How to Use Digital Marketing to Target the Right Audience

February 28, 2024 Mihaela Lica Butler

Digital marketing becomes increasingly challenging for companies competing with thousands of businesses in the same niche. However, the Internet offers an excellent medium to reach a target market, audience, or ideal customers, if you take advantage of the tools and strategies that make a successful digital marketing campaign.

Using digital marketing, you can target:

  • A target market (or serviceable obtainable market): a broad group of people most likely to purchase a product. These people usually share demographics and geolocation but may not share interests and values.
  • A target audience: a specific group of people most likely to purchase a company's products or services. You can define target audiences based on shared interests, values, age, gender, income, location, etc.
  • A buyer persona (or a target customer): a company's ideal customer, determined using research and data. You can set up multiple buyer personas based on different criteria.

Targeting the right audience may be the most effective digital marketing strategy, especially when you define and understand it.
Digital Marketing Targets

Image: pixabay

What is a target audience?

A target audience is a niche-specific group of buyers with shared characteristics, including age, gender, location, shared interests, common values, etc. The target audience is different from the target market, which is broader: using digital marketing strategies to reach a target market may not yield successful results like the more refined and specific audience targeting.

However, since your target audience is a group of people within your target market, employing digital marketing strategies to reach these customers may also result in positive outcomes for a broader audience.

How to define your target audience?

You may need different target audiences depending on your marketing goals. You may want to target local audiences with some digital marketing campaigns, while others may use other criteria, like buyer interests.

For example, you may target people in your neighborhood if you are a florist and want to boost buyer walk-ins. If you offer delivery, your target audience may expand to other nearby areas. Still, you will always want to consider what your potential customers will likely search online to reach you or find your store: florist near me, flowers near me, etc.

How to define your target audience?

Here are a few basic guidelines to give you an idea of how to define your target audience:

  • Analyse existing customer data: review your marketing performance metrics to identify purchase habits. Use Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to gather historical and real-time consumer data.
  • Talk to your customers: ask them what they like or dislike about your products (services, brand) and why.
  • Understand your products: identify your bestsellers and what makes these products popular. They likely benefit your customers in one way or another, for example, through affordable pricing, quality, etc.
  • Explore psychographic data: psychographics help you gain a deeper insight into your target audience's psychological and emotional motivations by going beyond classifying people based on general demographic data.
  • Perform market research and competitor analysis to identify untapped market sectors.
  • Create core target audience segments: your business may have more than one target audience.
  • Learn where your target audience is active: some people may choose Google to search and interact with brands, while others prefer social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, etc.

To identify your target audience, you may perform keyword research for Google search, while for social media, you must find the most popular #hashtags.

Google has exceptional keyword research tools. However, AnswerThePublic may be more beneficial in identifying target audiences because it listens to autocomplete data from search engines, then delivers every useful phrase and question people ask around your keyword.

For #hashtag tracking, there are a few useful tools, including Tailwind, Inflact, HashtagsforLikes, Kicksta, Hashtagify, TagsFinder, etc.

Here's an example of a targeted audience from Hilton Hotels, where they want to entice pet owners to book pet-friendly rooms:

Hilton targeted audience ad

How to reach the right target audience?

Digital marketing offers many channels and strategies to reach the right target audience. Here are a few guidelines and ideas to help you achieve your goals.

Create quality content: whether for a website, ads, social media, or other channels, always create quality, original content that addresses customers' needs and highlights all the benefits your products and services have to offer. Align imagery and text around your message and use storytelling for a more profound and meaningful emotional impact.

Every message, advertisement, blog post, media outreach, and in-store design must align with your brand values. Be consistent with your brand identity - your logo is a powerful identity symbol, and you should use it in all visual materials, regardless of the purpose of your target audience. Your customers must be able to identify your brand as soon as they see the logo and associate with it all your brand values.

Expand reach with Google's custom audiences: use Google Ads to reach the ideal target audience. Google Ads are now privacy-first and AI-powered. You can use this digital marketing strategy to reach custom intent audiences based on your website, remarketing lists, user behavior, email, search campaigns, etc.

Since May 1, 2023, Google Ads no longer generates similar audiences (similar segments) for targeting and reporting. Instead, turn on optimized targeting on Display, Discovery, or Video Action campaigns or audience expansion on Awareness and Reach video or Consideration video campaigns to reach expanded audiences and optimize your conversion goals.

Social media ads: all major social media networks support business ads. For example, you can use Meta engagement ads for custom audiences and retargeting to target users on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram based on their interests in addition to demographics and geolocation.

Don't disregard SEO: organic search engine optimization is still one of the most effective methods to target the right audiences. Use keyword research tools to find out what your potential customers are searching for online and create content based on those interests. Optimize your site for voice search, mobile devices, and local searches. Use schema markup (structured data or microdata) to help search engines better understand and display relevant content to a user.

Whatever approach you use to reach a target audience, track your progress (data analytics) and adjust your campaigns to address your customers' needs and FAQ.