6 Ways to Identify Your Ideal Audience

You’ve probably heard it a million times: your brand needs to know its audience to grow. In order to do this, you need to understand who your target audience is so you can tailor your marketing efforts toward them. But how do you identify your ideal audience? The key is to understand who they are and what problems they want to solve so that you can create marketing for your products and services that speaks directly to their needs. This blog post will give you six methods for identifying your ideal audience and making sure your marketing efforts are tailored to them in the future.

What is an ideal or target audience?

People make emotional decisions to make their lives better. They spend their money based on problems needing solutions. You have an excellent product or service ready to provide the solution they are looking for. Your ideal or target audience will often consist of people who are strongly aligned with your brand values, have similar goals and interests as you, and desire the benefits your product or service offers them. It's important to know this group isn't static but rather always evolving and changing as they go through different phases of life and life events. To attract them to your business offering and entice them to buy, subscribe to a newsletter, or contact you for services, will require you to stay present and aware of their needs and concerns.

Why does defining your target audience matter?

Before any strokes of a digital pen hit the webpage, any designs are finalized in a marketing campaign, copy is written for a Google ad, or content for your website is created, you need to know your audience. Defining your audience is arguably the most valuable step in the entire process of marketing. Why? Because knowing your audience first allows you to mold and share your story in a way that resonates and inspires the viewer to take action. Your goal any time you create a piece of marketing material is to speak directly to the needs and interests of the viewer and take them along to the next steps of your product or service. If you don't know who your target audience is, you're making the mistake of marketing to everyone, and while this may get you the reach you need, it will also lead to a large percentage of your reach never paying attention to your efforts and winding up wasting time or money.

As a web design agency, we've seen what happens to websites that lack a target:

  1. Visitors spend less time on a website and are prone to leaving quickly.
  2. Visitors get confused as to how they can use your product or service.
  3. The words on the webpage are not nearly as powerful as they could be because you are trying to talk to too many people all at once.
  4. The lack of clarity often plays itself out in the organization of your site's contents.

This can be a frustrating ordeal.

If you have not dived headfirst into the process of narrowing down your audience then you are in for an awakening. It can take a couple of weeks to write down ideas, let them simmer, and then come back to refine, refine, refine. You'll have to find the right questions to ask yourself to help you further narrow the audience scope. It can feel unproductive—all this thinking and planning without initial action. It's contrary to the "results now" mentality we often have. If you aren't feeling frustrated, we would argue you are doing something wrong. It's a considerable amount of work.

We've walked through this ourselves.

We walked through the same predicament with Magnified Web. Knowing what I know with my marketing background, I still wanted to jump into a new website to get lead generation going ASAP and realized: I can't magically bypass this pivotal step in the process.

We had to press in and force ourselves to define our own target audience. Hopefully, the below ideas will help you in your process of defining your audience.

How to identify individuals who will appreciate what you do.

Alright, let's get into the meat of it, shall we? There are several ways to find people likely to love what you do and become your ideal audience. 

1. Start With Your Current Customers 

Don't overlook them. These are the individuals who directly fall in line with needing what your business offers and benefiting from your business' solutions helping them achieve their goals and interests.

Create Personas of Your Top 3 Customers

Think of the top three customers that you currently have, these can be the top buyers or even just the ones that you like to work with the most (we went with the customers we enjoy the most). Create a persona for each person by making a list of these questions and answering them for each of those three people:

Answering these questions will allow you to understand who they are and why they may be interested in your products and services. 

Ask your customers

Ask them, yes directly ask them why they are interested in your business. What brought you to buy from our business? What problems did we solve? What keeps you coming back? Why did you choose our business over anyone else? How did our product or service improve your life?

2. Think Benefits not Features

This is a little game of reverse engineering. You have a product or a service and you know its features like the back of your hand. You believe that once people understand those features they will love this product you offer but for some reason, they just don't seem to get it. This is because consumers don't care what features you have to offer, they only care about how it's going to solve their problem and improve their life or work. What exactly does your product or service do to solve your customer's problems and help them succeed in their goals? What kind of individuals need those benefits? Who needs those benefits the most and will find success when they use your product or service? That's your audience.

3. Research Your Competitors 

There is no time more appropriate to do competitive research than right now. You’re already interested in the market, so take a deeper dive into your competitors and learn about them. You can do this by

Ask yourself these questions when comparing:

All of these things will help you understand your competitors and give you an idea of who their ideal audience is. Knowing who your competitors are and who they market to, will help you better understand your own target audience.

4. Frequently, your target audience is a previous version of yourself.

While we were going through the process of rebranding and rethinking our service offering here at Magnified Web, my partner and I went through some brainstorming about what problems we solve, the kind of client we would want to work with, and what kind of website that client would bring with them. We found as she and I created three personas each, that they all seemed to be past versions of ourselves. They were people that were having the same problems that we were once riddled with. They were people that had the same outlook on their future and on business. Do you remember what made you excited and fueled your passion? What was it that you wanted? Why did you start your business? What problem were you trying to solve for yourself?

