The Basics: How To Find Your Target Audience Online

Are you trying to sell to the wrong people? |
NOTE: This content may be out of date. There are plenty of solid takeaways that stand the test of time, but some strategies and ideas may not be relevant any longer. This blog is no longer actively maintained nor supported. The author has moved onto different things present [ here ]. Thank you.

Have you ever considered that the people you're spending your marketing dime and energy on aren't interested in your offer?

Not just companies like Apple, Nike, and GE should know who their target audience is—you do, too. 

When you know the people who actually want your product or service, you can refine your message to directly communicate with those people.

I'm sure you've read a blog post or seen a Webinar or even a product on Amazon that seemed to be custom-cut to your exact needs, yes?

You were that person's or company's target prospect—they knew the best product, service, or content to, basically, hook you into joining their email list or buying their product or service.

(If they're really good, you did both.)

When you target the right customers, you'll boost subscriptions and long-term and immediate sales (conversion rates). 

In this post I'll give you the stripped down basics of determining your target market. That way, even if you have a limited (to no) marketing budget, you'll be able to create an ideal reader and customer profile(s) and stop barking up the wrong trees.

Take A Look At Your Business Plan

Don't have one? Oh boy... Go to [ this resource page ] to get a full walkthrough plus resources and links you can use to initiate your plan.

Once you've gone to, then:

The first step in defining your target audience is to look at the goals you set up for your business. 

  • What do you want to be able do with your venture?
  • What do you want people to be able to do with the information (or products or services) you provide?

Next, you'll want to analyze your products and services (or list ideas for what you're going to offer). 

Check out my post on determining the focus of your [content]—it works the same—before answering the following questions:

  • How many services/products are you offering?
  • On what product and/or service do you make the most (or could potentially make the most) income?

If you're relatively established, take a peek at your sales history within the last year: What have people been buying the most? 

When you look at your highest grossing product or service, you have a pretty good idea of what you could be focusing your marketing efforts on.

EXAMPLE: Let's say you're a mom[preneur] blogger focusing on building a consistent passive income.

(Example of a "Mompreneur" blogger)

You primarily sell eBooks that help new bloggers to start on the path to success. 

But, sales aren't consistent and you're looking to remedy that.

So you do some research using your sales for the past year.

Your highest selling product is a step-by-step eBook on setting up a blog for success (using any platform) and how your reader can maintain and steadily grow with your system in place. 

With that, you have an easy starting point to discover more about the profitable areas of your business. And giving your audience more of what they want.

(You can do this using Google Analytics on blog content, too.)

At this point, I'm going to assume that you know what you have that's working well. 

You have an idea of what you should do to promote it further—maybe create more images for Pinterest or Instagram? Writing up your blog posts to include your product in it? And so on.

Now, it's time for the research.

Research Potential Customers

Start with conducting secondary market research.

Use existing resources to help pull together information about your industry, the market, and your competition.

The goal is to begin painting a picture of your ideal target customer. 

Let's refer back to the example Mompreneur Blogger.

Example of Googling your competitors

Simply put, Google the top competitors in your niche.

From there, select specific competitors from the first or second page results—those are the people you want to consider your "competition".

Take a look at what your competitors are doing:

  • What are they using their website for? A showcase for their product or service? An introduction to what they do and how they can help? A sales machine—strong focus on lead collection and conversion funnels?
  • What is their main offer? Focused on one offering? Focused on numerous offerings? Offering a "limited time only" deal?
  • Who are they targeting? Is their website "hip and fun"? Is it classy and clean? Is it simple and easy to navigate? Is it dated? 
  • What are they writing about? News on their own offerings? Advice and tips to help their clients or industry followers? 
  • Who follows them? Influencers? Customers? Industry followers? People in the same or similar niches?

These are some general questions you should take notes on when scoping out their websites, blogs, and social media accounts.

Next, it's time to conduct primary market research.

Primary research is the tedious and often takes a lot of time—it's the nitty-gritty, in-depth "ideal" client summary phase that most everyone who isn't a marketer hates. But you know you need it.

NOTE: The following is going to be a very basic introduction to market research. 

You can dig deeper into marketing and exploring demographics and psychographics in the #4DayGoals eBook.

[ Enter your email here ] and I'll send you a free chapter.

Defining Your Target Market Through the Fundamentals of Demographics and the Emotional Aspect in Psychographics (simple image) |

For now I'll deliver a simple peek at primary research so that you can begin discovering your target market.

This funnel graph shows the basics of defining your target audience. The fundamentals cover the simple demographics and emotional (psychographics) covers what your target client actually wants. 

It all trickles down to your niche markets.

Your niche market and all this research that comes with defining it will direct your product and/or service features to satisfy specific market wants and needs.

The fundamentals narrow down the focus of who wants your offer. The emotional communicates why they want it.

Okay, I know this is getting complicated, so let's go back to Mompreneur Blogger as an example to help lighten this load.

Let's say you've determined with the secondary market research—by studying your industry and first and second page results of your Googled competitors—in addition to your existing sales history (or by popular content from your competitors).

So, with an existing online business, you should've had Google Analytics, or some form of analytics set up.

NOTE: I use the Squarespace platform to run my website, hosting, etc. It has Analytics built in, however, it's not as thorough and you don't have any customization ability. I'd recommend opting for Google Analytics (it's free) or another trusted platform. Simply Google "analytics platforms" to see what's available.

Within your Analytics platform, you find that your target audience is between the ages of 25 and 44, and predominantly female.

Finding your present audience's age range using Google Analytics » Audience » Demographics » Overview (Basic)


You also find that those two age brackets (25-34 and 35-44) are your highest conversion rates—visitors and/or subscribers becoming customers.

