Market research is critically important to content marketing. Defining your target customer will help to streamline the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy. It will also ensure that you’re offering the right type of content that your target audience is primarily interested in.
Understanding your target market means you’ll be focused on what they find most important. Since you understand their problems, you will be able to produce content that speaks to them and effectively describe exactly how your product or service can solve their problems, leading to more engagement and more leads. If you make assumptions about your target market, you might discover that everything you thought you knew about them is completely wrong.
For example, one time, Coke thought it would be a great idea to come out with “New Coke“. They did not conduct any research into their target market, and based their decisions on assumptions. It turned out to be a colossal failure. The insights you gain from researching your target market will ensure that you’re producing the products and services they really want. They will actually respect your knowledge of them, and this will increase their trust in your business.
On the other hand, if you create content without researching your target audience, you’re effectively shooting in the dark. You’re taking a big risk with your time and money, because decisions made without the right information or no information is almost always wrong.
Who is Your Target Audience?
It is important to focus on your target audience. However, you cannot focus on your target audience until you identify and define them. Once you know who your customers are, you can target all of your efforts toward them.
Having a clear and specific target audience gives your content and marketing more clarity and focus, making it that much more effective. As you research your audience, keep asking yourself: “what makes my target audience different from everybody else in the world?”
- What the type of audience do you want? Are you looking for a particular age, gender, location etc – or stage of life, political interests?
- What are the personality traits, emotions, pains, challenges, passions and frustrations of your target audience?
- What problems do people in your target audience have that you can solve? Who are the people most likely to have those problems?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Who are your top 5-10 most favorite customers, and what do they all have in common? What is their age, gender, and location?
- What is the style or tone of their language? For example, if you are designing a website for veterinarians, you would probably use far more sophisticated and specialist vocabulary than you would use for a website that is targeted aimed at pet owners.
- Are they technically savvy? For example, if you are developing a website for people who are gamers, you can probably assume a high level of experience.
- Understanding who your audience is essential in order to convert on your site’s goals.
- Do they use slang?
- Do they want “Just the facts?”
- What devices will majority of your target audience be using to access your website?
- Are they emotional?
- What kind of content format do they prefer: video, images, infographics, etc.
- If you will be producing videos, does your target audience have the bandwidth to support that? For example, if your target audience is based in an area that is known to have relatively high bandwidth, then you can safely assume that your message will get across to your target audience.
Your brand doesn’t need to be known or mean something to everyone. it only needs to mean something to the right people: those that are likely to become your customers. These are the people that matter to you and your business, and they are the people you should be focused on.
The guidelines below will help you identify the people in your target audience that you should be focusing on:
Demographics are the statistical data that represent your audience. This information helps you determine who is buying your products or services and narrow down who you’re marketing to.
Demographic information plays a key role in both determining and understanding your target audience. For example, it helps to know that you’re marketing to London based Asian mothers aged 36 – 55 years old that do have a Bachelors degree or 21 – 35 year old Black British fathers resident in Manchester with an Economics degree because the ad content, graphics and marketing tactics will be dramatically different for those two demographic groups.
- Gender: Is the problem gender-specific? What is the gender of majority of your current customers? Are most of them male, female or are they evenly split?
- Age: What is the typical age of your customers? Are they tweens, teenagers, college students, young adults, 30-somethings, over 50‘s, etc.
- Marital status: Are most of your customers single, married, living together or divorced? Knowing this information will allow you to cater different segments with your site design and style.
- Education: What is the general level of education of majority of your customers? Are they degree holders, technical or non-technical, etc.
- Occupation: What is the occupation of majority of your clients? Is your product or service tailored to a specific industry? For example, are your clients mainly teachers, nurses, armed forces personnel, etc. Do you know what field your customers are in specifically? This can be important for your marketing. For example if you know that most of your clients are teachers, then you know you can place ads on sites where teachers tend to visit.
- Beliefs: Do you know anything about the philosophical, religious or political beliefs of the vast majority of your clients? Knowing this information will help you know how to target the right people that will convert on your goals.
- Lifestyle/situational: What is the lifestyle of majority of your clients? Do they tend to be stay-at-home mothers, single parents, co-habiting couples, pet owners, married couples, homeowners, parents, urbanites, etc. You’ll need to gather as much pertinent information as you can about your customers so that you understand as much about them as possible.
- Miscellaneous: You need to find out as much additional information as possible about your customers and prospects. Things income level, ethnicity, interests and hobbies are all valuable information to find out about your customers.
Geographic information lets you know where your target audience resides, and this information can be quite significant. For example, there may be a big difference between women from Dallas, Texas versus women from Los Angeles. In addition to ideologies, the lifestyle and demographics of those two cities are quite different. So it’s helpful to know where your target audience resides so you can create unique content specifically for them that will resonate with them and only them.
Marketing content for geographic regions can vary greatly. Think about the different cultures and holidays for countries around the world. For example, a Thanksgiving holiday promotion for a Canadian audience would be different than one in the States, both in terms of message and timing.
You cannot rely on demographics and geographics alone to identify your target audience. In fact, if you’re only using demographic and geographic information to target your audience, you’re missing out on potential connections and profits and you may even be marketing to the wrong people.
