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A beginner’s guide to target audiences

Explanations and examples of how to segment your target audiences 

Every business is dependent on customers who are interested in what they have to offer, so it’s crucial to make sure that your branding and marketing speaks to your customers in a way that they can relate to. This is where target audiences come in.  

In this article, we will take a closer look at: 

  • What a target audience is 
  • What it means to segment a target audience 
  • Different ways you can segment your target audiences 

We will also provide concrete tips and examples you can use in your work to define your target audiences. Let’s get to it!  

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What is a target audience?

In marketing, a target audience is the group of people you want to sell your goods or services to. Your ideal customers, simply put. Although your customers can be seen as one large group overall, not all your customers will have the same profile. 

When we work with target audiences, we divide our customer group into diverse groups based on preferences, or segments. This task can be done in many ways. We will look more closely at common ways to divide customers into groups, so you can get an idea of what suits you and your business. 

Why are target audiences important?

Your customer group consists of people with different needs, characteristics, and behaviours. What tempts one to buy may not necessarily tempt another. Therefore, it is wise to group customers into different target audiences, where each target audience has common traits we can base our work on when working with branding, communication, and sales. 

Target audiences are important precisely because they help you get insight into the measures you can take to adapt your website and your marketing to attract more potential customers. These measures can be, for example: 

  • Making the most valuable information for your target audience easily accessible on your website. This is also one of many measures that also help you strengthen your SEO.
  • Taking a fresh look at your website design and updating it according to the target audience’s preferences. If you choose a website with Website Builder at one.com, you get access to over 140 adjustable templates with design choices that are already targeted towards different target audience. These can be easily adjusted to customise the design for your business.
  • Starting a blog where you write posts about the topics, questions, and thoughts that your target audience is most concerned with. 
  • If you have an online shop, you can base your product categories on your target groups and get clued in to what is important to mention when you write product descriptions.

Target audiences are clearly an important part of your branding and both traditional and digital marketing. You should set aside the time to become an expert on what target audiences are and how you can adapt this. After reading this article, you will be well on your way! 

Segmenting target audiences

A segment is a part of a market and means a way to divide the market. When we work with target audiences, we look at different segments. Since your customers have different needs, characteristics, and behaviours, your products and services or your communication and marketing will also have different effects on your customers. 

A target audience can be narrow or broad, depending on what type of business you have, what goods or services you sell, how many different people shop with you, and how specific you are when segmenting your target audiences. 

The purpose of segmenting a target audience

Segmenting target audiences aims to divide your customer group into groups with similar traits. These similarities can be used to tailor products, services, communication, and marketing to increase conversions and strengthen your brand.  

Example: If you own a store that sells ski equipment, your target audience are going to be people who ski. This is an extremely broad target audience, so we need to look more closely.  

If you sell ski equipment suitable for beginners, as well as other equipment that is more commonly used by experienced skiers, your target audience suddenly splits into two: beginners who are going out skiing for the first time, and experienced skiers. This is also a form of psychographic segmentation of the target audience, which you can read more about later in the article. 

Furthermore, you might also have ski equipment in various sizes. For example, you might have sizes suitable for children, youth, and adults. It might well be that the customer who comes in to buy ski equipment for their children has a completely different profile from the customer who comes in to buy for an adult. These two customers thus belong to two different target audiences. 

Later in the article, we will look more at how many target audiences and how many segments it might be wise to group the target audience into, as there is a fine balance here. First, we will take a deep dive into the segments it is most common to group target audiences into. 

4 common ways to segment a target audience

As we’ve seen already, our customer group will consist of several people with different needs, characteristics, and behaviours. Therefore, it is wise to group customers into different target audiences, where each target audience has common traits that we can base our branding, communication, and sales work on.  

Here are 4 of the most common segments we look at when we define target audiences: 

1. Demographics

A demographic target audience is a target audience that is grouped within segments such as: 

  • Age 
  • Gender 
  • Marital status 
  • Occupation 
  • Education 
  • Income 

Demographics are the most common aspect to analyse when defining your target audience. It’s also the data that is often the easiest to obtain. 

Example: Let us take a closer look at the “age” segment. Imagine you have a store that sells sunglasses. Sunglasses typically have a customer base with a wide age range. 

You are planning a campaign for two eyewear brands, Brand A and B. You know that Brand A is most liked by people between 25-34 years old, while Brand B is preferred by those between 60-69 years old. 

