Online Marketing – Make More Sales by Knowing Your Audience
With the global reach and availability of the internet, more and more people every day are looking to the web to research, learn, and purchase products and services. As the number of consumers booms, marketing online is now an essential part of attracting new customers, retaining existing ones, and tempting old ones to return. The only certainty is that if you are looking to market to online consumers, then you need to find your competitive advantage and connect with your target consumers in a stronger manner than ever before, as not only do you have a larger target market, but you have many, many more competitors competing for the same sales.
While many businesses have transitioned to the online world, or started in only an online environment, it is critical to recognize that the traditional, and basic, advertising principles still exist, and these cannot be neglected, as they are needed now more than ever. The basic rules of “identify target market” and “how to reach target market” are the foundation of any marketing activity, and in the stormy ocean of the web, and without a map, your target market has to be able to see you as a safe harbor. This means your target market must be able to find you, trust you, and have a reason to do business with you.
As with any marketing effort, a business still should conduct market research before launching any campaign. In an ideal world this would involve hiring a research consultant with proven experience in this type of work, and the results of this research should identify the core values for your target market and how to reach them. If a business does not follow this route, then if there are existing current customers, one possibility is to poll, or survey, the customer base to find out how they found the business, why they chose to do business with them, what made the business stand out from the competition, what are their expectations for the ongoing relationship. Finding out this information can help form more focused marketing efforts which can improve as more customers hopefully come on board and complete the survey or poll.
If a business doesn’t have existing customers, and doesn’t hire a research consultant, then the internet is also a goldmine of information that can be acquired with solid research skills. Firstly, a business can take a hard look at the products or services that are being offered to identify a general target market. Once this group is identified, then researching where this market meets on the web is critical to gain an awareness of what the current thoughts, concerns, and desires are. More subtle information can also be acquired through identifying the style of writing, the types of words used, the style of avatars used in personal spaces, the use of punctuation, all these subtle indicators of interest, style and taste can also aid the identification of signs of empathy that will attract your target market.
Many people recommend forums as a means for connecting with your target market, and learning about them, and this is an excellent suggestion. Find the forums that your target market uses for talking about their wants, needs and issues, and inhabit them and carefully review the common attributes. Some will recommend diving in and trying to create an expert status to attract trust, and to persuade others to follow, however only start to do this once you have really understood the common attributes of those you are trying to connect with.
Another approach that must not be skipped, is seriously reviewing your competition. This not mean just reviewing the sites that appear in the top ten listings of Google when you enter a search term relating to your product or services, it means conducting deep research into who are the successful businesses that target your potential market, and reverse engineering as much as you can to replicate within your own business. How they conduct their marketing campaigns, how their site constructed, what are the key messages in the web pages, what colors are used, how key messages are phrased – try to fully understand their business model. Once this has been learned, deconstruct their site to try and identify what keywords they use, what advertising methods do they use, which sites are providing back links, and as much of their SEO strategy as you can identify.
With all this information acquired, it is now critical to use it to tailor the marketing campaign to attract the target audience. Too many ex-business owners disagreed with the results of their market research, because it didn’t ‘feel right’ or because they thought they knew better, and guess what – that’s why they are ex-business owners and not business successes. Even if you don’t agree with your market research, use it as the basis for your main marketing campaigns, and use your ‘gut feel’ as the basis for a small percentage of your overall marketing efforts, so that you feel justified but any missteps will not ruin your business.
There are many different aspects to marketing efforts which can be tailored to focus in on the key attributes identified in the target market so that they can be reached in way that they can instinctively understand and relate to. These aspects can include the “look and feel” and navigation of the website or the style of advertisements, the wording of the sales copy, and the use of more advanced design features such as audio and visual or interactive tools.
The “look and feel” of a website is a major factor in how the business is viewed by the members of the target audience. For example, a business trying to appeal to an older generation with more conservative tastes should include muted colors, clean design, conservative graphics and very clear, simple navigation. Alternatively, if the target market is a younger audience, then a website with bold colors, eye catching graphics and creative design features will be more appealing.
Website copy also has to take into account the attributes of the target market. Using the previous examples, for a more conservative audience, the copy should utilize more formal language and use verifiable facts to back up viewpoints. This market tends to be more skeptical of wild claims and hyperbole, and expects a high level of justification and empathy in order to motivate them. Alternatively, when marketing to a younger audience, less formal language is more likely to appeal, and emotion is more effective to support viewpoints, and simpler marketing techniques can be more effective.
Finally, if any incentives are provided by the website, or any additional media are provided, for example audio or video clips, these also need to be focused towards the target market.
When marketing on the internet, even if the business is a vanity project, it is critical to consider this important information if the marketing is expected to be effective. Knowing the target market, where they frequent the internet, what’s important to them, how they communicate, what their issues are, what they spend money on, what they expect, what they desire is all critical to knowing what to put in front of them as a product or service, and how to reach and attract them into the sales process.
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