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Creating Compelling Copy Part 2: Understanding Your Target Audience

Hello and welcome to Part 2 of our mini-series on Creating Compelling Copy! In Part 1, we discussed the basics of creating compelling copy and how it fits in with your brand’s broader marketing strategy (if you still need to read this, we recommend checking it out before going any further). 

In Part 2, we’ll discuss the significance of understanding your audience so you can create killer content that resonates with your customers on a deeper level. We’ll also share some guidance and insights on the techniques and strategies you can use to get to know your target audiences better. In summary, we’ll cover the following:

  • Understand what a target audience is.
  • The benefits of knowing your target audience inside-out.
  • Learning how to identify and define your target audience.
  • Discovering ways you can tailor your content to better connect with your target audience.

What is a ‘target audience’?

The term’ target audience’ refers to an intended audience for your products or services – and in turn, the group of people your marketing efforts are aimed towards. For best results, these tend to be the individuals who will be most interested in what you have to offer. 

{Note that although the terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably, ‘target audience’ and ‘target market’ refer to different things. Your target market is the broader focus of your offering. In contrast, target audiences are more specific subsets of your target market.}

Defining and refining your target audience is a process which enables you to;

  • Gain clarity on who your products or services are best suited to.
  • Understand what messages will resonate with them.
  • Devise a strategy to effectively introduce your products or services to the right people through your messaging

The result? Increased cost-effectiveness and conversion rates of your marketing efforts. 

Put simply, when you understand your audience’s wants, needs and fears, you can more easily solve them. Without this, your approach becomes more ‘scatter gun’, resulting in wasted time and money whilst you ‘spray and pray’, hoping your message will eventually reach the right person.

Hope isn’t a viable business strategy, however. Spending the time to move through these steps is the only way to devise a plan that is both scalable and repeatable.

Failure to engage target customers usually comes from a disconnect between what your audience wants and what problem you’re telling them you solve.  

Who is your target audience? What are their interests and preferences?

Ensuring you clearly understand your target audience is a fundamental exercise that underpins all aspects of successful marketing. Without this, you don’t know who you’re talking to or how to effectively communicate with them. But how can you determine your target audience and drill down on their specific interests and preferences?

This process can look different depending on the size and nature of your company and what you offer. But a good starting point is to conduct in-depth research into your audiences to get to know them better. 

How to conduct audience research and gain insights

We’ve highlighted the importance of becoming better acquainted with your ideal customers above. But how do you actually go about conducting the vital audience research required to get to know these demographics intimately enough to communicate with them effectively? Without taking the time to adopt a measured and meaningful approach, the data you gather may not be as accurate (and therefore not as valuable) as it could be. 

The first step is to define your objectives – what exactly are you looking to achieve from getting to know your audience better? What insights do you want to gather? What types of data do you want to glean? Are you a start-up looking to scope out your target audience for the very first time? Is this your first deep-dive on audience values and identity in a long while, or following a major development in the company, such as a merger or takeover? Are you rebranding and need a better understanding of who to connect with? Perhaps you’re planning a product launch or want to remedy a slump in sales. Whatever your reasons, use it to carve out a clear objective.

Next, set the parameters you’ll use to define your target audience. Typically, these are key pieces of info such as age, gender, interests, challenges and goals. Many choose to go deeper, covering occupation, income and location. If you’re selling internationally, you’ll likely need to repeat this process to cover each country and culture you sell within. This not only helps you identify how to better engage with a specific geographical audience, it also helps determine whether certain territories are worth selling within.  

At Smoking Gun, we go a step further when it comes to audience evaluation and segmentation. In today’s landscape of uncertainty and rapid changes in consumer spending habits, businesses need to work harder to understand their customers on a deeper level. With that in mind, we’ve found that it’s much more powerful to consider the attitudes of your customers, too. Surface demographics like age, gender and taste no longer cut it to reach and resonate with your potential audience. 

Consistently, we’ve seen that brands who understand the attitudinal context of their audience win big, as this offers a unique opportunity for them to address specific pain points and meet what consumers are seeking both practically and emotionally (you can read more about this in our ‘Shrewd Shopper’ report).