For example, let’s say you know the demographics and geographics of your target audience: You know that your audience is women ages 25-40 who live in London and that most of them have at least a four year university degree, so you start creating content for women who are business owners in this age bracket and geographic region.
But what if they’re mostly conservative single mothers? How does that change the picture? And what if these single mom business owners are high achievers? They’re not struggling, they’re goal oriented, and attracted to stable and compassionate brands.
This information will change the way you market to them. It gives you more information to brand, to build relationships, to market and to change how you offer your products or services. As you can see, geographic data and demographic data are really just the tip of the iceberg. They’re part of the bigger picture. Content and marketing tactics need to be created for each specific audience.
What are Psychographics?
Psychographics are the characteristics or traits that make your audience unique. They can be seen as an equivalent of the concept of “culture.” They are the more personal characteristics of a person relating to their personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles.
Consumers are now researching their purchases and looking for solutions, often customizable solutions that fit their unique needs. Segmenting your audiences by their psychographics helps you not only identify your target audiences, but how to craft your marketing messages. E.g. understanding your specific target group might help you appeal to specific individuals who might be interested in your fashion style, interior design, or vacation destinations. This allows you to create a better experience for your target audience.
Knowing these interests, you can not only tailor your marketing efforts to create highly targeted content that your target audience is going to have a higher probability of being interested in and engage with.
Psychographics can help you target potential customers, increase your conversion rate and increase ROI. Defining your target audience can help you better design content that resonates with them, and ultimately, that’s what may make the difference in their interacting and engaging with your site, and choosing your products and services over those of your competitors. This allows you to segment groups of people by their lifestyles, shared activities, interests and opinions.
10 Components of Psychographics
Psychographics gathers info on your audience’s:
- Interests: what is your audience interested in? Are they interested in iPhone or tech news, pets, politics or celebrity news? Your prospects interests will help you create the right marketing message. For example, if you know your audience is interested in pop culture, you know that headlines about politics or the latest technology is not going to resonate as well with them as headlines about the latest iPhone.
- Opinions: It is important to understand and manage your audience’s opinions about your products and services so you can provide immediate feedback and appropriate marketing response.
- Beliefs: What do they believe about success, money, happiness and other elements of life? You can connect with shared beliefs or challenge their beliefs to open their minds to new products or services.
- Values: This is the sense of right and wrong that your target audience believe in, and what’s important to them. Do they value fame and fortune, or family over success? Connect with your audience’s values to really engage with them.
- Goals: What do they want to achieve? Are they bargain hunters or they partial to brand recognition? Understanding your audience’s goals can help you craft a message that speaks to them.
- Attitudes: Attitudes play an important role in marketing content creation. An attitude is a positive or negative evaluation of people, events, activities, or ideas. It’s also an evaluation of your organization.
- Purchasing motives: Why does your prospect make purchases? What is their motive? For example, are they motivated by fear of loss or by pride and prestige? Do they want to save money? Avoid pain? Feel comforted and connected?
- Personal characteristics: Personality can play a role in creating your target audience’s psychographic profile. For example, if you know your target audience is demanding, determined, inquisitive or complacent, these insights into your audience can help you provide the content and information your audience needs to make a decision.
- Activities: What do your prospects do? What are their hobbies, interests, habits, etc. How do they spend their weekdays and evenings? Knowing this can help you craft targeted messages that will resonate well with them.
- Social Class: Where does your audience fall on the socio economic scale? Are they professional or manual workers? The marketing language you use and the products or services you provide can be promoted differently depending on the social class you’re appealing to.
Knowing all of this information allows you to craft content and plan marketing initiatives that speak directly to the heart and soul of your audience, have a much stronger conversion rate and a better return on investment.
How To Research Your Target Market
As has already been established, conducting market research and gathering primary data about your target audience is critically important.
What Is Primary Data?
Primary data is the data you receive directly from your target audience. You can get this information from your target market in the following ways:
Surveys: You can carry out surveys using tools like SurveyMonkey. You can analyse that data with the help of pie charts, spreadsheets, etc.
Interviews: You can interview people that fit your target demographic using tools such as Skype, Blab.im or Google Hangouts.
Questionnaires: The questionnaires you send out can consist of open-ended as well as close-ended questions. Keep in mind that you should never make assumptions about your target market when drafting these questions.
It is important to ensure that your audience knows exactly what you’re planning to do with the information that you gather about them. This will encourage them to be more forthcoming with their answers. It is also important to keep their personal information private.
Secondary data is data gathered by other people about your topic of interest. You need to find reputable sources for the information and confirm your research with your own primary research.
Secondary research is a fast and cost effective way to gather data, and usually has a high level of value. However, it’s often not specific enough and cannot be completely relied upon as a fair and accurate assessment of your target audience’s needs and requirements. You’ll have to conduct primary research to ensure that it is accurate.
Sources of Information:
It is important to identify valid sources of information for your needs. Governmental, educational and industry-related information will all work well.
Sometimes you may find conflicting information from various sources. In this scenario, you may need to throw out some sources in favor of others that you deem to be accurate.
Once you’ve determined that the data you’ve collected is accurate and a fair representation of your market, you can put all of the data together in a way that’s simple to interpret. Words plus graphics and images are often the best way to ensure that the data is understandable.