Demanding online enthusiast or internet-savvy PR consultant? Single top earner or family man from the working class? Male, female, middle-aged, mobile shopper, sports-fanatic. In marketing, a clear focus on the target audience is essential.
The most important factor for success on the market is to find the right match between one's own product and the people who will later use the product or service.
For example, in order to attract potential customers not only to a website, but also convert them into actual buyers, you have to find out who your core target group is. You have to know exactly what this target audience wants, how they make their purchase decision and what added value they expect from a service.
It is all about connecting with the consumer. This only works if you narrow down your target audience as precisely as possible before addressing them. The aim is to tailor the customer approach as precisely as possible to the needs of the target group.
Why is the Target Group Analysis so Important
Customer satisfaction is the foundation of entrepreneurial success. In order to ensure the highest possible customer satisfaction, it is necessary to find out detailed information about the market for a product or service with the help of a target audience analysis.
With this knowledge, the product or service can be tailored to the needs of the target group and addressed through marketing. If no target group analysis is carried out before product development, it can quickly happen that the idea never reaches the intended target group.
Therefore, you should know who your customers are: If you know, for example, the websites they visit or what they enter into Google search, you are one big step closer to them. If you also know what criteria they use to select and compare products, you can deduce how your website or shop should be structured in terms of content.
Any additional information you learn about your target group is invaluable. How to get this information through research, surveys, user profiles and studies is explained here step by step.
I. Finding and Defining the Right Target Group
Since it is essential to understand exactly the people you want to address with your product or service, the first priority is to define the target audience, also called target group. A target audience is a group of people who have the same or similar needs. It is usually described on the basis of demographic and socio-economic characteristics, for example "unmarried women aged 25 to 40 with a high income".
In addition to characteristics such as gender, age, income or place of residence, information on marital status, education, occupation and position also play a role. If one deals with the product and the people who buy it in detail, the target audience definition enables a targeted consumer approach and thus a more effective and more efficient marketing.
The next step is to examine the purchase behaviour of the target group.
II. Exploring the Purchase Behavior of the Target Group
While the target audience or target group definition focuses on the socio-demographic data, the target group analysis is primarily interested in the lifestyle and behavior of the target group - why they buy, when and through which channels. In order to understand the challenges customers face, you should have answers to the following questions:
How can their life situation be described?
What unmet needs do customers still have?
What is the buying motive of the targeted customers?
Who makes or influences the purchase decision?
Where and when do they buy?
What are the buying frequencies?
In addition to these questions, it is important to take into account the different behavioural characteristics, attitudes and values of the people surveyed, the so-called psychographic characteristics. Environmental awareness and use of resources, character traits, brand preferences and consumer habits. For example, while one part of the target group might be more conservative, another might be more open to new things. This versatility of user types can best be illustrated by further segmenting one's target group and dividing it into different main target groups.
III. Connecting with the Customer
But how do you get information about the consumer behaviour of your target group? The simplest answer is: Just ask them! Whether it's asking people to participate in qualitative surveys or filling out simple questionnaires, in many cases direct questioning is the simplest and most efficient method (so-called primary research). For that, it is not absolutely necessary that a large customer base already exists. In market research, surveys can simply be targeted at the people who fulfil the desired characteristics and are representatives of the target audience.
If there are no empirical values, i.e. if you are at the very beginning of your business idea, it is sufficient to set up and analyse a fictitious target group. Through customer surveys and tracking of purchasing behavior, you gradually learn more about your target group and can improve the target group definition step by step.
This task exists in every company: Since user behaviour changes very quickly, especially in the digital world, target groups and their behaviour also change constantly. Accordingly, the target group analysis is a dynamic process, which requires that the topicality of the target audience is regularly checked.
The following measures should therefore not only be carried out at the beginning of a new business idea, but continuously:
Internal company data: What information about customers is already available?
Evaluating a target audience analysis of a similar product
Conducting qualitative interviews or surveys
Internal user testing to eliminate weak points
Observations of the market, trends and current developments
Survey among superiors, colleagues or contact persons
IV. Online Surveys to Address the Target Group Quickly and Easily
After the first users have registered, but at the latest after the first consumers have crystallized, they should be questioned. What do these consumers do in their spare time? What are they interested in apart from work and family? A direct survey with a questionnaire is the opportunity to obtain a lot of concrete information about the personal reasons behind the use of the product or service and to get to know your target group.
For a long time, questioning customers about their consumer experience was regarded as a laborious process, as each individual customer had to be questioned personally. Nowadays, it is easy to conduct a target group analysis with the help of online surveys. Once the questionnaire has been created, it can be targeted at all customers. Thus, it is not only much easier to gather opinions and feedback, but also much more efficient.
When to Use Customer Satisfaction Surveys
If you want to find out how a certain product or service is received by your target audience (product feedback), data should be collected from customers who used it very recently. Which bottle and which label of the brand-new smoothies are the most popular? How does the trailer of the original action thriller appeal to frequent movie-goers? The results can be used to optimise products and eliminate potential defects.
In a further step, online surveys can also be used to improve the overall customer experience: If you conduct regular online surveys with your customers, you draw the attention of both top buyers and newcomers to the fact that you are paying attention, and valuing them as customers. Not only their level of satisfaction can be assessed, but also their unfilfilled expectations for existing products. This in turn serves as input to develop new products. Rewards can also be offered in the form of vouchers or incentives.