After that, you’ll need to employ targeted tools and methods to help you gather and collate this information in a meaningful format (more on this below). Once this is done, you’re ready to identify and recruit participants who fit your target audience criteria and actively engage with them to learn more about their needs and concerns. 

It’s important to note that what you do after data is collected is just as important as what you do during the planning and preparation stages. Once you’ve collected the data, it must be checked, cleaned and carefully analysed to identify key patterns and trends. This will then enable you to draw conclusions and clarify insights, informing your approach to achieving your overall objective, whether creating content, launching a new product or rebranding.  

There are companies dedicated to both data collection and analysis – so this is a process that can be professionally managed on your behalf. 

What tools or methods can help you create audience personas? 

As you may have guessed, there are plenty of data collection methods and tools available to businesses that help them tap into vital insights regarding their target audience. These can include surveys and questionnaires, focus groups, interviews and observational techniques. 

Once you’ve secured and made sense of the data, there are additional tools that can help you pinpoint and develop audience personas, such as SEMRush’s One2Target, survey tools like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms and feedback platforms. Data can also be gleaned from your existing CRM systems and good old Google Analytics. 

Ideally, these should be employed across the various touchpoints where you interact with your audience to determine customer journeys and assess their buying behaviours, likes, dislikes and pain points.  

What’s the true impact of being targeted as opposed to being generic?

Many businesses are initially wary of getting ‘too specific’ with their target audience. Excluding swathes of potential customers understandably feels counterintuitive and representative of ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’ – but that’s not the case. 

One of the magic keys to nailing target audience engagement is to really drill down on who you’re talking to and go niche. This is scary for most businesses who worry about ‘missing out’, as well as the costs involved with running different campaigns aimed at different people. But the opposite is true – by identifying micro-audiences and fulfilling their needs perfectly, you stand to acquire a smaller yet more engaged customer base and save money. Your efforts are more targeted and therefore your results are more pronounced. Remember that you can have multiple niches, too – targeted to different demographics within your audience to ultimately improve overall reach within your target market. 

You may have heard this concept talked about when it comes to social media – quality over quantity is key, and more specifically, having a smaller audience with high engagement produces better results than focusing on managing a larger audience with low engagement. The brand with 10k followers and a 35% engagement rate is better off than the brand with 100,000 followers and a 3% engagement rate – and this certainly applies to target audience as well. 

Successfully tailoring content to an audience: real-life results 

Hopefully this has illustrated the importance of defining your target audience. But if you’re still unsure, here’s a real-life example of the impact of doing the above.

Recently we worked with Silentnight to deliver a creative digital PR campaign designed to increase online visibility and, in turn, boost sales.  

With maximum impact in mind, we teamed up with academics at the University of Leeds, commissioning an independent study on the nation’s sleeping habits (later published in the BMJ). The outcomes of this research were revealing, including insights which showed a severe disparity between sleep quality in different areas of the UK. This inspired us to run a national campaign tailored to each region, revealing the nation’s best and worst sleepers and, as a result, encouraging more of the brand’s target market to check out our specially created interactive Sleep Map.  

From this, we produced various pieces of content that tapped into the nation’s sleep concerns. From social media posts and blogs to media stories and features. All driving traffic and attention to Silentnight’s online platforms. Using the data we collected on sleep habits and location, we ran targeted campaigns and developed bespoke angles for regional media, further supercharging Silentnight’s engagement, impact and reach. 

We secured 42 pieces of media coverage, including high-authority hits from Grazia and The Sun, whilst the digital campaign resulted in a 30% uplift in traffic to Silentnight’s ‘Sleep Expertise’ area of the website and a rise in awareness and trust.

This innovative approach to audience awareness and engagement demonstrates the power of using third-party involvement and insights to help you better connect with and understand your target audience. It also shows that applying an audience-first approach won’t just benefit your content creation – it can also uplevel the performance of your entire online marketing strategy. 

Next in the series…

In Part 3, we share more on the art of storytelling, offering expert insights and easy-to-follow guidance on crafting compelling copy through mastering the skill of developing relatable, memorable and emotive narratives around your brand. 

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