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Defining a Target Audience for your Content Marketing Strategy

Sophie Thompson
16th December 2020
defining your target audience

Knowledge is power. When it comes to your content marketing strategy, the reality is that you cannot do it all. You need to narrow things down to what’s going to be most effective. And that means having accuracy regarding your target audience and what content they’ll respond to.

With insight into your audience, you can then focus your digital content marketing strategy to its greatest effect. The knowledge of your audience informs everything you do. When you do this, you’re more likely to convert your audience into customers.

What is a target audience?

A marketing target audience is the defined set of people that you want to capture and engage with your content marketing activity. They are the people that you genuinely believe and understand are likely to become paying customers. With this target group, you can refine a content marketing strategy that really works and offers excellent ROI.

Your target audience will have certain characteristics in common. Specifically, they will have similar demographics. They will likely have similar professional backgrounds (especially in terms of B2B marketing). Their needs will be largely aligned with one another. They aren’t exactly a homogenous group, but they definitely have stark similarities.

Fundamentally, a target audience is specific. It’s not enough to use a broad umbrella, such as Millennials. You need to drill down to the group that’s the bullseye of the target. This is important or your marketing message will be too woolly or broad for anyone to actually get on board with.

Instead, you need to hone in on the finer details. This will include key information such as geographical location. Then you’ll further refine it by identifying demographics including age, gender, education, income, language and profession. You may then go even further to consider lifestyle factors and personality traits.

Finding your target audience

Why is your target audience important?

Understanding your target audience allows you to formulate your digital content marketing strategy with greater chances of success, precisely because you can meet the needs of that audience. You can’t expect to catch everyone at once.

With a targeted audience strategy, your business can get your message across to the people that matter most. You can ensure you appeal to the right people, coaxing them to convert into customers.

It makes sense that this is a cost-effective way of approaching social media marketing. Campaigns may well be smaller, but because they are focused, they are more profitable in the long-run and a way of keeping loyal customers.

How to discover your target audience

The best place to start is by understanding your existing audience or customer base.

Some good demographics to start considering are:

  • Age: Go for a slightly broader band, rather than a specific number. It is the other demographic factors which will then narrow things down to define your marketing target audience. So, identifying a generation here is fine - for example, 18-30.

  • Stage of life: From age, you can begin to understand what stage of life they are in. Are they single, career-builders, or parents, for example? It allows us to get more about a person and their needs.

  • Geographic location: Where is your audience? Are they all based in one location, or time zone? Your content marketing strategy will need to tie up in terms of timings and your audience location.

  • Language: Don’t make assumptions, find out what their primary language is and why.

  • Income: How much do those in your content marketing audience earn? What is their spending power? Do they have disposable income that allows you to sell to them easily?

  • Spending patterns: How do these individuals spend? Are they researchers, only spending after lots of homework? Are they impulsive?

  • Needs and challenges: What are the barriers that these people face? What are their pain points and needs that you can address?

  • Personalities: Are there some other common elements amongst your existing audience? Do they have hobbies in common, or engage with other brands?

B2B marketers need to go a step further. They also need to try and identify the business behind the individual. They want to look at:

  • Type: Look at the industry and the niche of this business.

  • Size: Do you attract start-ups or corporates, or a different business type?

  • Decision-makers: Who makes the buying decisions? Is your audience the CEO or someone else?

With this information, you can build some clearly defined buyer personas and begin to define their needs.

How do you find this target audience information?

Finding out your target audience

When it comes to figuring out who your marketing target audience is from your existing audience, the best place to look is at your analytics tool, going through each platform one by one. Of course, this gives you some valuable information alone – which platforms your audience use and how they use them.

You may also have access to information from your CRM system, which can give you some insight, but do remember that this isn’t specifically related to social media.

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes can be used in social posts. These are simply a piece of code that gets added to a post which means you can find out where your audience is coming from and some information about them. They tie in with Google Analytics and allows you to see the demographics of who is engaging with you on social media.

You can also put your ear to the ground and doo some social listening. Monitor how hashtags and relevant keywords are used to find out how you’re talked about online, and also how competitors are talked about.

Speaking of your competition, they are a useful source of information too. It’s worth learning from your competitors as it can help save you time and effort, as you can build on ideas they’ve already brought to life. Do they have any segments which you haven’t considered yet? Are they positioning themselves as you would expect them to? You can use tools such as Buzzsumo to get this information.

How to use your target audiences to plan content

Armed with knowledge of your content marketing audience, you’re ready to work on a winning content marketing strategy.

You can now target content and ads more specifically. You’ll want to consider things like lookalike audience targeting, A/B testing and refining your approach over time to get the best and most accurate outcomes. Your strategy won’t be set in stone, but as you come to understand your audience better, it can adapt. For example, you’ll begin to learn which types of content get the greatest engagement and play to your strengths based on that.

Knowledge is power and that applies with absolute certainty to your audience. So define them first and then move onto your strategy later.

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