How to find your ecommerce target audience with data

Struggling to pinpoint your target market? We look at the best methods for finding your ecommerce target audience using data and business analytics.

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You’re an ecommerce business with the most brilliant products or services, and the most beautifully designed online store – now, how do you go about finding your target audience?

In the past, the process of identifying customers was mostly based on gut-feeling, with little information to support decisions. This meant online retailers had to test and refine to find their target audience. But today, we have a much more efficient way of finding our target audience: Data. Online retailers that use business analytics to target their audience are 23x more likely to acquire customers.

One of the key uses of ecommerce analytics today is in finding the right target market. So, how do you do it? In this article, we’re going to look at the best, data-driven methods of finding your target audience, and how it will supercharge your ROI.


Target audience definition

First off, let’s quickly look at a target audience definition. Your target audience (or target market/target group, the terms can be used interchangeably) is the specific set of people you are trying to sell to. These are the people you should tailor your marketing and customer experiences to.

A target market is defined by an almost-infinite number of demographic, geographic, behavioural and psychographic characteristics. Here are a few key ones.

Key characteristics defining customers

  • Age
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • Where they spend their time (online or in-person)
  • Values

Depending on what your product is, you’ll need to work out what customer characteristics are the most appropriate for your target audience. For example, if you’re selling a B2B SaaS tool, knowing the occupation and industry of your target audience is critical. If you’re selling cosmetics, however, understanding your audience’s interests and the kind of publications they visit is likely to be more helpful than knowing their work habits.

Let’s dive into how you can find this information and define your target group using data analytics.


Build ecommerce buyer personas

Building a buyer persona is your first step in finding your online store’s target audience. A buyer persona is a detailed description of someone who fits your target audience – they might not be end-users of the product, but they are the ones making the buying decision. This person is entirely fictional, but fits the characteristics of a specific type of customer. You should give this persona a name, demographic details and behavioural traits.

You will probably need to build several buyer personas to encompass all the different kinds of customers you’re targeting.


An example of a buyer persona

Before creating marketing campaigns and customer experiences, consult these buyer personas to guide you in creating a more personalised experience for your target group.

To build your ecommerce buyer persona, you should sit down with your team and brainstorm on who they are and what demographic, behavioural and psychographic factors define them. This might mean making a lot of assumptions at first. However, there a number of ways to use data to make the process of building buyer personas more reliable and efficient.


Look at your current users

The first place you should look to find data that will help you craft buyer personas is in your current databases. If you already have a few customers visiting your site and making purchases, that’s valuable customer data. If you have a following on social media, that’s valuable customer data. If you have an engaged email subscriber list, that’s valuable customer data.

So, make use of it! Using data analytics, you can drill down into a number of factors that can let you know more about your customers and the journeys they made to your site.


Website data metrics to help build you target audience

  • Where visitors are coming from
  • Average order value
  • How they have found your site (through organic, ads, or social media, etc)
  • What devices they’re using to visit your site
  • What content is performing the best
  • The best-converting landing pages

READ MORE: The 4 best ecommerce metrics


Social media metrics to help you build target audience

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Interests
  • Engagement metrics that show the most engaging content
  • Audience demographics

READ MORE: The 4 best Twitter metrics

All this data will give you insights into what the people who are already buying from you look like, so you can understand how to better target these groups in the future. If you’re new to the ecommerce game, collecting data like this may be more difficult because you simply don’t have much yet. But, don’t worry, because there’s still loads of ways to use data to find your ecommerce target audience.



Research or use analytics tools to find customer insights

Once you have tapped into the resources you already have available to you, you’ll need to do some research to further understand the trends and behaviours of your target audience.

If you’re lucky, someone will have already done this work for you. There may already be some research out there that can help you build out your buyer personas. However, this might not be available, or it might not be detailed enough, in which case you might want to use analytics tools to find insights into these customers instead.


Our favourite analytics tools for gathering target market insights

Here are some of our top tools for gathering target audience insights:

  • Google Trends helps you uncover where your target audience are located and what they are searching for
  • Ahrefs identifies the backlinks to your competitors (we’ll touch on what you can learn from your competitors in just a moment), helping you find which industries and third-party websites may be the most interested in your online store
  • Pew Research Centre has huge datasets available to download in order to uncover insights into internet usage, social and demographic trends, and global attitudes
  • MyBestSegments from Claritas helps you find your target audience through segmentation


Utilise survey data

Getting survey data from your existing and potential customers is another effective way build a more accurate and detailed target audience. It may be a bit more expensive and difficult to gather, but it gives you a clear sense of who your customers are, the answers to specific questions about your target audience as well as how you can improve your marketing and their customer experience more generally.

How to gather survey data from your customers

There are a few ways you can gather survey data like this from your customers:

  • Send out surveys: Distribute surveys to your existing and potential customers using email or a web-based services such as SurveyMonkey
  • Conduct interviews: Talk to the customers who you think might fit into your target group. This could be in-person (say at a trade event), or remotely (over social media, for example)
  • Implement focus groups: Organise a Q&A session with a small group of your ideal consumers so you can talk in-detail about their behaviours and values


Analyse the competition

Your ability to analyse the competition is one of few the benefits of how fiercely competitive the ecommerce industry is. Since your main competition has probably already been building out their target audience for many years, they are a great source of data on who you should be targeting.

To gather this kind of information on your competitors, you should conduct an audit. Here are a few tips for doing so:

  • Take a close look at their social media followers for insights into their demographic, behavioural and psychographic characteristics
  • What’s you competitor’s pricing like? This will give you a sense of the amount of money your target audience is willing to spend
  • Which social media channels are they using? This will let you know where your target audience is likely to be most active and open to your messaging
  • Do their customer reviews mention something that could be improved about their product or service that will help you to promote your product over theirs?

Now, all that’s left to do…

Now that you’ve used business analytics to equip yourself with a data-driven, in-depth target market, it’s time for the next step. Start using this information to run highly targeted campaigns, craft relevant and engaging marketing messaging and create personalised customer experiences – and watch your ROI take off!

READ MORE: How AI supercharges data analysis and KPI tracking

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