We know that people in the 25-34 age group shops the most online, while those between 60-69 years often prefer to shop in physical stores (although this age group is also increasingly shopping online). This might indicate, among many other things, that Brand A is best sold through your online store, while Brand B is best sold in your physical location, if you have one. 

Further research could also give you indications on the optimal design of product categories, which products should be promoted, which types of campaigns are best suited, and which marketing platforms the different age groups are on. 

Demographic data about your target audience can be collected in several ways, including using Google Analytics, or through statistics from email campaigns and platforms you market in. You can also collect general demographic statistics about the population at Statista.  

2. Geography

A geographic target audience is based on where the people in your target audience live. This can be:  

  • The entire world 
  • A country – for example, all cities and towns in the UK 
  • A city – for example, Brighton 
  • Specific postal codes 

Let us take a closer look at how geographic segmentation can affect your marketing. 

Global

If your business sells goods and services to the entire world, your customers’ geographical position is an especially useful factor to consider. If, for example, you sell clothes, the warm knitted sweaters you sell will get more attention in colder regions like Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Canada than they will in warm countries like Thailand, Brazil, and India. 

Knowing which countries your customers come from can also help you adapt communication and marketing activities to the cultures, preferences, and attitudes that are representative of the place your customers are located. 

A single country

With a business that is based only in the UK, it can also be useful to know which cities and towns your target audience belongs to. To take a typical example, one can imagine that rainwear will sell best in Manchester, while knitted sweaters may be most popular in Scotland.

A city

Knowing where your target group lives in the city can give you insights into their profile, daily challenges, and lifestyle. 

Example: Let us say you own a company that provides security solutions. One of the target groups are people who live right in the downtown area, while another lives in towns a little outside the city centre.  

People who live downtown often reside in apartments with integrated security solutions, while those in towns with detached houses might have a greater need for additional security products. Thus, the company has two target groups with different geographic needs. 

3. Psychographics

Psychography is a term in marketing that is based on psychological attributes. In psychographic segmentation of the target audience, we look at individuals’: 

  • Interests 
  • Values
  • Lifestyle
  • Personality

This segment is more personal and provides a more in-depth look at why individuals make certain decisions and how they might respond to different kinds of messages or products. Studies show that marketers improve their advertisements by 75% by using psychographic data, and such ads have a 10% higher click-through rate (CTR) than those based on demographics. 

This isn’t very surprising. As humans, we are driven by emotions, so a brand that we identify with because it believes in the same things as us, holds the same opinions, and shares our values will always have a greater chance of converting us. 

Going back to the clothing store we used in previous examples, it might be a good idea to highlight that the knitted sweaters you sell are made with locally sourced wool from a company featuring an EU Ecolabel. 

Maybe you even have a few sweaters in your collection that are made with vegan yarn, or a collection of clothes made from recycled materials? A target audience that cares about sustainability and animal welfare would probably appreciate these products more if that information was prominently presented. 

On the other hand, if you have a target audience that is more interested in fashion and the latest trends, showing celebrities and influencers wearing your clothes might have a better impact. Or it could be that another one of your clothing collections better meets a fashion-conscious target audience. 

Psychographic knowledge not only makes it easier to find and tailor marketing to the target audience. It also makes it possible to communicate more personally, because you know what they care about and what resonates with them. 

4. Segmentation for B2B businesses

For a B2B business, it may be relevant to consider B2B segmentation— also known as firmographic segmentation—of the target audience. In this type of segmentation, we look at relevant factors about businesses. These can include: 

  • Industry 
  • Company size 
  • Company income and growth 
  • The roles of various employees 
  • How many customers they have 
  • How many offices they have, and where they are located 
  • Technological solutions that the business uses 

All are segments that can be useful to know for your B2B company. It can determine, among other things, which sales pitches work best and which products and services each target group needs the most. This forms a good basis when, for example, you are working on the content you will send via email from your professional email address

Target audiences based on dynamic audience segmentation

The segments we have looked at so far are the most fundamental ways to segment target audiences. It is also what we can call static forms of segmentation, as these are attributes that does not change often or quickly. 

Now we’ll take a closer look at how you can take the segmentation one step further by considering dynamic audience segmentation. This type of segmentation adapts to the behaviour and circumstances of the audience, and helps you create target audiences that are specifically tailored for your company.  

