How to Identify Your Target Audience: A 5 Step Guide

Written on
October 30, 2020
by
Jessica King
in
SaaS Marketing
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Knowing how to identify your target audience is essential for effective SaaS marketing. Follow these five steps to pinpoint your market:

  1. Identify your current marketing base
  2. Describe your market’s pain points
  3. Define how your audience benefits from your brand
  4. Determine where your audience finds you
  5. Identify who your audience trusts

Read on to learn what you need to know about what a target audience is, why it’s important to know yours and how you can identify your target audience using the five steps outlined above.

What Is a Target Audience?

Your target audience consists of potential customers who meet a list of qualifying criteria indicating a disposition to buy your product. Qualifying criteria can be defined in terms such as:

  • Your audience’s demographic characteristics, such as age, sex, income level, industry and job title
  • Which actions your audience has taken, such as following your social media profile, visiting a landing page or buying a product
  • What type of problems your audience needs solved
  • What benefits your audience seeks
  • Where your audience seeks information about your industry
  • Who your audience trusts, listens to and follows

A convenient way to sum up your target audience’s characteristics is to create a buyer profile persona and give it a name representing your ideal buyer. This allows you to put a face on your buyer and itemize their qualifying criteria. Doing this can be helpful for brainstorming, analysis and strategizing.

Your research may indicate that your target audience falls into more than one category. For example, your SaaS product may have benefits which appeal to users in multiple industries. In this case, you can develop multiple buyer profiles to reflect the diversity of your market.

Why Is Knowing How to Identify Your Target Audience Important?

Knowing who makes up your target audience is important for multiple reasons. First, it helps align your product design and development with the needs of your customer base. The more you know about who your audience is and their needs, the more precisely you can match the design of your app to your market.

Second, identifying your target audience helps you develop your marketing campaigns. When you know what your audience’s interests and needs are and which benefits appeal to them, you can design content which addresses their concerns. This increases the effectiveness of your marketing outreach.

Third, knowing who your target audience is allows you to identify the best channels for delivering your marketing campaigns. For example, if you know that a large division of your audience follows a particular brand on Facebook, it might be strategic to place Facebook ads designed to reach this market segment.

Fourth, identifying your target audience can help make your marketing spend more cost-efficient. When you focus your marketing on your ideal audience, your promotional campaigns become more effective. This results better conversion rates, less waste and a better return on investment.

How to Identify Your Target Audience? A 5 Step Guide

You can use a number of different methods to identify your target audience. Here is a simple five-step procedure which can help you quickly develop a profile of your ideal buyer:

  1. Identify the characteristics of your current leads and customers
  2. Describe the pain points which drive your market’s motivations
  3. Define the benefits which attract audiences to your product
  4. Determine how your audience does research in order to find you
  5. Identify who your audience trusts, relies upon and follows

Following these steps will enable you to sketch a detailed profile of the main segments of your target audience. Here are some tips on how to execute each of these steps successfully.

1. Identify Your Current Marketing Base

An efficient place to begin identifying your target audience is by analyzing who forms your current marketing base. This approach has the advantage of starting with your actual leads and customers, which promotes objectivity and minimizes speculation. This can be more reliable than relying on intuition or guesses to identify your audience.

Your current marketing base consists of several groupings:

  • Leads who have followed you on social media, subscribed to your email list or given permission for text messaging
  • Leads who have performed some qualifying action, such as visiting a landing page for a specific product
  • Current customers
  • Inactive customers who have purchased from you in the past

You can analyze members of each of these groupings in terms of criteria such as:

  • Demographic qualifications such as age, sex, income level, industry or job description
  • Marketing engagement actions representing interest in your brand, such as following your social media profile, visiting a page on your website or opening an email
  • Buying-oriented behaviors such as requesting a quote, using a return on investment calculator, filling out a discovery form or purchasing a product

You can use these types of criteria to create a scoring system for leads and customers. Each criteria met can indicate one or more points on your scoring scale. The higher the score, the better the match with your ideal customer. Criteria which represent buying-oriented behaviors or actual purchases should be given more weight than other criteria because they represent a higher likelihood of making a purchase or becoming a repeat buyer. For example, someone who has already purchased your app and renewed a subscription once is likely to renew it again if you approach them with a good offer.

After analyzing your current marketing base, you can segment it to develop one or more ideal buyer profiles. You can create segments representing different types of audiences. For instance, you may find that lead from a certain industry have a higher average qualifying score than those from other industries. You may find that customers who have already purchased a specific app are more likely to be in the market for a certain upsell product.

You can also create segments based on whether a lead is near or far from making a purchase. This allows you to segment your marketing for leads and customers at different points in your SaaS sales funnel.