To add to this point, I want you to think about your favorite musician. Why do you like their music so much? It's probably because you can relate to the music, you can remember being in similar positions or having similar emotions that the artists allude to in their songs. There's no better customer than yourself.

5. What Frustrates you? 

In relation to the last point, another way to find your ideal audience is to think about what frustrates you in your daily life. What are the things that consistently annoy you and cause you frustration? Your product or service probably solves some of those frustrations, right? So, who are the types of people who share your frustrations?

6. Your Ideal Audience May Not Be Your Only Audience

I know, I know. I stressed how important it was for you to understand your target audience, and while this is important, they may not be the only audience that will resonate with you. You need to consider that there may be multiple groups of people who are interested in your brand, products, and services. This lends itself to opportunity. You can focus on these different audiences by creating different marketing campaigns and messages for each group. While your ideal audience is the group you want to focus on most, it’s important to remember that there may be other audiences out there who would also be interested in your business.

How Building a Homepage People Don't Want to Leave is Like Dating

First impressions are important.

The first impression people get from you when they land on the homepage of your website has many of the same elements as going on a first date.

People make snap judgments about you and what you have to offer based on first impressions. So, like you would on a first date, you've got to put your best foot forward on that homepage.

Maybe you've experienced this before...

Have you experienced that first date where the other person gave you their whole life story in the first 15 minutes?

It's a little off-putting.

In the same way, you don't need to tell your audience everything about what you do and who you are on that first page. You only need to tell them enough to interest them in clicking to another page.

This means, for example,  that you don’t lead with, say, a press release or a “news” column. You’re not there yet in the relationship. Do you enjoy a date where the other person rambles on about themselves for the entire evening?

Don’t be that person.

What they see when they first land on your homepage will tell them whether you are fun, edgy, stable, professional, progressive, conservative, or some other interesting adjective, depending on your messaging and the visual aesthetics of the page.

You don’t want a website that announces: I’m stuffy, outdated, uninformed about issues in my industry, and generally someone you don't want to follow. Subconsciously, people will apply these same attributes to whatever product or service you offer.

We're here to save you from that bad first impression with four guidelines to apply when building your homepage.

First, DEFINE the personality and tone for the website.

Here’s a question we ask during the discovery process with a client:

How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand? Safe and secure? Edgy and excited? Exclusive and cool? Like they belong?

Take some time to think about this for yourself and your business.

Maybe you want a slightly more professional tone on your website but would prefer to let your hair down a bit on your social media channels. It’s up to you. Whatever you decide, write it down.

Once it's down on paper, as simple as that is, the course will be set for the tone of your narrative and the types of photos that you use.

Second, CRAFT the words that will provoke a second glance.

Before designing any website, you’ve got to know what it needs to say. Start crafting the words before you begin building that homepage. This is crucial. Don’t jump ahead to the building phase—as tempting as that is. (Guilty.)

The messaging on your homepage must persuade the audience that your product/service offering is exactly what they need. It should evoke emotion in some way—humor, compassion, confidence, surprise. Take your time to ensure you get this part right!

Check out the header image from this site below. How lovely is her messaging from the moment you land on her homepage?

My name is Annie Cushing, and Annielytics is my brainchild. You may be wondering to yourself, What exactly is Annielytics? The term actually started as a joke on Twitter and kind of stuck because my name is Annie, and I really grok on data, especially web analytics data. It’s almost as if I became one with data.

homepage-guideline-capture-personality

Source: annielytics.com

If you are looking to learn more about web analytics, tell me that her intro doesn’t entice you to click to the next page.

Third, use design and imagery to DELIGHT the senses.

Create an experience. To look good, you don't need complexity. Design can be simple and classic.

Take another look at Annie Cushing’s header image above. She used a photo of herself speaking and added an overlay. Simple and powerful. It looks great. (For more on using images on your website, check out last week’s post here.)

You want to accomplish two things with design:

  1. Tell the story of who you are.
  2. Delight the senses so people keep moving through your website to learn more about you.

Spend time exploring other websites for inspiration and be aware of what draws your attention.

I keep a private Pinterest board filled with websites I like. When I come across websites that catch my eye, I’ll use the “Pin It” button on my bookmarks bar to capture the site. Then I note in the caption area of my “pin” what caught my eye.

For example, I came across the website below the other day and was captivated by the imagery.

Source: bikepacking.com

These photos beckon beguilingly to those interested in bike-packing. The entire site is filled with gorgeous photography. There is no question that this is a go-to site for learning more about bike-packing, including the discovery of new routes and gleaning great insights from the web creators' experience and expertise.

