Online Marketing Strategies - Money Journal

Zero in on Your Target Market by Hacking Audience Segments

Let me clarify two buzzwords that drive me bananas:

  • Target market
  • Target audience

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve treated them the same and the results don’t lie.

broad target market

Thousands of dollars spent, hundreds of hours wasted and an infestation of visitors bouncing from my site.

But I can’t complain…

I caused this.

Your target audience isn’t “anyone who’s interested” in your product, service or content. They are specific segments within your target market.

target market vs target audience

They aren’t the same and if you’re treating them synonymously, then you’re playing a dangerous game.

Power Reviews found that 79% of online shoppers spend 50% of their shopping time researching products.

customer-market research

This means you need to know what your customers are looking for, where they’re searching and how you can integrate yourself as a part of their buyer’s journey.

Your marketing strategy should communicate unique messages to specific audiences that ultimately solve the ‘same’ problem.

Identifying the right target audiences has increased my conversion rate exponentially and I’m going to show you exactly how you can source the right audiences within a crowded target market.

hyper targeted audiences

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Who your buyers are (demographics).
  • Why they buy (psychographics).
  • How to hack your way into their buying cycle (audience hacker 101).

Identifying your target market or niche is the single most important decision you can make as an entrepreneur. Target marketing isn’t just for new start-ups, but it is a key ingredient to scaling your business.

Let’s jump into the mindset of ‘audience hacking’ and look at the best ways to identify a target market and extract targeted audiences within it.

Download your free copy of my eBook Scale: Target Audiences that Buy. I’ll show you how I took my dying business and 10Xed its profits to $250,000 in one year.

You Can’t Find Audiences if Your Target Market is Wrong

What is a target market?

By definition it is a group of consumers whom a product or service is directed towards.

On the other end, a target audience (market segment) is a specific group of people within a target market that a marketing campaign is aimed towards.

For example, a company who sells concert tickets may define their target market as music lovers. The obvious approach to selling Taylor Swift tickets may be to target female teens.

Media Smarts shows that 98% of the time, children have an influence on family entertainment choices, trips and excursions. As a result, marketing to teens has exploded over the past two decades.

marketing to teens

Other target audience examples may include parents or grandparents with children in their teenage years. After all, most 13-year-old girls can’t afford $200 tickets.

This is what target marketing is all about. You create highly effective messages aimed to specific market segments for higher conversion and lower ad spend.

The easiest place to start defining your target market is to begin with your customers. Analyzing who your current customers are will help break down the two key elements to target market analysis:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics

If you don’t have customers yet, we’ll look into reverse engineering who your competitors’ target markets are.

Identifying Demographics – The “Who”

Demographics are a powerful source to determine ‘who’ your customers are. Some key variables to consider are:

  • Income
  • Gender
  • Age group
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Ethnicity
  • Family size

Rather than trying to nail all characteristics, start with a primary variable and extend outwards to secondary and tertiary variables.

A great place to start is by analyzing your competitors using Facebook’s Audience Insights.

audience insights navigation

Audience Insights give you a wealth of knowledge on virtually any target market.

Assuming you’re in a place where you have no idea who your target market is, you can enter the name of a mega competitor in the “interests section”.

Let’s say you’re a mom blogger and you’ve been targeting “moms” as a broad group.

We’ll use Scary Mommy as our example of interest for your ‘ideal’ audience:

Facebook interest targeting

After you select your audience, you’ll get a glimpse of the gender and age group that resonate with this brand.

Facebook audience demographics

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find more information on their relationship status, education level, job title and lifestyle.

demographic targeting.png

lifestyle targeting

Facebook Audience Insights provides a plethora of relevant data. You can spend hours using this free tool to identify key demographics from your competitors who’ve already ‘made it’.

Geographic data is not to be neglected.

target by country

You can get a glimpse into locational segments by countries, cities and languages.
target by city

With this data, you can narrow a target audience using specific age groups, precise locations (as specific as zip codes), and gender.

Labelling women with children as mothers won’t be effective.

You’ll notice that women between the ages 18-24 will show different lifestyles than those who are 35-44.

18-24 year old demographic

35-44 year old demographic

Makes sense though, right?

People in different age groups are in different life stages. My mother and my wife (both mothers) are completely different, yet they’re both moms.

