No matter what niche or industry your business is in, it’s almost impossible to be successful without knowing who your target audience is. Because while it can be tempting to try and market to everyone, it’s simply not possible to appeal to all demographics equally. And more importantly, it’s not nearly as effective (or efficient) as targeting a specific group of people who are more likely to be interested in what you have to say.
This is especially the case in the world of ecommerce where dozens of new brands and businesses just pop up every single day. So if you want your online store to stand out and actually succeed, you need to focus on targeting the right people from the start.
Luckily, this is easier than it might sound. And in this post, we’ll go over a few of the must-know marketing tips and techniques for targeting your audience more effectively.
Why Knowing Your Target Audience Matters
While it’s pretty common knowledge that businesses need to have a target audience, it’s worth mentioning the why’s to drive the point home. After all, if you’re not motivated enough to invest the time and effort into targeting your audience properly, you’re not going to get very far.
It Helps You Define Different Aspects of Your Business
Your sales channels, pricing, shipping methods, etc. should all be based on your target audience. You don’t decide on these factors in a vacuum after all. While there are a lot of options that are convenient for you, they might not be the best or most practical choices for your target audience.
For example, if you’re targeting tech-savvy college students, you’ll want to make sure your store is available on mobile devices and that you’re using a payment gateway like PayPal, which is popular among that demographic.
Conversely, if you’re targeting stay-at-home moms, you might want to consider offering free shipping or cash-on-delivery options, as they’re more likely to appreciate these choices.
It’s The Foundation of Your Marketing Strategy
Without a solid knowledge of who your target audience is, your marketing efforts are going to be all over the place. You’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money on marketing channels and techniques that simply don’t work for the people you’re trying to reach.
To put it another way, your target audience is the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Once you know who you’re trying to reach, it becomes a lot easier to figure out where to find them and what methods to use to get their attention.
How Do You Define Your Target Audience?
Now that we’ve gone over a few of the reasons why targeting your audience is so important, it’s time to move on to the how.
Here are the steps you need to take to properly define your target audience:
Study the Industry and Competition
Yes, every business is unique but it’s impossible to not have a single competitor. And while you might not be in direct competition with every business in your industry, it’s still important to understand the market as a whole.
Hence, before you can start targeting your audience, you need to take a step back and study the industry and competition. What products do you sell and who are the existing players in the market? If your merch is so unique and you can’t identify any direct competitors, try to look back on your inspirations when you were starting out.
You can also research on the keywords and topics related to your business through tools like the Mediatoolkit. These software will help you find the online stores, websites, and social media pages that may be your competitor or are relevant to your business.
Know the Communities in Your Niche
Once you know the existing players in the market, it’s time to focus on the communities in your niche. To give you a refresher or a brief introduction, a niche is defined as a specialized market. It’s a group of people with specific needs that aren’t being met by the mainstream market.
For example, your business is all about selling t-shirts. But, the designs and templates you create are limited to comic book and pop-culture references. In this case, your niche would be geek culture or a certain fandom.
Once you’ve identified your niche, it’s time to look for the relevant communities on social media sites like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. There, you will not only learn more about their interests and demographics, but also get to interact with them yourself.
Conduct a Backyard Research
If you’re already part of a community in your niche or you’ve been running your business for a while, then this step might not be necessary. Nonetheless, doing this every now and then may still provide you with some surprising trends and changes in the market.
A backyard research is basically when you look for information about your target audience in your immediate environment. For example, if you’re currently a student and you plan to open an online store that appeals to young people your age, then you can start by asking your classmates about their interests.
This type of research is beneficial as it’s more personal and intimate. People are more likely to be honest when they’re talking to someone they know rather than a complete stranger.
Do an Online Survey
Alright, while backyard research can be really helpful, the number of people you can reach will always be limited. If you want to get a bigger and more comprehensive view of your target audience, then conducting an online survey is the way to go.
Now, there are a few things you need to take into consideration when creating an online survey. For one, you need to make sure that the questions are relevant to your business. They should also be clear and concise to avoid confusion.
Try to limit the items to Likert-scales, multiple-choice questions, short-answer questions, and priority rankings. This way, you won’t bore your respondents and it’ll be easier for you to analyze the data.
You can also introduce your business and offer incentives like discount vouchers towards the end of the survey to encourage people to finish it.
Create a Customer Avatar
From the backyard research and online survey results, you’ll get to identify not just the final demographics but also the psychographics of the audience you’ll be targeting.
Now, all this information might be a little overwhelming. So, to make things simpler and more organized, you can create what is known as a customer avatar or a consumer persona.
A customer avatar is basically a fictional character that embodies your ideal customer. This includes their age, gender, income, location, interests, motivations, and other relevant information.
With a customer avatar, it will be easier for you to picture your target market and determine what marketing strategies to use.
So, Now What?
“I now know who my target audience is. But, what do I do next?”
Great job on making it this far! Now that you know all there is to know about your target audience, it’s time to start putting everything into action.
Here are a few things you can do:
Assess How Your Target Audience Finds You
Once you have a solid knowledge of who your target audience is, the next step is to assess how they find you.
For example, if you have a Shopify powered store, use Google Analytics to see what keywords they use to find your site. You can also look at the social media platforms they frequent and how active they are. Are they more likely to be found on Twitter or Facebook?
And once you have them on your site, what do they do? How do they perceive your store and brand? Do they stay and browse around or do they leave immediately?
Build a Relationship With Your Target Audience
Now, defining your target audience does not end in knowing them. You also have to understand their needs, wants, and pain points. And this is an on-going process that requires you to constantly communicate with them.
One way to do this is through social media. You can use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to interact with your customers and followers. You can also use this opportunity to show them that there’s a real person behind the brand. Doing this will allow you to build a relationship of trust and loyalty with them.
Keep Your Message and Branding Consistent
Your marketing strategies have to evolve along with your target audience. But, no matter how much they change, your message and branding should remain the same.
This is important because it allows you to build a solid foundation for your brand. It also makes it easier for people to recognize and remember you.
Test, Test, and Test!
The thing is, it’s possible that no matter how much research you do, there will always be some uncertainty when it comes to your target audience. With all the trends that come and go, their wants, needs, and behavior can change in an instant.
That’s why it’s important to always test your assumptions and strategies. Try different things and see what works best for your business. Keep in mind that the goal is to find a balance between what you and your target audience wants.
There You Have It!
Defining your target audience may seem pretty intimidating and time-consuming at first. However, it will definitely pay off in the long run, especially once you’ve built a connection with the right people. And we hope that these tips will help you get started with that.