Businesses are now spending a lot of time (and money, in some cases) developing their online presence. They have business blogs; they have social media accounts; they are purchasing ads; they are increasing their brand awareness everywhere possible. What many don’t realize, however, is this is not like television or radio, or even those flyers that appear in everyone’s mailbox. Those methods throw out a wide net and hope to catch a good number of the right people.
The Internet has billions of users – trying to throw out a huge net and hope for the best just doesn’t work. Effective online marketing means having a smaller net thrown out in the right places – places where target audience members will be. Identifying and locating that target audience will involve three strategies – developing a customer persona through research, analytics to track behavior, and spying on your competitors.
1. Develop Customer Persona – Do the Research
You may have a general idea of who your typical customer is. If for example, you are selling career clothing to young adults, you probably assume that they have post-high school educations, and are residing in an urban or suburban environment. They are part of the millennial generation. How much do you know about this generation?
- Do you know, for example, that they make decisions about purchases based on recommendations from other millennials?
- Do you know that they will only do business with companies that are socially responsible?
- Do you know that they aren’t buying homes and that they want mobility and are willing to change jobs as often as necessary to get what they want in a position?
- Do you know that they value relationships over money?
All of these pieces of information go toward developing a customer persona. So how do you get the information you need to develop that persona? It takes research, some that others have already done for you, and some that you will need to do for yourself. What you are going to develop is a demographic and psychological profile of your typical customer. To do this you have to answer some detailed questions.
Research from Others:
- Others before you have developed go demographic questions and can even provide you with a customer demographic template.
Hubspot is a B2B company that creates and markets sales, marketing, and CRM software. It has developed customer personas for each type of software it sells. Here is “Owner Ollie” who will be a typical marketing software customer. Notice that the profile states his demographic information identifies his pain points and explains why he will love what Hubspot can offer. Notice, too, that they give Ollie a face. It helps.
- Finding Your Customers Online: To go further, Ollie will have to be divided into sub-categories of personas. If his is a B2C business, where will he hang out online? Certainly Facebook and probably Twitter. If his is a B2B business, you can add LinkedIn to that persona, but probably not Pinterest. If he sells kitchen equipment (pots and pans) and supplies, you will add Pinterest.
Survey Your Customers:
The research that you will conduct yourself will be invaluable, and it should include understanding why they buy your product or service, how they found out about you (you’ll get definite information about where they are online). Here are a couple of tricks to get that survey information:
- Offer something of value in return for the survey completion, if they complete it within the next 3 days.
- Only survey that last 20-50 customers. They will remember their purchasing process well. The smaller the number, the better offer you can make in return.
- Keep it as short as possible. But you do want to know:
- How they found you
- How a purchase from you solved a problem for them
- What questions they had before they made the purchase
- What they like and dislike about your product/service
The great thing about customer surveys is that you will not only get more demographic information. You will get topic ideas for your blog and social media posts.
2. You Can Learn A Lot From Analytics
Here is the customer information you can glean from using analytics carefully:
- Where your customers are coming from – traffic report
- Which content is getting the most “hits” – content efficiency report
- What are your visitors’ age, gender, and interests – demographics and interests reports
This last Google analytics report is particularly important. There is just a huge amount of demographic available based upon who is visiting your site. You will have core information that will give you amazing detail, not just about age and gender but about what their lifestyles and interests are. Setting up this report is probably one of the most important things you can do if you are serious about finding your target audience. Here are a couple of types of reports you can now get.
Google Analytics are not the only metrics tools out there. As you continue to enhance your marketing strategies, you will want to use others that will give you important data too.
3. Spying on Your Competitors
One of the best ways to find your target audience is to know who is visiting your competitors’ websites, following them on social media, and reading their content. Here are some things that you can do right away:
- Go to their blogs. Read the posts; look at the conversations on the popular posts. This information you can use for topics for your own posts, so that you can engage your readers the same way and appeal to those who are currently frequenting your competitors’ blogs.
- Engage their customers: Facebook has a tool, Lookalike Audience, which you can use to directly target competitors’ followers.
- Twitter has its Follower Targeting tool that will provide you with lists of audiences segmented for your business based on keywords you provide.
Once you have identified your target audience using these 3 strategies, you have the first part of your content marketing strategy in place – only the first part. It now becomes your job to woo them with great content, by developing relationships, and by appealing to those aspects of their personalities and lifestyles that you now understand.