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by Kimberly Blaker
Blogger & Freelance Writer for Hire
Engage and Compel blog

 

Content marketers often apply ‘the Field of Dreams’ approach to their work,” writes Ben Sailer of CoSchedule Blog.It’s true that great content tends to naturally attract an audience. It does not, however, guarantee that it will be the best audience for your brand.”

Sailer’s correct. I’d add that many writers, bloggers, and businesses often apply this “Field of Dreams” approach to their writing as well.

In fact, it reminds me of a couple recent comments I received. In a previous post, I had pointed out that writers, businesses, and marketers need to know their audience. A couple writers commented that their audiences are elusive. One writer insisted it’s both impossible and unnecessary to know anything about his audience.

I beg to differ on both accounts.

First, it’s rarely impossible to know anything about an audience. By the time you finish reading this and the next couple posts, you’ll see there’s almost always something knowable about your audience.

As for it being unnecessary? Well, as I told him, if you’re writing merely for the sake of writing and don’t care who your audience is, or whether you have an audience at all, then by all means, write away. Don’t waste your time trying to uncover your audience.

But if you’re writing content or blog posts for your business website, for a magazine or newspaper, or any number of other situations, you need to have some knowledge of your audience if you want to be effective.

It’s true, you may not know every last detail about your audience. But you should understand a few things that connect your readers together. This way you can tailor your writing to relate with them. Without question, to know the demographics of your audience is most often a crucial step to writing engaging and compelling material. But don’t take just my word for it.

Neil Patel tells readers at Quick Sprout, “There’s no tactic or strategy that will make up for a fundamental lack of understanding of your reader.

I agree, Neil!

 

The first of three keys – the demographics of your audience

So how do you get to know your audience, or more specifically, your target

 

Demographics of your audience
Copyright: Netsay

audience? There are three keys: demographics, psychographics, and situational audience analysis. Combined, these provide a fairly thorough understanding of your readers.

The demographics of your audience are statistical information about your audience such as age or education level. You’ll also learn about the audience’s personality and values with psychographics. And finally, through situational analysis, you’ll determine voluntariness, audience size, and other pertinent details.

If you read my earlier posts, you might remember I briefly touched on demographics of your audience. Demographics are the statistical data of populations. But now we’re going to take a deeper look.

 

Understanding the demographics of your audience

Below I’ve compiled a list of the most common demographics of your audience to know. This information is often used by writers, businesses, and marketers. You won’t need to evaluate every single demographic factor each time you write. Your topic, audience, occasion, and platform will help you determine which factors are most beneficial.

For some types of demographic factors below, I’ve included an explanation of the term where necessary. Most are self-evident though.

I also briefly discuss or provide questions to help you consider how a particular factor might be relevant to your writing or business.

 

Example demographics to know your audience

Finally, I’ve included several examples of statistical data under each demographic factor. This serves several purposes.

One, it provides you examples of what demographics look like.

Two, it reveals the broad array of statistics you can find for a particular demographic factor.

Three, you’ll find a number sources you can refer to when you need to gather demographic data. You’ll notice many demographic data come from a small number of sources. You’re going to want to bookmark these sources. But realize, deep research can also turn up numerous other sources you might find useful.

Four, as you read through the sample statistics, think about how they might help you in writing a particular type of article or content. The demographics below may not apply to your writing, audience, or customers. But putting some thought into these statistics can help you brainstorm for the types of data that would be most useful to you.

Finally, there are some fascinating statistics below, if I do say so myself. Enjoy them. Maybe a couple will even grab you and trigger article ideas.

 

1. Buying power

This is also known as disposable income. It’s often an important demographic factor for businesses to consider when writing for consumers or its b2b customers and

buying power
elwynno

clients. Buying power is the total excess income available to save, spend, or invest.

Buying power helps retailers and service professionals determine the segment of the population most able to afford their products or services. Alternatively, it can help companies make better pricing decisions and choose marketing techniques based on the segment it wants to target. Either way, buying power data can be used to help shape effective writing for your audience. Some interesting buying power demographics are as follows:

  • U.S. Hispanic millennials have $1.5 trillion in annual spending power. (Nielsen)

  • American Baby Boomers (age 55+) accounted 41.6% of all consumer spending in the first quarter of 2017. (Moody)

  • By 2020, the global spending power of Baby Boomers will reach $15 trillion. (Bloomberg)

  • The buying power of U.S. Generation Z is $44 billion. (Forbes)

  • African American buying power is expected to increase to $1.4 trillion by 2020. (University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth )

 

2. Income level

This an important demographic factor to knowing your audience. It can provide some generalizations about a person’s buying power. It also provides some psychographic clues to social class, lifestyle, and even attitudes. I’ll talk more about psychographics in my next post. Here are a few examples of income level demographics:

  • The U.S. religious groups with the highest percentage of annual incomes of $100,000 or more are Jewish 44%; Hindu 36%; and Orthodox Christian 29%. (Pew Research Center)

  • Women’s median incomes are 82% of mens in the U.S. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Income levels (weekly earnings) in the U.S. by educational attainment are: high school diploma $692; bachelor’s degree $1,156; master’s degree $1,380; professional degree $1,745; and doctoral degree $1,664. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

 

3. Occupation

A useful demographic for marketers of certain types of products or services is occupation. It also can provide hints about psychosocial characteristics. This further

chef occupation
Czanner

adds to the value of occupational demographics. If you’re writing for an audience mostly from a particular occupation, it might be fitting to use the occupation’s jargon as well. The following are occupation demographics.