You go deeper into the Audience tab of Google Analytics, under Geography and then Location to see that the highest visitors, conversions, and earnings are all from people in the United States.

Then (still under the Audience tab) you go into Technology and to Browser.

From here you can see that predominantly iOS (iPhone mobile) users visit your website. But coming in at a close second are Windows and Mac users.

With this information (still using our example Mompreneur Blogger), you can gather that:

  • You should focus on appealing to the female (other mompreneurs) visitor between the ages of 25 and 44—how will that affect your language? References? Examples and stories used in your content?

  • Your product and/or service should be geared toward the United States. With a whopping 15,000 more visitors than Canada, it's apparent that your target market is English-speaking and primarily in the "sunnier" states—which can be found when you click on the Map or location text in Google Analytics. (How can you customize your content to cater to them more now?)

  • You should have a responsive website that's clean and simple. Because your primary visitors are iOS (iPhone) mobile users, having a quick website load time (no massive images or loaded down with scripts), and a simple design that correlates well to mobile is important to your visitor's experience (UX) on your site and easy of comprehension.

Now that you've done a little demographic research, you can begin building the image of your ideal customer.

I know many marketers go as far as building a detailed persona of your ideal customer. Or even a few, depending on how varied your audience is.

(I have two general types, so I created two detailed personas.)

By defining your target audience in this way, it doesn't mean that you're excluding anyone. It means that you're choosing where to spend your time and money marketing to the audience that actually wants what you have to offer.

The more people you want to reach, the more time and money it's going to cost to connect with them.

A targeted profile keeps your message focused on the people who will make the most impact on your business.

Develop a customer profile

Example of my Content Style Guide with customer and reader personas | Sara Eatherton-Goff |

By defining each of your target audience's key personas as a single person (each) with a life and a story, you're essentially making it so simple to have a conversation with him or her.

Imagine that you're writing a novel.

You go in with an incredible story idea. You're so excited, you just get to writing.

You find yourself writing and writing, and all of a sudden after 14 hours at your desk, you've cranked out 250 pages of your story.

In the heat of excitement, you decide to take a break, grab some coffee (we're not robots...) and hop right into editing.

Within the first 5 pages, you realize your heroine is completely hollow.

No one would read and enjoy your story. 

So, you go back before you try to find a publisher and embarrass yourself, and decide to create a profile for your main characters.

In the case of blogging and/or simply running your business online, you only need one or two. (Lucky you.)

Creating a targeted profile keeps your message focused on the people who will make the most impact on your business.

For the sake of examples, I'll give you a brief rundown on what the Mompreneur Blogger's target reader looks like simply using the information gathered from Google Analytics.

(However, I suggest digging into your competitors' audiences and studying how they communicate with them.)

You'll find a much more successful finished profile with a thorough scope of what your prospective audience truly wants and needs.

With that, let me introduce you to Becky.

Becky (short for Rebecca) is a 32-year-old soon-to-be work-from-home mom of two.

She wants to create a business she can work on the side of being an undistracted mom. Not simply to stick her young children in childcare and then try to build a business.

She'd prefer to dip her toes in the water immediately, but utilize and balance her time well.

Becky lives in Florida's rural suburbs and wants to blog to build a profitable, passive income business that she can nestle into full-time once both of her young children are in school.

So, Becky's looking for someone with experience and knowledge to guide her through her journey of stay-at-home-mom to "working from home with happy children". And to feel fulfilled as a successful woman and mother.

In short, you could bullet-point the important parts from your research as a "rolling list" of your target prospect.

The whole point is that you have the details for whenever you're updating your website, blogging, writing content, or marketing your business online and off in any way.

So, if you're a lister, stick with a list.

If you're driven by the story, create a persona for your prospects.

Then, find how you can solve their key "problem" or main concerns through your product or service.

Discovering how your product or service can benefit your potential prospect starts with a targeted client profile—whether listed or in a persona format. Then address the problem they're having. How does your product or service solve that problem for them?

Monitor, change, and grow

The Basics: How To Find Your Target Audience Online by Sara Eatherton-Goff of

With a targeted prospect profile, your marketing efforts have a foundation for all avenues of communication.

While keeping on tone and voice with your brand, you'll be able to reach the people who are actually interested in your offer. And are much more likely to become brand ambassadors for you.

After launching your website, offers, or marketing campaigns, it's important to track your efforts.


  • your sales, interactions, requests for information, and more.
  • and identify trends, patterns and possible areas of improvement. By monitoring these activities in addition to continual research to stay current on market and industry trends, you'll be able to make adjustments to your campaign and allow continual growth as opposed to potential stagnancy in your objective. Check out Google Trends for email prompts regarding specific industry trends. Also, I've found using LinkedIn Pulse's app to be quite helpful with keeping up on news and professional trends, too.

So, who wants what you have to offer?

Your email subscriptions, sales, and conversion rates are ready for a qualified boost.

Are you ready to do the work?

(I know you are.)

If you're a current blogger with Google Analytics set up, start there.

Example of how to set the date in Google Analytics.

You can set the timeframe you're looking for information in to as little and as far back as you'd like.

And be sure to check out my post on finding your audience from your Google Analytics Reports. It's a much more thorough walkthrough than this post.

If you're just starting out or looking to appeal to a different audience (been there...), start by researching your competitors.

Use this post on finding what to blog about (which covers exploring your audience a bit), or check out the introduction to the Content Planning Workshop which gives step-by-step instructions and examples to help you dig deep into your competitor's audiences, as well as develop a rock-solid content plan.

So, whichever way you chose, the next step is to take action.


P.S. Comments, emails, running a business and being a mom of 3 were just too much for me to handle. So, blog comments got the boot. But the lack of a comment box doesn't mean I don't want to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with me via @GoffCreative on Twitter or directly via email.

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