Understanding Your Target Audience’s Language Preferences: A 6-Step Process

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The snarky messages and banter from Wendy’s Twitter account have made the fast-food chain a frequent viral sensation. Wendy’s clearly understands its target audience’s language preferences and what customers will respond to online.

In fact, the company has such a handle on their brand tone and voice that the social media strategy aided in a 49.7 percent growth in profit, from $129.6 million to $194 million in 2017.

However, Wendy’s sassy tone won’t work for all brands, just as it doesn’t appeal to all customers. As a company, it’s your responsibility to determine if your audience responds better to various language factors such as:

  1. Informal language or slang vs. formal, grammatically-correct copy.

  2. The use of emojis.

  3. Specific formatting styles.

  4. Industry-specific terms and lingo vs. generic phrases.

  5. Long form vs. short form copy.

To understand what copy tactics your audience responds to and prefers, follow this six-step process.

1. Know Their Age

Wendy’s use of witty comebacks and trending memes on Twitter would not have the same effect if the AARP tried it. Consider the age range of your audience when identifying the style of language, voice, and tone you should use in your copy.

A 16-year-old will not understand or appreciate the same message as a 70-year-old, so why serve them identical copy? If your audience is made up of multiple age ranges, your copy must adjust to each segment’s respective preferences.

2. Where is Your Audience Located?

Depending on where your audience lives, they may speak multiple languages. If you come across this situation, your target audience’s language preferences may include more than one language. Determine in which language your audience prefers to communicate. This may require the assistance of a translator when altering messages to be communicated in several tongues.

Additionally, understanding your audience’s location comes in handy when writing copy. Research the area and discover if they use any regional phrases, sayings, or words you can incorporate into your content to connect with the audience on a deeper level.

3. Identify Education Levels

Although great copy gets to the point as fast as possible, your audience’s level of education will affect your copywriting decisions.

For instance, a campaign created to attract PhD students to a university may use complex terminology or messages. On the other hand, a fast food chain such as Wendy’s can use simple phrases to communicate their message to a broader target market.

4. Pinpoint Their Place in the Purchasing Process

As copywriters, it’s our job to understand the buyer’s journey as well as their emotions and actions at each stage.

A customer searching for products online will not respond to copy encouraging them to make a purchase immediately. Likewise, a customer who is ready to buy won’t react to copy aimed at educating the user about a product.

Although a customer’s intent changes as they move through the buying cycle, their copy preferences will not. However, your message at each stage should.

5. Research the Competition

An easy way to learn more about a target audience’s language preferences is to see what the competition is doing.

Do your best to identify:

  1. How the competition formats ad copy.

  2. What style of language (formal vs. informal) they’re using.

  3. How customers respond to the competitor’s efforts.

  4. How your brand can improve upon this using the demographic and psychographic data about your audience.

These findings will help you formulate the perfect copy around your target audience’s language preferences.

6. Incorporate Language Preferences into Your Brand’s Voice

With your new-found insight about your target audience, incorporate what you’ve learned into your brand’s voice. While a brand voice should be connected to the company, it must also work to attract customers.

Once you’ve formulated your brand voice, ensure it's consistent across your marketing efforts—from customer service to email newsletters. A professional copywriter can help you with developing a consistent brand voice.


Identifying and understanding a target audience’s preferences with regards to language, tone, and style is paramount. It could be the difference between copy that works and copy which falls flat!

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