Building a foundation for stronger demand generation and pipeline growth begins when you clearly define the audience you’re targeting. Casting too wide of a net can often lead to unqualified or irrelevant leads in your sales funnel. To put it into perspective, Google services roughly 3.8 million searches per minute across the globe. It would be ineffective to target communication to all of these individuals, as one user might be searching for new shoes and another for the perfect Italian restaurant. Defining who you need to target, their behaviors, business needs and pain points is critical to your messaging approach.
Whether through an account-based or more traditional marketing strategy, the structure of both our target audience and audience personas are key to success. Here, we’ll discuss the main differences between the two and how you can leverage this information to achieve business objectives.
Defining Your Search: Target Audience
Your target audience is best described as the specific group at which you’ll be directing your marketing and sales efforts to procure business or partnerships. The parameters of your audience description can be broken into four basic types of information:
- Demographic: age, gender, socio-economic background, job seniority;
- Psychographic: personality, values, attitudes;
- Behavioral: patterns, benefits, behaviors;
- Geographic: physical location.
It’s worth noting that not all of these details are relevant for targeting purposes, depending on your product or service. The ultimate goal is to create a snapshot of your ideal customer or client base and leverage that to support research and future tactics.
Identifying Key Behaviors: Audience Persona
Audience personas are character profiles defined within your target audiences. A persona might include similar details to your initial target audience description but will explore in greater depth the lifestyle, specific needs and behavioral characteristics of the individuals within the defined population.
For starters, ask yourself the question: who was the final decision maker when I closed my last sale? With that specific person in mind (or a culmination a few individuals), we recommend researching and answering the questions below to build an accurate persona:
- What is [person]’s background?
- What are their interests?
- What are their goals?
- What are their challenges or pain points?
- What do they fear?
- Why might they object to my offer?
- Who influences this person’s decisions?
- What is their primary source of information when making decisions?
Once you’ve answered each of these questions, compile the information to form one holistic view of your ideal audience persona. Armed with these details, you can tailor your sales approach and marketing content to address specific needs, objections or preferences.
Applications of Your Audience Profiles
Both your target audience and audience personas are essential in developing short-term and long-term marketing strategies. A few applications of value can include, but are not limited to:
- Keyword research: whether leveraging a third-party SEO development tool or conducting internal research, your audience attributes help define their search behaviors. Keywords are often linked to target audiences and the content created from that information is targeted toward a specific audience persona.
- Targeted campaigns: in display advertising, retargeting or paid media, platforms often ask you to define a target audience before serving content. Instead of making a best guess, your previous audience research is the perfect framework for setting up campaigns to make sure you’re pairing the correct messaging to the correct population.
- General campaigns: whether in a marketing or sales capacity, marrying your audience persona with a buyer’s journey is one of the best ways to pinpoint critical moments in the acquisition process that need to be supported by additional content.
Optimize for Your Target Audience and Audience Persona
At the end of the day, the effectiveness of your target audience and audience personas lies in the application they serve. As you continue to develop and refine these segments, don’t be afraid to revise your initial work or include additional personas. Just as people evolve, your approach should too.