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What is target audience in digital

Digital Marketing
December 27, 2019
7 min

“You’d better know your target audience!” – marketers tell us often and persistently. And there’s a reason for it. A poorly elaborated target audience may lead to an advertising campaign failure.

Let’s figure out why it’s crucial to know your target audience, how to define it and how to use your findings to improve your digital marketing performance.

If you don’t know your target audience, you may have zero ad performance

The target audience is the foundation for any advertising campaign. If there is a mistake at this stage, everything may fail. You can’t save such an advertising campaign using superior management, increasing budget, or changing a red button into a green one. There is no way to fix the subsided house by merely constructing a new facade or wallpapering.

Let’s find out why this may happen.

To build effective communication with customers through advertising, we recommend то start with these five questions:

  • What do we communicate?
  • Who do we communicate with?
  • How do we communicate?
  • Where do we communicate?
  • When do we communicate?

Each of these questions is somehow connected to understanding your target audience. We won’t be able to answer them correctly if we do not know our target audience very well.

Let’s see what particular mistakes we may make:

  • We show the “right” ad to the “wrong” audience;
  • We show the ad to the “right” audience, but this is not a message that may interest them;
  • We show the “right” ad to the “right” audience, but not at the right time.

These are far from all the scenarios when your advertising campaign may fail. To avoid them, consider that a target audience analysis is the first stage in developing any digital marketing strategy.  

Why a correctly defined target audience improves effectiveness

Enough of the bad news. Let’s look on the bright side and learn how understanding your target audience can boost ad effectiveness.

An effective offer. The more accurately you understand the functional and emotional needs of your target audience, the more attractive offer you can make.

A clear ad message. You should convey your message to the target audience’s language, using correct wording, images, and graphics. This will help your target audience better understand your message and its advantages.

A communication channel. Analysing your target audience, you learn where they consume content and what sources they trust. This will allow you to pick the most effective communication channels – both in terms of efficiency and cost.

Apart from these three elements, we should also mention media planning which makes the accurate target audience size and communication channels easier to understand. Also, it allows you to estimate the level of attractiveness of a chosen target audience segment – if its volume is enough for your tasks.

Getting meaningful insights is an extra bonus of the target audience analysis.

For example, you may find that your customers trust the consultant’s opinion in a brick-and-mortar store while making a purchase, and focus your efforts on employee loyalty instead of launching an advertising campaign.

What exactly you need to know about your target audience. A buyer persona

Alan Cooper, a web design pioneer, known to be the father of Visual Basic, understood that to develop high-quality software, you need to consider the needs of users.

First, he asked the potential customers what they wanted, and only after he began to develop design. As a result, after endless interviews and loads of gathered information, he divided users into segments with similar values. He named each group a “persona”. After he created personas, this became obvious which functions users needed, why they needed them, how these should be implemented, and what difficulties customers may face.

You should also remember that each “persona” can play several roles. Say, in children’s upbringing, parents may have either different or similar roles, and you should consider this in communication with both mothers and fathers.

The customer’s role may be considered as a part of the process of providing the product value. The whole process is as follows:

Let’s review this approach taking Promodo as an example. The company represents an integral whole.

It consists of material and immaterial parts – office, equipment, software, employees, expertise. Products are the value. SEO, PPC advertising, consulting services of a different kind. Each product consists of sets of values, which are accepted by clients. For example, training, interaction comfort, reliability, expertise.

Consequently, if you understand the needs of your target audience and company values which cover these needs, you can compose the “customer’s need – company’s value” chains.

Turning to personas, we have to admit that this methodology has already been acquired by the advertising industry. There is a popular marketers’ legend about the Procter & Gamble company. They pinned photos of their typical customers in their marketing office, with short descriptions such as “Jane Smith, a housewife, 35 y.o., secondary education, 3 school-aged children, makes purchases in Wal-Mart, loves Oprah Winfrey’s TV show”. So that every employee can see and focus on them, creating marketing communication.

