Defining Your Audience: Strengthen Customer Messages With Target Marketing

Defining Your Audience: Strengthen Customer Messages With Target Marketing

Target marketing for retail | Shopify Retail blogIn addition to providing products and services for customers to purchase, a major part of a retailer's time is often spent getting the attention of those customers. Getting your prized products in front of as many eyes as possible is one of the primary goals of almost every entrepreneur. But what if you could optimize your promotion efforts? One way to resonate with current and potential customers is to get to know them, then tailoring your marketing efforts around your audience. And a major component of that effort includes target marketing.

Target marketing is promoting brands, products and/or services to a defined audience based on that group’s consumer behavior. Your ideal audience, or your target market, are those who are most likely to buy your products or services.

Essentially, marketers define a group of consumers with commonalities, also referred to as market segmentation, and market specifically to them. The group’s characteristics are researched through consumer trends, case studies, existing sources of audience demographics, and customer feedback (interviews specific to building buyer personas, surveys, questionnaires, etc.)

From there, retailers and marketers can build and document buyer personas. Personas detail basic demographic information — age, gender, job, salary — as well as other common characteristics within that group. These traits may be both general and specific to your brand, product or service.

Once those personas, or audience segments, have been defined, it’s easier to market to those individuals. This helps to dictate messaging, which products you’ll market to whom, how you’ll reach them, and what pain points you can solve. The result is marketing efforts that are more relatable and resonate with each of your audience segments.

How to Engage in Target Marketing

There are plenty of reputable marketing and advertising firms and agencies that can help retailers define their target marketing strategy. But for the retailers who want to DIY it, there are some key steps to take and incorporate it into your marketing plan.

1. Define Your Marketing Goals

What are you trying to accomplish? For some brands, these key performance indicators (KPIs) are more obvious: sales. But KPIs can also include an increase in brand awareness, more customers from a specific demographic, or growth of your email subscription list.

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Once you’ve defined those goals, your target marketing is more effective. It’s easier to come up with messaging if you know what you’re trying to make your audience do. This helps direct your marketing efforts and keep your marketing team aligned.

2. Create Your Buyer Personas

At the core of target marketing is the idea of building buyer personas to better understand your audience. This is where the market segmentation comes in.

Buyer personas can be built through a number of approaches, but a combination of as many as possible makes your personas more effective, researched, and defined:

  • Purchase history: If you gather customer data for every transaction, this is one of the best sources of information. Make sure you include data on how much they spend and what they buy.
  • Digital analytics: Take a look at your online audience. Gather as much defining customer information you can from those groups. Include your website, email subscription list, social media (organic and paid), and any other digital platform where your brand has a presence.
  • Consumer surveys: Encourage customers and non-customers to take a survey. Incentivize it to get more responses. These can be conducted online or in person at your retail store. Ask basic questions about their age, family, occupation, earnings, and gender to create a thorough profile of your customer and prospect base. It’s also important to get to know them, so inquire about their hobbies, beliefs, passions, values, and pain points. Include questions specific to your industry. Most importantly, find out who makes the purchasing decisions and where they make those purchases.
  • In-depth customer questionnaire: If possible, sit down with some customers to go deeper into their needs. Expand upon those personal questions you may have put in the customer surveys. Conduct interviews to capture their thoughts.
  • Industry research: Many studies are conducted about consumer trends and behavior. These are great references. Nielsen and Pew Research Center are two of the most well known, but there are many other research organizations and companies that sponsor and conduct these studies. Some digging around on Google should get you what you need.
  • Competitive analysis: Identify your competitors and look at their audiences. You don’t have access to any back-end data, but you can check out their social media profiles and see what kinds of people engage the most. They also might have press kits available with good information.

3. Market to Your Audience

You’ve done all the legwork to define who you’re marketing to, what they need, and how you’re going to reach them. Now you need to put a strategy in place and execute.

Once you’ve defined the pain points, figure out which products you have that cater to those needs or desires. Emphasize why your product will make their lives better.

But you also need to know where to send this message. During your persona development, it’s helpful to find out the devices people use and where they shop and interact with brands. Put yourself in front of them — don’t wait for them to find you.

4. Analyze the Performance

Target marketing analytics | Shopify Retail blogRefer back to those defined KPIs. The success of your target marketing should be judged against those numbers.

Track everything, do more of what works, and fix what doesn’t. Looking at the analytics of your campaigns can help you glean insights and trends over time.

Maybe a specific persona you thought you would reach isn’t engaging. Try a different tactic or channel to reach them. If that still doesn’t work, there’s a chance that’s not the right persona for you. It’s okay for those to change over time.

How Target Marketing Boosts Your Retail Business

Market Smarter

By knowing who you’re talking to, you can market more effectively with tactics that resonate more strongly. Having insight into what works and what doesn’t work can help retailers double down on the effective campaigns and pull back on the duds.

Marketing to your audience segments is more strategic in terms of messaging, imagery, which promotions you push on which segments and through which channel to engage the customer.

This is extremely important; 74% of marketers say that targeted and personalized messaging in emails improves customer engagement rates, and 39% with segmented email lists reported higher open rates.

For example, if you are marketing to a millennial, you won’t have much luck selling them a home in a retirement community via a direct mail campaign.

Product Development

Target marketing: product development | Shopify Retail blogGetting to know your customers helps you understand their challenges, struggles, hopes and dreams — both big picture and everyday.

Gaining this level of insight into your customer base helps the product development team. By defining those hurdles and aspirations, it’s easier to design and test products that are directly relatable to the audience segments.

Increase Revenue

Perhaps the most glamorous of beneficial effects of target marketing is the increase in sales. Target marketing allows retailers to focus on efforts and audience segments that generate the most revenue.

But it’s not just about focusing on the big spenders. Retailers can also analyze why the other segments aren’t spending as much. Are there better ways to market to them? Or do your personas need to be revisited to include a more relevant audience segment?

Take email for example. A study conducted by the Direct Marketing Association found that emails that have been targeted towards a specific audience segment generate 58% of all revenue, and 77% of email ROI comes from campaigns that are segmented, targeted, and action-triggered.

Moving Forward With Target Marketing

Target marketing is an effective way to understand and market to your audience. It helps retailers market smarter and more efficiently — and make more of an impact in the process.

How do you implement target marketing into your retail strategy? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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About the Author

Alexandra Sheehan is a freelance writer/editor and content specialist. She’s worked with retailers ranging from Fortune 100 companies to Etsy shop owners, and is always looking for innovative ways to help her clients.

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