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Defining Your Target Audience for Online Marketing

Most business owners have an idea of who their target audience is, maybe a one-line or few-word description. When an expert in online marketing thinks of a target audience, we think of something much more detailed. When you’re reaching for a goal, you want to have a pretty clear idea of what you’re doing, or you won’t have a defined method for achieving it or even know how to judge exactly when you do. Read these tips for defining your target audience for online marketing purposes.

How Knowing Your Target Audience Influences SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is how potential customers find your business in the vast sea of competition online. 

You choose keywords that will be like a sign waved above the crowd to draw those customers to you. What will those customers respond to? And you don’t want to attract just anyone who reads it. They’ll lose interest or waste your time. You want people who really want what you’re offering to find you. What are those people searching for?

When people visit your website, you also need to provide content they will find useful, or they will lose interest. What are they hoping to find when they click that link?

So, you need a clear idea of who your target audience is and how they work.

How to Define Your Target Audience and Targeting Strategy

Let’s say you’re selling toys. You might immediately answer, “My target audience is kids and their parents.”

But to try to sell to such a broad category, you’d basically just throw a bunch of toys out there and see what happened. Who are these people? Where do they live? How much money are they likely to have? Who will be doing the purchasing? Are they likely to be married? What is their likely education level? What do they want when they visit the website of a toy store? When will they be buying? What will be the deciding factor that makes them click, “buy?” What stands out to them? What reflects their interests?

There are three primary ways to answer these questions.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

A good first step is to remember how your target audience is like you to figure out what their problems are likely to be, their motivations for making a purchase, what it feels like to be a customer, etc. This is your least scientific step, but it’s a helpful task to get you really thinking about your audience and relating to them in a 3-dimensional way.

Consider the Demographics

Start getting scientific with demographics. Do some research to determine facts about the target audience for what you’re selling.

You’ll want to determine several things about the person most likely to buy your product or service:

  • Age range 
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Marriage status
  • Education level
  • Beliefs and mindsets
  • Lifestyle
  • Likely challenges they’re facing
  • How they’re likely to spend most of their time online; social media like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube, or practically, like running searches.

All of this information can influence what and how people search and buy.

If you’re a b2b company, answer these questions:

  • The industry
  • The products or services they sell
  • Their revenue
  • Their location
  • The number of employees
  • The business’ revenue
  • Key decision-makers in the company
  • Information on the key-decision makers similar to the bullet list above

If you already have a website, you can use Google Analytics to help get much of this information about the people who are already visiting your website.

Use social listening to see who’s following your competitors, who their most loyal customers are, and how they’re selling to them to both learn from what they do right and plan something better and unique.

Conduct Interviews and Surveys

Listening is the most powerful way to get information. Don’t assume. Ask. 

No matter what stage your business and website are in, you can start conducting interviews, though your method of starting will be different. At the business planning stage, you can ask people you know who fit your target audience or start a social media page or post on a social media platform for asking questions and ask people questions. When you have a new or established business with a store or website, you can ask your customers to participate in interviews or offer surveys. People love answering surveys.

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