Running an online business is not easy!
Staying up-to-date with your niche’s trends, discerning genuine opportunities from cleverly disguised scams, maintaining a cohesive online presence… It all can be overwhelming.
Kind of like servicing an expensive watch while keeping the gears inside running.
And yet, among all these common challenges the one I see people continually struggling with the most is related to the way they approach their target audiences.
The outreach potential of “being online” is one of the aspects most heavily promoted by digital marketers today. As a business, you go online in the hopes of providing your services to more people. Have a bigger client pool and stop leaving money on the table.
In reality though, without clearly defining your target audience and catering to it, your business will most likely get overshadowed by others that do.
The good news is that there’s plenty you can do on that front once you know how important it is.
What Are Some Good Methods to Define Target Audiences?
Attempt to get everyone, and you’ll end up getting no one.
Appealing to everyone is not only a surefire way to have tons of potential customers slip through your fingers, but also an excellent way to waste time and resources. Resources that will never turn up any ROI.
The main idea behind defining your target audience is to have a profile that accurately represents who your potential customers are— the people who are really interested in what you offer.
If you are a software developer providing mid-range managerial solutions, you probably don’t care if Generation Zers, ages 18 or younger, pay attention to the content you generate.
If you are a small startup selling high-end, handcrafted clothing, you probably want to attract people who’ve already shown interest in similar products.
We define target audiences to understand the people interested in what we offer, and let that data inform other aspects of our marketing campaigns.
Three excellent ways to help you accomplish that task is by doing product analysis, studying client demographics, and paying attention to consumer statistics.
Product or Service Analysis
You can gain valuable information just by taking a moment and studying the product or services you are trying to market.
Make a list with your product or service’s features, and attach the corresponding benefit they provide.
Ask yourself “Who stands to gain the most out of these features?”
This should give you a good idea of the market sector you should be focusing on.
Technology can help or hinder. It all depends on how you use it.
Software analytics follow the same premise.
If you’ve been doing SEO for a while, chances are you already have some valuable consumer behavior analytics to reference to. Go over those analytics and let them speak to you.
What sorts of people spend more time on your website?
Which sections do they visit most?
Are there any items in your catalog that draw more attention than others?
Studying these user patterns data can tell you a great deal about who your target audience is, and what problems they are looking to solve.
Existing client demographics can give you a wealth of insights that help you define your target audience.
Not only do they show you who needs your product, but also reflect the type of person who’s most likely to buy it.
Depending on your niche, good indicators to pay attention are age, location, gender, income level, education level, and occupation.
Learn these things about your customers – or study the demographics your competitors seem to target – and you’ll have clearer, more accurate target audience profiles.
What are the Best Ways to Identify a Target Market?
Once you have an idea of what type of clients form the core of your audience, you have a good starting point to identify their patterns and preferences.
Why is this important? Because digital marketing is all about tailoring your approach.
All things being equal, the better you are at identifying your audience’s preferences, the more effective you’ll be doing business online.
Once you understand the types of content your target market prefers, the social networks they favor, and the incentives they respond to, you have all the pieces for a killer marketing push.
To identify a target market’s preferences, there are two very straightforward, yet wildly effective techniques: A/B testing, and competitor’s research.
The principle behind A/B testing is both extremely simple and versatile.
With equal conditions across all other variables, you can test a two aspect of a given thing and determine which one gets better results.
Say you want to promote a new product on your store, and wish to know which incentive your clients prefer.
Using A/B testing, you’d offer two bundles, one paired with item A, and one with item B. Promote both bundles to an equal number of people belonging to the same target audience and see which bundle performs best.
Keep the one that does and move on to test for another variable.
By testing and refining your marketing offers this way you can quickly identify a target market’s preferences, and become a lot more efficient in attracting them.
A lot of business owners and marketers underestimate the power of studying what their competitors – successful competitors – are doing.
It’s not a matter of repeating what others do, but of learning about their successes and failures and reaping the benefits gained from that knowledge.
Maybe you start noticing a competitor doing a big push on their Instagram platform. Perhaps, you see them offering small discounts at regular intervals. Or maybe you see them promoting their service using influencers.
If you are paying attention, these patterns can reveal a great deal about the market you are trying to attract, and give you new alternatives that you might not have considered otherwise.
What Is the Best Way to Target Content to the Right Audience?
If there’s an absolute internet axiom, it’s probably that you need to provide value to your audience consistently.
The problem is that a lot of business owners think that that revolves exclusively around their products and customer service.
In reality, providing value is something that applies to your marketing too, and the content you use as part of it to attract people.
That’s the real secret to target content to the right audience, your audience.
After you’ve found out who your audience is and the type of incentives they respond to, it’s time to give it to them. It’s a strategy commonly referred to as inbound marketing and can take as many shapes as there are people online.
If your products are highly technical, maybe offering a free eBook or a whitepaper on the subject is the right way to go.
If you are a retailer, gifting time-sensitive discount coupons randomly in social media platforms can be an ideal way to reach out to attract new customers.
If you are planning a new product launch, maybe setting up and hyping a new live stream to interact with your audience will garner a lot of attention.
These are all valid inbound strategies that can help connect your content and your audience in practical ways. The idea is to appeal to who they are and what they want.
Doing so will end up giving you the most bang for your buck.
How Can My Business Reach Target Audience Effectively?
Once you have a solid understanding of who your audience is and have identified things that appeal to them directly, it’s time to give them what they want.
However, that might sound deceptively easy.
“How” you provide your audience what they want, is almost as important as figuring out what that is in the first place.
Writing a fantastic blog post on a topic relevant to your audience becomes meaningless if they never get to see it!
Online, going for an “if you build them they will come” attitude often leads to a lot of wasted effort and frustration.
Instead, it’s best to allocate your energy and resources intelligently. Using the right channels to bring people in contact with your brand and what it has to offer.
Best way to accomplish that? Search Engine Optimization.
There are plenty of in-depth guides and resources online about the topic, but the long and short of SEO is applying techniques that help search engine algorithms (like Google, or Bing) understand what your content is, and who is it for.
For example, say you were trying to draw the attention from a specific demographic to a series of videos about your new cooking recipes app.
The most basic SEO technique there would be researching the appropriate keyword for the cooking niche and rank them by popularity. Then, incorporating them organically to your content.
Where do you do that?
Well, SEO usually takes place in areas like the titles, descriptions, hashtags, and metadata of your content. That is, the places search engine algorithms look into to determine if what you are providing is relevant to the audience you want to connect with.
Doing business online is indeed not easy, but it becomes much more manageable once you define your target audience and start catering to it.
Follow the guidelines on this piece, and not only will you have a much clearer understanding of who it is you are going for, but you’ll get much better tools to attract them to your business.