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How to Build an Audience Profile

Giulianno Lopez

Content Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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Building an audience profile can help you create better content that, in turn, helps you achieve your business goals. An audience profile goes deeper than just an overall ideal customer profile (ICP), which mainly covers demographics like location, age, and gender. It includes more in-depth information, like buyer behavior, attitudes, and interests.

Start by Identifying Your Target Audience

For this example, imagine that you’re a company that sells backpacks geared toward the outdoor enthusiast. Your obvious ideal customer profile would be men and women between the ages of 25 and 55 who live near locations noted for hiking and camping. They make an average of $60,000 per year and typically hold a four-year college degree or higher.

The problem with this is that it doesn't give you a complete picture of why customers buy from you. The example serves as more of a guardrail in terms of who will buy your product. To know why they’ll buy, you need to dig deeper.

Understanding your audience profile helps you know what you can do to encourage them to become customers, as well as the types of people who behave the most like your existing customers. This way, you’re not running a “spray-and-pray” campaign on everyone between the ages of 25 and 55 who live in Estes Park or near the Pacific Crest Trail.

If you look closer at that target audience, you’ll start to uncover some behavioral patterns that lead them to your site and to buy from you. And you’ll build out your audience profile by looking for customer behavior in your research.

Your best customers do certain things before they buy, and similar audiences likely do the same. For example:

  • Visitors will spend more money on quality products to improve their experiences. For example, your highest-selling product maybe a backpack with an extra-light titanium frame that distributes heavy loads more evenly and comfortably. You’d want to promote this backpack to similar audiences, increasing the likelihood they’d buy.
  • They research gear purchases carefully, often checking review sites before making a final decision. Many of them subscribe to magazines geared toward outdoor enthusiasts. Running ads on review sites will help you entice similar visitors.
  • Many of them will purchase well in advance of a trip so they can test out their products prior to their hikes or camping excursions, which means that visitors in cooler climates purchase new gear toward the end of winter. This would be the time to run campaigns targeting audiences in the Northeast, for example.
  • While the audience has money to spend, they do appreciate a good discount and are more likely to buy something if they can get free shipping. When you run promotions geared toward similar audiences, offer them an attractive discount, especially if they sign up for your newsletter.

As you’ll see, the audience profile includes more detailed breakdowns of what the audience is willing to spend to get a better experience, as well as how they arrive at decisions, when they tend to make decisions, and what will trigger a purchase.

Things Your Audience Profile Can Include

  • Baseline demographics, like age, gender, and income. You can also include educational information (such as level of education completed) and geographic location.
  • Modes of audience communication. Do they actively use social media? Do they prefer to communicate via email, text message, web chat, or phone?
  • Common challenges they face, which is why they’re looking for your product.
  • Your target audience goals. Do they want to be healthier? Are they looking for products that let them express their personalities, even on the trail?
  • How do they arrive at decisions? Do they research purchases extensively, or are they more impulsive?
  • What time of year do they typically buy big-ticket items?
  • What will trigger them to buy from you?

You can even go further in your audience profile if you notice that many of the accessories, like bladders to hold water, or mess kits, are purchased as gifts:

  • This audience typically purchases around the winter holidays.
  • Usually, this audience responds well to upsells, as they are looking for the perfect gift for a good friend or family member.
  • They read the reviews posted by other customers to figure out if their friend or relative will also like the item.

If you’ve been in business for a while, it’s likely that you already have some of the data necessary to build an audience profile. Platforms that help you determine attribution, analytics on your site, and existing customer data can help you paint this fuller picture of your customers and shape your marketing to better reach them. These audience profiles can also help you better segment audiences and provide offers to them based on past behaviors, as well as find visitors with similar behavior patterns.

Ultimately, your target audience is a rough sketch of who your ideal customers are. When you color in the lines with behaviors and attitudes, you get a much better picture of them and how to reach them.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Growth to learn more about how to build and incorporate an audience profile into your marketing strategy.

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