What It Is & How to Define It for Your Business



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What Is a Target Audience?

A target audience is a specific group of people most likely to be interested in your products or services.

They share common demographic and psychographic traits. Like age, gender, income, interests, challenges, and goals.

For example, a target audience for a high-end fashion brand might be affluent women between the ages 25 and 40 who are interested in luxury goods. 

They might have a high disposable income. And want to look and feel stylish and sophisticated.

You need to know your target audience.

So you can focus your marketing efforts on the right people. And generate sales.

In this guide, we’ll cover how you can find your target audience, reach them, and convert them into customers.

But first, some basics.

Why Should You Define Your Target Audience?

If you think everyone will buy your products or services, think again. Not everyone will buy what you offer.

That’s why defining who is likely to buy is important.

Plus, you can’t ignore the need to know the target audience for your marketing strategies.

Getting clarity on your target audience can benefit the following areas of your marketing and more:

  • Copywriting: How should you describe your offers to attract and convert your target audience?
  • Content marketing: What blog posts, videos, and podcasts should you create to attract your target audience?
  • Email marketing: What specific messaging should you use in your email campaigns?
  • Social media marketing: Which platforms are most important to be present and active on? 
  • Pay-per-click (PPC): Where should you spend your dollars? And what targeting options should you utilize?
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Which keyword phrases represent your target audience’s needs and interests (meaning you should target them)?

Researching and understanding your target audience profile is the first step of any marketing campaign.

Target Audience vs. Target Market

The terms “target audience” and “target market” are often used interchangeably. But they do have slightly different meanings.

Target audience refers to a specific group of people most likely to be interested in a particular product or service.

Target market, on the other hand, refers to the broader group of people a company is trying to reach with its products or services.

Target market includes not only the target audience, but also other groups of people who may be interested in your products or services.

For example, the target market for a high-end fashion brand might include not only the affluent women in the target audience, but also their parents, friends, and family members who may purchase gifts for them.

How to Define Your Target Audience

To paint a clear picture of your target audience, you’ll need to gather the following information:

  • Age: You don’t need to be too specific about it. But knowing the age bracket of your audience can be very useful.
  • Gender identity: Is your target audience mostly men? Or mostly women? Understanding the gender breakdown can help you tailor your messaging and marketing approach.
  • Income: Knowing the income range of your target audience can give you an idea about how they might approach purchases in your price category.
  • Location: This helps you figure out which geographic areas to target
  • Challenges: Understanding the pain points of your target audience can help you create messaging they relate to
  • Interests: Understanding the interests and hobbies of your target audience can help you create marketing campaigns that resonate with their passion and motivation
  • Goals: By knowing what your audience wants to achieve, you can tailor your messaging to appeal to their specific needs and aspirations

Tip: You can also go one step further and gather extra details, such as occupation, level of education, marital status, and blogs or websites they visit.

Let’s look at the research methods you can use to gather all the details about your target audience. 

1. Internal Data Analysis

Use your internal analytics data to get a detailed understanding of your target audience.

The best thing about using internal data is that it’s real user data. So you’re not making random assumptions.

Consider the following internal data sources for analysis:

  • Google Analytics 4 (GA4) data
  • Social media analytics data
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) data
  • Past campaign performance data

As an example, let’s use GA4 to understand audience demographics.

Navigate to “Reports”> “Demographics” > “Overview.” 

You’ll see a breakdown of your website’s audience by country:

Age group:

Age group overview

Gender:

Gender overview

And languages:

Languages overview

Review the data and feed it into your audience profile.

2. Interviews

Interviews allow for direct discussion between you and your target audience.

In interviews, you can ask your customers directly about their specific interests, goals, and challenges.

There are two main interview styles:

  1. Structured interview: You prepare your list of questions in advance so your discussion can remain focused 
  2. Unstructured interview: You engage in a free-flowing conversation with your audience

No matter which style you opt for, remember your goal is to get as much information about your audience as possible.

As for how to conduct interviews, you can conduct them in person or over a video call.

Here’re some example questions for inspiration:

  • What are the main issues you face with X?
  • What do you value most about X? 
  • What do you want to achieve with X?
  • What books, blogs, conferences, social media, videos, etc., do you consume?

3. Surveys

If conducting interviews is not possible for some reason, surveys can work, too.

Use tools like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and Typeform to create online surveys.

Then distribute them in a variety of ways, including email, website pop-ups, and social media.

Analyze the responses.

And then use the insights you gain to build up your audience profile. 

