The Best Ideas to Effectively Identify and Reach Your Target Audience in 2023
2022 showed us how crucial it is to know all ins and outs of working with target audiences considering all the changes in the industry. Ad platforms were hit hard by the rollout of IOS 14.5 and other elements of the post-cookie world related to GDPR. Plummeting Facebook shares and the crush of the app industry, especially gaming, demonstrated to us that we have forgotten marketing basics. Brands got used to getting an influx of paying customers in a few simple steps. All they needed to do is buy ads on media platforms and then launch retargeting campaigns that target gamers or fitness app users thanks to large masses of user data provided by ad platforms like Facebook and Google. But the easy times are over, and marketers need to rethink some approaches and face the new reality with updated strategies. In this article we covered everything you should know about identifying and engaging your target audience in 2022.
Target audience – definition
When you design new services or products, you keep in mind a composite image of a person that is going to be interested in what you offer and become a paying customer. Target audience is the group of people that share characteristics with this image. Customers that make up a target audience have at least one thing from the following list in common:
- level of education
- marital status
- income level, etc.
Target audience examples
Some products are quite universal and can be used by men and women of different ages and professions, while other products are aimed at narrower segments. Let’s look at a few financial products offered by a bank as an example.
- A simple debit card: this product has an extremely wide target audience, because it can be used by all people over 18.
- Debit cards for kids: this type of cards is only relevant for customers that have underage children.
- Airline credit card: it is designed specifically for those who frequently travel by plane, for example, journalists or politicians that have regular business trips.
How is target audience different from target market
A target market includes all consumers that are most likely to buy a brand’s products. And a target audience is usually a narrower segment of a brand’s potential customers that are targeted with an ad campaign. It means that target market is a wider term, and a target audience can be referred to as its smaller subset.
Here are two examples of how a company can identify its target audience based on different factors:
- Let’s say you sell cold medicine, then your target market is all people having a cold across the country. But if you take into account seasonality and climate difference, you will see that in the northern part of the country it’s cold season. It means that residents of the northern towns will be targeted with your medication ads, and they are currently your target audience.
- If you are an online clothes brand whose customers are young people aged 20 to 35, your target market can stretch as far across the country as shipping services go. Let’s say you are opening an offline showroom in a few towns, then your target audience for the promotion campaign will include only those living there. You can launch a targeted ad campaign on social media to reach the users living in those towns.
The examples above show how seasonality and location affected the process of defining a target audience for media campaigns.
The importance of understanding your target audience
You research your target audiences before and during the product development stage trying to understand what they need, value and want. But knowing your target audience is as important for promotion if you want the right people to learn about the product you have created for them. Otherwise, no matter how perfectly the result of your work caters for the needs of your target audience, you won’t be able to sell it because nobody knows about it.
That is why you should almost turn into an intelligence agent and learn as much as possible about your target audiences: who they follow on social media, what publications they read, what they watch and listen to, what places they visit and whose opinion carries weight with them, to make sure that timing and media for your ad campaigns is chosen correctly. The more details you know about your potential customers the more accurately you can select communication channels and messages that are going to engage them. It does require significant financial and other resources but in the end of the day it really pays back and saves you money.
Marketers admit that not all the money spent on advertising drives new clients, some part of the media budget is simply wasted. Research and statistics confirm that about 26% of media investments are thrown away. And taking into account the global ad spends it means billions of dollars go down the drain every year. Such results might be the sign that not all the media channels or messaging that you include in your marketing campaigns reach your target audience. Another reason could be that not enough efforts were made to carry out marketing research.
Of course, there are other sales driving factors and a successful marketing campaign doesn’t boil down to identifying your target audiences. To take into account all elements that have impact on your business KPIs, use AI-based Media Mix tools.
