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How to Find Your Target Audience in 4 Steps

By: Compose.ly — September 18, 2019

Effective content marketing isn’t just about creating quality content—it’s about creating content that speaks to your target audience.

Why?

If your content was created with the wrong audience in mind, you may discourage real leads from exploring your site further, or ever returning again. Instead, your customer may walk away, thinking, “Hm, this brand isn’t for people like me.

On the other hand, content that speaks to your target readers invites them in, helping to establish the beginnings of a positive consumer-brand relationship.

In short, your target audience matters—but if you’re just starting out, you may find it difficult to identify who exactly that audience is.

Have no fear—you can determine your target audience in just four steps. Let’s dive in below.

1. Analyze your current customers

In order to understand who’ll get the most value from your brand, start with the people who have already committed to spending their money on your product or service.

Go through your current customer database, and begin looking for patterns in demographics and buying behaviors. Look at factors like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Geographic location
  • Occupation
  • Household income

Are there any commonalities tying your customers together? For instance, they might all be:

  • Millennial parents based in the Midwest
  • Well-educated young professionals in metropolitan areas
  • Male college students

Whatever the case, spotting a pattern in your customer data can help you identify your target audience—or at least, one segment of it. If you know who’s already using your product, you’ll have a solid foundation for determining prospective customers that might also be interested.

2. Understand your business and product

Your current customers aren’t your only source for gaining valuable audience insight.

Take a step back and analyze your own product and business. Look at your business plan, and conduct a competitive analysis of similar brands in your industry.

Think:

  • What is your product, and what is the problem it solves?
  • What do customers most care about?
  • What is your realm of expertise?
  • How do your competitors market to customers?
  • What distinguishes your product from competitors?

Understanding the answers to these questions can help you identify the overlap between your subject matter expertise and what your audience cares about—in other words, where you should focus your content.

Venn diagram from Divvy HQ

(Image credit: DivvyHQ)

Or, framed in another way:

Understand what problem your business solves.

If you understand the issue your product solves, you can generally work backward from that positioning statement to understand who will benefit most from your product.

3. See who’s engaging with your brand

Once you’ve thought long and hard about your product positioning, you can continue to enhance your target audience analysis by looking at engagement on your current content.  Understanding what users are saying about your brand and your products helps you further refine which users will gain the most use out of your product.

Get a sense of how your customers and prospects are reacting to your product by looking at:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Reviews

If a certain type of post is working well, it’s important to bake it into your content strategy. On the flip side, if users aren’t engaging with your content, you’re either:

  • Creating the wrong content for your audience, or
  • Marketing it to the wrong people.

Bear in mind that patience is a necessity when looking at engagement. You’ll want to look at long-term trends rather than short-term analytics on a single post moments after it’s gone live. After all, content strategies take time to work effectively.

It’s also important to look at engagement qualitatively, not just quantitatively. Just because a post has great numbers doesn’t mean it’s actually appealing to your target audience.

Take, for example, the following Facebook post from Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers Facebook post

In it, the weight loss company shares a recipe for a low-calorie dessert called “dark chocolate and walnut cigars,” touting them as “a tasty DIY treat for the whole family to make!”

The post received 512 reactions, 57 comments, and 160 shares. At first glance, these numbers suggest great success—until you start reading the comments.

Many commenters express outrage at the idea of using the term “cigar” or anything adjacent to tobacco products on an allegedly family-friendly recipe. In this way, the post completely missed the mark among the Weight Watchers’ target audience: women ages 35 and older that are interested in wellness and weight loss.

4. Create user personas

Rather than thinking about your audience in abstract terms, you should create user personas—profiles of hypothetical individual customers.

Why?

Also known as buyer personas, these profiles personalize your content strategy by helping you think of your audience on an individual level.

Since more and more users want personalized content, it’s critical for your content to appear genuine and tailored to individual needs. Personas should not only outline your target audience demographics, but must also consider their subjective needs:

  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • What drives their decision-making?
  • What is most important to them?
  • How can you help?

Let’s take a look at tattoo artist and expert Russ Abbott for an example of how to use personas.

Abbott owns and operates two businesses: the brick-and-mortar tattoo shop Ink & Dagger and the ecommerce store Tattoo Smart.

On the surface, Abbott’s stores appear to have the same target audience: tattoo enthusiasts.

However, that’s not actually the case.

While Georgia-based Ink & Dagger appeals to edgy and offbeat tattoo enthusiasts in the local community, Tattoo Smart targets professional tattoo artists and designers around the country looking for tattooing guides and tutorials. Abbott’s user personas for the stores thus might look like the following:

Ink & Dagger – Lana the Pop Culture Fanatic

  • Recent college graduate living in Roswell, Georgia
  • Veterinary assistant and community activist
  • Wants to get her first tattoo (a quote from Fight Club) and looking for artist/shop recommendations
Tattoo Smart – Craig the Novice Tattoo Artist

  • 30-year-old living in Columbus, Ohio
  • Tattoo artist with 2 years of experience
  • Looking for new brush sets to experiment with when designing tattoos

Though both businesses revolve around tattoos and are run by the same person, Ink & Dagger and Tattoo Smart require unique personas—like Lana the Pop Culture Fanatic and Craig the Novice Tattoo Artist. Creating user personas that reflect each business’s target audience ultimately helps guide Abbott’s separate marketing teams appeal to the customers who are most likely to convert for each one.

What’s more, building user personas can also help you identify potential influencer partners that may tout your product to their audience. Besides more traffic, this may mean more customers—after all, consumers are more likely to turn to online personalities that they trust when it comes to making purchase decisions and looking for product reviews. And if your influencer matches your audience persona criteria, chances are their followers do as well.

Conclusion

Identifying your target audience is the first step in creating memorable blog content that speaks to your customers and their needs.

Once you get to know your target audience, you can dive into your content strategy with more direction. Say goodbye to aimlessly creating posts that you “think” customers might like. Instead, use targeted insight to guide your content ideation and creation for better engagement and more conversions.

This article was written by Compose.ly writer Amanda Baird.


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