How to define the target audience for your website?

Written by Chris McCarthy Posted in How to create a successful website, Think. Dare. Do., Website Design

Get the right people to see your posts

How to define the target audience for your website?

We've gone through choosing and buying a domain name and finding a web designer. Now comes the hard part: building your content. But before you can do that, you must know two things:

  1. What interests your target audience?
  2. How do you communicate with them effectively?

Step 1: Define your target audience

No-one will look at your website unless you have valuable content. You need to be interesting to attract attention and get others to talk about you!

In order to create good content, you need to understand who your target audience is and what type of content and style they'd value.

The Review process

Much of your success is defined by your own personality and the people you naturally connect well with. The first two questions to ask are:

  1. Who did you do your best work with in the past?
  2. Do you have easy access to that type of target market today?

This will define your target audience based on strenghts you already have.

Example

ipodWhen Apple made their iPod, they defined their target audience as non-tech savvy. MP3 players were originally build for tech-savvy users, and the industry was embroiled in a technology war to create ever more features.

Apple knew that in the past it had already had success with getting non-tech-savvy users to use their Macs. Now they were going to target an audience nobody previously cared about: non-tech-savvy users who don't look for advanced features, just a product that is easy to use. And thus the iPod was born.

Example for blogs – Andy Beard points out that targetedness, not hype, makes a big difference:

andy_beard"I have very specific goals, and a very specific target audience. Some people measure success by how many subscribers or how much money someone makes from their blog. I have never had a front page Digg, but my target audience doesn't really use Digg.

I define success by who reads my blog within my target audience as my defined goal was to attract people within a specific niche, and even specific individuals."

- Andy Beard

Define your target audience more narrowly

You cannot be everything to all people. If you want to win in business and create a successful website or blog, you need to be the best at what you do within your existing industry.

If you are not the world's best within your market, all you have to do is to define your market more narrowly. What niche are you better in (or could you become better at) than any other competitor?

To find this niche, ask the following questions:

  1. Does your market have an urgent pain and / or an irrational passion?
  2. Are they actively looking to resolve this pain / passion (if not, find another answer to the above question)
  3. Can you clearly define a niche around the pain / passion they try to resolve?
  4. Do you have clear and effective answers to resolve the markets pain / passion?

Example

Keeping the iPod as an example, the pain of the audience was that they couldn't use these complicated MP3 players and had no clear software to rip and download music to their devices. Their passion was easy access to music, but they had turned to the illegal service Napster.

So Apple not only created an easy player, but an easy music library called iTunes that also enabled the user to buy music in MP3 format directly from their online store.

Example for blogs

brian_clarkeWhen Copyblogger looked for a blog topic, he realized that many people wanted to learn how to blog, but that there was no easy manual for the average writer who hasn't majored in journalism and has no technological skills to speak of. So CopyBlogger seized on this target market and created easy to absorb content about becoming a successful blogger.

Your niche will probably be narrower, since the blogosphere today is more competitive and territory on the net is more effectively conquered niche by niche.

Profile your audience

Okay, now you have a clearly defined niche. You know who you work well with + that you have access to them. You clearly defined needs and wants that no-one is fully providing solutions for.

Now it is time to build a profile of your audience. You'll create a general stereotype that defines your audience in such a way that you have someone you can imagine communicating with.

Answer the following questions: of the narrow target market you defined, what would you say are their

  1. Desires (things they aspire to but not necessarily need)
  2. Values (a code of behavior they define as 'good', 'cool' and /or  'appropriate')
  3. Needs (things within your niche they cannot do without and if you provide solutions will 'hook' them)
  4. Can they pay for the products you promote or sell?
  5. What is their level of expertise (you need to pitch your ideas slightly above that, but not too far above that).

Conclusion

Answering all these questions will enable you to create a clear, living, breathing profile of an audience you already connect well with and have some type of access to (we will widen this access in future tutorials.) You will be able to speak in their language, conform to their codes and behavior and rattle their cage enough to stir their curiosity, enthusiasm and loyalty.

Over to you

Leave us a comment with your own link building ideas. We value any contribution that keeps us motivated, points out mistakes or gives constructive criticism to help us improve our content and website.

You can also connect to our community in the forums. Discuss how to build links in our Link Development forum. We are always prompt to answer questions.

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About the Author

Chris McCarthy

Chris McCarthy

Chris blogs on marketing for small businesses and social media.

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