They might be interested in grocery delivery, but my mother would have a stronger affinity to saving money and my wife would be more attracted to saving time.

market segment example

Target Marketing for Local Businesses (Brick and Mortar)

Local markets are a little tougher using this data since brick and mortar Facebook pages usually aren’t that large.

Although you may not be able to use a branded competitor, you can still use a generic phrase. Chiropractors for example are likely to target people with back pain.

interest targeting example

No one ‘likes’ back pain, but they may have mentioned it somewhere along their Facebook timeline or profile.

They’re now a part of Facebook’s Audience Insights.

Narrow it down to your locale and you’ll find some information on the demographics of your potential target market.

chiropractor target market

Choosing a Primary Variable

Facebook is a great way to get information on people who’ve mentioned something in their profile or timeline, but it’s not a guaranteed way to find a profitable audience.

In the medical field, you might be interested in location first, occupation second (benefits packages) and household income last.

Mom bloggers might be interested in family size, age and lifestyle.

When choosing a primary variable for your target market, you want to think of what drives their purchasing decisions.

Don’t get too tied up in Facebook’s stats. You should always look to other industry professionals and compare statistical research.

For example, if age is a primary variable, you’ll want to start thinking about where your audiences live.

social media usage stats shows that 90% of young adults (18-29) and 77% of adults (30-49) are most likely to use social media.

This kind of data will play a role in where you advertise and how you reach your market.

Demographics profile “who” your buyers are.

By understanding the core characteristics of a demographic, you’ll have a solid understanding of where they spend their time and channels you can use to reach them.

Defining Psychographic Characteristics – The “Why”

Psychographics is the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.

In short, psychographics answer “why” a demographic buys.

That’s great and all, but how does that apply to our marketing efforts?

Creating messages that speak the language your audience values and resonates with drives click through rates above and beyond generic advertisements.

For example, Survey Monkey found that 71% of adults are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago. Approximately 50% of survey respondents showed improvement in living a healthier lifestyle.

healthy living stats

Health consciousness is no longer a trend, but it’s a value that has been ingrained at the core of people’s lifestyles.

Rather than advertising $0.50 hotdogs and $1.00 breakfast meals, Ikea continually posts messages on healthy living.

Ikea target audience example

They nail the message by emphasizing socially responsible ways of sourcing fish.

ikea targets healthy living

But they won’t stop there.

They integrate this value beyond their restaurant and into their products.

This Facebook post linked to their “new products” page.

ikea target market

Don’t Forget About Culture – Ikea and Starbucks Haven’t

One component of psychographics that gets overlooked is culture. Cultural beliefs are closely related to demographics (ex. geography).

They represent a group’s attitudes and values deeply rooted in them.

In 2012, Ikea used the same catalogue image in the Americas and Saudi Arabia. But one key element was missing. Can you pinpoint it?

cultural marketing

Where’s mom?

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are limited in comparison to its neighboring countries. Although there have been significant movements over the last decade, Saudi Arabia ranked 127th out of 136 countries for gender parity.

Starbucks did the same when opening its coffee shops in Saudi. Rather than using a woman with a crown in their logo, they just used the crown.

starbucks cultural targeting

As you can imagine, the Americas gave them heck about this. I don’t necessarily agree with the approach, but I can understand their choices from their market research.

Ask your Target Market Questions

Facial expressions, tone and body language often speak louder than words. Although you may not have the capacity to meet every customer in person, phone calls and surveys might be the next best thing.

Treat it like a first date.

Keep the interview casual and try to get a better understanding of who they are, what their challenges are, what makes them tick, what motivates them and their short and long term goals.

Don’t ask them about their deepest fears or prying questions that will end your relationship in an awkward silence.

build relationships with customers

This isn’t a job interview. They’re helping you identify valuable insights on why they chose your product over hundreds of other competitors.

Facebook Audience Insights For Deeper Segmentation

Facebook’s Audience Insights has more than demographic information.

They give you data on behaviors, affinity to like other brands and categorical interests according to your targeting.

When analyzing Harley Davidson, you can see that men who are interested in the motorcycle and are grandparents have a strong affinity to other brands like Chopper Exchange (a classified site for American motorcycles) and the National Rifle Association.

harley davidson target market

Looking at Facebook’s top categories, you can see music preferences and gauge their sense of humor.

