Imagine you’re a marketing manager at a global sports shoe brand. Your latest product release is a pair of running shoes. You’ve already spent thousands bringing this design to market, not to mention the associated advertising creative costs (e.g. producing image and video content), all to be used in your digital marketing campaign. You launch your social media campaign via Facebook ads. Casting the net wide, you decide to target “anybody who wears running shoes”. You wonder why traffic to your website isn’t converting. Does this all sound a little too familiar? Then you haven't defined your niche audience.
Catch-all marketing just doesn't cut it anymore. What you need to take is the niche audience approach invest the time in strategizing, researching and defining your niche audience. As your shoe design is unique, individual, and fully customizable, your niche audience must reflect this. After some research, your niche persona is created: a 20-something woman with pink hair. You can now set your social media strategy in accordance to your defined niche audience.
Sounds simple but there is a bit more to it. If you are having trouble defining your target audience, or are doubting the importance of doing so, this article has a lot to offer you.
What is a Niche Audience?
First thing’s first, let’s define what a niche audience is.
A niche audience is a more focussed subgroup of the broader market’s target audience.
The niche audience has a specific group of needs, which can be met by a targeted product or service. In this above example, the target audience would be “anyone who wears running shoes” but the niche audience is “a 20-something woman with pink hair”.
What are the Benefits of Having a Niche Audience?
Niche audiences are a money saver
A niche audience is important because it makes your brand stand out from competitors, establishes a positive reputation and positions your business as an authority or expert in your field. It will help your business save on costs too! Consider the sports shoe and Facebook example - instead of spending lots of money to reach a wider group of people and have fewer conversions, you can spend less money reaching a more specific group of people who want your product. The right customers will often mean repeat business and it’s easier to engage with fewer people, meet their needs, maintain a good product combined with customer service, and making it difficult for them to go elsewhere.
Crowd out the competition
Another advantage of a niche audience can often mean less competition (this may also depend on how specific your product is). The more specific your product or service is, the fewer companies there will be competing for your customers. Of course, the disadvantage to this means that you will be marketing to fewer customers than if you were to approach a wider target group. This is why it’s really important to get to know your niche audience on an intimate level, so you can strategize better ways to meet their needs and in turn, win their brand loyalty and therefore repeat business.
Earn a higher profit
You’ve thoroughly researched your demographic and are ready to price your product. Here’s where things can get delicate regarding pricing! The temptation to price high may backfire on some customers but there are also customers who will not mind paying a higher price for a product or service they feel they cannot get elsewhere. Researching both your niche audience demographic plus a competitor analysis is key here when it comes to pricing.
Content marketing is better with niche audiences
Investing in content marketing as part of your marketing strategy is one of the best things a business can do to get those inbound marketing leads and resulting sales. With so much content available online, it’s easy for content to get lost in a sea of digital noise. The solution? Invest in content creators who will create content that inspires, educates and provides value to the consumer. Consumers want content that is targeted to them. The bonus for marketers is that Google loves organic content, and will rank your pages higher. Consumers will feel more engaged with the brand, the relationship will grow stronger, you’ll get feedback directly from your consumers, which will only serve you well when it comes to understanding how they’re responding to your product or service.
How Can I Find My Niche Audience?
Analyze your product
Take a step back and look at your product again. Who is it for and why is it for them? It’s important that these two questions are answered correctly or else you might run into difficulties reaching your audience. Ultimately, these questions should also explain why your target audience should buy from you.
For instance, if your brand offers services within the financial industry, you need to consider who those services are going to benefit the most. Companies or individuals? If the former, B2B or B2C? You might even want to dig a little deeper to see the demographics of individuals who may be attracted to your services, such as age and gender. Combing through your services very finely will allow you to analyze and figure out your exact niche audience.
Another way to define your audience is by digging for authentic customer feedback. Use the data analysis to compile demographics accordingly. How old is your customer? Where do they live? How are they purchasing your product? What professions do they work in? What are their hobbies or interests? Are they single or partnered? Do they have children? Who do they live with? What is their income? All of these questions will help you identify who are the people most benefiting from your product or service and you as a brand manager, can align your strategy accordingly.
Check out this deep dive into NET-A-PORTER for an example as to how
Is your audience easily accessible?
Now it’s time to see if your audience is easily accessible. Where will you place all your advertising and marketing so that it can target all of those potential customers?
Thankfully, most audiences will be accessible once you figure out where they usually “hang out” online. For instance, Millennials and Gen X can still be found on Facebook. However, Gen Z doesn’t use the platform as much as others, such as Snapchat. So, if you need to target teens with your marketing, it makes sense to largely ignore Facebook in favor of Snapchat branding and adverts.
Once you’ve figured out where your audience is online, you can then create clever marketing campaigns that put your brand message right in front of potential customers.
Find out what your audience wants from you
Are you giving your audience what they want? This is important besides simply finding them online.
What kind of advertising will pique their interest? What features and benefits do they want from your products or services? Of course, you’ll need to speak to your audience directly to get any usable data to answer these questions.
Carrying out customer surveys is one way to go about collecting this data. You’ll be able to put your burning questions directly to those who already use your brand. As well as this, you can also carry out research on social media. The insights you’ll find on your Facebook page and Twitter account can be very useful and should show you which posts and tweets followers and fans react to the most positively. It’s also worth using Facebook and Twitter polls to see exactly what your followers think. These are completely anonymous so your customers shouldn’t be too cautious about holding anything from you!
