Targeted marketing makes the difference between a message that hits home and one lost in the cacophony of noise on the interwebs. But to whom do you target your messages?

Why, to the proper buyer personas, of course. Breaking up your audience into persona types lets you reach out to customers where they would be most likely found. Then your messages stand a greater chance of being noticed.

Related: Build a Better Understanding of Customers, Get a Competitive Advantage

Here's how an entrepreneur can construct buyer personas to replicate a real-world audience:

Age, gender, qualification and income are important factors to consider. The audience can be further broken down by the type of user --  whether someone is an influencer of a possible purchase or the buyer. For example, if you’re selling a toy intended for kids ages 6 to 12, you can come up with content to attract them. But the buyers are more likely to be the adults in the kids' family. So what kind of content would they be seeking? They might contemplate the salient features of the toy, whether it stimulates a child’s mind, its cost, potential discounts and the product’s guarantee. 

Your targeted messages should also take into account the stage of the buying process that someone is in: A prospect may have to be made aware of a need. A potential sales lead would require information about how a product can fulfill that need. And a sales lead, once qualified, could be exposed to a sales pitch.

Once a sale is clinched, yet other persona types can be targeted: customers who can provide repeat sales, buyers who can produce positive reviews and individuals who can spread your message via social media.

Related: How to Figure Out Exactly What Your Customers Want

Here are a set of questions for you to consider as you trace the trajectory of prospects: 

1. Is your product or service satisfying the right need? Ideally you want to figure out what's behind customers' needs. Are your customers’ decisions motivated by priorities or urgent pain points (such as hail damage to a roof or a broken-down car)?  

2. If consumers are not flocking to your business, why not? What's stopping them from using your product to fulfill their needs? Are these barriers real or perceived? Did they exist once but have been removed? If that’s so, the audience needs to be informed of the change.

3. What factors influence buyers’ purchase decisions? What attributes of your product are considered essential and which ones are desirable but not required, according to buyers? Find out their decision criteria.

4. Does your product fulfill any real, perceived or by-product benefits? Does it offer convenience or save time?

Understanding all these elements at work is essential for optimizing messaging. Knowing where customers are coming from, which sources provide the highest rate of conversion of prospects to buyers and where you’re losing people in the process can allow you to make adjustments to your marketing that can drastically improve your company's bottom line.

Related: Steer Your Online Business to Profitability