How To Get To Know Your Target Audience
Knowing exactly who your target audience is separates a good business from one that is bound for a marketing disaster. As harsh as the reality is, not knowing your target audience can break your business because you have no idea who you need to reach or how to do it effectively. If you aren’t aware of who to send your message to or you’re just throwing your message out and hoping it sticks somewhere, how can you expect anyone to purposefully react to it?
By knowing who your target audience is, where they can be found and how to reach them, you’ll be able to tailor your messages to their interests, needs or pain points. As a result, your messages will be more effective and your brand more enticing. So how do you get to know them?
Consider this your all-inclusive guide to researching your target audience.
1. Get Rid of Your Assumptions
Everything you thought you knew about your target audience–get rid of it all (unless it came from thorough research). By assuming things about your audience without the research to back it up, you could be wasting your marketing efforts on an audience that has no need or desire for your messages.
Assumptions killed the cat…or something like that. Don’t let your marketing die because you didn’t do your research.
2. Question Everything
This is particularly helpful before you start conducting your research. Try to formulate the specific questions you want answered about your target audience. These could be things like:
- Where is my audience located?
- What is my audience interested in?
- How do they like being spoken to and through what channel?
- What are my audience’s pain points?
- What do they want?
By asking the fundamental questions needed to truly understand your audience, you’ll have a baseline of what to look for in your research.
3. Conduct the Research
There are hundreds of ways to conduct research, but you need to choose the right method in order for your research to be effective. Here are some of the top methods you can use to conduct research on your target audience:
Interviews are likely to get the most detailed responses to your questions, thus providing in-depth insights on your target audience. This is because this method allows people to provide their own answers that are (hopefully) honest and informative. Interviews can be conducted in different forms, including one-on-one interviews, group interviews, cold-calling or emailing.
Pro tip: phone calls or face-to-face interviews are best as they allow you to ask for clarification or a more detailed response. Be sure to ask open-ended questions that allow your interviewees to talk about their experiences in their own terms.
You can gather a lot of information on your current audience by taking a look at your business’s social media. Take a look at your followers. Who are they? Where are they from? What social platform do they use most? What is the majority of your followers’ age or gender? If, for example, you’re the social media manager for a skin care company, by looking at all of your social media accounts you might be able to find that a majority of your followers are women between the ages of 25-30 in the southeast region of the US who use Instagram as their primary social platform. This could be your target audience.
To get more insight into their behavior, take a look at their engagement with your business and with other businesses they follow. How often do they interact with posts in the form of likes, comments, retweets, etc.? What are they saying about you? What types of content gets the most engagement? Dive into these interactions–you may uncover some valuable information on their thoughts and interests.
For more on social media in marketing, check out this blog on staying relevant with social media content!
Case studies are great sources of information. By learning from what others have found through their own marketing research, you can gain valuable information without the stress of sourcing your own information from scratch. A simple Google search could open the door to dozens of case studies applicable to your target audience research. When turning to case studies for research, the key is to use sources that are credible, relevant and as recent as possible.
Surveys are a great method for conducting target audience research on a large scale. They can be easily created, monitored and reported on, especially if done digitally and have some type of quantitative aspect.
Some types of survey questions you can use to gather information include:
- Open-ended questions
- Close-ended questions
- Rating questions
- Multiple choice questions
- Demographic questions
Send your surveys out through email, snail mail, social posts, website pop-ups–anywhere you can reach a large enough audience that will provide suitable and significant results for your research. The questions you ask should be specific enough that they can gather relevant information about your target audience.
4. Look at the Competition
Take a look at your competition. Who are their target audiences? If your competition is successful in their marketing, they likely know exactly who to target and how to do it effectively. Observe and learn from them in what they do.
5. Form Buyer Personas
Before you even started your research, chances are you already had a certain type of target audience in mind. Now that you have the research to back it up, you can create buyer personas to help get an even clearer picture of what your customers are like.
These personas shouldn’t be actual customers but should be fictional characters that represent the different sections of your target audience based on real data and educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
Going back to the example of you being the social media manager for a skin care company, after compiling all your research you might identify a buyer persona as the following:
Skin Care Sally is a 26-year-old woman who finds joy in a clear, blemish-free face. She is always on the hunt for new skin care products that improve her complexion and make her feel confident in her appearance. She is active on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram and always looks at customer reviews before making a purchase.
Based on this persona that is backed by your research, you now have a basis for your ideal audience. Create buyer personas for all sections of your target audience, including both influencers and decision makers.
6. Create Content They Want, Where They Want It
The last step to reaching your target audience after you’ve done your research–creating the content they want to see and placing it where they’ll see it. You’ve done the preliminary work, now it’s time to look through all your findings and plan the execution. Be sure your content reflects your research, and you’ll be well on your way to more effective marketing.
Need additional help with researching your target audience? Download our free guide, Understanding Your Target Audiences, to learn how to align your marketing strategy by making sure you know who you’re marketing to and what they care about.
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