The modern vision of a target audience analysis is as follows:

Customer analysis should result in an understanding of an actual person, a typical representative of the segment, not in some abstract target audience description. You need to create such a portrait of your target customer, which helps you easily discover a character type. You should see a person in front of your eyes.

To create such a portrait, we need to collect the information on each segment and on similar features.

The customer segmentation usually starts with the fundamental features – customer needs, way of thinking, basic values. As a man of 25-30 y.o.with income above $30,000 from London may turn out to be a family guy as well as a playboy.. And it is difficult to sell the family values to a playboy.

After the definition of the core differences, the portrait starts to be filled with details – how this person spends the day, who communicates with, which transport uses, what reads. There will be plenty of similar questions.

How can you understand which questions to ask? There is no strict list for these, fortunately. You should create these yourself. You just need to keep in mind the main purpose of these questions is to gain such information on “your ideal person” that can later be used in your ad communication. Here are a few questions for kickoff:

  • Demography and geography. Gender, age, place of living, education, income, family size.
  • Way of living, personality type. How do they spend their day? What places do they visit, what do they watch? Think about your potential customers’ hobbies. What preferences do they have, what do they prefer to do in their leisure time, what problems do they have? Try to understand what your audience wants to remove, which makes their lives difficult, what prevents them from being happy, what they dream of. Think of the things your target audience really wants to achieve, what is really important for them. Find out if these people have their informal language, what is their way of thinking, what tasks they solve.
  • Shopping behaviour. What is their shopping motive, pain points, product choice criteria, shopping model? Where do your customers go shopping, what are the buying pushes and pulls, which information do they gather before making a purchase? Are their purchases impulsive or conscious? What is the basis for making a decision, how they solved their problems before?
  • Information consumption. Which social media communities may they be part of? Which type of content do they prefer (video, tutorials, articles)? Who are their opinion leaders?

How and where to collate information on the target audience

So, we have an understanding of the representative of our target audience. And we have a questionnaire for them. Where can we get the answers to those questions? There are numerous marketing tools for customer information collating:

  • Live communication. If we dig deeper, this is an in-depth interview. This is the case when you sit and have a conversation with your potential client, trying to understand them and dive deep into their world. This is the main source of insights and assumptions on your target audience.
  • Social media. An inestimable blessing for a marketer. A profile analysis provides a plethora of information. Preferences, connections, communities, hobbies, career.
  • Surveys. Using surveys, it’s pretty easy to interview most of your target audience. You have a chance to objectively test your assumptions and guess-work, as well as gather the necessary statistics.
  • Customer analysis. Customer data you collate within your company is a valuable data source. You can find 80% of the information on your customers within your company. You need to collate and organise it. You should also study the shopping process.
  • Open-source research and statistical analysis. If your market has been researched by professionals you can learn their findings.
  • Modern art. Artists feel modern people and their peculiarities much better than marketers. This is also applicable for the popular series – nothing can describe the mentality, values, problems, and trends of our modern society better.

The peculiarities of the target audience in digital advertising

One of the major advantages of digital advertising is the possibility to target the audience very precisely. But you need to have the full information about your target audience to leverage this advantage. Hence, you need to define which features you’re going to target at via the chosen channels and obtain the needed information.

Where else you need a portrait of your customer in digital advertising, except targeting?

Content. Based on the persona, you can create the desired content in the desired form.

Email segmentation. According to various research, the CTR of personalised emails increases by 14% and the conversion rate increases by 10%. The persona will allow you to reach these indicators.


By creating a detailed buyer persona, you demonstrate the care of your customers.

This is the best way to devote your attention to them. The buyer persona will make your ad more precise, up-to-date and shown at the right place at the right time. Besides, during the buyer persona creation, there is a good chance to learn something new about your product and the target audience. Something that will allow you to get to the next level in your advertising communication.

Written by
Sergey Korgut

Marketing manager

December 27, 2019
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