One of the most crucial aspects of any effective marketing strategy is the ability to reach your target audience. However, this is often easier said than done. Even experienced marketers make the mistake of not identifying who their audience is before they release an ad or start a campaign, which can significantly lower the return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel.
Below, I discuss the importance of developing key insights about your target audience that allow you to understand more about who they are and how to reach them. The lesson? The foundation of successful marketing strategy is marketing research.
First, what is a target audience?
All companies have a product or service that they hope to sell, either to other businesses or to private consumers. A target audience is a group who you’re trying to sell your product or service to. The purpose of marketing is to reach that group and give them a reason to buy what your business is selling.
In order to reach your target audience, however, you have to understand their motivations and habits as they pertain to your product. The idea of a target audience is abstract until you start to develop insights about the groups that shop for products and services like the ones you’re attempting to sell.
With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, it’s even harder to demystify and break down the intricate nuances of customers to launch highly targeted marketing campaigns. Most businesses aren’t even sure what GDPR is and why they should care. After all, the better you know the specific groups of people who buy your product, the better you can reach them. But how do businesses find this information?
The process of creating a profile for your target audience starts with an educated guess. For example, if you own a shoe brand, who do you think buys running shoes? You could hypothesize that runners are the broad audience for your brand, and while it seems obvious, this is the first step toward creating a persona for your customers.
But simply marketing to runners won’t be as effective as narrowing down your audience. Maybe your running shoes are more appealing to a trendier group of runners, meaning that your audience may consist of younger shoppers. Or, maybe your running shoes are more expensive than your competitors’, giving your brand a reputation for luxury.
For marketers, the answers to these questions — and similar queries — hold the key to a successful marketing strategy. How do you get these answers? Through marketing research.
What is marketing research?
Marketing research is the practice of using data and insights to learn more about your customers and better target your marketing efforts in order to increase ROI on marketing campaigns.
Effective marketing research doesn’t have to take any specific form; rather, you can use the techniques that fit best with your business model. Here are some examples of both simple and advanced marketing research techniques that accomplish the same goal of giving marketers crucial information that they need to build effective marketing strategies:
Example 1: A Google Survey
Google Surveys provide a simple way to get responses to key questions from real people to derive insights about the people that are and aren’t part of your target audience. Start with your broadest understanding of the population you’re trying to target, and then use the questions in a Google survey to develop a deeper understanding of the parts of that population that you’d be best served by targeting.
Example 2: Data-Driven Analytics
In the past, surveys and case studies were the primary ways to collect information about your target audience. With the data at your fingertips in the modern research arena, it’s so much easier to learn key insights about the people who you should be targeting with your marketing campaigns.
Analytics can show you who is visiting your page, who is staying on your domain and which keywords are used in searches that show users your ads and landing pages. You can even see people who visit your pages on Facebook and then learn about the other pages they visit to understand their interests and motivations.
Here’s the bottom line.
The importance of having in-depth knowledge of the customers that make up your target audience is the difference between a marketing strategy that works and one that doesn’t. Luckily, with effective marketing research, you can derive the audience insights you need to make every marketing dollar you spend go farther.