  • The following jobs are expected to grow at the following rates over the next 10 years: biostaticians 34%; analytics managers 30%; portfolio managers 30%; webmasters 27%; and occupational therapists 27%. (CNN Money)

  • America’s highest paying occupations are nearly all in the medical fields. These range from general dentists at $153,000 per year to surgeons at $208,000+. Next in line is computer and information system managers at $135,800.

  • Women predominantly fill the following occupations and are 84% of social workers; 95% of secretaries and administrative assistants; and 90% of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks. (United States Department of Labor)

 

4. Employment status

This often refers to employed or unemployed. It tells us whether a segment of people is employed and possibly whether part-time, full-time, temporary, or seasonal. Unemployed persons are considered those who want or need employment but aren’t currently in the work force. This is often because of a shortage of or inability to find a job.

Another category of employment status is those who aren’t in the labor force. This consists of retirees, students, disabled persons, family caregivers, and others who aren’t working or looking for work.

It often helps to know the employment status when marketing to or writing for an audience. How might the following demographic information help you relate to your target audience?

 

5. Education level

Among other things, education level is useful to know because it provides an idea of the reading level. With general audiences, you should write at a 7th to 8th-grade level. If you’re writing for an audience with a master’s degree, it might be more fitting to write at a higher academic level. Consider how these demographics might affect how you write for a particular audience.

  • As of 2015, 88% of adults had a high school diploma or equivalent. Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher were 33% of the U.S. Population. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Asians had the highest level of education in the U.S. in 2015. 21.4% had advanced degrees. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • During the 2016 election campaign, registered voters with higher educational attainment favored Hillary Clinton at 52%. Only 29% of those with higher educations favored Trump. (Pew Research Center)

 

6. Birth rate

baby birthrate
Stockbroker

It isn’t applicable as often as many other demographics. But birth rate shows you can find a broad range of demographics of your audience beyond the basics. Depending on the topic, this demographic can provide useful information about an audience. Here are some examples.

  • In 2015, there were more minority babies than white babies in the U.S. As an aside, this reminds me of the problem I face with finding quality stock photos of minorities for my articles. Stock photo companies, listen up to this statistic! (Pew Research Center)

  • The mean age when women give first birth is 26.4. (Centers for Disease Control)

  • Teen birth rates have steadily declined from 1990 to 2014. In 2014, the number of births by 15 to 19-year-old girls was 24.2 per 1000 girls. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

 

7. Death rate

This is a useful demographic when talking to groups at-risk for a particular disease, safety issues, and more. If your audience is a group of cancer patients who have one of the deadliest forms of cancer, it would be good to know the death rate. It might shape what you say to these readers and how you relate it. What other ways might death rate shape an article or content?

  • African American men below the poverty level have a 2.7 times greater risk of death than black men above the poverty line. (JAMA Internal Medicine)

  • The leading causes of death in America for 2015 were: heart disease 633,482; cancer 595,930; chronic lower respiratory diseases 155,041; accidents 146,571; and stroke 140,323. (Centers for Disease Control)

  • Death rates for 25 to 44-year-olds inclined since to 2010 to 151.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. (Centers for Disease Control)

  • Death rates of children continued to decline through 2014. That year there were 600 child deaths per 100,000 children. (Child Trends)

 

8. Health

googy health nut
Copyright Kues

There’s no question, this is a huge industry and popular topic. Knowing the health problems your readers face or the degree to which they lead a healthy lifestyle is useful in engaging them. Think about what other health related demographics would help you understand your readers.

  • In terms of wealth, the top 10% of U.S. females has an average lifespan of 88 years. The poorest 10% of women have an average lifespan of only 76 years. (Brookings Institution; University of Michigan.)

  • In the U.S., 4% of the adult population suffers from a serious mental illness. (National Institutes of Mental Health)

  • Approximately 15% of the U.S. adult population smokes cigarettes as of 2015. (Centers for Disease Control)

  • Sports and recreation injuries affect 3 million children each year. (National Safe Kids Campaign & American Academy of Pediatrics)

 

9. Gender & sexual orientation

Another very common demographic to consider is gender. You might relate differently to an all female audience from the way you would for a mixed gender audience. Of course, gender is a pretty broad demographic. So additional demographics of your audience would be helpful to know. The following are some gender and sexual orientation demographics.

