Knowing who you’re selling to is just as important as knowing what it is that you’re selling. And while you may think that you understand your target audience like the back of your hand, as strategies change and businesses grow, so do their audiences. Next thing you know, your ideal audience is no longer who you’re targeting, and you’re wondering why your marketing and sales efforts aren’t excelling the way they used to.

To stay on track, it’s important to regularly audit your buyer personas to make sure that who you think you’re selling to is accurate and aligned with your goals. Below, we’re going to go over the basics of why knowing your target audience is so essential — plus tips for figuring out exactly who they are.

Why You Need to Know Your Target Audience

Information is gold in marketing. You use data to track your successes, identify your not-so-successful-ventures, and inform future campaigns. You also use information to hone in on your prospects and identify the various behaviors that help dictate whether they’re likely to become a customer or not.

But of course, data doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To put all of that information into context, you need to have a basic understanding of the specific factors driving your findings. When it comes to your prospects, that usually means knowing their demographics, preferences, pain points, and so on.

Your target audience is the people who are most likely to purchase your product. The better you can identify them, the more effective you’ll pinpoint the data that matters and optimize your email campaigns for those key factors mentioned above.

Why Your Target Audience Might Change

There are a couple of big reasons why your target audience might change over time. Here are a few of them:

  • You expanded. If you added new products, features, or services to your lineup, then there’s a big chance you added new potential prospects as well.
  • Your audience is too narrow. It’s fine to start narrow, but as you grow your resources, you’ll have more opportunities to broaden your horizons and reach for additional prospect pools.
  • Your audience is too broad. On the opposite end, it’s also possible you started too broad and now need to narrow in your focus using the data you’ve gathered along the way.

Other possible reasons for a new target audience include tapping into demographics that you either didn’t previously consider as a target or realizing that certain people you thought would make good prospects are harder to convert than anticipated. In any case, it’s always a good idea to regularly hit the drawing board with your target audience and evaluate whether a change is in order.

Chat with your sales and marketing teams to see what kinds of people are entering your funnel. See who your sales team is reaching out to and engaging with most. Also, consult your support team to see who your best clients are. These will help you determine if your target audience is on point or needs adjusting.

How to Identify Your Target Audience

The best way to define your target audience is to ask (and answer) some questions about who your brand is, what you’re trying to achieve, and who you’re currently having the most success connecting with.

For example:

  • How would you define your current customers?
  • How would you define your best customers?
  • What does market research tell you about your customers?
  • What problem(s) does your product or service solve?
  • What is the demographic of your social media followers, particularly those who engage the most?
  • Who is your competition, and who are they targeting?

Answering these questions will help you move to the next step, putting together your buyer personas. These are succinct overviews of various “ideal” customers, particularly their core demographics, interests, and challenges.

Keep in mind that you’ll have multiple buyer personas since even a narrowly defined target audience will be made up of various types of people. Each buyer group should be represented by a fictional character that sums up the key features of that particular type of customer. That can be used for reference as you create content and allocate your ad spending.

Regularly check-in for updates to your target audience and personas. The answers to the questions above are going to evolve as your brand does. If you don’t evolve the characterization of your core audience with them, you’ll end up with inefficiency in your sales and marketing endeavors — plus a lot of missed opportunities.

So there you have it. By taking the time to define your target audience as best as you can, you take a big step toward successfully marketing your product or service. Data is your friend, especially when it’s backed by real-world efforts to substantiate and make use of everything you discover. Dig into trends around who your audience is and what they most respond to — the more you can understand about them, the more you’ll be able to make connections that count.