How to find and analyze your target audience
Even if you’ve got the best products and the slickest operation, your business won’t be a success if you’re marketing to the wrong audience. Think plastering snowplows on a Miami beach billboard, or advertising beef on a vegan recipe website.
Identifying the right target audience for your business — and understanding the needs of buyers within that market — is essential to creating an effective marketing strategy.
In this guide, we’ll cover not only how to find your target audience — but how to engage them too.
- What a target audience is
- Target market vs. target audience— the difference
- Benefits of knowing your target audience
- Types of target audiences
- How to find your target audience step by step
- How to create target audience personas
- Examples of target audiences
- How to reach your target audience
What is a target audience?
A target audience is a defined group of potential customers for your products or services. The goal of a target audience is to give you insight into who is most likely to do business with you and how you can craft your marketing messages to win their business.
Your target audience is often just one part of your broader customer base. By choosing to market only to a target audience instead of to all reachable customers, businesses can avoid using up marketing resources on prospects who are unlikely to be converted because they are a poor fit for the product or services being offered.
Defining a target audience involves gathering various types of information, such as demographic and geographical data, as well as customer motivations, interests, and behaviors. Furthermore, a target audience can be categorized as warm or cold based on their familiarity with your brand.
Target audience vs. target market — what’s the difference?
The target audience is almost always much more specific than the target market. A target market is the set of consumers that a company plans to sell to or reach with marketing activities. A target audience is the group or segment within that target market that is being served advertisements.
To create marketing messages that appeal to your audiences and drive conversions, you need to first define your target market. From there, you can further refine that group, and define your target audience.
- A specific group of people with shared characteristics.
- Typically influences decisions related to marketing and advertising messages.
- Focused on understanding the demographics, psychographics, and behavioral characteristics of a particular group.
- More narrowly defined and represents the subset of the larger target market.
- A broader group of potential customers.
- Impacts all your business and marketing decisions.
- Considers the overall market size, potential demand, and competition within a specific industry or market sector.
- Includes both the primary target audience and other potential customer segments that may also find value in the offering.
Benefits of knowing your target audience
Without a deep understanding of who your audience is and what they want, it becomes challenging to create compelling messages and deliver them through the right channels. According to a recent Adobe Marketo State of Engagement Report, 82% of marketers think they have the insights they need to develop engaging and thoughtful campaigns, but over half of consumers disagree. Let's explore what you can do when you’re able to target your target audience more effectively.
1. Generate income
Knowing your target audience makes it easier to personalize your marketing efforts specifically to their needs, preferences, and pain points. By understanding their motivations and desires, you can create irresistible offers and attract a higher number of qualified leads who are more likely to convert into paying customers.
2. Perform keyword research
Understanding your target audience helps you identify the keywords and phrases they use when searching for products or services like yours. By conducting thorough keyword research, you can optimize your website, blog posts, and other marketing content to align with the language and terms your audience is using. This improves your visibility in search engine results and increases the likelihood of attracting relevant traffic.
3. Personalize your content
Personalization is a powerful marketing strategy that can significantly impact your audience's engagement and conversion rates. Personalization can take various forms, such as addressing individuals by their names, recommending relevant products based on their past purchases, or delivering targeted email campaigns. By personalizing your content, you enhance the overall customer experience and foster a sense of connection with your audience.
4. Build strong customer relationships
Understanding your target audience allows you to develop more meaningful relationships with your customers. Building strong customer relationships increases customer loyalty and advocacy. When you consistently deliver value, customers are more likely to trust your brand, make repeat purchases, and recommend your products or services to others.
Types of target audiences
By identifying and understanding various types of target audiences, businesses can develop targeted marketing strategies that effectively reach and engage with their desired customer segments. Whether it’s engaging individuals based on shared interests, capitalizing on purchase intention, or recognizing the values and behaviors of subcultures, catering to the specific needs and motivations of different target audiences is key to achieving marketing success.
Let's explore some common types of target audiences and understand their characteristics.
Interest-based target audiences
Interest-based audiences refer to groups of individuals who share a common interest, passion, or hobby. They are united by their enthusiasm for a particular subject or activity.
Some examples of interest-based target audiences are sports enthusiasts, food lovers, gamers, bookworms, outdoor adventurers, and fashionistas. These individuals actively seek content, products, and experiences related to their specific interests, making them highly engaged and receptive to targeted marketing campaigns.
Purchase intention-based target audiences
Purchase intention-based target audiences include individuals who have demonstrated a strong likelihood or intent to make a purchase. They have shown interest in a specific product or service and are further along in the buying journey.
Examples of purchase intention-based target audiences are people who have added items to their online shopping carts, subscribed to newsletters for discounts, or have actively sought product reviews and comparisons. By targeting this audience, businesses can focus on converting prospects into customers and providing them with the necessary information and incentives to make a purchase.
Subculture-based target audiences
Subculture-based target audiences consist of smaller groups within a larger culture or society. These groups share distinctive values, beliefs, lifestyles, and behaviors that differentiate them from the mainstream population.
