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How to define and reach your mobile app target audience

From mobile ads to social media marketing, there are several ways to reach an audience who may be interested in your product. However, with 3.48 million apps available for download on the Google Play Store and 2.22 million available apps for iOS, competition is fierce across all verticals. This makes it more important than even to define your target audience and find ways to reach them. In this guide we cover everything you need to know about defining your target audience and share best practices that can optimize your targeting capabilities over time.

Why is it important to define my target audience?

Even the world’s most unique products have to find the thread between a product’s value and finding the audience that can benefit. You should consider your target audience from the very beginning because it will inform your mobile app’s features, UX/UI design and how you plan to monetize your product.

Taking time to accurately define your target audience will enable your app to scale faster. Moreover, you can gather data and learn from behavioral trends to increase the efficacy of your targeting. For example, audience segmentation tools allow you to create lookalike audience groups so that you can target similar users to those who have been proven to be the most valuable.

How to define your target audience

  1. Understand your product’s value: The first step in defining your target audience is to have a comprehensive understanding of your product. The point is to go beyond simply listing your product’s features - to ensure that you are questioning how your mobile app is valuable to different types of users. This includes questions such as:

    What does my product do?

    What makes my product unique?

    Why should users be interested ininstalling my app?

    Your target audience will be any users who can gain value from your product, so these are important questions to ask from the very beginning. The answers will also be informed by market search and user behavior over time but this is a smart way to lay a foundation for how you plan to generate installs and revenue.

  2. Conduct market research: Market research is a critical step toward defining your target audience. This will reveal what your competitors are offering users, their shortcomings and where they have been successful. By learning the pain points of your competitors you gain insight into what makes your mobile app valuable by comparison.

    In addition to researching your competitor’s product, you should also learn how they are targeting users — if possible —  based on this activity. This ranges from how they operate across social media channels to the customer service provided in-app.

  3. Identify your target audience’s demographic: Market research and data analysis can help you identify your target audience, which will be a group defined by demographics and interests. Here are some of the most important factors that will shape your target audience:

    Location: The whereabouts of your audience will play a factor in behavioral trends and user interests. This can affect everything from the popularity of your app vertical to the average mobile usage and spending habits. Depending on the purpose of your app, this can be as accurate as a single region, country, state, county or city.

    Age range: This is another important factor that can shape your app’s design, features and monetization model. enerational groups are a smart way to target by age.

    Gender: Even if you want to target all genders for your mobile app, you may want to use this as a defining factor for segmentation. This enables you to target each gender differently.

    Language: Localization is a smart way to scale your business. With thousands of languages spoken around the world it is impossible to make your app available to everyone. Usually tied to your target audience’s location, the language availability on offer will make an impact when reaching your growth target.

    Education: The education level of your users will affect factors such as the average reading level. This in turn will need to be considered for how you communicate with your audience.

    Interests: It would be pointless to spend your marketing budget advertising to users who have no interest in your mobile app. Your target audience should be defined by those who have a proven interest in products relevant to your company. This aligns the value of your mobile app with users who can make use of those benefits. A user’s interests should also be considered when designing your ad creatives.

    Devices: You can also target by the type of device. For example, this is essential if your product is only available on Android or iOS.

    Familial status: This can be useful because marital status and a user’s family setting will change the way they spend their time and disposable income.

    Occupation: Your audience’s occupation will affect factors such as their income and mobile app usage. This should be considered when creating your app’s monetization model and ease of use.

  4. Build user personas: Once you know the demographic you want to target, you should consider the behavioral trends that are common for that audience. For example, location, age and income will all affect the way users spend time on their device and the way they spend their money. This can inform your targeting and allow you to connect with your audience according to their habits. There will be more than one type of user that you want to target so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t deliver the best results. Instead, you can develop user personas to define  different types of users and map their typical user journies. When developing user personas you should also consider psychological demographics such as:

    Personality traits: Even after filtering your target audience by demographics, your audience will still have a variety of personality traits that can be used for more accurate targeting.

    Values: What is important to your audience can be used to convey the advantages of having your app. For example, a shopping app may want to highlight the benefits of their discounted products to audiences who want cheaper alternatives to luxury products.

    Behavioral trends: This includes how much time your target audience spends on their devices, the type of apps they use and how much they will typically spend per app. Behavioral trends are also important for setting benchmarks that let you know how your app is performing well and where there is room for improvement.

  5. Start advertising your product: Once you have considered the steps above you will be ready to start advertising your product and testing what works for your audience. When advertising your mobile app it is important to be adaptable based on your analytics — even if the results are unexpected — and continue a data-driven marketing approach. While running campaigns you have an opportunity to learn more about customer preferences and understand how you can optimize your product to provide greater value.

    You can also engage with your audience and gather user feedback to get more detailed insights into how your product and marketing strategy can adapt. For example, you can engage with users on your social media channels to learn what they like and dislike about your app. You can also introduce a feedback form so that users can make suggestions and share their pain points while using your app.

Defining your target audiences for mobile apps: 3 best practices

  1. Use a tracking/analytics platform to learn more over time: Once you have categorized your target audience, you can gather data and deep dive into analytics to learn more. By tracking performance you can gain valuable insights into what works for your target audience and what doesn’t. Mobile analytics shows how users engage with your mobile app, including session time, retention rates, churn, installs and ROAS. This empowers you to optimize these metrics and scale your business. This ensures that you are taking a data-driven approach to marketing that will help you connect with your audience.

    Further down the line, you can also use mobile measurement partners to create lookalike audiences. For example, Adjust’s Audience Builder is a tool for retargeting that enables you to build, download and share customized user lists. You can set conditions to segment users and create group lists to share with partners for retargeting and A/B testing.

  2. Explore your ad network’s targeting capabilities: Ad networks will have a range of targeting capabilities that you can leverage to reach your audience. For example, Facebook will automatically share ads with users relevant to your product but you can also add targeting filters to your ad delivery. Facebook enables you to target users by location, behavior, demographics, interests and connections to specific events and Facebook pages. You have the option to create Core Audiences (based on criteria such as age, interests and geography), Custom Audiences (users who have engaged with your company) and Lookalike Audiences (new people whose interests are similar to those of your best customers).

  1. A/B testing is critical to success: Once you have completed your research and have implemented ad campaigns, A/B testing is a smart way to optimize your campaign performance over time. This includes testing different networks, creative and experimenting with demographics.How to complete the A/B testing cycle in five steps
    1. Develop a hypothesis: Your research and analytics will inform your hypothesis of what you expect to happen as a result of your A/B test.
    2. Segment your audience: Create two parallel audience groups that show the same user behavior. You can now expose each audience group to a variant of your ad creative.
    3. Analysis: Once your campaign is running you can analyze the results to see if your hypothesis is correct.
    4. Implement changes: Based on your findings you can make changes to your ad creative and targeting options.
    5. Adapt your hypothesis and repeat the process: With your new information you can now develop a new hypothesis and continually adapt for better results.

You can learn all about A/B testing with our complete guide. This includes a more detailed breakdown of the testing cycle and best practices for optimal results. We also have resources for How to be strategic about attribution after iOS 14.5.

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