How to Find Your Target Audience in 5 Steps
What is the target audience?
The target audience is the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing. That means your marketing materials—from your email copy to your tagline to your brand story—should appeal to this group of people.
This is a great example of a targeted marketing campaign including a video and message from Airbnb.
The voice in the video is young and passionate. Image production is not high. Instead, it almost looks like a great iPhone video shot at the time. This is aimed at a younger audience looking for authentic, spontaneous experiences while traveling. It works.
This is why finding your target audience is so important. If you want your marketing to reach this group of people, you need to make sure you create everything with them in mind.
We need a quick clarification of terminology here: your target audience is not your target market. Your target market is the specific group of people your product or service targets. On the other hand, your target audience is the specific group of people your marketing is trying to reach.
For example, let’s say your product is dog gear – harnesses, bowls, leashes, toys. In this case, your target market is dog owners.
To reach your target market, you might include user-generated content in social ads featuring happy customers, newsletters with top dog stories of the week, blogs about pet care, and first-time pet owners. white paper. Your brand design is sleek, modern, and minimal.
Your target audience for this marketing campaign is not just pet owners; those with their first dog are young millennials or Gen Zers.
Wild One’s landing page is very targeted—branding, copy, and even toys specifically targeted for WFH pet parents.
Notice how I said “this kind of marketing” above? that’s right. You can target families with dogs, owners of multiple dogs, and even people who own dogs with different marketing campaigns. HubSpot found that most marketers create content for multiple audiences, with three target audiences being the most common.
Target audience type
Your business can have a large number of different target audiences because these target audiences will align with your marketing efforts and goals. In some marketing campaigns, you can get very specific.
For example, if you run a landscaping business, this might mean following all of your customers in a town with an event or discount to improve your customer base in the area.
Tennessee-based company TruGreen is targeting new customers in Boston with this Google ad and accompanying discounts.
However, as you work to identify your target audience, you need to focus on the types that align with the marketing channels you regularly focus on. Here are some examples:
Email: You might have a newsletter with tips for your general target audience, foster a flow of emails for potential customers, and/or trigger emails for current customers.
Events: You can host events for the entire community, like the landscape company example above, or events that cater to potential clients. You can even host events for existing clients or potential partners.
Community: You can run a slack or Discord group to connect prospects with similar roles, or a similar community to connect customers using your product.
Ads: You can run Facebook ads that encourage repeat customers, Google Ads to potential customers looking for a solution or Instagram Shopping ads to customers of your competitors.
Social Media: You can share a thought leadership article for an influencer, provide your prospect with a how-to video, or you can host a series of interviews with notable figures in your audience—whether it’s a writer, celebrities, or experts.
How to find your target audience
If you’re not very clear about who your target audience is – for your brand, a specific marketing channel, or a specific campaign – you need to take a step back and identify it.
You can determine who your target audience is by looking at who interacts with your product, your brand, and your marketing. That’s it:
- interview your clients
- Moderate your social followers
- View your marketing performance metrics
- record your game
- Define who your target is not
- Now, let’s take a closer look at each one.
Start with your customers
Your customers are the people who use your product or service, and it’s clear that your product positioning, the solutions you offer, your marketing, or a combination of these are working. That’s why this is the perfect place to start.
First, look at the demographics of your customers – what are their job titles, where do they live, and how old are they? Do any patterns appear when you do this? Pay careful attention to patterns of loyal repeat customers. Then see if your one-time customers have patterns.
Next, it’s time to talk to your customers. It’s the best way to find out why they love your brand, product, or team. This will help you position yourself, including the benefits you will emphasize in your copy and dialogue.
Also, now is a good time to ask where your customers are spending their time and get advice. Is it some Instagram influencer, an industry newsletter, or a trusted company blog? These customer insights are great data points because you can prioritize these channels for marketing.
Questions related to issues/pain points:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- How did you solve/try to solve the problem before us?
- If you have used other suppliers in the past, what problems have you encountered?
- Do you have any hesitation when choosing us?
- Is there anything we can improve?
Questions related to lifestyle/behavior:
- How did you find us?
- What terms did you search for?
- What media/newsletters have you read on this topic?
- Which social media platforms do you use?
- How much time do you spend online?
Questions related to your competitors:
- What made you choose us over competitors?
- What are the main benefits of our product/service?
- What additional benefits have you experienced?
- What do you like about us?
Look at your social followers
Your social followers are another existing audience you can look at to see who your current marketing campaigns are appealing. More importantly, it lets you know consumers who are genuinely interested in your brand.
