One of the biggest issues in digital marketing today are brands inability to effectively market to their target audience. The reason this is such an issue is because a lot of the time brands have failed to properly research the following:
- Who they are trying to attract as customers
- How to effectively reach them and keep their attention
When brands fail to dig into data and research who their audience is, they miss key pieces of information that not only help them visualize their marketing strategy and approach, but how to more effectively and directly market to those individuals who are most likely to engage and take action on their website. This is why finding your target audience is so important for business - these audience members and potential customers are your lifeblood.
So, how do we create a marketing experience that’s not only appealing to our audience but speaks to them, so they continue to come back? What it comes down to is knowing your audience inside and out enough to give them what they want every time they come to your site and engage your content. Once you are there, it comes down to having a flexible enough marketing strategy to keep your audience’s attention continuously.
But first, you have to find your target audience, so let’s do that - here are our tips.
Finding Your Target Audience
When you started your business, or when your boss started their business, there was a reason and goal for it’s existence. More often than not, the reason a business is started to provide a solution or service that helps a certain group of people or businesses with an issue they are having. So right there, you have a substantial amount of information, because you wouldn’t exist if you didn’t at least have this foundation. But there are more detailed ways to define your target audience simply than their issues and it’s important that you are able to get the whole picture, especially for your marketing efforts.
Take A Look At Your Current Customers
Chances are that you have had customers buy from you already, and truthfully, this is the best place to start when you look to define your target audience. The reason being is that they are already buying from you and probably all share certain characteristics that are causing them to purchase. I like to break my audience segmentation into two areas:
Learn a little more about each below...
Start with an external picture of who your current customers are and what they look like. While every customer is unique and broad in what makes them, there is usually a trait or more that they will share with another customer. For instance, take a look at...
- Job title
While these items listed above are usually more typical characteristics of people and easier to define, you can also take your analysis a step deeper and begin to look at a more comprehensive set of data about your audience. These next characteristics go a bit deeper...
Psychographics focus more on your customer’s personality types and what they value. It also takes into consideration interests and the lifestyle that they have. These traits can usually be broken down by:
- Lifestyle preferences
- Values and beliefs
These characteristics go below the surface of demographics, giving you more of the “why” behind the purchase as opposed to the “who” of the purchase. Psychographics give you more of an idea behind the decision-making process of your customers. This important to keep in mind because it will help you market to a customer's needs and desires more efficiently. But even beyond psychographics, you can get more detailed levels of information, just ask!
Ask Your Current Customers Questions
One of the best ways to gather the information above is to simply interview your current customers. This may sound like a big undertaking, and usually you can pay for this type of information, but customers enjoy talking to a person at a brand they love directly. It makes them feel important, listened to, part of something, and truthfully, this is a big area where businesses are failing - engaging their audiences.
Questions you can ask your audience when interviewing them include:
- Tell us about yourself
- What information helped you make a purchase?
- What information would help you make a purchase?
- How do you use our products?
- Would you recommend our product to others? Why?
- What other products were you considering against ours?
- What type of content would you like to see from us in the future?
Having the answers to these questions gives you invaluable information that can help you continually create content and market effectively to your audience. It will also bring you closer to your current customer base if this is a process that’s regularly applied through your digital marketing. You’ll have a deeper understanding of who, what, when, where, why, and how beyond their decision-making process, giving you the ammo, you need to create a solid marketing foundation. It will also make them feel heard and understood, especially if you apply what they’re saying to your current and future strategies!
Next, you need to understand how they browse and engage online...
Study Them Online
While this may sound like an experiment, it’s not. Studying your audience means to pay attention to certain aspects of how they use the internet, engage content online, and apply your findings to your digital marketing efforts. For instance, focusing on:
- What websites they visit
- What content they digest
- What format that content is in (video, text, images, slides, etc)
- What questions are they asking
- What words are they using when they ask those questions
...will greatly help you in deciding what kind of content you need to create, as well as how it should be presented and structured. You’ll learn what kinds of content assets your audience finds most valuable and how best to distribute that content to make sure the right eyes find it when they need to!
However, digital marketing is more than just finding your target audience; you have to keep them, too...
Keeping Your Target Audience
Now that you have found your target audience, it’s time to work at keeping them. It’s often easy to forget that your audience and their preferences will change, so it’s important that you keep tabs on emerging trends and opportunities in your industry. A few ways to do so are simply staying engaged and relevant...
