#SmallBusinessAdvice

How to identify and nurture your target audience

Vivien Christel Vella
Vivien Christel Vella
6 min read
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This article will cover
How to effectively identify your target audience.
The importance of market research, demographics, psychographics, and buyer personas.
How to reach your ideal customers and measure your success.

Whether you’re starting a new business or expanding an existing offering, knowing your target audience is a crucial step for success. Read on as we break down the best practices for identifying a target audience, including the importance of demographics, psychographics, and buyer personas – and how a Lead Nurturing Strategy will turn these insights into sales

1. What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is a specific group of consumers a business wants to reach with their marketing, as they have been identified to be most likely to buy their product or service. In other words, your future customers! The audience may have been defined by customer demographics including interests and purchasing behaviors.  

 

2. Understanding the Importance of Identifying Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience should be an integral part of your marketing strategy as it will ensure your messaging reaches the most receptive group of people.  

With 71% of consumers expecting personalized communications with brands1, knowing your target audience in detail will help you create tailored marketing campaigns that generate high-quality leads – a greater return on investment (ROI). For SMEs with a limited marketing budget, this is particularly important.  

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3. Conducting Market Research to Identify Your Target Audience

So, who are your target audience? Where do they spend their time? What are their needs and wants? Which marketing avenues should you prioritize to reach them? The answers lie in market research.

There are several types of market research you can utilize to help you build a valuable profile of your target audience:

  • Interview potential customers: ask open-ended, in-depth questions about their pain points and challenges, how they want to be communicated to, and what influences them to buy. 
  • Existing customer data: identifying a target audience is not just a strategy for new businesses. An established business wishing to expand its product range, for example, should look at past customer data – transactions, feedback, reviews and testimonials – to help it understand which audience may be interested in its new offering.
  • Competitor analysis: to understand what the competition in your industry is currently offering. Look closely at how they communicate with customers, which channels they market and sell to them on, and where customers’ needs aren’t being met – you can pivot your business to fill these gaps!

 

4. Defining Demographics: Key Factors to Consider

A big part of defining your target audience is segmenting it by demographics – i.e. the main characteristics of the customer base that your business wants to engage through its marketing. The most common ones are age, gender, income, occupation, education and race. Knowing these attributes will help you choose the best routes to reach the audience and tailor your marketing campaigns to increase purchase intention.

Wondering how to obtain these demographic insights? Point 7 has the answer.

5. Analyzing Psychographics: Understanding Your Audience's Interests and Behaviors

There are some limitations to demographic segmentation. For example, assuming every group aged 30-40 wants the same things when buying a car is too broad an assumption. Thus, it’s also important to consider a target audience’s psychographics – their lifestyle, attitudes, interests and values. How often do they plan to use the car? Do they have a big family to transport? Are they sustainably minded and thus looking for an electric vehicle? Psychographics will help a business understand its target audience in greater detail.  

 

6. Creating Buyer Personas: Building Detailed Profiles of Your Ideal  Customers                    

Now it’s time to begin building buyer personas – fictional “characters” that represent your target audience. Based on your market research and demographic and psychographic analysis, you can create a profile of your ideal customer that encapsulates their needs, values and pain points.

The more detailed your buyer persona, the better. What motivates them to buy? Are they price conscious? Which aspect of your product/service will most appeal to them? What problems are they trying to solve?

These insights will help you truly personalize your marketing approach – from the language you use to speak to the audience, to the channels you choose to reach them on. 94% of marketers say offering a personalized experience increases sales2, so creating accurate buyer personas is important.  

7. Utilizing Data and Analytics to Identify Your Target Audience

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that will help you understand your target audience. The platform’s Audience Report shares insights into your e-commerce website visitors, including demographics like age, gender and location, and where they’ve come from. The Behavior Flow report tells you how visitors navigate through your website – including what content they engage with the most – whilst the Site Search report shows what they’re searching for. With these insights, you can identify patterns and trends that will give you a deeper understanding of who your target audience is and what motivates them to interact with your brand – insights you can leverage to enhance your offering.

