast.
Then take a transcript of your video and turn that into a blog post.
Pull sound bites from your video and turn those into audio clips for social media.
Are You Ready to Find Your Target Audience?
Now that you understand what a target audience is and how to attract them to your business, you’re ready to put your knowledge to work.