Not only does this homepage convey an immediate sense of authority in their area of bike-packing, but it also generates trust. If I were in the market, I would be comfortable purchasing from them because I perceive they know what they're talking about.

Fourth, CULTIVATE opportunities to keep the relationship going.

Once you’ve done the hard work needed to draw your audience in, offer multiple opportunities for people to continue to connect with you.

For example, provide a way for visitors to subscribe to your email list. One way to do this is to create a popup that appears just as someone is leaving your site or provide easily accessible forms for the visitor to opt-in to future communications. The important thing is to engage as many people as possible.

WordPress Plugin Roundup

WordPress has a whopping 50,224 plugins!

At least, that was the count when I checked today. This leaves you with a whole lot of decisions and possibilities. (A previous post talks about some of the guidelines in choosing the best plugins.)

I'm going to break it down for you and share the handful of plugins we start with on each of our client's websites. These plugins provide quality protection and functionality. I know these play well with each other and will get you started.

The Plugin RoundUp for a New Site

Here are a few of the plugins in our WordPress toolbox that you will find installed in each site we build as well as what function they serve.

Contact Form: Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms goes above and beyond in performance and reliability, it’s just not as pretty as some of the other options.

Recently I thought I'd try a different approach to forms. In the end, I came to a new found appreciation for the stability of Gravity Forms. I tried to integrate TypeForms. It was sleek and cool but it doesn’t compare to the tried and true plugin that I know will meet the needs of all our clients.

I recently heard about LastForms. Their developers understood the pain point I felt with TypeForms. Stay tuned for a review once I check this out. It looks promising that I may get to have the best of both worlds: pretty and efficient! We shall see!

What makes this plugin stand out above the rest is its ability to...

Gravity Forms continues to do the job it was meant to do quite well.

Is there a free version?

No. Gravity forms is a premium plugin, so it will cost you a license fee each year.

It is worth it!

The Gravity Forms development team keeps the plugin secure and running smooth with a steadfast support team. As your website needs expand, a large menu of extra add-ons to integrate are available.

Security: WordFence

WordPress sites have a vulnerability to being hacked or spammed. With the proper plugins and security practices, you can lessen your chances of being hit. It’s when you don’t do anything to protect your site that it becomes a liability.

My favorite security plugin is WordFence. The team behind this plugin regularly analyzes the latest threats to provide up-to-date protection. The free version provides excellent protection for your website.

WordFence informs you with emails on the attempts to break into your site. It’s like having a security system that alerts you every time someone tries to unlock the door.

You have the option of setting up Wordfence to lock out a user who has been trying to hack into your site, and you can decide if you want to block them for good.

Sign up for their frequent updates on security best practices and the recent hacking threats the internet faces. Nothing is foolproof, however with this plugin and taking other security precautions, you can rest easier.

Is there a free version?

The free version is fantastic, will meet your needs, and keep you informed via email. However, if you want a bit more ‘breathe easy’ feeling with additional powerful security functions, then I would suggest upgrading to the yearly license.

This plugin helps to keep robot hackers from their login attempts. Pretty neat!

Search Engine Optimisation: Yoast SEO

If you want to be found in search engines, you need to optimize your website. The Yoast SEO plugin gives you step-by-step instructions to optimizing your web page or blog post in real time.

It is a fun tool and will be helpful to those with the most basic of SEO understanding.  I love the way it rewards you with colored dots. Red means you haven't started, orange means you're almost there, and green means it's been optimized.  It teaches you as you work in it. That's the best way to learn!

Now if only it would do keyword research for me.

Take a look at the dashboard view from our blog.  You can see the 'green' lights in there on previous posts.  The red light is for this post that is being written and is not yet optimized.

Plugin Roundup

Here is what it looks like when you edit your post:

Yoast SEO edit post view

Is there a free version?

Yes!  The free version is robust and will meet your needs if you are starting out and learning SEO.

For a mega boost on optimization and added tools, you might be interested in their premium version.

Check out their feature list here.

Security: UNLOQ

One of the other ways you can secure your WordPress website is to set up two-factor authentication.  Basically, this is just a fancy way of saying that there's an additional login step that is added to divert hackers.  The login is actually done with your cell phone.

With UNLOQ, the login is actually done with your cell phone.

Note: If you decide to pay for Wordfence Premium, you will have access to their two-factor identification and will not need to use this plugin.

With UNLOQ I can easily customize the login screen to match website colors and add a logo. It looks clean and modern when you are logging in. I have to admit, I think it's a perfect match when style and tech join hands.

Check out our login page.

UNLOG customized login screen

Is there a free version?

Yes.  UNLOQ is free for 1-100 users and you can have unlimited authentications and authorizations.  That is quite a steal for a free plugin.