You can also use social media polls to learn customers’ thoughts and preferences.

Here’s an example of a poll Semrush conducted on LinkedIn:

Semrush poll on Linkedin

4. Competitor Audience Research

You and your direct competitors often share the same target audience. Or at least a really similar one.

So getting insights about your competitors’ target audiences could help you define your own.

Semrush’s One2Target tool can help you uncover your competitors’ audience’s demographic, socioeconomic, and psychographic data.

Let’s use Ikea as an example to see what we can learn about their audience.

Open the tool, enter the domain, and hit “Analyze.” 

One2Target tool analyze

You’ll get a complete overview of your competitor’s target audience.

In the “Demographics” tab, you’ll find a breakdown of their audience by age and sex:

Demographics tab

And the countries they come from:

Countries overview

In the “Socioeconomics” tab, you’ll find their audience’s income and household size:

Socioeconomics tab

Employment status:

Employment status overview

And education level:

Audience education level overview

Lastly, in the “Behavior” tab, you’ll see their audience’s interests and most-used devices:

Behavior tab

And most-used social media platforms:

Most-used social media platforms overview

Looking at the data, here are some key insights we can derive from Ikea’s target audience example:

  • The majority of Ikea’s audience is male
  • Most of the audience falls into the 25-to-34 age bracket
  • The majority of Ikea’s audience works full-time, and they fall into the middle- or low-income level
  • 48.77% of the audience has a university or postgraduate degree
  • Ikea’s audience is mostly on mobile and is interested in online services and mass media
  • Ikea’s audience uses YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram as their primary social media platforms

All this audience information will also help you if you’re competing with Ikea. 

How to Reach Your Target Audience

After you find your target audience, your goal is to reach them and convert them into customers.

Use different marketing channels to accomplish this.

Let’s look at several channels you can use to effectively reach your audience.

Organic search is all about ranking in non-paid, organic listings that appear on the search engine results page (SERP).

Paid vs organic results

Organic search is arguably the most cost-effective way to get in front of your target audience.

To rank organically, you need to focus on your SEO strategy.

That’s a big part of where we invest our efforts here at Semrush. And the hard work is paying off.

We get an estimated 4.7 million monthly organic traffic to our site, according to Semrush’s Domain Overview tool.

Semrush’s Domain Overview

To succeed with this channel, you’ll need to do keyword research, create quality content, optimize content for on-page SEO elements, build backlinks, and follow technical SEO best practices.

Pros:

  • SEO traffic has a compounding effect
  • Caters to all stages of the marketing funnel
  • Increases brand visibility
  • Grows sales without ad spend 

Cons:

  • Ranking high in search engines takes time
  • It’s challenging to do well
  • Rankings for some keywords can be really competitive

2. Social Media

Billions of people around the world use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. That makes them an ideal place for businesses to reach their target audience.

While you can promote your products or services directly on these platforms, your target audience will likely be using these platforms for entertainment and/or education.

So think of these networks as a place to build relationships, share expertise and experiences, and help your audience.

To do all of that, you need to create a solid content strategy. 

Read our guide to social media content strategy to get started.

Pros:

  • Allows for direct interaction with your audience
  • Helps with customer support
  • Opportunity to tap into a massive audience
  • Can increase brand loyalty 

Cons:

3. YouTube

With over 2.1 billion users worldwide, YouTube is the world’s most popular video platform.

Lots of companies are using this platform to connect with their target audience.

Take ClickUp, a project management tool, as an example.

Some of their videos have racked up millions of views.

That’s because they’re entertaining and use fun skits to captivate viewers’ attention.

Youtube video thumbnail

This approach can be successful. But it may not be for everyone.

So another option is to create educational content (e.g., tutorials, how-to videos, etc.).

Many companies have seen great success and acquired lots of customers by putting out educational videos.

Semrush is a great example of this.

We post lots of educational videos on our YouTube channel. Like our video about social media marketing strategies: 

Youtube video thumbnail

If you haven’t yet pulled the trigger when it comes to YouTube, read our guide on how to start and promote a YouTube channel to get started.

Pros:

  • Watching a video is an interactive experience for people
  • Videos can be repurposed on various platforms
  • Videos can make your brand become popular very quickly if they go viral

Cons:

  • Can be quite resource-heavy (equipment, people, dedicated studio, etc.)
  • For newcomers, it will take a while to get traction and build an audience

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when companies partner with publishers (like popular blogs or influencers) to market their products or services to their target audience.

