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Knowing your target audience and how to reach them is the key to developing a successful business. Whether your business is online, brick-and-mortar, or a hybrid, you still have to build an audience through marketing efforts. Here are five tips for collecting information on and reaching your target audience.

Do market research

Comprehensive market research can be an expensive endeavor depending on the type of technology and labor used to collect the data. Your marketing budget will be a factor in the type of research you do, but there are various free and affordable web-based surveys such as SurveyMonkey.

Other ways to collect data about your target market include conducting interviews with individuals and focus groups. Social media and reviews provide valuable feedback, which can be analyzed through a variety of applications.

Create customer profiles

It’s simple to create customer profiles if you use customer relationship management (CRM) software. It can still be done through emails or spreadsheets. The most important information to collect includes age, gender, income level, and geographic location. The more information you collect, the more you will be able to communicate with each customer on a personalized level and directly provide solutions to specific needs

Develop sales personas

Divide your market into segments to get a more refined view of your customers. Each segment can be represented by a name, character, graphic, or whatever you want to reflect a specific set of values and needs of that consumer type. It’s a way to simplify visualizing your audience with pictures instead of lists.

Study analytics

Look at your website and social media analytics to discover who your available audience is, which many times becomes part of the target market. Learn how many people visit your site each day, where they come from and which parts of your website they visit the most. Find out which visitors stay on your site the longest and keep revisiting your online properties.

Start an email marketing list

Use call-to-actions on your web pages to collect email addresses and other contact information. It’s easy to start a free marketing list and manage your contacts with a platform such as MailChimp. Keeping a list of customers in one place makes it easier to stay in touch with them.