Your marketing exists to help sell your products or services, and to do that effectively, you need it to reach your audience most likely to buy.

While there are many effective ways to target your audience, you need to find a process that works for you, your business, and your budget. These ideas could help you make the most of your marketing dollars.

Step 1: Identify and  understand your audience

Your customers, or would-be customers, are your audience. You can start with your existing customer base, and also consider people who might benefit from your product or service.

Research: Once you have a sense of who your audience might be, find out more about them—you don’t have to pay for research. See what Pew Research says about your potential customers. You also can look online for articles that help you understand your customers’ demographic.

Dig Deeper: As you focus on a particular audience, try to avoid assuming things that you can’t back up with facts. A great way to find hard information is from Census Bureau records.

Go Beyond Demographics: Don’t think of your audiences strictly in terms of their age or other demographic characteristics. Think about behavior, too, you’ll often find that your audience crosses demographic lines. You might have a product for older people, for instance, but find out that it’s usually their children who purchase it—and thus your audience may be younger than you’d assumed.

Step 2: Connect with your audience:

Once you know the group or groups you want to connect to, think about how to reach out to them, both with specific content that may appeal to them, and through channels most likely to reach them.

Channels: Your target groups may be particularly likely to use one social media platform or to consume a specific kind of online content. If you’re looking to reach teenagers, content on Snapchat might be effective, for example, while families with kids may prefer email marketing or Facebook. The  more you know about your audience, the more effectively you can target your message.

Content: Consider targeting particular groups or subgroups of your audience with different strategies and kinds of content most likely to appeal to them.

Step 3: Follow up to make sure you’re reaching the audience you want

Track your efforts to see what’s working. Marketing is an investment in your business, and the ultimate goal should be to optimize the impact of every dollar you spend. To track the ROI of each effort, regularly collect data on all of your initiatives and analyze the results. As part of that process:

Compare your results with your goals: If you’re missing the marks you set, investigate. Was it a problem with execution? Are you not reaching the sweet spot of your desired audience? And learn from your successes, too. Are there ways to expand winning initiatives or achieve the same results even more efficiently?

Use the tools within reach: For example the site offers user testing, including click testing and navigation tests, to check whether your marketing messages are hitting the mark. Checking your message with data can be useful.

Look at multiple indicators: No single metric can tell you all you need to know, so be sure to assess your marketing from multiple perspectives.

Review your performance every quarter: Keeping track of your progress can help you to ramp up efforts that are working and adjust those that aren’t, preventing small missteps  from becoming bigger, and more expensive, problems.

No matter the size of your budget, careful planning can optimize the funds you have and bring you closer to achieving your marketing goals. A focused, efficient, and strategic approach to audience targeting can help your company to engage your customers, grow your business,  and  improve your bottom line. Let us know if you need help with any of these elements!