There are a lot of steps to take into consideration when creating any form of content marketing, but perhaps the most pivotal piece of the puzzle is the need to define who your target audience is prior to drafting any content. Without completing this essential first step, your content marketing has a high potential of falling flat and becoming an exercise in futility. In this blog post we discuss what a target audience is, why creating one is so important and how to effectively define one for your brand.
What Is A Target Audience?
Before you even beginning to brainstorm who your target audience might include, it’s important to educate yourself on what a target audience actually is. Hootsuite shares this definition:
“The specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message. They are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services, and they are united by some common characteristics, like demographics and behaviors.
The more clearly you define your target market, the better you can understand how and where to reach your ideal potential customers. You can start with broad categories like millennials or single dads, but you need to get much more detailed than that to achieve the best possible conversion rates.
Don’t be afraid to get highly specific. This is all about targeting your marketing efforts effectively, not stopping people from buying your product.
People who are not included in your targeted marketing can still buy from you—they’re just not your top focus when crafting your marketing strategy. You can’t target everyone, but you can sell to everyone.
Your target market should be based on research, not a gut feeling. You need to go after the people who really want to buy from you, even if they’re not the customers you originally set out to reach.”
Why Are Target Audiences So Important?
As mentioned previously, creating content without knowing who your target audience is sets you up for failure — it’s a waste of time, money and can encourage whatever current audience you have to lose quickly interest and trust in your business. But what specifically does defining a target audience do for your brand? Sprout Social discusses four ways you can benefit from marketing to a target audience:
- It allows you to advertise more effectively.
- Money and resources are allocated to relevant consumer groups. This equals less waste.
- It helps solidify your brand voice. This amplifies your social media branding efforts.
- You can develop messaging that truly resonates with your target audience. This makes it easier to connect with them and earn their loyalty.
How Can You Define Your Target Audience?
Now that you know how important defining your target audience is, what’s the next step? There are six questions to ask yourself when determining your target audience.
- Who is your current audience?
The first question to ask yourself when defining your target audience is who your current audience is. You can discover this by looking at the people who follow you on your various social media platforms. Pay special attention to those who have been interacting with your posts. Once you have this information, consider what these people might have in common. Break your followers into groups based on common characteristics. Hootsuite recommends looking at these data points:
- “Age: You don’t need to get too specific here. It won’t likely make a difference whether your average customer is 24 or 27. But knowing which decade of life your customers are in can be very useful.
- Location (and time zone): Where in the world do your existing customers live? In addition to understanding which geographic areas to target, this helps you figure out what hours are most important for your customer service and sales reps to be online, and what time you should schedule your social ads and posts to ensure best visibility.
- Language: Don’t assume your customers speak the same language you do. And don’t assume they speak the dominant language of their (or your) current physical location.
- Spending power and patterns: How much money do your current customers have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category?
- Interests: What do your customers like to do, besides using your products or services? What TV shows do they watch? What other businesses do they interact with?
- Challenges: What pain points are your customers facing? Do you understand how your product or service helps them address those challenges?
- Stage of life: Are your customers likely to be college students? New parents? Parents of teens? Retirees?”
- What does your audience want from you?
After you’ve figured out who your audience is, you need to determine what they want from you. What are they looking for and why? According to the Sprout Social index, people follow brands on social media for the following reasons:
- Fifty-seven percent follow brands to learn about new products or services.
- Forty-seven percent follow brands to stay up to date on company news.
- Forty percent follow brands to learn about promotions or discounts.
- Forty percent follow brands simply to be entertained.
Knowing what your audience expects from you will help you to adjust your social media strategy accordingly.
- Where are your followers getting their information?
Now that you know what your followers want from you, the next step is to locate where they are currently getting their information. Is your target audience on Facebook or are they on TikTok? Do they prefer LinkedIn, or will you find them scrolling Instagram in the late hours of the night? Wherever your followers are, that’s where you need to put your content! You may find that different groups of your followers frequent several social media platforms — in fact this is quite common. In this case, it’s appropriate to post on a number of different social media channels, as long as you make sure to vary the content on each one.