But what about the performance of products and services? Customers who have not been active for some time can answer this question by asking them what they currently don't like and what can be done to win them back as customers.
The most loyal customers are also critical to building long-term customer relationships. To measure this, it is a good idea to ask the frequent users of your service or product separately: What do you like? What should be changed? And what should happen next? If customers understand that they are important to you and can make a difference with their feedback, they are usually more than willing to answer questions in detail.
You can also dig a little deeper, for example by asking about the story that ultimately led to using the product:
How did you research potential vendors?
And how did you make a selection?
What prevented or delayed the purchase decision?
Those questions that can be broken down further and further will provide more and more information about whether and in what way your own product is relevant to the target group. After all, the aim is to offer potential customers exactly what they are looking for.
V. Designing Questionnaires
Online survey tools are particularly suitable for asking specific questions to your target group. The advantage is that you can analyse anonymously not only your own customers' views, but also that of potential customers or customers of competitors .
Regardless of whether you want to survey your most loyal regular customers or obtain general feedback on a specific product, three essential aspects should be considered when designing a questionnaire:
Ask clear, concrete and not too many questions: Respondents should be able to understand exactly what is at stake and answer specific questions. Inaccurate questions lead to inaccurate, imprecise answers. In addition, precise questions are much easier to answer and therefore more pleasant for the participants.
Choose a sufficiently large sample: In order to achieve a statistically valid result and minimize error tolerance, the sample should be between 500 and 1,000 participants.
Communicate at eye level with the target audience: The contents of the questions should never be duplicated, the questions should be formulated neutrally and written in a customer-oriented language.
When designing the questions, it is also important to select them according to their area of application. You should therefore know what you want to achieve with a survey. The following questions are a sample questionnaire for measuring customer satisfaction:
How satisfied are you with product x of brand x all in all?
Please give reasons for your satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
How would you rate the (business) relationship with company x / brand x all in all?
How often have you contacted company x / brand x with inquiries or complaints in the past year?
Were your inquiries or complaints answered in an appropriate period of time?
How satisfied were you with the answers or suggestions for solutions that brand x offered you?
How satisfied were you with the customer service of brand x / company x all in all?
If you have additional suggestions or criticism for the customer service of brand x / company x, you can name them below.
How likely is it that you will recommend x (product / company / brand) to friends, colleagues or relatives?
How do you come to this decision?
In addition, you can ask specific questions about the products or services of a brand or company. You can ask about the overall satisfaction with the products, the quality, the price, the price-performance ratio, the offer or selection, the product characteristics, etc.
Moreover, an interesting question to ask would be whether the customers would use the brand or the company again or even recommend it to others. If the participants of the survey are not existing customers, but only potential customers, the following questions can be asked:
Which of these factors are the two decisive criteria to buy products / services from companies x / brand x for you? Instruction: Please choose a maximum of 2 answers. A: Quality B: Product features / Conditions C: Price D: Product / Service Benefits E: Value for money F: Possibility of adaptation to my needs G: Offer and selection H: Something else, namely: open input
What is your overall impression of x (product / company / brand)?
How do you like the design of x (product / brand) all in all?
How likely is it that you will take a closer look at x (product / company / brand)?
How likely is it that you will buy a product from the category x (industry) in the next few weeks?
VI. Conducting Qualitative Surveys Using Free-Text Responses
In order to achieve the highest possible response quality, you should include open-ended questions in surveys. Similar to focus groups, this qualitative survey uses free-text fields in which participants can enter their answers in their own words. In contrast to the already pre-defined answer alternatives of other question types, you can obtain information that you may not have considered yet.
In addition to the personal attitude towards the product, it is also possible to find out how customers use the product. Are there any difficulties? Which contents and functions are not used? What is particularly appealing, what is missing? Participants can also be asked to take a photo or video showing the use of the product (e.g. a photo of their own kitchen).
Especially when it comes to analysing the opinion of the target audience, open-ended questions work efficiently. If several statements are put together, a differentiated opinion with requirements and needs emerges.
Free-text questions can therefore provide valuable insights both for new developments and for existing products.
As a rule, pure open-ended or free-text questions are a rather elaborate type of survey, since on the one hand you depend on conscientious and committed participants, on the other hand you have to evaluate the results with their manifold and individual answers.
When creating surveys with online survey tools, however, the answers are directly available in digital form. The results can be illustrated, for example, with the help of word clouds, so that a systematic evaluation is also possible for open-ended questions.
VII. Creating User Profiles of Target Group Representatives
A lot of information can be gathered from various surveys among customers and non-customers, which must be analysed, evaluated and also illustrated. The aim of these analyses and evaluations should be to create user profiles. User profiles can help to understand the desires and needs of the target group.
A meaningful profile can be created for each typical target grouprepresentative (or for each main target group). Whether real or imaginary, each user profile (or buyer persona) gets a name, an age, an occupation and other key features such as what this user will expect from the product or service. Thus, the anonymous target audience becomes "human".
It is essential to feed these user profiles again and again with the newly acquired data from personal conversations or surveys and to keep them as up-to-date as possible. Because the clearer the user profile is, the sooner you will be able to surprise and inspire your target audience. Then it will be all the faster to exert a strong attraction on consumers.
A target group analysis is not only the basis for any successful marketing strategy. By updating the target group profiles (with additional primary research) you are able to refine the product strategy and brand value in the long term.