Harley Davidson psychographics

But remember:

Use this data with a grain of salt.

Not all men who are grandparents and have shown interest in Harley Davidson think Larry the Cable Guy is funny.

People are unique with different preferences. There is no one trick pony with segmenting your target audiences.

Pay Attention – Words are Powerful

There isn’t any statistical data behind what people say in forums. But let’s think about this for a second.

To post on a forum, you need to…

  • make an account.
  • confirm your email address.
  • write a detailed question hoping someone will answer it.

People who post on forums are either looking for community, promoting their own brand or looking for answers.

A realtor might run a Google search like this:

finding a target market in forums

In a glance, you’ll get an idea of pain points they might want to address through content marketing.

realtor's target market

From a 3-liner, we can dissect valuable information from a first time home buyer  (NeilB4Zod).

  • Male
  • Recently graduated from college
  • Works a corporate job
  • Salaried at about $65,000
  • Is interested in buying his first home

He knows that the value of homes are rising (likely a fear) and isn’t sure if he should save or invest.

The fact that he’s thinking of investing shows that he understands that real estate is an investment which opens up a whole new can of worms.

He doesn’t want to lose money on his investment.

You can take this data and start doing a little more digging to see if others fit this profile.

market research on target audience

Other, more qualified people have done the work for you. You just need to find the data and apply it to your audiences.

real estate agent's target market stats

By using statistically driven data, you will be able to better profile your ideal customer and target very specific messages to fulfill their needs.

And that’s exactly what Target Corporation did when they found out a teen girl was pregnant before her father knew.

How Well Do You Know Your Target Market?

When you’re in the industry for so long, what seems obvious to you might not be as obvious to your prospective customers.

By extracting hyper-targeted audiences within your target market, you’ll be able to create effective messages that address pain points, integrate with audience values and save precious advertising dollars.

Ready to take action?

Download your free copy of my eBook Scale:Target Audiences that Buy. In this book, you’ll see the critical mistakes that almost killed my business and how I segmented profitable audiences to 10X my profits.

Take a second and let me know your thoughts:

  • Have you been targeting a broad market?
  • Do you have any other tips for finding niche specific audiences?

I’d love to hear from you.

10X Your Business


Learn how to identify the right audiences. I 10Xed my business and so can you. Get your free copy of my eBook Scale: Target Audiences that Buy.

I send marketing strategies that work.
Author: Sam Oh
  • Caleb Spreiter

    Good stuff as always (especially the chiropractor part). I’ve run some FB ads for my brick and mortar business before that have done just okay but this got the wheels turning on creating more specific ads for more specific groups in my area. As a chiropractor, I could make an ad targeted at 25-40 year old mothers that promotes keeping their back healthy in order to take care of their kids and then make an ad targeting 60+ year old mothers about being able to play with their grand-kids. That’s kind of basic but definitely more targeted that what I’ve done in the past.

    Unfortunately, the area I live isn’t the most population-dense so some of the FB information was sparse but I kept adding in nearby communities till I was able to get some more information.

    • Sam Oh

      Awesome, Caleb :-)

      Facebook is an awesome source for punching out these ads to VERY specific audiences. Would be very interested to get some updates on your results.

  • augusta precious

    Consider what your retirement targets are. What does retirement imply to you? For a few, retirement is essentially sitting on the yard and observing the grandkids while they play. Their retirement plan will then be in light of this variable. For some, retirement means taking off to see the world. This incorporates broad expenses. For some, retirement comes some place amidst these two extremes. Acknowledging what you require from retirement will give you a clue to make a retirement plan.
    Continue with a sound lifestyle now to acknowledge retirement later on. It may be the ideal time now to lose those extra pounds or to give up smoking. If you are not stable and vigorous when you renounce your job, closefisted spending and living inclinations wont mean a thing. In the event that your manager gives a retirement plan, request to an elucidation from this course of action. See if you can contribute something and if your boss gives coordinating funds.


  • Marcus Louison

    Excellent little book Sam.. Lots of really cool eye-opening info in the book.. I’m ALL IN!!

    • Sam Oh

      Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  • rudy ferrara

    do you have information on using livestream?.


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