- What is your audience talking about?
The next step in reaching your target audience is to learn what they’re talking about. What do they like and dislike? What kinds of challenges do they face and what kinds of solutions are they looking for? Are they talking about your brand or product or are they talking about your competitors? The answers to these questions will help you to get to know your target audience more.
Gathering this type of information is typically called social listening. HubSpot defines social listening as “the monitoring of your brand’s social media channels for any customer feedback and direct mentions of your brand or discussions regarding specific keywords, topics, competitors, or industries, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on those opportunities.” Luckily, there are social listening tools your brand can utilize to make this process easier:
- What is your competition doing?
One of the best things to do when defining your target audience is to check out your competition. While this might seem counterintuitive, looking at what your competitors are doing and who is following them can give you a wealth of information about how to reach your target audience. Sprout Social suggests asking yourself the following questions:
- What types of people are your competitors targeting?
- How are they reaching out to their target audience?
- What are they doing right?
- What’s missing from their strategy?
- What key benefits are they emphasizing in their marketing?
- How often are they posting?
- Which content formats seem to work the best for them?
- What kind of tone are they using?
This is another area where social listening can come in handy, as you’re able to create listening topics around your competitors as well as your own!
- What is the value of your product or service?
One last thing to consider when defining your target audience is to ask yourself how your product or service is of value to them. This does not mean that you list off the many features of your product — your audience doesn’t solely need to know what your product does. Instead, this means being acutely aware of the benefits your product or service can offer to your audience. How will this help them? What is the value of it?
If you’re not able to clearly explain how your product is beneficial to your audience, you will likely struggle with creating content that persuades them to purchase from you.
How Can You Create Content For Your Target Audience?
After you are clear on who your target audience is, the next step is to create content that’s just right for them. One of the things you might want to consider is A/B Testing. HubSpot shares that A/B testing is “a marketing experiment wherein you split your audience to test a number of variations of a campaign and determine which performs better. In other words, you can show version A of a piece of marketing content to one half of your audience, and version B to another.”
A/B testing works well because even though your target audience will have many things in common, they are still different people with different viewpoints. Additionally, even though something may work for your competitors, your audience might be slightly different and respond better to an alternative method. Testing things out will give you a chance to really see what your audience prefers, making it easier to create effective content for them in the future.
CoSchedule shares other ideas you may want to consider when creating content for your target audience in terms of copy, topics and design:
- “Copy: Use language that feels natural to the people reading your copy. For example, if you have a business-to-business product for executives, you’d want to use more formal and sales-focused language, but your typical business-to-customer audience will prefer casual language. When in doubt, talk the way your audience does.
- Topics: Cover topics that fall in your content core — the intersection between your product and your audience’s interests.
- Design: Use design elements that match your audience’s experiences and preferences. If you market to kids and their parents, for example, you might use a lot of primary colors.”
Additionally, they suggest focusing on ways to solve your audience’s problems. In terms of your writing your copy, this means you should:
- “Name the problem your customer faces and relate to them.
- Highlight your product’s key benefit related to your customers’ top problem.
- Give an example of how your product can help your customer.
- Show off your differentiator — the one way you can solve your customer’s problem that your competitors can’t.”
One last piece of advice on creating content for your target audience is to be ready to pivot if something isn’t working. While it does take a while to see the results of content marketing, you should be able to tell quickly if something isn’t resonating with your audience. Sometimes they even tell you themselves! Pay attention to how they are engaging with your content and conduct quarterly analytics to verify that your content is hitting the right people.
Do You Need Help Creating A Target Audience For Your Brand?
If you’re struggling to create a target audience for your company, or if you already have one but find it difficult to create compelling copy that reaches them, contact us at Three Girls Media. We offer a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation to discuss your specific marketing needs.
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