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2. Describe Your Market’s Pain Points

Once you’ve identified your current marketing base, you can begin analyzing your market’s pain points. Pain point specifics will vary by market, but in general, pain points fall into a few major categories, including:

  • Financial pain (losing money)
  • Time management pain (wasting time)
  • Labor pain (excessive difficulty)
  • Technical pain (steep learning curve)
  • User experience pain (poor UX design)

These general categories apply across the board to most industries. Within a particular market niche, you can dive deeper into more specific pain points. For instance, within the general category of poor UX design, your audience may be experiencing difficulty integrating your product with another popular application.

You can use a number of different methods to identify which pain points apply to your market:

  • Use surveys to ask your customers the biggest business problems they face
  • Study market research to find out which pain points are common for customers in your industry
  • Monitor social media and review sites to see what audiences in your target market are complaining about
  • Study competitors’ marketing and sales material to identify which pain points they address
  • Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and imagine what obstacles you would face if you were in their place
  • Try out your product or competing products and observe what challenges you experience

After identifying your market’s pain points, you may wish to rank them in terms of which issues are most important to your audience. This can help you determine which angles to emphasize in your marketing and sales material.

You may find that different segments of your market experience different pain points or prioritize the same pain points differently. Take this into account when developing marketing campaigns for different audience segments and when selling to individual customers.

3. Define How Your Audience Benefits from Your Brand

After describing your audience’s pain points, you can define how your brand benefits your audience by addressing those pain points. Like pain points, benefits vary by market segment, but generally fall into a few major categories corresponding to the main categories of pain points:

  • Saving money
  • Saving time
  • Reducing labor
  • Making product adoption easier
  • Making user experience easier

As with pain points, these general categories can be niched for specific audiences. For instance, a web design product which uses a drag-and-drop interface may appeal to small business users who don’t want to spend time learning to code.

You can research which benefits appeal to your audience using methods similar to those used to research pain points:

  • Surveying your customers about which benefits of your product are most useful or important to them
  • Studying market research
  • Analyzing social media comments and review sites
  • Studying competing sales literature
  • Putting yourself in your audience’s place
  • Testing your product or competing products

Just as pain points can vary by market segment, different segments of your audience may appreciate different benefits or rank the same benefits differently. For best results, segment your audience when presenting benefits in your marketing and sales campaigns and when doing presentations to individual customers. 

Surveying your customers about which benefits of your product are most useful or important to them using a tool like VWO's on-page surveys can also help you discover useful insights on why visitors behave in a certain way.

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4. Determine Where Your Audience Finds You

The next step is to determine where your audience does research to find information about your industry. This will help you determine which promotional channels will serve you best in reaching your audience.

To determine where your audience looks for you, consider questions such as:

  • Which sources send the most traffic to your website?
  • Which sources send traffic to your competitors’ websites?
  • Which devices do your visitors and your competitors’ visitors use?
  • Which geographical regions and languages send the most traffic to your site and your competitor’s sites?
  • Which keywords do your visitors and your competitors’ visitors search on?
  • Which of your social media profiles attract the most followers?
  • Which of your competitors’ social media profiles attract the most followers?
  • Which popular websites and blogs cover your industry?
  • Which video channels do customers in your industry watch?
  • Which review sites cover your industry?
  • Which trade journals cover your industry?
  • Which tradeshows cover your industry?

Web and social analytics tools can help you answer some of these questions. For instance, Google Analytics can tell you much information about traffic arriving at your site.

As the last few items on the list indicate, you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to digital resources. Consider all resources which your audience might use to find you.

5. Identify Who Your Audience Trusts

Knowing where your market looks for you can help you identify which authorities your audience trusts. This can be useful for helping you tap into the credibility of recognized thought leaders and lending their authority to your own brand. For example, if you know your audience follows a certain software review site, you might consider offering that reviewer complimentary use of your app for review purposes. Similarly, citing a thought leader in your field can lend credibility to your blog and social media posts.

To identify who your audience trusts, consider questions such as:

  • Which thought leaders are recognized in my industry?
  • Which sites receive the most traffic in my industry?
  • Which social media profiles attract the most followers and engagement in my industry?
  • Which authorities are featured as speakers or panel participants at seminars, webinars and trade shows in my industry?
  • Which review sites does my market rely on for information?

You can use specialized social media analytics tools such as Klout to help you identify influencers in your market niche.

Identify Your Target Audience to Optimize Your Marketing

Identifying your target audience lays the foundation for an optimized marketing campaign focused on your ideal customers. An effective marketing campaign also needs a winning strategy. SimpleTiger helps B2B SaaS providers develop optimized SEO strategies designed to increase organic traffic and generate more sales conversions. Fill out our quick online discovery form to get in touch with our team of experts and discuss how we can help you attract your target audience to your website.

Simply effective marketing.