According to Sprout Social, the most common reasons people follow brands on social channels are to get discounts, learn about company news, and learn about new products or services.
You won’t be able to access your social followers like your customers. If you still want to do an interview, make sure this is a quick survey with super specific questions. Otherwise, focus on demographics and behavior. Here are some things to consider:
- Household income
- activity level
- Other brands to follow
Likewise, you want to pay special attention to those who interact more with your social profiles.
The good news is that you can use tools (even free ones) to analyze this data. For example, Buffer also offers a free tier.
Dig deeper into your content analytics
The next existing audience you need to spend some time digging into is your website visitors. Who is already reading your content? Who is downloading your white paper? Who is interacting with your video?
Google Analytics is the natural place to start when you’re looking for this kind of information. You can learn:
Demographics. See how your users are segmented by location, including country and city.
where the user comes from. Is Twitter a great referral source? Is it a niche industry news site? Some blogger? This gives you more information on where to target your marketing campaigns.
Which topics resonated with them. What your website visitors are and aren’t interested in can provide clues about who your target audience is and how to reach them.
What term are they searching for? Find out what they’re looking for in Google to lead them to your site.
There’s even an interest tab where you can view affinity categories and market segments:
Look at your competitors
You have competitors. Regardless of your product, product, and target audience, you have competition. You can use them.
See who your competitors are targeting in their marketing. Where do they advertise? Facebook? Instagram or Twitter? Who are they targeting in the ad? What pain points are they highlighting?
Analyze their ad, their message, and their brand to put the target audience together and see how it compares to yours – including how it overlaps and how it differs. The overlap might help you understand the difference? This will help you better express your brand’s differentiation.
Here, monday.com identifies the difference between its target audience and Trello: a bigger team of marketers, with more projects, and they get started sooner.
In addition to the audience your competitors are targeting, you also want to know which audiences are actively engaging with their content. Gain insight into its social following to similarly identify overlaps and differences. For a step-by-step process, check out our search and social competition analysis guide.
Set your parameters
The last step may seem like an outlier in the process, but it’s very important: you need to determine who is not your customer. Take the monday.com competitive ad example above. Teams decide who their audience is — and who their audience isn’t. Their audience is not someone looking for a simple, free Kanban solution. (That’s what Trello is for.)
So, in this step, look at all your information – your customer interviews, your social followers, your website visitors, and your competitors’ comparable audiences. Then identify the gaps where you have absolutely no service.
Are you a pet store without a reptile tank? Your target audience does not include iguana owners.
Are you selling thick milkshakes? You don’t try to target anyone under the age of 21, even though that might be hard to tell in your image.
Only serve US customers? Then your target audience isn’t anyone outside those boundaries.
Setting parameters will help guide your marketing and even your business strategy.
Create your target audience profile
After you’ve assembled all the data about your followers, all the anecdotal information about your customers, and all the details from your competitors, the final step is to put them in your target audience profile.
Here is some information to include:
- gender identification
- job title
- education level
- Household income
- Platform usage
Your target audience profile will also include details related to your brand. Here are some examples of target audience profiles:
- first city dog
- Seniors without career plans
- Trained chefs work outside the industry
Armed with this information, you’ll want to develop characters to share with your team. These are detailed fictional characters that make up certain buyers in the target audience
target audience example
Let’s end with some examples of target audiences for brands we’re familiar with to help solidify your understanding of the concept.
Nike target audience
When looking at Nike vs Under Armour, we can see that while both brands target both active and athleisure wearers, there are several key differences in their target audience. Nike is a premium brand whose marketing targets socially influential individuals and the under-55 demographic.
On the other hand, Under Armour is not suitable for high-end earners, is mainly a male audience, and targets the 18-25-year-old Gen Z demographic.
Starbucks target audience
Let’s compare Starbucks and Dunkin’. Starbucks’ target audience is primarily college students and higher-income professionals. With its in-store merchandise, healthy snacks, comfy sofas, and free WiFi, it’s targeting people who want to drink coffee while working, talking to others, or enjoying alone time (and saving the planet).
Dunkin, on the other hand, has minimal in-store experiences and lower prices, mainly aimed at the busy crowd (the U.S. runs on Dunkin, after all) and with lower budgets. It is also common in the eastern half of the United States.
Define your target audience – and use it
Having a clear understanding of your target audience is key, but it’s not the last step. To make your marketing more effective, you need to make sure everyone on your team has these profiles in mind. So once you have this definition, share it widely so that everything your business puts out caters to the people who matter most.