Fitness enthusiasts, eco-conscious individuals, members of specific religious or cultural communities, gamers, and music subcultures are just some examples of subcultures. Understanding these subcultures helps businesses customize their messaging, branding, and product offerings to resonate with the unique needs and preferences of these niche audiences.
How to find your target audience step by step
To effectively market your products or services, you need to discover who your current and potential customers are, what they like, and what challenges they face. Knowing what type of content resonates positively or negatively with your audience can significantly impact your marketing efforts. By gaining deep insights into your target audience, you can develop strategies that will not only capture their attention but also win their business.
Here are seven steps to help you define your target audience. Step 1 — Get to know your existing customers
Collect and analyze data about your existing customers’ demographics, preferences, and purchasing behaviors. Look through your sales records, analyze your online analytics, or use customer relationship management (CRM) tools to gather valuable insights. You can also conduct surveys or interviews with your existing customers to build an even more robust well of insights. It’s especially helpful to ask about their needs, preferences, motivations, and challenges, as this can all help you understand how they perceive your brand, why they chose your product or serve, and what other improvements or features they might like to see. This information will help you build a foundation for identifying similar traits in potential customers.
Step 2 — Research industry and market trends
Stay updated on the latest trends and developments in your industry. Identify emerging market segments, changing consumer behaviors, and evolving preferences. Look for gaps or untapped opportunities that align with your product or service offerings. One way you can do this is to analyze sources like industry reports. These provide valuable insights into the overall market landscape, trends, growth projections, and more. Plus, they often include valuable data related to market size, customer segments, emerging technologies, and competitive analysis. You can then use all this research as valuable guidance to help narrow down your target audience and tailor your marketing strategies.
Step 3 — Study your competition
Analyze your competitors' target audiences to gain insights into their customer base and to identify similarities and differences between your target audience and theirs. How do they position themselves and what unique value propositions do they offer? Consider a comprehensive SWOT analysis, covering strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Check out their stores, website, media coverage and more to get a handle on their products and services. If possible, you can even reach out to your competitors’ customers to conduct surveys or interviews to get insights directly from the source. Plus, if you want to get an even more detailed look at your competitors, you can attend events, webinars, or workshops that they’re hosting to see what kind of audience they’re attracting. All this analysis will help you identify gaps or underserved segments within the market and refine your own target audience accordingly.
Step 4 — Analyze your website with a strong analytics tool
Utilize a good analytics tool like Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics to gather data about your website visitors. Examine metrics like demographics, user behavior, and traffic sources. Identify patterns and trends that can shed light on your target audience's preferences, interests, and needs. These could be things like page views, session duration, bounce rate, conversion rates, and more. You can also get big insights into which pages or features are the most popular, how users navigate through your site, and where they are deciding to leave. This data will help you optimize your website content and tailor your marketing efforts to attract the right audience.
Step 5 — Pay attention to social media analytics
Examine the analytics provided by social media platforms such as Facebook. Explore metrics like audience demographics, engagement rates, reach, and conversion rates. Social media analytics tools also help you identify which themes, topics, or formats are resonating most with your audience. Plus, you can keep a close eye on the growth of your social media followers over time, as well as insight into how users are discovering and following your accounts. Altogether, this data can help you start tailoring your social media strategies to create more relevant content. It’s also worthwhile to conduct independent research on other social media platforms that align with your business — like LinkedIn or TikTok — to gather insights specific to those channels.
Step 6 — Create buyer personas for your target audience
Buyer personas, also called target audience personas, are fictional representations of your ideal customers based on research and analysis. They encompass demographic information, interests, motivations, challenges, and buying behaviors. By combining all the information and insights you’ve gained in the previous steps, you’ll be ready to develop detailed personas that represent different segments within your target audience. You can assign names to each persona to make them more memorable, and then take it to the next level by also adding backstories. This helps enhance your personas, humanizing them even more. Then, when you map these personas to your goals and the buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to more easily tailor marketing messages, content, and strategies that effectively resonate with your audiences.
Step 7 — Know who isn't your target audience
Equally important to defining your target audience is identifying who isn't a good fit for your product or service. By understanding who your offerings are not intended for, you can avoid wasting resources and efforts on the wrong audience. Consider factors such as demographics, interests, behaviors, and pain points that make a person or group unlikely to benefit from your offerings. You can also look at customer feedback and complaints, specifically searching for any themes or issues that come up frequently from people wh o aren’t a good fit for your products or services. Focus your marketing efforts on reaching those who are most likely to convert and find value in what you provide.
How to create a buyer persona for your target audience
Creating buyer personas is a valuable strategy for defining and understanding your ideal customers. A target audience tells you your ideal customer’s demographics, such as their age, gender, and marital status, and identifies their needs, preferences, and behaviors as they relate to your product. But buyer personas let you flesh those details out and incorporate them into a fully developed fictional character with a face and a name. You can use your buyer personas to help you craft your marketing materials.