Check out the competition
It always makes sense to see what the competition is up to. Maybe their niche audience isn’t exactly the same as yours, but perhaps there is a crossover? In what ways are they engaging them that may also work for your strategy? Maybe they are doing something completely wrong and will save you the trouble of making the same mistake? Learn how they are engaging their niche audience and analyze the ways they are targeting them, then, do it better!
Your niche audience may change over time and that’s okay! Whether a new product or service has gone to market, or your niche audience has eyes for another brand, it happens. By using brand tracking software to track your brand awareness, you can start to understand this change and seek out to explore this new audience who’ve entered the market. Give yourself full permission to adjust your strategy accordingly and focus your attention on attracting and nurturing this new niche audience.
Evaluate your decision
So, you’ve made a decision on who makes up your target audience. But is it the right one? It’s important that you evaluate the outcome to make sure it’s correct.
Sometimes evaluating your own decisions isn’t that easy, so it might be worth getting your branding team on board to help give their objective opinions.
The first thing to look into is whether there are actually enough people who fit the criteria of your target audience. A niche audience is always good, but if the niche is particularly small, then you might not have enough people to target. And that means growing sales and revenues could prove to be very tricky indeed.
Are you sure that your target audience will even benefit from your product or service in the first place? Just having a product or service that appeals to your niche isn’t enough—it needs to also have a defined benefit or else your customers will quickly lose interest.
These benefits need to be more than just the features of the product or service. One example is that a new cell phone might be advertised as having a fast Internet connection. That sounds like a benefit, but it’s actually only a feature. However, this does mean that users will experience faster load times for websites and apps, which is a big benefit. It’s this benefit—the consequence of the product feature—that needs to appeal to your target audience. Otherwise, they might not find a good enough reason to purchase from your brand.
Tools to Help Define Your Niche Audience
Defining your niche audience shouldn’t be too difficult, especially when you have these tools on your side.
You’ve probably already paired your website with Google Analytics. If you aren’t using the analytics provided by this tool, why ever not?!
There’s a wealth of information you’ll be able to glean from all this data, including the demographics of people who visit your site, the pages that they spend time on, and the search engine, social media platform, or another website that sent them to your site.
Once you collect this kind of data, you should have a very good picture of your niche audience. This can act as a great jumping-off point for defining your audience or something that you can build on with further research.
So, now you’ve got some data on your target audience, it’s time to put some of that to work by helping with decision making. Latana’s AI-powered brand tracking software can help with that. By tracking your brand over time, you’ll be able to use the tool’s scalable insights to see the changes in your brand performance. Part of the tracked data will be deep audience segmentation for target audiences, for a very precise audience definition. Using the tool’s interactive dashboard will also give you the chance to find new audience that are accelerating growth.
Social listening is a fancy name for snooping on social media. All it involves is you taking to the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see what people are saying about your brand. This is a great method of analyzing your niche audience’s perception of your brand. Perhaps they don’t have quite a positive view of you as you might have thought!
Sure, you could spend your time scrolling through Twitter and Facebook for every mention of your brand, but it would be much more efficient to use a dedicated social listening software or a custom tool for scraping Twitter. The software monitors online conversations and will be able to provide you with an analysis of what’s been said after a specific period of time. Knowing what your niche audience is saying about you will help you understand them a bit more.
Examples of Real Brands and Their Target Audience
Some brands get their target audience completely. They understand what their buyers want and expect, and so are able to create strong marketing that appeals to even the most niche of audiences. Here are just a few examples.
Zipcar is a company that deals in car hire. Users sign up online and then can book a car by the hour or day. Cars are parked around major cities, so there’s no need to visit a Zipcar office for the keys; users simply unlock their chosen car through the app. Once they’re finished with it, they just park it where they picked it up.
The main user of Zipcar is the urban-based millennial. Those who maybe can’t afford a car full-time and don’t need to use one on a regular basis. As millennials are mainly found on social media, Zipcar has focused a lot of their branding efforts on Facebook and Twitter. From witty posts that engage and a responsive social media team across the two platforms, they’ve really nailed their engagement with millennial social media users.
Another brand that does millennial marketing extremely well is Chipotle. Known for its use of fresh and sustainable ingredients in its Mexican food, Chipotle created a fictional web series called “Farmed and Dangerous.” Featuring a Millennial farmer, Chip, who battles a corrupt food production company, the web series was more of an experience as the brand also created a dedicated website featuring trivia and behind-the-scenes clips.
The brand didn’t stop there. They even released an iPhone game that further helped pull millennials into this unique branding experience.
Now let’s take a look at a brand that has proven to be effective at targeting the older generation. Quaker Oats gets an 86% approval rating from baby boomers, which is a whole 10% more than from millennials. So, why do these porridge oats get so much love from older folk?
One of their secrets could be their branded events, such as the AARP Life@50+ event in Washington DC. Visitors could take dance lessons or enjoy free samples from Quakers, all in the name of promoting healthy living. There was also the chance to win a $50,000 grand prize which visitors could enter by submitting videos of their dance moves. All those people who attended the event would have gone away associating Quaker products as being healthy choices in the grocery store.
Congrats! You now kow how to take the first step toward brand affinity.
Learning why and how to define your niche audience is a great skill brand managers can utilize as part of their marketing campaigns. Saving money, maxing out the competition, turning a higher profit and using content marketing to inspire and educate your customers, and nurturing loyal and returning customers are all advantages of learning to define and market to your niche audience and make it work in your brand’s favor.
Now it's time to put theory into action! Check out our 7-step plan today.