Part of digital marketing best practices is defining a target audience. As a digital marketing company, we’ve learned that this is pretty much a non-negotiable. Generalization is the worst thing any brand can hope for, and a digital marketing plan that tries to cater to everyone is a plan that’s doomed to fail.
Specificity is key to successful marketing. If you aren’t targeting anyone, the chances of people actually buying your product are greatly compromised, because people won’t buy a product that doesn’t seem tailored or targeted specifically for them.
Your digital marketing strategy should therefore be guided by your target audience. And you can define this target audience with three simple steps:
1. Study Your Current Customers
If you want to know who to sell to, look at the people you’ve already sold to. There’s a reason these customers—especially the repeat ones—decided to purchase you product-slash-offer. Once you identify the common characteristics of most (if not all) of the individuals in your current consumer base, you can then use these elements to build and define your target audience.
Of course, there’s always a chance that you won’t have a lot of existing information to go off on, especially if you don’t have a consistent data capture system. But even then, don’t worry; you’re just after averages, after all, and some information is better than none.
Here are some basic data points that will prove useful:
- Age (or age range)
- Spending Power/Pattern
If you have enough data on your consumers to get an average for any of the above points, you’re off to a good start.
2. Utilize Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube have a handy feature called analytics, which can easily be accessed by account owners and managers. Analytics—as the name might imply—are basically data that the platform itself manages to capture and analyze regarding an account’s activity; posting patterns, general post engagement, and—most importantly—general subscribers/followers information.
Because these social media analytics are automatically calculated, in-depth, and often more extensive than your typical data capture system, most any digital marketing company can use them to fill in the gaps of their existing consumer data in order to further define their target market.
Since people readily put their information on their social media accounts—and explicitly give Facebook permissions to note said info when allowable—social media analytics are often very detailed and very accurate. These analytics can give you information regarding the age, gender, language, location, and spending power/pattern of people other than your current customers. For instance:
- Potential Leads—people who have not yet purchased anything from you but have visited your page multiple times
- Stale Leads—people who bought something from you once, but that was a long time ago OR people who have interacted with your brand before, a long time ago, but never bought anything
- Warm Leads—people who haven’t bought anything from you but actively follow you and consistently interact/engage with your brand
3. Check Your Competitors’ Market
If customers are buying products from your competitors, then those customers should—ideally—buy products from you, too. After all, you’re selling roughly the same thing your competitors are selling, right? That’s why they’re your competitors.
Sample scenario: you’re selling organic lip scrubs. So is Company A. Customer Jane has been buying lip scrubs from Company A for five years now. They work well, but she’s getting bored of the color and finish options that company A offers. There’s not much variety. So she decides to search Google for recommendations.
If you recognize Customer Jane is part of your target market, then your digital marketing strategy has already accounted for her. Your website, social media posts, and branded content are optimized to attract her.
So she finds you among the recommended brands, and she’s intrigued. Best case scenario? She loves the color and finish variations of your lip scrubs, decides to give them a try, and realizes that your lip scrubs are her new holy grail.
Obviously this is an oversimplified scenario, but you get the point. Just because they’re already your competitor’s customers, doesn’t mean they can’t be your potential consumers.
Take a look at the people buying your competitor’s products and try to draw information from them as best as you can. You won’t be able to gather in-depth information, but you can at least observe from afar and draw your best educated conclusions.
Try using questions to guide your market research here. For instance: why did they find your competitors and not you? How are your competitors positioning themselves? Is there a definite difference between your competitor’s existing customers and your current consumer base? Do they have different motivations?
Finding the similarities and differences between their market and your market will help you further build and define your target.
Practically any digital marketing company with more than a years’ worth of experience knows how important a target audience is. Without a clearly defined persona to market to, most any digital marketing strategy will fall flat. Think of it like archery; if you can’t see the target, all your arrows are flying wild. Building a target audience, though complicated and exhaustive, will yield incredible marketing—and sales—results in the long run.