Use the data you’ve collected to identify your target audience, such as analytics, surveys, and interviews, to pinpoint patterns and trends that help shape the characteristics and traits of your buyer personas. Your buyer personas should include the following basic traits to paint a comprehensive picture of your target audience:
- Marital status
- Education level
- Reading and viewing preferences
- Favorite social media platforms
It is also essential to consider the psychographic aspects of your target audience, like their state of mind, general interests, motivations, fears, attitudes, and personality traits. By including this psychographic information, you can figure out your customers' decision-making processes, their aspirations, and the challenges they face. You can present more relatable marketing messages that resonate with their emotional and psychological needs.
Examples of target audiences
Companies that understand their target audience’s key motivations, aspirations, and desires can align their brand with their customers’ values and lifestyles, create emotional connections, and inspire them. Here are three brands that connect with their target audience exceptionally well.
Target audience: active individuals, athletes, and sports enthusiasts
Nike's ads effectively engage their target audience by showcasing inspiring stories of athletes and individuals pushing their limits. They often feature well-known athletes who represent determination, strength, and perseverance. Nike's ads appeal to their target audience's aspirations, motivating them to strive for greatness. By highlighting the emotional and physical challenges that athletes overcome, Nike appeals to their audience's desire for self-improvement and achievement.
Target audience: diverse, global consumers, especially those seeking moments of joy and connection
Coca-Cola's ads resonate with their target audience by tapping into the universal desire for happiness and togetherness. They often depict heartwarming scenes of people from different backgrounds coming together, sharing moments of joy, and celebrating life's simple pleasures. Coca-Cola's ads create a sense of nostalgia, emphasizing the importance of building connections and creating memories. By evoking positive emotions and depicting shared experiences, Coca-Cola connects with their audience's desire for happiness and unity.
Target audience: tech-savvy individuals, creative professionals, and those seeking innovation and sleek design
Apple's ads appeal to their target audience by showcasing their products' innovative features and sleek design. Their ads often illustrate how their technology seamlessly integrates into users' lives, empowering them to be more productive, creative, and connected. They highlight the user experience, focusing on simplicity, elegance, and the ability to enhance individual creativity. By capturing their audience's desire for groundbreaking technology and user-friendly design, Apple inspires their attention and loyalty.
How to reach your target audience
Here are three strategies to help you reach your target audience and connect with them on a deeper level.
1. Write about things your target audience cares about.
To resonate with your target audience, you must create content that aligns with their interests, needs, and desires. Conduct keyword research and utilize SEO best practices to identify topics and keywords that your audience is searching for.
2. Follow your target audience through the marketing funnel.
The marketing funnel represents the stages that customers go through from initial awareness to purchase. It's crucial to reach your target audience at the right stage of the funnel and guide them towards conversion. Failing to do so can lead to missed opportunities and misguided marketing efforts. For example, if your target audience is in the consideration stage, provide them with in-depth content and case studies that call out the value of your product or service.
3. Choose the appropriate media channels.
Media channels encompass various platforms and avenues through which information is communicated to a target audience. Here are a few options to consider:
- TV and radio. These traditional channels can be effective but are often expensive. You’ll want to use your deep understanding of your target audience to make sure your message is reaching the right viewers or listeners.
- Social media. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn provide powerful targeting options that allow you to find and advertise to your specific target audience. Utilize these platforms to create engaging content, run targeted ads, and build a community around your brand.
- Email. Building an email list of your target audience can significantly enhance your marketing efforts. Sending targeted email campaigns to subscribers who have opted in can yield higher engagement and conversion rates. Implement email strategies such as personalized automation, segmentation, and A/B testing to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Ready to find your target audience?
To succeed in your marketing efforts, you must find and connect with your target audience. By understanding their needs, preferences, and motivations, you can create impactful strategies that resonate with them and drive desired outcomes.
When you're ready to get started, begin by exploring your current customer base. Take the time to understand who they are, what motivates them, and what challenges they face. This will provide valuable insights into your target audience and help you maximize your marketing strategies. Once you have a clear understanding of your existing customers, it's time to analyze the market to identify potential opportunities and trends that align with your audience's needs.
One powerful tool that can assist you in reaching and engaging your target audience is Adobe Marketo Engage. This platform specializes in customer engagement for complex B2B buying journeys. It offers a complete solution for lead management, bringing marketing and sales together to nurture leads, orchestrate personalized experiences, optimize content, and measure business impact across every channel.
Marketo Engage natively supports both demand- and account-based marketing strategies, providing a single, integrated lead management platform from acquisition to advocacy. With this tool, you can build engaging, personalized experiences at scale and prove the impact of your marketing efforts.
Get a comprehensive understanding of how Marketo Engage can help you reach your target audience and drive customer engagement. Watch the overview video to discover the key features and benefits of this powerful marketing platform.
Then take an interactive tour of Marketo Engage to explore its functionalities and see how it can enhance your marketing efforts.