 

10. Race/Ethnicity

Another common and useful demographic is race or ethnicity. Most often, audiences tend to be mixed race. But not always. If the audience is mixed, you want to be

Copyright: Kzenon

thoughtful and inclusive in your writing. If writing for a group of mostly African Americans, you can use this demographic information to connect with them on a deeper level. How do the demographics below help you understand the segment?

  • The median household net worth in 2013 by race was: $192,500 for white; $19,200 for blacks; $23,600 Hispanics. (Pew Research Center)

  • In 2014, Native Americans, including Alaska Natives, made up 2% of the U.S. Population. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • By 2032, the majority of working class Americans will be people of color. (Economic Policy Institute)

 

11. Political affiliation

Copyright: Jgroup

During an election year when emotions are high and opinions are strong, political affiliation can be especially useful depending on the topic. Of course, election years aren’t the only time to consider the political demographics of your audience. How could the following demographics help you shape your writing?

  • Groups that lean toward Republican include 70% of Mormons; 68% of white Evangelical Protestants; 55% of white Southerners; and 54% of white men with some college or less. (Pew Research Center)

  • Groups that lean toward Democrat include 80% of African Americans; 65% of Asian; 64% of post graduate women; and 61% of religiously unaffiliated. (Pew Research Center)

 

12. Religion

This is another biggie, and it’s highly personal. Most people don’t appreciate being presumed to be of a particular religious faith or any faith at all if they’re not part of that faith. When writing for general audiences, it may be best to avoid religious references to avoid turning off part of the audience. On the other hand, if your target demographic is Evangelicals or Hindus, you can connect with them in a very personal way. How might the following demographics be useful in relating to your audience?

 

13. Age

One of the top demographics of your audience to know is age. The language you use when writing for a 20-something crowd is often different from that of the 50+ crowd. But that isn’t the only thing. Different generations have different interests. They also hold different attitudes and have concerns for certain things. I’ll get into this more in my post on psychographic analysis. But suffice it to say, you can take some generalities about your audience based on their age. The following are examples of age demographics.

 

14. Marital & family status

This consists of segments that are single, married, divorced, widowed, have children, don’t have children, have grown children, or live with extended family. This is often

Copyright: Piksel

an important factor to consider when writing for a wide range of audiences. Single people with no kids may not connect with content about children. Most people also wouldn’t relate to living with extended family. But if you know your audience is primarily parents or mostly people living with extended family, you can easily find ways to relate to them in your writing. Think about how the following demographics help you better understand your audience.

  • 23.6 percent of people over 65 and never married fall under the poverty line. While only 10% of married people in this age group fall below the poverty line. (Social Security)

  • In 2016, approximately 67 million Americans were married. (Statista)

  • 27.5% of children lived with only their mother or father in 2016. (Childstats.gov)

 

15. Residences

Another less commonly used demographic, residences primarily boil down to those segments that rent versus own their home. Though it could also include those who own mobile homes or multiple homes such as vacation homes. It may be particularly useful depending on your industry or for certain topics. How might this demographic data help you better understand your target audience?

  • The rate of home ownership in America continued its steep drop in 2015 with just under 64% of Americans being homeowners. (Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University)

  • The percentage of people in rental housing by age is: under 30 years old 51%; 30-44 year-olds 23%; 45-64 year-olds 19%; 65+ 8%. (National Multifamily Housing Council)

 

16. Location

Copyright: Miluxian

This can include zip code, city, county, state, country, continent, or other defined regions. It’s an important demographic for restaurants and businesses with storefronts. It can even be useful to some online businesses. What other location demographics of your audience would be useful to know when writing for a segment?

  • Black populations in the U.S. are highest among Georgia, Maryland, Louisiana, and DC. (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • The most crime ridden cities in the country are St. Louis, Detroit, Birmingham Ala., Memphis, and Milwaukee. (24/7 Wall St)

  • Colorado has approximately 11,250 eating and drinking spots. (Colorado Restaurant Association)

  • The wealthiest counties in America and their median household incomes: Loudoun County, VA, $119,525; Falls Church City, VA, $117,481; and Los Alamos County, NM, $110,204 (Forbes)

If you’re still reading, you made it through my mega post. Congratulations on a great attention span! You’re ahead of most people in today’s 5 to 8-second attention spans.

 

What now?

If you need help with your writing project, I’d be happy to provide you a free no-obligation quote.

Summary
Top 16 Need-to-Know Demographics of Your Audience
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Top 16 Need-to-Know Demographics of Your Audience
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Want to effectively reach your readers or customers? Then you first need to do a little demographic sleuthing for some insight on how to relate to them.
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Engage and Compel Blog
Top 16 Need-to-Know Demographics of Your Audience – or How Not to be a Misfit

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