As I begin working with a client, one of the first questions I ask them is to who their target audience is. While many people do know exactly it is who they are selling to, many people aren’t so sure. They might say everyone, or people that are local, perhaps the general public. Unfortunately, these answers aren’t very helpful.
The purpose of identifying and understanding your target audience is so that you can plan, design, and develop a website with a marketing strategy that converts your visitors into paying customers.
When you target “everyone”, you target no one. It simply does not work. Every business and industry has a target demographic who has the highest probability of purchasing that product or service. That’s not to say that people outside of your target market won’t sometimes buy from you, but rather that these are the most likely people to buy from you, and, hence, the ones who you should cater your digital strategy towards.
What’s the point?
When you clearly understand the demographics and interests of the customers who are most likely engage with your content, buy from you, or hire you, you can strategically craft their experience of your website in a way that leads them to naturally take the next step.
- A vegan restaurant that sells meat substitutes has a specific target audience. The target is going to be vegan, vegetarians, and veganish restaurant-goers. The meat enthusiast is probably never going to go there unless they’re forced to. That’s not who they’re marketing to. Rather they are marketing to people who may still miss the taste or people who are interested in transitioning. They may even be marketing to the vegan who wants to drag their meat-eating family to a restaurant.
- A composer who sells the rights to perform his music, or who contracts his work also has a niche target audience. It could be schools looking for scores to perform, or perhaps someone looking to hire a composer for a specific purpose. While they want to share their music with the public and are happy when the public buys from them, this is not who they primarily cater their website to.
- Lots of companies sell B2B services. In this case, the general public is excluded from their target audience.
How does this relate to my website?
Different target audiences will use your website in different ways. In order to make a website that’s truly a strategic asset to your business, you must understand how your target audience uses it.
If you’re target is Millenials, then your website must be completely mobile friendly. It’s got to load fast and be formatted correctly on mobile, otherwise they’ll just find someone else instead. Odds are people from this demographic will look at your website first on their mobile device, opposed to their desktop computer.
Whereas if your targeting senior citizens with your product or service, then you should opt for a simpler design that’s optimized for the desktop. The text needs to be easily readable, and the design needs to not be too hectic.
If you’re marketing to business owners, then you require a website with a professional air. It can’t look like you did it yourself (unless you’re a web designer of course).
If you offer specialized services, then your website must demonstrate your expertise. You need to appear trustworthy, so people trust you to do a good job.
How can I determine who my audience is?
If you’ve been in business for awhile, you probably have a pretty good sense what kind of person is most likely to become your customer. But if you don’t already know this, then it’s imperative that you find out. You can hire a market research company or consult your Google Analytics and Facebook analytics to break down the traffic by demographics.
There’s several questions you should ask when identifying your target audience:
- What is your main offering?
- Who benefits most from it?
- What are the struggles they have that you can ameliorate?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be able to quickly determine who is most likely to buy from you. While you might have a general sense, it’s often in your best interest to do additional research so you more fully understand them.
Can I target two audiences?
You can try, but in all honesty, it will be hard. If you’re running advertisements, then you can create landing pages distinctly for each audeince. But otherwise, it will be hard to balance the design to different audiences. More likely than not, you’ll end up dilluting your messaging and your website will perform worse than it would if you really focused in on appealing to one audience well.
Regardless, if you’re interested in having your business succeed online, you must determine who your audience is, what they need, and how you can best satisfy their needs if you want a websites that performs as a strategic asset to your business.