Join The Discussions
As I stated earlier, customers love when they connect with a brand on a personal level. What I mean by this is audiences love when a brand becomes more than a logo or image. Audiences love when a brand directly engages with them in discussion, answers questions, provides solutions, or points them in a helpful direction. They want to feel heard, engaged, and a real connection with the brands they support; they want human.
There are plenty of ways to do this with your audiences:
- Q+A sessions via social media
- Soliciting feedback on products or services
- Direct emails / calls to follow up on a product or service
Applying these methods and tactics to your digital marketing efforts will make your brand more accessible to those reaching out to you and also put you ahead of your competition. You’ll hear your audience's thoughts and feedback before it becomes a study or article on a marketing website, and you’ll also be able to test their feedback to prove its value.
You’ll also get great insights on what content to develop...
Don't Just "Create Content"
The internet and digital marketing are still very young in , almost creating a Wild West mentality of running rampant and trying every idea in your marketing arsenal. While having a great “go getter” mindsight is important in marketing, it can potentially create obstacles in connecting with your most important audience members if not researched and prioritized. One such obstruction is “content noise”, which is the creation of content simply to create more content.
Ultimately, obstructions such as content noise benefit no one, especially your audience. It creates confusion and ultimately, a disconnect. An audience is a very fragile and delicate thing, mainly because their time and attention is extremely important and limited in that they are only willing to give you so much of it. If you somehow misuse their time or attention, they will move on to a brand or competitor that’s willing to respect it. The information you collect above will prove invaluable to your marketing efforts.
When you create content, it's important that it serves a purpose in its presentation and delivery...
Develop Thoughtful And Authoritative Content
It’s important to remember that content comes in all shapes and sizes, from text to video, images to gamification, email to social, and everything in between. There isn’t a one size fits all content marketing strategy, so let that thought leave your mind. Content marketing is specific to the audience and industry that it’s trying to engage, so it’s important that your content marketing strategy is specific to what that audience and industry prefers. When you create content, make sure it does the following:
- Has a goal
- Speaks to your audience
- Gives what it promises, whether a solution or information
- Has a takeaway or next step
All of the resources and tactics listed in this article will help you better understand your own content marketing strategy and what fine tuning is needed to make it more successful. If you need a helping hand in learning how to create a content marketing strategy, here are a few great places to start:
- Learn Content Marketing (Moz)
- The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing (Quick Sprout)
- Content Marketing University (Content Marketing Institute)
Another item to note, you should always be testing your website. From layouts to content, test it all!
Test Your Website Often
We love testing websites at Marcel Digital, mainly because it works. Thoroughly testing not only your website, but your methods in content creation, repurposing, and distribution, can open up new ways to look at your marketing channels and how they can be better utilized. There are a multitude of capabilities when it comes to testing:
And the list continues beyond these items above. Having the ability to test your website and your marketing methods will give you a whole new level of insight to how your audience is engaging your content and brand. It will help you better understand how your target audience is using your website and how you can make it more user intuitive for them. Remember, at the end of the day, your audience are the ones using your website. It’s up to you to give them what they want in a way that will entice them to take action.
As a marketer, your main goal should be to align your business goals with your audience goals. Marketing comes down to making a connection with your audience that makes them feel understood in their needs and safe in their decisions. If you don’t know who you are trying to reach with your marketing efforts, you don’t know their needs, and you don’t understand what solutions or product will best alleviate those needs.
While all of the above tasks sound like a lot of work (believe us - they are), it pays off in dividends in the long run as you create a marketing strategy that is better targeted and flexible in your audience’s needs. You’ll begin to create what’s called a “marketing flywheel” - the idea that building enough marketing energy over time will help all new content marketing efforts perform better out of the gate. Learn as much as you can about your target audience and marketing accordingly, otherwise your competitors will.
Still need help finding and marketing to your target audience? Let the experts at Marcel Digital help! With over 13 years experience in everything from search engine optimization to web development, and conversion rate optimization to Google Analytics consulting, we are ready to help you make your digital marketing campaign the strongest it can be to achieve your business goals. Feel free to reach out today! We're always happy to chat!
About the author
Kyle Brigham is the Chief Strategy Officer at Marcel Digital. He specializes in client services and project management, but also original Nintendo games and ping pong.