When it comes to talking about Target Audience, I always found a lot of confusion.
Because I work hard to identify the right audiences and deliver the right message, I’ve developed my schema to show the customer what the difference is.
As a marketing professional, you surely have to face the same.
Many brands are not aware of what an audience is and why it is different from their target audience. It is easy to think:- Wow! I have an audience of 500,000 followers!
That could be real, but they are not your target audience nor your buyer personas.
Changing one term with the other is a widespread mistake, and explaining the differences to non-marketing people can be challenging.
I want to help you here, sharing what I use to explain the differences in a transparent way.
We’ll see together the difference between Audience, Target Audience.
I will show what they are and why they are essential.
What is an Audience
Identifying our target audience is crucial for our marketing strategy, but it is useless if we don’t know about the broader audience we have.
The audience is the sum of demographic information, age, gender, location, language, earnings, and psychographic data, lifestyle, interests, that shape a group of people.
Our audience, whatever is our business, are those people who we are reaching today with our communication.
A Target Audience is who we would like to reach.
Our current audience is those people that are currently in touch with our content.
For example, they are the followers of our social network page, the readers of our blog, or the readers of our newsletter.
Even in the physical world, we have an audience. The people that enter our shop are our audience, those that receive our content.
When we go to understand our audience, we do audits, we collect as much info we can to define the main characteristics that outline our audience.
What is a Target Audience
Indeed, we have an audience, people that are consuming our content.
Nevertheless, we want the RIGHT audience, which is our target audience.
While and the audience is generic, a Target Audience is specific.
What defines a Target Audience?
A Target Audience is the total of traits that segments people concerning harmful behavior. They are those people we want to talk to reach our goal (whatever it is).
A target audience is that part of the audience that we think is the right reader/consumer/customer for our content.
It is not only a selling point for products or services. The same works for brand reputation or personal brand in the case of influencers.
You think about your ideal customer and where to find him/her. You work to establish your positioning in their mind.
Why a Target Audience is important
Unfortunately, an audience of millions of followers is not an asset.
We can discover that our current audience is not the audience that we want.
The number of followers is not a measure that counts. We may have a vast audience and still don’t have any engagement or opportunity to sell. We need quality above quantity.
A target market is crucial because it allows us to concentrate our messages to a group of people, the only one that counts for us.
Companies with a broad market address the different target audiences and must work carefully to not mesh them all.
Let’s make a chocolate bar producer example.
They want to sell chocolate bars. Who eats them, who decides to buy, and still, who goes to the supermarket?
We may have:
- kids that want the products (influencers)
- parents that are the decision-makers
- Parents and grandparents that go to the supermarket (the buyers)
Kids want chocolate and small toys, stickers, or what else the brand finds to attract and influence them.
Parents want healthy foods.
Grandparents want to make kids happy.
A message that has no crystal-clear target audience and goal is weak and may cost a lot of money.
Even for the same product, they may need to address different buyer personas: the buyer, the consumer-influencer, the decision-maker.
What is the difference between Audience, Target Audience and Buyer Persona
I’ve described the audience and the Target Audience. Now, I’ve introduced a third element, the buyer persona.
What is their relationship?
Let’s briefly define what a buyer persona is.
A Buyer Persona represents the ideal customer based on market research, data, and statistics from current customers.
So, it’s clear that:
An Audience may include, or may not, the Target Audience.
The Target Audience that we are not currently reaching is outside our audience.
Our goal is to include in our audience as much as possible people that are in our target audience.
Buyer Personas are part of our target audience, in or out of our audience.
A drawing helps to clarify.
So, our real goal for our marketing strategy is to attract the people that match our target audience and our buyer personas, and that are not yet part of our audience.
Once they are, the goal changes from attraction to conversion, then into retention.
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Target Audience Workbook
Where to find your Target Audience
As said, we look for their interests, their spending capacity, age, but also the kind of conversation they have and where they are.
The old school to know more about your audience includes surveys and polls.
However, the results are often far from reality.
Why that? Because people don’t like to answer their personal information!
Personally, if somebody inquires about my preferences, habits, spending, there are two scenarios.
First, I cheat. I may cheat to appear better and closer to what I think are the best answers.
Second, I opt-out. I don’t want to be annoyed.
Both of them are bad.
As explained by Jonah Berger in his book Contagious, “We tend to be friends with others that are similar to us. ”
He continues highlighting that if you play a lot of soccer, you tend to hang out with people who play soccer, and you’re more likely to become friends.
Thus, if you like going to movies, you tend to go to movies with other people who love movies and become friends.
As you may guess, having real data from people is a hard thing.
Fortunately, people also leave a digital footprint behind them. However, the info that people leave while they navigate is millions and different. Managing them is impossible manually.
That is why digital platforms usually have reports and insights.
In fact, the platforms where you post and engage with people, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, but also Hootsuite, or what else, also analyze the audience’s main info and actions, giving you back measurable statistical numbers.
What Can I Do To Attract My Target Audience
In an ideal world, our target audience and our audience are the same: we have precisely reached the people that we want.
The world is not right, and there are many reasons we are reaching the wrong people.
It may be because we have created content without having enough info about how to communicate with our target, or because of mistakes in the promotional steps.
However, we are not looking for causes but for solutions.
Indeed, inside an Audience, they can live more than one target audience or… none of it.
Without a doubt, people follow brands because they make them feel “cool,” but in the end, they are passive readers.
Also, a passive audience is terrible because it lets us miss one of the main goals to make a brand famous: word of mouth.
Without word of mouth, there is no contagious or virality.
In addition to that, you still have to pay to promote your business, the CAC (Cost per Acquisition) stays high, and the growth line is incredibly slow.
How to increase the virality rate?
What do we have to do to reach the target audience?
Where can we gather info about how to engage with them?
How to Identify The Main Topics
To attract the right target audience, we have to know:
- How they are
- How they look like
- Which favorite topics they engage with
- What are their opinions
- Where to find them
Definitely, when we have no clues about the audience, it’s time to use audience intelligence tools.
People have dynamic behaviors.
They change minds, interests, and discussion topics, according to time, movies, other people, and networks.
Thus, it makes it even harder to resonate with the data, but they represent an even more critical profiling resource.
Indeed, when people comment and interact with the message, they are really engaging with us, and we can better understand how they are, more than the simple way they look.
Besides, thanks to dedicated audience intelligence software, like Dstiller, Sparktoro, Pulsar platform, and Ghostwriter AI, we can reverse engineer their info and, like in a treasure hunt, find the vault.
They solve the problem of capturing data, processing, and classifying them, making them useful for the marketing strategy.
It has to get better all the time. You need to do:
- Searches for new scenarios
- Conversation monitoring
- Social Listening
- Continuous update
Dedicated Audience Intelligence software, give us the power on numbers. They allow audience segmentation to really understand what people say and how they feel.
For example, here is the kind of data that Ghostwriter AI gives you to identify your target audience:
Ghostwriter AI Profiler: to set your target audience characteristics and find how many of them are already in your current audience
Ghostwriter AI Analytics Insights, to see your audience and target audience interests and trends to resonate with.
What’s the point? Personalize the message at a scale.
In summary, I’ve clarified the difference that is between the Audience, Target Audience, and Buyer Personas.
The main idea is to be able to understand your target audience to find them by far.
Indeed, doing that is almost impossible manually. You need to trust in useful tools, specialized in tracking, processing, and helping you personalize the message by segment.
Content should be different to come with the human variety of interests and behaviors. Sounds impossible?
It isn’t. Artificial Intelligence-based platforms can analyze and suggest, better content, best variation, different anchor images, per audience, target, and buyer persona.