It's one thing to have a great product assortment for your business or a well-devised cross-channel marketing strategy meant to draw in potential customers.
But how do business owners determine who their target customer is, so that they can begin catering their content towards the wants/needs of their ideal customer?
At Northsail, we believe in taking the time to do things right. That's part of the reason that our clients always know they can trust we'll deliver our projects on-time, on-spec, and on-budget. And when we don't think we can exceed our clients' expectations - we simply won't take projects on.
In the same way that we vet projects, customers will screen businesses based on the marketing messages that they're presented. However, if your ideal customer doesn't know about your business, they'll go with a competitor. After all, what other choice do they have?
With that in mind, we've put together some useful tips that business owners can use to help identify their target market within their industry.
Before we get to those, let's talk about exactly what a target audience is, the types of audiences, and the benefits of target audience analysis.
Simply put, your target audience is essentially your ideal customer.
These are the people within your industry's target market that are most likely to want your products and services.
While that may be a fairly simplistic definition, the truth is that the demographic changes based on what industry you're catering to, customer age or gender, the regional location of the business, customer/household income, as well as the specific types of products/services that your business is offering. And those are just a few differentiators you can use to create customer groups.
However, simply because these people are the ones that are most likely to be interested in what your business is selling, doesn't mean that it's always easy to identify who these people are or that it's easy to get your marketing efforts in front of them.
The whole purpose of a marketing plan is to drive conversions, which typically translates to sales; although, in some cases, this actually means leads for certain types of businesses.
Target audience analysis is the process of going through your historical sales data and marketing campaigns in detail, so that you can determine exactly which type of customer persona is reacting positively to the type of content you're using in your marketing.
The biggest benefit of target audience analysis is that it provides key insight into which content strategies are engaging the right types of customers. Ultimately, more sales leads to business success, which is what every owner wants to achieve.
Target audience analysis can also provide additional insights into where you're missing a type of people that would be interested in what you're offering, but aren't seeing your online business because your marketing isn’t reaching them.
The types of target audiences that you can hit really depends on what target demographics your marketing efforts are geared towards.
You can build a target audience around any key demographic differentiator, for instance:
We could go on. This isn't an exhaustive list, because you can really track almost any differentiating factor and use it to build unique customer groups.
If you think you have another factor that you could be tracking to help identify your ideal customer base, and you have the means through which to track those figures, you should do it.
You never know when that information could come in handy with potential clients.
Building a strong visual identity involves more than just ha""ving some high-quality images and an engaging brand logo on your website. It means creating an engaging experience that captures the attention of every person that visits your website, even on repeat visits.
Are you a community-driven business? You'll probably want to use some images on your site that show people within your local communities using your products/services, or talk about in your content how your business is solving problems for real customers local to you.
Showing customer satisfaction in your visual marketing materials helps build customer trust, because you're giving visitors social proof that people are already using your offerings to improve their quality of life.
In turn, this helps build a strong brand identity, which encourages more new customers to give your business a chance.
It's impossible to track target demographics accurately without some kind of analysis tools that can compile relevant information that you need to monitor the effects of your marketing efforts.
This could involve getting a subscription to Google Analytics, so that you can start to track Google trends. However, there are lots of other useful analytics tools that you can use as well to help you identify and track your customer base.
In fact, Northsail's newest service Horizon offers some built-in analytics tools that you can use to start monitoring your current customers and analyzing which parts of your target market you're hitting, and where you might be able to make some improvements.
Regardless of which tools you choose to use, analyzing the success of your marketing efforts can help you better utilize your marketing budget in future months, through more personalized campaigns.
You can learn a lot about your loyal customers (and how to target more people like them) through the use of customer surveys.
This interactive marketing technique is a great way to capture information directly from current customers about where you may have issues within your customer journey.
You don't want all your customer surveys to come back with glowing reviews (some are great, since they can be used in future marketing materials), because it's not an honest representation of your business.
No customer journey is perfect. There is always room for improvements. Ask guiding questions that encourage people to tell you about some of their more recent customer service experiences with your business. Odds are, there will be at least a couple of suggestions you could use to improve.
