Is Your Target Audience Really Who You Think It Is?

Is Your Target Audience Really Who You Think It Is?

I think it is safe to say that as consumers, we have pretty much grown accustomed to being served ads whenever we go on the internet whether we’re looking at the news, the weather, pop culture, playing games, or are using various apps. If digital ads are not going away, wouldn’t you rather be served ads for things you are interested in? When you are doing any type of marketing and advertising, it is crucial that you know who your target audience is. Not only do you want to make sure that you are targeting the right audience, but you also want to make sure that you are offering what your customers and potential customers are interested in.

For a fun little experiment, let’s take a look at some of the ads that I have been served just this past week and the categories that might be associated with why I was seeing that ad: 1) Lawn Care Treatment (homeowner category), 2) KitchenAid mixer (mom category; this was a Mother’s Day specific ad), 3) Nail Clippers for a dog (pet owner category), 4) Silicone Rings (married category or mom category as it was another Mother’s Day specific ad), and my personal favorite 5) Red Wine (this is probably from the “working from home with your spouse and toddler for 6 weeks during a pandemic” category).

All of these ads are relevant to me as I have recently Googled “how to kill moss without killing your grass”, “dogs nail is half ripped”, I have looked up several dinner recipes, and also looked up where I could buy the new tequila from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. While these ads are targeted towards me, every so often you might get the occasional ad that gets you scratching your head thinking to yourself “what in the world did I do to be served THAT ad?!” For example, a few weeks ago I was served an ad that talked about joint replacement surgery, but I am a 32-year-old with perfectly fine joints.

As a business owner, you typically have an idea of who your target customer is, but do you really? For the longest time, the only way to target people was by age and demographic. If you have an antique store and you’re running ads on the radio, you might be running ads on a classic hits format and reaching women 35-64. If you are an auto parts store and running ads on a TV station, you’re probably targeting men so maybe you are going to run ads on the local sports station. Those are all great places to start targeting, but what if I knew what specific types of sports your customers were interested in? Let’s get deeper; what does your target audience enjoy? What are they doing while they are online? What I am going to show you is how you can use two different FREE tools that will dive into your website and your Facebook business page so you can get a better idea of who is visiting your website, what those people enjoy, what they are interested in, what age they are, etc.

The first thing that you can utilize is your Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a really neat tracking tool that uses lines of HTML code, and that code gets placed on each page of your website. Once that is placed on your website, it collects information about who is coming to your website, how many people are visiting your website, where are they coming from, what other websites do they visit, etc. While there are various reports that you can pull with Google Analytics, one of the reports that you can pull is called the Audience Demographics Overview Report. This report is going to show you the breakout of all the people who are coming to your website, and it is also going to show you the age breakout and the gender breakout. The funny thing about this report is that a lot of times when business owners look at this, they are surprised at the results that they find. For example, they might think that their target audience is an older demographic, but when they look at this report, they see that most of their traffic is coming from people that are much younger than they were originally targeting. They also might think they have more of a female targeted audience, but they see through the Audience Demographics Overview Report that they have more male visitors coming to their website.  

In this example, this was for a real estate company and when they saw the demographics of the people that were coming to their website, they were very surprised because they had been targeting an older demographic of 45+, and also going after a female demographic. After seeing these metrics, they decided they needed to not only change who they were targeting, but also change up their ad creative to compliment who was coming to their site. Instead of having an ad that was targeted to an older demo, they switched it to a younger couple: 

One thing to note with this report is that there is a setting within Google Analytics that must be turned on for Google Analytics to start collecting the data. If you pull this report (and the upcoming report) and there is no data, make sure that the “enable demographics and interests report” is turned on:

Another report within Google Analytics that can help you determine who your target audience is the Audience Interest Overview Report:

This report is going to show three different metrics:

Affinity Categories- a broad overview look at the type of people who are coming to your website- how they can be categorized by things they are interested in. For example, people who like to cook, travel, or are interested in sports

Other Categories- a more granular look at the interests of users beyond the broad overall categories that are the “affinity categories”. These categories dig deeper into the categories found in affinity categories

In-Market Segments- people who are actively in the market to buy something at that moment. For example, people looking for business services, or financial information, or travel

By having this information, you can find out what the people that are visiting your website are interested in. For example, this report was for a credit union, so we can see that the people that are coming to this website are interested in banking and finance, and that makes sense, but they are also news enthusiasts, and they like sports, and we know that because of these affinity categories. Now with the other category, we are going to see what kind of sports they are interested in- they are interested in football and baseball, and they like sports news and the weather. So maybe for this credit union, they can get creative with their messaging and add in some sports lingo, or partner with a local sports figure. With the in-market segments, now we can see what they are actively interested in; used cars, new cars, and travel. This gives that credit union an idea on what they could be, and should be offering to their customers- auto loans or talking about taking a vacation they have always want to take.

Another free tool that you can use is with Facebook and is called Facebook Insights. Facebook Insights is like Google Analytics for your Facebook Business Page. There are different reports that you can look up to see how people are getting to your Facebook page, what they are doing when they get there, where they are located, and more. The specific report that we are going to look at is going to show an age and demographic breakout of the people that are coming to your Facebook business page, and you find this by going to the “people” tab within insights:

This is showing us that 83% of the people that like this businesses Facebook business are women, and 17% are men. It is also showing us that about 40% of the people are 35-54. This is good information to have because when you look at this data, it might be different from what you originally thought so this is an easy way to double check yourself to make sure that you’re targeting the correct audience for your business. 

Targeted ads aren’t going away, and people would actually rather see ads that are tailored to them instead of being served that don’t relate to their interests. Seventy one percent of consumers prefer personalized ads, and personalized ads also boost engagement. People are also almost twice as likely to click through for an ad featuring an unknown brand if the ad was tailored to their preferences. By utilizing some reports pulled from Google Analytics and your Facebook insights, you can relate to your target audience on a deeper level, and maybe even discover a new pool of people to target.

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