Company spending on affiliate marketing hit $8.2 billion in the U.S. in 2022, according to Statista. So it’s clearly one of the most popular choices for companies that want to reach their target audience.

Let’s look at an affiliate marketing example in action.

This article from Wirecutter, a popular review site, lists the best bed pillows and links out to retailer websites. Where people can buy the listed products.

Wirecutter article

If we look at the article’s stats in Semrush’s Domain Overview tool, we see that it receives an estimated 33.1K monthly organic traffic.

Organic search traffic highlighted

No doubt, some people reading this article buy the listed products. Which adds to the bottom line of those companies.

Then those companies, in turn, pay publishers (in this case, Wirecutter) a fixed commission for every sale they helped generate.

In short, that’s how affiliate marketing works.

But how do you start with affiliate marketing to reach your target audience?

You can register with affiliate networks like ShareASale, GiddyUp, and ClickBank.

These networks act as middlemen. They connect you with relevant publishers so you can partner with them.

Pros:

  • Performance-based; no upfront costs involved
  • Can bring people who are interested in your products or services to your site

Cons:

  • Can damage your brand’s reputation if you partner with the wrong affiliate sites
  • Limited control over quality and tone of publisher’s content, which can impact your brand image

5. Podcasts

An estimated 3 million podcasts are active today. And there are over 300 million podcast listeners worldwide.

There are three ways to reach your target audience with podcasts:

  1. Create your own podcast
  2. Sponsor a popular podcast whose audience is relevant to your business
  3. Get interviewed on popular podcasts in your niche 

If you create a brand new podcast, growing an audience from scratch can take a while.

So, if you have a budget, it’s probably best to sponsor someone else’s podcast.

That’s what Shopify and others did on The Tim Ferriss Show.

The Tim Ferriss Show podcast

Plus, podcasters are always on the lookout for interesting people to interview.

But you don’t need to be a celebrity for this.

Do you have extensive experience in a particular field? And are willing to provide value in an interview? Then you’ve got what it takes.

All you have to do is reach out to podcasters and pitch yourself as a guest.

Pros:

  • Great for brand awareness
  • Can be more engaging than written content
  • Can enhance your brand’s image by associating it with the content and values of the podcast, which can help build trust and credibility with your audience.

Cons:

  • ROI may be hard to measure
  • Risk of unwanted brand associations if you sponsor the wrong podcasts
  • For newcomers creating their own podcasts, it takes time to get traction and build an audience

6. Email Marketing

Email marketing helps you reach your target audience directly in their inbox.

Semrush is living proof that email marketing works.

We regularly send newsletters and promotional emails to our subscribers. And we get thousands of visitors to our website that way.

Black Friday offer email stats

But building an email list takes time. 

To get started, start using email opt-in forms offering lead magnets like ebooks, case studies, and free templates on your website.

Or collect your customers’ emails when they make a purchase. With their permission, of course.

We’ve spent years growing our email list, and now have tens of thousands of subscribers who look forward to reading our newsletter.

If you haven’t yet run any email marketing campaigns, the best time to start is right now.

Read our guide to email marketing to get started.

Pros:

  • Emails can be personalized
  • Can reach large number of people instantly
  • Can be cost-effective
  • Easy to measure

Cons:

  • Takes time to build an email list
  • Lots of compliance and legal issues surround email marketing (GDPR, CAN-SPAM, etc.)

7. Online Advertising

Online advertising involves paying for ads to reach and attract your target audience.

Search engines, websites in ad networks, and social media channels all represent a great opportunity to get exposure with ads.

Online advertising typically has two main goals: brand awareness and conversions.

But you can’t just blindly throw money into ads and expect to generate sales.

A lot of factors go into running successful ad campaigns.

Read our guide to online advertising to get started.

Pros:

  • Covers every stage of the marketing funnel
  • Low barrier to entry
  • Easy to measure
  • Allows for precise targeting
  • Easy to scale

Cons:

  • Ads can be expensive
  • Lots of competition
  • People often get tired of seeing the same advertisement repeatedly

Define and Reach Your Target Audience with Semrush

Marketing without a target audience in mind is a gamble. 

You can spend a lot of time and effort trying to get everyone to buy into your brand, but some people will never be the right fit.

By identifying your target audience, you can focus your marketing efforts on the right people.

But to get the best results from your marketing efforts, you’ll need data and target audience insights.

That’s where Semrush comes in.

Semrush offers a suite of online marketing tools that give you both data and insights about your target audience.

Sign up for free!

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