Anyway, identifying the target audience is the first step to developing an effective marketing strategy and plan. What is the point of spending millions of dollars to make your advertising seen by millions of people if they are not the ones who are going to be interested in your product? That is why not all brands need to be advertised at such large-scale events as the Super Bowl or the Olympics. It would be a shot in the dark, very loud and impressive, but not always effective. In some cases, it will be much more efficient to use a local podcast or launch a cross-promotion activity with a bakery or a beauty shop to engage the narrow group of clients that are more likely to buy. Sometimes less is really more.
Always remember, that you are trying to communicate with your consumers and not just show off your product. People are more likely to choose you if they see that their interests and values are recognized. The best-case scenario is when your target audience is your brand’s ‘fan club’, a community that helps you improve by testing your product and giving feedback on it. Your brand’s social media accounts are the perfect ground for building such a community. You can also use data from socials and messengers as a basis for lookalike campaigns. A creative way of catching your customers’ attention and engaging them is implementing gamification in your marketing activities. Brands also raffle off tickets to meetings with their representatives and turn presentations into shows with the help of AR/VR elements. Some companies caught the trend wave by using NFT collections, that are all the rage in 2022, in marketing activities.
Target audience types
When developing a product, you mainly focus on those who are going to use it, but promotion requires a wider approach to the task of finding your target audience. The person buying it is not necessarily the end user, and marketers need to develop strategies taking into account everyone who might pay for the product or have an impact on the path to purchase.
Primary and secondary target audience
Marketing activities are directed at primary target audiences because they are most likely to buy. Secondary audience consists of those who might have some interest in what you offer, that is why targeting them is an efficient way to expand the reach of your campaign. The more potential buyers are drawn into your marketing funnel, the more sales you get. For example, if you sell educational software, your primary target audience is schools and online courses, and private tutors might be your secondary audience.
Who buys your product?
Knowing who impacts or makes decisions on the path to purchase is another key to successful marketing. Sometimes you should shift your attention from the product user to the decision maker, the person who chooses what to buy instead of them. For example, when it comes to personal care items for men, it’s quite often women who make purchases. Also it is parents that apply for a debit card for their underage kids. That is important information to take into account when developing creative messaging and choosing media channels.
Another scenario is when an individual doesn’t buy the product, but has a significant influence on the buyer. An obvious example is children asking their parents for toys or clothes with their favorite cartoon characters.
As you see, the path to purchase is not always straightforward, that is why you need to think about and address in the right way all parties that drive sales.
For example, if you sell a marketing tool for budget management, you need to make sure that you clearly describe the benefits and unique features of your product not only to marketers, who are going to use your tool, but also to CFOs and CEOs, who usually have a final say in the decision-making process. So you need to “speak their language”, talk about measurable financial results or management benefits, so that the product is understandable to the decision-makers.
7 ways to better identify your target audience
To get an accurate understanding of who your potential customers are you need to analyze tons of data on engagement with consumers, purchase trends, etc. The following tools and practices will help you optimize your targeted marketing:
- Analyze your customer base and use client interviews
Start with what you already have and try to find out as much as possible about the people who have bought from you: their age, interests, location. Learn if they prefer online or offline shopping, what marketing offers they are more likely to use. The easiest way to get this information is via customer surveys or by engaging on social media. Understanding your clients’ preferences will not only help you to improve customer experience, but also choose the optimal messaging and strategy to drive sales.
- Carry out market research and keep an eye on industry trends
Market research can help you see the customer needs that are probably not being met. Use such opportunities to fill the gap with your product. You should also analyze trends for similar products and constantly improve.
- Analyze competitors
How do your competitors work with their customer base, who are they targeting, what communication channels are they using? Understanding all of this may give you some new ideas on connecting with your potential clients. With a thorough analysis of your competitors you might also discover a niche in your business that is waiting to be filled.
- Use several marketing personas
Persona is a composite image and the majority of people it represents should recognize themselves in it. If your product targets a wide group of people, you need to segment them further according to their age, gender, hobbies or other relevant characteristics, to create messaging that appeals to each of them. From three to five personas is considered an optimal number. To create accurate personas, you need to analyze a lot of data on interaction with your customers, understand their pain points, values and lifestyle.
