If you have a product to sell or a service to offer, you have to know who your target audience is. Who buys your product? Who benefits from your service? It’s pointless to go on building a brand without first knowing who you’re building it for. A target audience is a group of people that your product or service is intended for.
In this article, we will focus on finding the target audience for mobile apps.
For apps, a well-defined target audience benefits both the technical and business factors. Think about user centric UX/UI designs or targeted marketing campaigns. They both involve knowing who the target audience is.
The Importance of Having a Target Audience
Before we dive into the topic of how to find a target audience, we need to address the importance of having a target audience.
First, get it out of your head that your mobile app is meant for everyone. You will never be able to please everyone. It’s simply impossible. Groups of people have different needs and interests. Groups of people are living in different stages of life.
We are using the word “groups of people” on purpose. As we said, it’s impossible to have an app for everyone. But, it also doesn't make sense to have an app for one person. You want more than one person to be using your app. It has to be intended for a group of people. That group of people needs to share similar demographics, interests and problems. When you’ve figured out who that group of people is, it is easier for you start planning ahead: you know who to design for, what features they would enjoy, and where to reach them in marketing campaigns.
A truly effective user-centric approach comes from knowing who your target audience is.
Without a target audience, you’re left with no guidelines for design, development and marketing.
Think Like Your Audience
Finding your target audience is not about you, it’s about your audience.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What problem is your app solving?
- Who is your app helping?
- Who would want to use your app?
- How would a person use your app?
The answers to these questions are the first steps of identifying your target audience. The next step is identifying your target audience’s demographics and then building user personas according to these demographics.
Identifying Target Audience Demographics
A target audience is much more than phrases such as, “university students” or “North America”. Your target audience needs to be a specified group of people that share certain demographics and interests. Use your answers to the questions above to help you identify these demographics.
A target audience includes the following demographics:
Keep the age range wide but not too wide. For example, 20-60 is way too large. A 50 year old is unlikely to have the same interests as a 13 year old. There are also usability differences: A 60 year old probably has a hard time reading small font that a 20 year old can easily see. Ideally, your age range should stay within a single generation. A better example would be 13-18 or 20-35.
Men and women are equal but not the same. What does this mean? Imagine you have a shopping app. You’ll need to appeal to men and women differently. Research shows that men shop because they need to. It’s a task that they have to check off their to-do list. Women shop because they love to. They want to browse and learn about brands. Make sure you are aware of those differences when creating your target audience.
The world is a large place. Your app won’t be available to everyone. It can’t be. Some people don’t even have a smartphone. The location can be a region, country, state, county and even city if you are offering regional solutions. It all depends on the purpose of your app.
Again, the world is a large place. There are many different languages used in today’s world. Language changes the way the brain thinks. English speakers read left to right. Arabic speakers read right to left. Make sure you are aware of such cultural differences. In addition, the language you choose for your user personas are also the language(s) your app is localized into.
Education covers several levels. This could be primary school, high school, university, and continuing education. What is the education level of the person? This affects their reading comprehension and vocabulary levels, which influences the way you’re going to talk to them within in your app and in your marketing campaigns. Usually, a younger audience prefers a causal communication style, whereas the generation around 50+ tends to use more formal language.
Purchasing power is an important factor here. If you offer a paid app or in-app purchases, you’ll want to be targeting people who have the purchasing power. Occupation also tells you how busy the person is. Do they work part time or full time? Will they have time for your app? Will they need your app for professional purposes? All this information is valuable when thinking about your target audience.
7. Marital Status
Single. Married. Divorce. Widowed. Different marital statuses affect the way a person make decisions. A single person gets to focus more on themselves while a married person has to focus also on their partner. Those differences are also reflected in the type of apps a single or a married person uses.
8. Familial Status
Familial status gives you the same insights marital status does. It tells you is this person responsible for only themselves or for others as well. 13 year olds for example, are neither responsible for themselves or others. Someone is responsible for them and many of their decisions, including buying in-app purchases.
List any interests here that don’t fall into the other demographics. Does your user enjoy going to the gym or traveling? Do they play fantasy football or real football? These interests will humanize a user persona making them more real and easier to relate to. This will also make it easier for you to understand which social media channels your users are likely to be using.
A relevant one for the mobile industry. Does the person have an iPhone or an Android? Or maybe neither. They operate on an iWatch or a tablet. Your app better be available and it better work well on the devices your target users use. You have to be where your users are.
These are surface level demographics. At times these can be enough to define your target audience. But we should dig deeper. Psychological demographics also affect who will want to use your app and how they will use it.
Psychological demographics for a user persona are:
You’ve got your overachievers, underachievers, extroverts, introverts, sensitives, insensitives, intellectuals, emotionals. People embody all sorts of personalities. Personalities reveal how someone reacts to certain situations, whether that’s in real life or in the digital realm.
What is important to your target users? Do they care about making money, saving the environment? Do they value family values or are they more entrepreneurial? Values show you what matters to a person.
Is your target user an excessively organized person or are they an excessively messy person. They could also be a messy-organized person type of person. You can see how each one of the behavior profiles would, for example, use a daily planner app in a different way and would need different features. Being aware of user behavior allows you to adapt your app’s design and functionalities to better appeal to your users.
Habits lay close to behavior and can be synonymous with lifestyle. How is your user living their life? A person who frequents the gym may enjoy a fitness tracking app. A person who frequents their local coffee shop would benefit from a loyalty rewards app. If you’re targeting luxury loving people then your app should be designed to feel luxurious.
Target Audience Example
Once you’ve identified these demographics, put them together to build your target audience. You should always create a target audience visual that you refer to. There are a few ways to do this, one of them is to build actual user persona profiles.
User personas are individual profiles that visualize and humanize your target audience. User personas remind you of your target audience when you're designing, developing, and marketing your app. The design should appeal to the personas. The features should feel seamless to the personas. The marketing strategies should target real people similar to the created personas.
Create 5 or more user persona profiles for 1 target audience.
Let’s create a user persona and target audience for a travel app meant to help solo travelers connect while abroad.
Look at how the user persona fits nicely into the target audience. The target audience gives you an overview of the group of people you’re targeting. The user persona humanizes the target audience, giving you an actual picture of a person who would use your app.
All of this information can be found by searching the internet. It is also extremely useful to conduct your own interviews and surveys. Talk to people and get their opinion on your app and its functionalities. Record the feedback and make note of which kind of person said what. Real life examples can inspire well thought out user personas and target audiences.
From here you can more easily pinpoint possible challenges, pain points, wants and goals that your target audience has. If you already have users, then gather this information from them by asking for feedback through surveys, focus groups or other means of communication.
Summary: How to find your Target Audience
A well defined target audience is important because it's the foundation on which you build your design, development and marketing strategies.
Finding a target audience involves analyzing the purpose of your app and what problem it’s solving. Then dive into exactly what kind of person would want to use your app. Holding a clear picture of your target audience allows you to make a user-centric design and features. As for marketing, you’ll know where to reach your target audience. Based on the information you’ve gathered, you can find out what social platforms they use, what topics they search for on the internet and what publications they may read or shows they may watch. Target audience is a major factor in finding and acquiring the right users for your app.
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