More than anything, listen to what these surveys are telling you. They can provide some astounding insights into how to turn new visitors into loyal customers, and give you the opportunity to continue improving your customer service, so that you can drive more leads/conversions from your existing traffic.
We've talked before about building brand affinity through the use of loyalty programs, but you may not realize how much you can learn from these programs as well.
Strategic planning for the information that you gather from customers when they're signing up for your loyalty program can offer a lot of valuable data for you to use in future planning.
For instance, you may want to know more about where your loyal customers live, so when they sign up, you may want to ask them to include their physical address.
You may want to know how old your average customers are, or which age groups are going for which types of products/services, so you could ask for their age in the program sign-up form.
You can glean tons of great information from these loyalty sign-up forms, and you can even update them periodically to ask for other relevant information you’re missing.
Just remember: don't ask for too much. Asking for too much information is a great way to push customers away and encourage them to opt out, which you don't want to do.
What's the best way to learn about your customers? Talk to them.
One of the most effective places to do this in the digital age is through customers' social media accounts. People are a lot more likely to be honest about unpleasant customer experiences (which you can use to make improvements), when you aren't talking to them face-to-face.
Use these conversations as a way to bridge the gap into discussing what the customers love about your business, things they wish they could be getting from you (but aren't available yet), and things that you may be offering that they don't want/need.
If you aren't sure how to start these types of conversations, look for customer reviews on your social media and respond directly to them.
Many businesses make the mistake of ignoring their customer reviews or leaving a cursory 'contact us privately' message, but that's not necessarily the best option for learning about your customer base.
Respond directly to the customer reviews (good or bad), and when it is negative, be sure to come prepared with some kind of resolution for the issue.
Other potential clients will appreciate you addressing a negative customer experience publicly, because we all know no business is perfect. How a business owner addresses issues can tell you a lot about how much they truly care about customer satisfaction.
In turn, it can also encourage more of your customer base to reach out to you. And the cycle of data collection continues.
You may do everything in your power to research as much as possible about your current audience, but there's always more to learn.
One method of research that you can use to broaden your customer demographic information is to monitor what your competition is doing.
What types of marketing campaigns are they running? Are there specific demographics that you can see them trying to reach (i.e., age groups, income levels, etc.), which your business is currently overlooking?
A successful business knows that they never have all the answers, but if you look at what your competitors are doing, it can give you valuable insights into where your current audience can be expanded, as well as where there may be holes in your existing marketing plans.
Not sure where to start? Read some of your competitors' most popular blog posts.
If these posts are drawing a lot of organic traffic for them, there's a good chance there's some information in them that's valuable for your ideal customer. This can help you identify places that your content strategy may be lacking.
One final suggestion that you can use to help find your ideal target demographics isn't actually about customer research, it involves clarifying your own value for customers.
As you think about how your business can benefit customers, think about what potential automatic demographics should be present within your customer base.
For example, a business offering vehicle cleaning services, you can assume there are at least two demographics of people that would use your services: vehicle owners and people purchasing your services as a gift for other vehicle owners.
The vehicle owner demographic may seem obvious, but those gift purchases could end up making up a substantial portion of your revenue, especially during the holiday season.
Ensuring that the value of your product/service is clear and consistent throughout all your marketing materials means that your ideal customer base will be more likely to come to you. That's because (if they've been done well), these materials should help you stand out as a strong option against your competition.
Are you ready to start tracking valuable information on a website that you built yourself, without the need for a developer?
Then you need to try Northsail's newest service - Horizon.
Not only can you create high-performance landing pages and drag-and-drop useful customer forms into any page you build, but Horizon has built-in analytics tools that you can use to start tracking important customer information you need to identify your ideal target audiences.
Best of all, you can try Horizon for free for 30 days with no obligation or credit card required. In fact, we won't even take your payment information until your trial is completed.
Are you ready to take back the time, energy, and resources you've been devoting to building and maintaining your website campaigns? Let us show you how Horizon can make it easier than ever to grow your business.
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