Understanding Your Target Demographic

Written by Zac Johnson
social social social

Since before I can remember, I was interested in understanding people – what motivates them to act a certain way, wear a specific style of clothing, fit into the “crowd” (or actively choose not to), shop like crazy or remain thrifty, etc. I remember asking “Why?” to the point that it annoyed people. Later on down the road when deciding upon a path in college, Psychology seemed like a natural fit.  Little did I know that the courses in behavioral analysis, cognitive psychology, and statistics would become the perfect foundation for this industry.

To succeed  as an affiliate marketer, it’s imperative that you truly understand your target demographic.  This doesn’t mean taking a wild guess at what your target demographic values. You’ve got to consider that every single demographic grew up with different historical events, social influences, and psychological factors that all influence their decisions to buy (or not to buy). For example, if you are trying to promote  a new fitness product to women over 45 years old, your creatives, landing page, and marketing copy should relate to women in that niche. A 45 year old woman is probably not going to click on an ad with a 19 year old fitness model plastered over the creative – it simply doesn’t relate to who she is physically and emotionally. Truly knowing, researching, and understanding your target demographic can really make or break your campaigns.

I’m going to go over some of the free tools that I use to research niche demographics – tools that you can use to better understand your targets and in turn, increase the effectiveness and conversions of your campaigns. But, before we get to that, let’s first take a look at the 5Ws.

Who: Who are you marketing to? Who we are deeply influences what we buy. Define who your niche as specifically as possible. (i.e. Single moms age 35-40 who bring in approx. 40K per year, Men ages 50-60 who bring in approx. 100K per year and live in the UK, etc.)

What: What are you promoting and does it match who you are marketing to?

When: Does your niche purchase impulsively or do they take some time to decide upon a purchase?

Where: Where does your target spend their time online?

Why: People buy for emotional reasons, and those reasons differ amongst all targets. It is important to research and understand the emotional triggers that elicit a purchase.

There are many research sites online where you have to spend 15K just to access what is essentially, aggregated data. Though there are reports online that may be worth a small investment, there is enough free info online to fill a never-ending library.

These are a few of the big research sites where you can find some free information, and/or useful articles to help better understand your target niche, reach them effectively, and increase conversion rates.

The US Census Bureau

A plethora of free information for you to sort through and analyze. Here’s a word of advice – use the search function. It will often give you a list of title headings that will give you crucial consumer insights.


The NielsenWire Blog

Free Reports, Downloads, and Consumer Insights


The eConsultacy Blog

Search through the blog for the latest online marketing news. Research reports also available.


eMarketer Articles

Excellent articles on niche marketing and the latest stats regarding marketing online. Research reports are also available – You can generally get a brief description of the report and source info. Search for the source of the information and you will be amazed at the statistics you will find.


Free Marketing White Papers on a Variety of Topics

Compiled from businesses, analysts, and research companies, these reports are great – but you may want to cross reference to make sure the facts line up.


Pew Internet and American Life Project

Reports, data, and stats regarding niche marketing, consumer trends, social media marketing, and more.


The Get Elastic Blog

One of my favorites. If you are looking for a great place to learn more about everything from effective landing page design to behavioral targeting – this is it. The Get Elastic Blog has been recognized as the #1 eCommerce blog by PostRank and has been recognized as one of the most subscribed eCommerce blogs on the Net. Tons of great research here.


Forrester Research

Offers free research reports in a broad array of industries.


Another Useful Way to Source Info – Google News or Google Blog Search

While I feel that all of these sites are useful, there is a certain method that I use to find the latest, up-to-date market research and info. If you go to Google and just type in “marketing to *your target niche* online,” you will most likely come up with a ton of outdated results. Try the following method for the latest info and news on your target.

#1. Go to https://news.google.com, https://blogsearch.google.com, or use Google’s Advanced Search Option. Always sort by date and try to look for information obtained within the past 3-6 months. (Anything older is getting…well, old.)

#2. Type “marketing to *your target niche*” You can test out the results adding “online”  at the end. The main purpose of this is to start gathering info and data regarding your target niche’s motivations, buying behaviors, etc.

#3. Chances are the results will have some good sources of info. This is where you can begin collecting data on your niche: who they are, why the buy, where they are online. Change up your search query as you go through the 5Ws. For example, if you are trying to find where women buy online, try checking the current stats on “marketing to women Facebook”

I’ve done extensive research on Marketing to Women and Marketing to Baby Boomers online using many of the sources listed about (among countless others). In “Marketing to Women” Part 1 and Part 2, I go over important details about this powerful group of online spenders and how to increase your conversion rates (i.e. using empathic ad copy, family-friendly creative materials, and etc.).  In “Marketing to Baby Boomers”, I describe the social and historical events that have influenced this group’s spending habits, and how to effectively market to one of the wealthiest demographics out there.

You can follow my market research twitter list as well: https://twitter.com/sararanderson/e-research

I hope this info is useful for all of you! If you’d like more info or would like to connect with me, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @sararanderson. Thanks guys!

This is a guest post by Sara Anderson, PR Coordinator at Clickbooth, the Exclusive CPA Network.

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18 Replies to “Understanding Your Target Demographic”

  1. I agree with this opinion. understanding the target demographic will make us easy to decide which market should be kept as "follow up", and it's important to super affiliate. But it needs time, isn't it?

  2. That’s crazy Zach! Most of the research I do is just by getting myself inside the viewpoint of the demographic. I had never thought of the census bureau or these other resources. I am having a stupid moment right now looking at that list, wondering why it had never occurred to me to look there before. LOL

  3. Great post Zac. Great points about understanding your demographics. Many people do not stop to fully consider who they are marketing to and what makes them buy or not. Knowing how your demographic thinks and acts can substantially improve your conversion rates and overall sales.

  4. Awesome suggestions Zac about targeting your demographic the right way. I would also say not to forget about testing as sometimes your demographic might not be as you once originally thought.

  5. Understanding the targeted demographic is a key of success selling. But how to optimize it?

  6. This is an excellent article on understanding your target demographic, along with a substantial resource list to help you in your research. You really have to get into the headspace of the people you’re trying to target with your advertising to make them take notice of the story you’re trying to tell them. Pictures of nineteen year old fitness models sure ain’t going to inspire 45 year old moms to buy into your offering! That was a really great example to illustrate your point, Zac!

  7. I had never thought of the census bureau or these other resources.

  8. Much of this is instinctive. You just have to WANT to understand what makes people in your niche want to buy stuff. Good resources, thanks.

  9. I’ve been writing about this topic on my site. I’m almost done with the post I just needed to do some more research before finishing it. Your post helped me to understand more aspects so thank you. I’ll digg your site! Come over and browse my site. Thanks!

  10. I’m a first year undergrad, and every time essays are mentioned, we’re told don’t use wikipedia! The darned thing is, that for simple background on something or someone for a bit of information you’re giving in passing, there’s nothing quite so easy as to whack it into wikipedia.

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