 

8. Leveraging Social Media for Audience Insights

Social media platforms are a fantastic way to gain insights into your target audience. Their interactive nature means you can engage with people directly and invite feedback about your brand. You can closely monitor your followers’ comments to discover what’s trending, and what challenges and pain points they’re facing – this applies to competitors’ social pages, too.

Social media analytics will give you further insights into your target audience’s behaviors; engagement rates (likes, comments and shares) will show you what content best connects with them, whilst peak activity data will tell you the optimal time to post to reach them. You can integrate these learnings into your content strategy to ensure your messaging reaches the right audience in the most effective way.

 

9. Refining Your Target Audience: Testing and Iterating for Optimal Results

Defining your target audience is not “black and white”– after all, people do not always fit into neat little audience segments, and their needs will be constantly evolving. Thus, refining your target audience should be an ongoing process based on feedback and data analysis.

A/B testing is a useful strategy to consider – separating your target audience into two random groups and then serve each a variation of an advert. The responses will help you understand what type of content is most impactful at engaging the audience. You can also use analytics tools to track and measure the performance of your digital marketing campaigns and see what content does and doesn’t work well.

two people holding shopping bags

10. Applying a Lead Nurturing Strategy

Once you have identified your target audience, you can begin focusing on nurturing them into paying customers. According to Forrester Research, businesses that are successful at nurturing leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost3, but it takes time and resources. Like any relationship, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out.

Whilst potential customers finding your business might not be ready to purchase right away, a dedicated Lead Nurturing Strategy will keep it top of mind when the time is right. It’s designed to teach prospects about your products and services, build trust in your brand, and improve your sales strategy by ensuring every potential customer is engaged with – not just those ready to buy right away. And it can really pay off – research from Marketing Sherpa4 found nurtured leads make purchases that are 47% bigger than non-nurtured leads.

There are several Lead Nurturing Strategies to consider:

Email marketing. 55% of marketers say email marketing drives the highest return on investment of all digital marketing strategies5. With segmentation, you can divide email subscribers into groups based on different parameters – such as where they are in the sales funnel – to ensure each recipient receives communications tailored to their needs.

Content marketing. You can build brand awareness and demonstrate your business’s authority on a subject (and thus create trust) through blogs, newsletters, podcasts, how-to articles, and social media posts. Using your audience insights research, you can select the channels most likely to engage your targets.

Align sales, marketing and customer support teams. Your leads’ journey through the sales funnel involves multiple touchpoints with your business, so it’s important all your teams are aware of their responsibilities and aligned in the messaging they’ll deliver to the prospect.

Personalize your engagement. Before approaching a lead, it’s important to do your research first – into their business and their industry. When speaking to them, it shouldn’t be a sales pitch; rather a conversation to understand their challenges and needs. By knowing how your product or service can best serve them, you’ll be more likely to close the deal.

Lead scoring. This will help you prioritize where you spend your time and focus by ranking leads based on their chances of converting. You can use metrics like engagement to determine how ready they are to make a purchase.

Post-purchase nurturing. Lead nurturing shouldn’t end after the sale – after all, you want customers to return to your business again and again. Post-sale nurture could include stages like sending a thank-you email, inviting feedback, placing a follow-up call to check the customer is satisfied with their purchase, and monitoring their future interactions with your business.

hand swiping on tablet screen

11. Understanding Your Target Audience: An Evolving Process

Tools such as Google Analytics will help you measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns – you can segment the audience by measurable outcomes such as conversions, sign-ups, downloads, or sales. You can also use Google Forms and SurveyMonkey to create surveys and polls about your product or service, and send them to prospects via email.  

Perhaps the most important route to understanding your target audience is speaking to them directly; asking questions and inviting feedback. By truly knowing your customers – their pain points, needs and challenges – you can communicate in a way that inspires action. Just remember that your buyers’ needs will constantly change, so your audience profiling should be an ongoing process if you’re to continue delivering the personalization that they desire.

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