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How to find and engage your target audience

Team Asana contributor imageTeam Asana
January 9th, 2024
5 min read
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A target audience is a group of people with demographics and interests that align with your brand. Finding your target audience can help you ensure you’re delivering the right message to people most likely to purchase from you. In this article, learn how to customize your marketing plan to align with your target audience’s interests and improve sales.

Driving traffic to your site can increase brand awareness, but the ultimate goal is to encourage customers to make a purchase. To do that, you need to understand your target audience. 

Your target audience is a group of individuals who are likely interested in your product. To find this group, assess who your current customers are, as well as who you want your customers to be. Once you know your target audience, you can customize your customer relationship management (CRM) strategy to meet their needs.

What is a target audience?

A target audience is a group of people with demographics and interests that align with your brand. The purpose of marketing to a target audience is to focus your efforts and reach the groups that are most likely to buy.

Your company may have more than one target audience. For example, if you’re selling a software product to help businesses get organized, your target audience may be business executives, individuals working in the corporate world, andor entrepreneurs running their own business. When you market your product to each of these groups, you can increase your profitability.

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Target market vs. target audience vs. buyer personas

Many people confuse target market, target audience, and buyer personas. All three help you customize your marketing efforts and engage people more effectively. 

  • Target market is a broad identification of your buyer group.

  • Target audiences are segments of your target market. 

  • Buyer personas are fictional customer profiles that represent each target audience.

[inline illustration] Target market vs. target audience vs. buyer personas (infographic)

A company’s target audience will vary based on product offerings. For example, if your company sells multiple products, you may have a different target audience for each one. You’ll see better engagement when you segment your audiences and create buyer personas.

The purpose of defining your target market is to capture everyone who might buy your product, while the purpose of a target audience is to develop your marketing strategy for those who are most likely to purchase.

Why is it important to know your target audience?

Knowing your target audience can streamline efficiency. Instead of producing more assets to reach more people, focus on the quality of your assets and strive to reach a specific, smaller audience.

Knowing your target audience can:

  • Make keyword research easier

  • Reduce bounce rates on your website

  • Increase sales

  • Strengthen customer relationships

  • Increase customer satisfaction

Not everyone on the internet will be interested in your product. If you don’t customize your content, even customers that are interested may be less engaged. Instead, create custom material that meets your target audience’s needs. That way, they feel valued and inclined to make a purchase.

What components define a target audience?

You’ll define your target audience using physical and mental characteristics. To do this, you should consider who your current customers are and how they think. 

  • Demographics are statistical data that explain who your audience is.

  • Psychographics make up the group’s behaviors, interests, and thought processes. 

[inline illustration] Components that define your target audience (infographic)

Example demographics:

  • Age

  • Location

  • Gender

  • Relationship status

  • Occupation

  • Income level

Example psychographics:

  • Spending behavior

  • Values

  • Interests

  • Pain points

  • Expectations

Finding your target audience will require some generalizations. For example, for your target audience’s age, you may put, “Between the ages of 20 and 30.” For your target audience’s spending behavior, you may put, “Often careful when making purchases. Likely performs thorough research before deciding.”

How to identify your target audience

Now that you know what comprises a target audience, use the steps below to define yours. During this process, pull data from past sales and consider competitor audiences in your market in order to narrow down your ideal target audience.

1. Identify your customer base

Your customers are people who have purchased—or have been interested in—your product in the past. Use your website and social analytics to determine who engages with your brand most often. Then, explain who those people are by using demographics and psychographics. 

Questions to identify your customer base:

  • Are most customers within a specific age range?

  • Are your customers predominantly the same gender?

  • Can you identify a common occupation among your customers?

  • How do your customers behave when purchasing products?

You may not have data to pull from if you’re identifying your customer base before launching a product. In this case, assess who your ideal customer is and who’s most likely to buy your product. 

2. Conduct market research

To narrow down your target audience, use market research and analyze buying trends. Market research gives you insight into buyer behavior and interests, so you can understand what your customers are interested in—and why. Another way to conduct market research is to use search engine optimization (SEO) tools and statistics to identify trends among businesses or individuals 

Questions to ask during market research:

  • Whose needs and pain points does our product address?

  • Who is buying similar products on the market?

  • How do buyers for similar products behave?

For example, if you’re selling software that improves company organization, you may find research showing that most software as a service (SaaS) buyers have college degrees and are between the ages of 30 and 40. Once you understand that, you can assess your product's unique value proposition and see if it aligns with the needs of this group. 

4. Analyze your competitors

Once you’ve completed your market research, you should have a good understanding of who the end buyers are in your industry. But you also need to do some competitive analysis to understand who the end buyers are for your specific product. This will narrow your target audience down further since not everyone in the industry will also have a need or wish for the product you’re trying to sell.

To analyze your competitors, make a list of companies in your market, then ask:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors? 

  • Who are our closest competitors targeting?

  • Are competitors receiving high engagement from their audience?

  • How does our brand differ from competitors?

  • How will the differences in our brand affect our target audience?

After asking these questions, determine your competitive advantage. Maybe your product includes a new feature that solves an issue other products present, maybe you’re able to sell your product for cheaper than the competition—whatever it is that sets you apart from your competitors will be a key indicator in your product’s success.

Remember that even your closest competitors will differ slightly in their product offerings. Use these differences to hone in on who to engage. 

For example, one competitor may offer a simplified and lower-cost version of your product. Since your product is more complex and at a higher price point, your target audience will probably be in a higher income range.

Read: SWOT analysis: What it is and how to use it (with examples)

5. Get specific

Use the information you’ve gathered from current and past customers, the market, and close competitors to specify who your target audience is. While you may have more than one target audience, get specific with each group so you can successfully reach them. 

If your audience insights are:

  • Past customer data shows you that corporate men and women make up your current customer base.

  • Market research shows you that most SaaS buyers are in their 30s and 40s and have a college degree.

  • Competitive analysis shows you that your product meets the needs of individuals with higher incomes.

Then your target audience could be:

  • Men and women between the ages of 30 and 40 with at least a college degree and incomes above $50,000 per year.

Once you know the demographic information for your target audience, perform additional market research on how this subset of people behaves. Find out what social media platforms they’re most active on, what trends they like and dislike, or what kind of humor they enjoy. All of these details may help you create marketing strategies that cater specifically to your target audience and make them interested in your product.

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Target audience examples

The target audience examples below show you how buyer groups differ based on the brand and product. Defining your target market can make it easier to pinpoint your target audience.

[inline illustration] Target audience (example)

1. SaaS company

  • Product: CRM software

  • Target market: B2B executives

  • Target audience: Tech-savvy HR managers under age 50

2. Publishing company

  • Product: Romance novel

  • Target market: Women who read

  • Target audience: Well-educated, single women between the ages of 20 and 50

3. Athletic wear company

  • Product: Running shoes

  • Target market: Athletes who run regularly

  • Target audience: Health-conscious, upper-middle-class men in their 20s and 30s

Find your target audience to engage customers

Customize your marketing message for your target audience to improve the customer experience. Base your message on the in-depth market research you conducted so it resonates with the people you’re trying to reach.

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