Marketing activities

This type of segmentation lets you take a closer look at your own marketing activities. The type of marketing activity can help determine which products and services are relevant for the target group and which ways of communicating hit best. Such target groups might include: 

  • Your followers on social media – for example, TikTok, YouTube, or LinkedIn 
  • Subscribers to your newsletters 
  • Your customer club, or VIP customers 
  • Participants in a course you hold. 

For example, let’s look at two different social media platforms: TikTok and LinkedIn. We know that TikTok is a platform where short videos are key, while on LinkedIn, text and articles are more relevant forms of communication.  

Thus, these two platforms will require two different ways of communicating. Adapting your content to each channel is a smart move to reach the target group and provide them with the information you want in a format they expect and desire. 

The customer journey

When we talk about the customer journey, we mean the different phases a consumer goes through from when a need arises to a product or service is in use. The customer journey is usually divided into four distinct phases: 

  • Awareness phase: The potential customer has a need and becomes aware of your product.
  • Consideration phase: The potential customer begins to assess whether your product or service is the best solution for their needs.
  • Purchase phase: The potential customer has decided to buy the product or service from you.
  • Usage phase: The customer has made a purchase and will experience what it is like to be a customer with you.
  • Loyalty phase: In this phase, the brand works to develop a relationship with the customer so that it is tempting to buy from them again, thus becoming a regular customer. 

You can consider each individual phase as a target group. This can be a strategic way to distinguish customers, as people in the different phases will need different information and content, and thus require different marketing measures. 

To ensure that a person in the awareness phase becomes aware of your product, an approach with eye-catching design and a focus on capturing attention is important.  

In the consideration phase, it will be more crucial to ensure a good user experience on your website so that the potential customer can easily find more information. A blog is also a great arena where potential customers can read more about the product, services, and your business. 

Time-based segmentation

For some businesses, it may be advantageous to segment target audiences based on different times of the year. Perhaps your business is seasonal, and your customers have different needs depending on the season they visit you. 

This could apply, for example, to the hotel industry or a restaurant. For a taxi business, there might also be a difference between customers who need a taxi on weekdays and on weekends, or even between day and night customers. 

Example: Let us take a closer look at the restaurant that has decided to view its target groups based on seasons and high seasons. They know that many tourists come to the city during the summer. Measures that can be useful for this target group might include: 

  • Expanding the geographic area in marketing in the period before the season begins.
  • Making the menu summery with light and seasonal dishes and perhaps a barbecue menu.
  • Highlighting the children’s menu since many of the travellers in the summer are on family holidays.
  • Highlighting the outdoor area and late opening hours, for tourists who want to spend the evening with a drink at a nice restaurant.
  • Adjusting the restaurant’s website to highlight that it’s an exciting place to visit for tourists. 

In the autumn, the restaurant will likely have made some changes to the menu to target a new audience, perhaps those who are not as interested in outdoor dining and the barbecue menu. Not only will this target group have different food preferences in mind, but it will likely include fewer tourists and more locals.  

When marketing towards the local population, content will probably need to differ, as well as the offers and communication to motivate them to visit. 

Based on your products and services

If you have multiple and varied products and services, it might be beneficial to look at target groups in relation to these. Perhaps you have a product group that is best suited for fitness-enthusiastic women aged 18-25, while another product group is better suited for fashion-conscious men aged 45-50? These will naturally be two target groups that can be persuaded to purchase in two different ways. 

Putting the pieces together

To create target audiences that are tailored specifically for your business, it may be that a combination of two or more segments together constitute your target audiences. How specific your target audiences should be and how many target audiences you wish to have depends on your business and your goals. 

However, a good starting point might be to ensure that the target group is large enough to make it worth spending time on marketing efforts specifically towards this group.

It’s a fine balance; the target group shouldn’t be so large that communication efforts don’t hit the mark. At the same time, the target groups cannot be so small that you end up managing more campaigns than you have time for.   

Remember that working with target groups is a continuous process. The world we live in is constantly changing, and that means trends, what we are interested in, and our preferences also change. These changes will apply to your target groups as well, and perhaps even how your target groups are divided. Here, it’s all about trying out different approaches and seeing what works best for you and your business. 

Create target groups for your business

In this article, we have looked at what a target group is, and why target groups are important for a business’s branding and marketing. We have taken a deep dive into several ways to segment a business and looked at examples of how this can play out. These segments can either be used separately or in combination to tailor target groups specifically for your business. 

We hope you have gained a greater understanding of what a target group is and are motivated to look at which target groups are relevant for you.  

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