- Always update what you know
The more data you collect, the more accurately you can identify and reach your target audiences. With updated information you should constantly optimize your messages and activities.
- Use Google Analytics or mobile trackers like AppsFlyer
Before the recent changes, Google Analytics was a widely used source of data about people who visit your site. App trackers like AppsFlyer have the same function and are very helpful to marketers. They show what channels are more effective at driving your potential clients to your site or what type of content results in more engagement, which allows you to make data-driven decisions on media planning. But with IOS 14.5 rollout, using app trackers for Apple mobile devices became problematic and made user data collection more difficult. As for Google Analytics, its use is becoming limited in the cookieless world and in summer 2022 it was even banned in some European countries.
- Use DMP platforms
You can use your own DMP platform or rent one to collect and match data from CRM systems and categorize customers into segments. Then you pass this information on to media platforms to launch ad campaigns and lookalike campaigns. CRM data on pilot campaigns allows to get a more accurate target audience profile based on information like purchase size / frequency.
How to reach your target audience?
After identifying who you want to target, you need to understand what channels are the most effective for each specific group of customers. The following tools will help you with the task:
Media kits provided by publishers contain the key information about reached audience segments with a breakdown by necessary characteristics.
There are different audience measurement systems, like Nielsen in the USA, that can forecast the number of viewers for a certain TV show. When you include TV commercials in your media mix, it might be tempting to take prime time as a way to cover more people, but specialized shows may be a better choice as they are watched by your target audience.
Special measurement rules for billboards are used in OOH to measure the number of people that drive past a billboard. These audiences are further categorized into segments by using mobile app data.
Showing targeted ads on social media is a great way to reach people in a certain location or within a certain age group. Make sure to analyze the effectiveness of different socials and various types of advertising for your brand to take the most benefit from this type of promotion. Most social media are optimal for advertising B2C brands. And if you are a B2B company providing SaaS for media spend management, your target market includes CMOs and CFOs of large companies. The best way to reach your target audience is a LinkedIn campaign.
Influencer marketing on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, WeChat and other social media is a great tool to reach an audience interested in a specific topic like fitness, cooking, traveling, etc. Unlike industry publications, influencers have a more loyal audience and a deeper connection with them than a magazine. Brands also understand it, and this fact explains the rise of influencer marketing in 2022. By analyzing an influencer’s content you can understand if their followers are your potential customers. It’s a good idea to engage influencers with around 2000 followers, because they can gather a more loyal and focused audience. The way products are presented to the audience can resemble home shopping: an influencer on their online streams sell products and services to their audience. In some cases it’s less important to target the right audience for your product than to create demand for it. There is a well-known example of a Chinese influencer who sold $1.9 billion worth of lipsticks in one day only because the target audience – his followers and fans – love him.
Third party information
There are a number of marketing analytics tools that can evaluate your marketing performance and optimize it. With the right partner you can significantly simplify the media planning process and be sure that all the channels in your media mix reach the right audiences.
The right timing
DVR gave viewers an opportunity to skip the commercials, so it’s better to use slots at the end or beginning of a break. Live shows are an even better option, since more people are guaranteed to watch the ad. Today Programmatic TV is widely used, because it can automatically find cheap slots with the target audience you need and simplifies the procurement process.
Radio is a good way to reach local consumers, but sometimes it also covers neighboring areas that are not your target regions. Radio allows identifying time periods when listeners are stuck in traffic and are more likely to listen to the advertising.
Beyond target audiences
Even though all of the above are effective methods to improve your media plans, marketers should use other analytics tools to ensure a comprehensive approach to marketing strategy. Focusing only on one element may lead to missed opportunities. Marketing analytics tools are perfect for identifying areas in your marketing strategy that can be optimized. They allow you to identify an optimal media mix for maximizing your marketing ROI.
Some Media Mix AI tools can analyze how the same media plan with different channels works with different segments of your target audience. Such an analysis can show how advertising influences sales not just among young people aged 18-25, but also separately identify behavior patterns of 18 years-old first time buyers.