How to pick the right target audience for your website

Here are four steps to help you strategically select the best target audience for your website.

Step 1: Determine what the website needs to do for your company. 

There are many things your website can do for your business:

  • strengthen your reputation among a particular group of stakeholders
  • build and facilitate an online community for customers or prospective customers
  • generate leads for your sales team
  • bolster employee recruiting efforts
  • attract investors

Your company’s end goal shouldn’t be having a functioning and nice-looking website. Thinking that a website should function only as a digital brochure, a resource to let visitors know who you are and what you do, is a common way companies limit their website’s potential. A website should serve as a critical tool to drive results for your business.

This step is crucial. Don’t proceed in building a new website or relaunching an existing site without determining what website’s purpose/objective and which business goal the site is supporting and/or fulfilling.

Step 2: Select audiences that you need to reach to achieve your website’s goal.

Once you have your goal in place, it’s time to pick your audience. Who are the people you need to reach to achieve your goal? Start by writing a list of audiences your company naturally engages. Then expand to audiences that your company would like to engage. Small to mid-size B2B companies usually have three audiences.

After writing out a list of potential audiences, answer the following questions:

  • Which audience(s) is most critical to achieving the website objective?
  • In what ways can you segment your potential target audiences out further?
  • Segment by demographics?
  • Segment by psychographics?
  • Segment by location?
  • Segment by industry?
  • Segment by an individual’s role in the organization?
  • Segment by average annual revenue?
  • Are certain demographics or characteristics of these audiences more important than others? 
  • Are there any audiences who are unlikely to ever visit your website?
  • What audiences do other stakeholders identify as important?
  • What can these audiences do to fulfill your website’s objective?

Next, select your primary target audience, which means prioritizing one well above any others you’ve identified.

  • How would you prioritize these audiences and segments?
  • How likely is it that this audience would visit your website?
  • How much competition is there in attracting this audience?
  • Who else is likely to attract this audience away from your site?
  • Which audience is the most critical for achieving your website’s goal?

After your assessment, select your website’s target audience that will best fulfill your website’s purpose and naturally, your company’s business goals.

Step 3: Decide the call-to-action (CTA) for your website’s target audience.

A CTA is what you need your website’s target audience to do beyond just finding, visiting and reading content on your site.

When you visit the paint section of Home Depot’s site, you can see a great example of effective website strategy catered to a target audience. Let’s say I want to paint my bedroom, so I visit Home Depot’s website to get started. After two clicks from the home page, I see a page full of helpful resources for my paint project. I can view a page with pro paint tips, visit a community forum with other DIY painters like me, view pictures for inspiration on how to give my room an interior designer’s touch, and of course, browse Home Depot’s list of paint colors. No matter which web page I decide to visit from here, they all eventually lead me to the ultimate CTA, purchasing something from their website.

For B2B companies that don’t sell their products and services online, ask your target audience to do something that aligns with your goal and their needs. Some examples:

  • A free consultation for an ongoing project or problem
  • Get a quote on a product or service they might need
  • Download a piece of content that helps them solve common customer problems

Try answering these questions to help you think about which call-to-action is the right one to fulfill your website’s goal and engage your website’s target audience:

  • What action(s) would directly produce results or support our business goals?
  • Register for an event?
  • Fill out a form?
  • Download content?
  • Call?
  • Share something online?
  • Navigate to a particular page?
  • How will they navigate to this action?
  • How many clicks will it take for them to see the CTA?

(Pro tip: Aim for a relevant CTA on every page of your site)

Step 4: Map content to your target audience’s biggest questions or problems.

One way to beat your competition is having quality content that’s easy to find and leads to a CTA that’s tied to your website’s goal. Think about the target audience’s needs and wants because that’s what they’re thinking about when visiting your website!

Here are some questions for brainstorming your content strategy:

  • What is our target audience looking for online?
  • How is what our company offers better than competitors/peers?
  • Which of our competitive advantages does the audience care about?
  • What questions would the target audience have before they could complete the CTA?
  •  What problems do they have that we can solve?
  • What content can we create that answers those questions and solves those problems?
  • What content will influence them the most to take action?

All too often, design and competing internal agendas drive website development and content resulting in a website built for everyone – which ultimately becomes a website built for no one. But by strategically aligning your website’s goals with your target audience’s needs using these four steps, your website will attract the audience most needed to produce results for your company.

Written by DeAnna Tipton, former Standing Partnership employee