This article is part of our "Partner Expertise" series designed to help merchants thrive by leveraging the best tools, products, and services available in the e-commerce arena. The content below is brought to you by Delegator team.
One of the main (and most costly) mistakes we see businesses make is trying to cast too large of a net for customers. As of February 2021, Facebook has an active user base of 2.8 billion, Google sits at 1.5 billion, Instagram is at 1 billion, and Amazon and LinkedIn both have 310 million each. It’s tempting to try and reach every single active user. No brand in the world has the budget to meaningfully reach each user, so it's imperative to focus on the most desired and important potential customers—your ideal customer—and then broaden the criteria from there. If you’re interested in defining your ideal customer, how to find them online, and how to bring them to your site, this post is for you.
Start with your goals. What exactly is the “ideal customer”? The first step is establishing your website’s goals. A few common top-level goals for business websites are: a) websites focused on ecommerce and selling products, b) lead generation focused websites that are designed to funnel people to sign-up, c) and informational or educational websites. Think through which of these goals fit your needs the best and any secondary goals that might also be applicable, but try to stay as focused as possible. Once you know your goals, you can begin working on defining your ideal customer and what actions your site will need to take to capture them. Your ideal customer will be the person that will be the decision maker on your product/service. They will be the ones that read your content, will be influenced by your site, and will be the one to make the decision to use you.
When discovering your ideal customer, try to identify their key demographics. The demographics of your ideal customer (income, gender, age, interests, etc.) are areas that can be targeted, so knowing that information can greatly increase the effectiveness of your future marketing campaigns.
You’ve identified your ideal customer, now what? Next you need to know how to find your ideal customers, and more specifically where to find them. Part of knowing your ideal customer includes understanding where they spend time and interact on the web. The web is a vast and expansive place but, thankfully, your ideal customer is most likely more prevalent on one or two main platforms.
Go find your ideal customers. The more you know about your customer, the more you will know where they are likely to spend time online. Advertising on Search Engines and Social Media are the main areas where you are likely to encounter your customer in a significant way. If you’re selling consumer-facing products it’s often easy to find your customer on a social media site. Depending on their age and interests it could vary greatly as to which social media site that would be.
Alternatively, focusing on a search engine helps when a customer is just learning about a product or has an immediate need. Search can also be helpful when a customer has a much longer customer journey. This is more noticeable with bigger purchases or products that require additional research. Search advertising can use retargeting to stay top of mind with such products (e.g. premium furniture, high-end consumer electronics, and home appliances all generally perform well with retargeting).
Based on the demographic findings from your ideal customer, you will also know which search engines they are most likely using. Businesses and older generations have a tendency to use services like Bing as they are the default on their computer. Other folks and the general public use Google. Privacy conscious users gravitate towards search engines like DuckDuckGo and might benefit from direct targeting.
Help your customers find you. There are a few main channels, or methods, customers follow to find websites. The three to focus on are Organic traffic, Paid Advertising, and Referrals. There are a multitude of other channels for visitors to find your site. These three channels need to be healthy.
Organic traffic means that a person typed in a query in their search engine and your site was both relevant to their search and one of the top results. Organic traffic is very important but can take a significant amount of time and effort to rank well for your most valuable search terms.
If your organic ranking isn’t strong yet, you can still rank at the top of the search results page by using paid advertising. This would be ads that show up when a person searches for what you are targeting. Advertising on Search is becoming more prominent and tends to take the best real estate on the search pages. Paid advertising is a great way to improve your traffic and conversions before you have organic traffic coming to your site.
Social media ads show up based on the interests of the user. Paid advertising is a great way to improve your traffic and conversions before you have organic traffic coming to your site. Social ads appear in a user's feed shuffled between posts of their friends. Social ads can look very similar to real posts and can gather engagement and conversions from your target audience.
Enlist help from others. Another way to direct traffic to your site is through referrals. Referrals can come from social media or other sites. Having other sites link back to you with a referral is also a strong way to build your site’s authority in regards to search engines. If your site doesn’t quite rank yet, maybe one of the higher ranking sites could have an article that’s specific to questions you feel that your ideal customer would ask, that links back to you in their content. That way, if your ideal customer searches for something you can still reach them via the higher ranking site.
Monitor the results and update your strategy accordingly. Knowing who your customer is, where they are online, and how they find you are all key to increasing your traffic and quality of customers. Sometimes, even after you have all three questions answered, you may still struggle with attracting your customers.
If you are having trouble attracting customers you need to identify where your traffic is lacking. If organic is down then focus on using paid advertising to make up for the lack of organic traffic, and produce or improve content that focuses on the main points of your customers intent.
If paid advertising is not working try changing your paid strategy. If you are using search engine ads, it might be time to write new ads, change your goals, or change bidding strategies. It would also be wise to consider additional platforms such as social media. If your social media ads are not performing it might be time to adjust your audiences or targeting of your ads.
If organic and paid are doing well then the next step would be to focus on growing your referral traffic and links, this can boost your own sites authority while also bringing in new traffic. When referrals are down it’s important to use a linking strategy and reach out to sites in similar niches as you.
Plan for success. While only you can fully define your ideal customer, there’s assistance to be found for the rest. Some businesses decide to handle the entire strategy, implementation, and monitoring in-house while leaning on 3rd-party resources for additional knowledge and advice. Other businesses decide to outsource the entire strategy, implementation, and monitoring to a 3rd-party. The vast majority of businesses will find their perfect fit somewhere in the middle of these two approaches. It’s not necessary to know exactly where your business will fall at the start of your marketing initiatives, but it is advisable to have a plan and to be aware of the resources available to you. That way, when you do encounter uncertain waters, you will be surrounded by the resources and information necessary to navigate them with clarity and confidence. Consider reaching out to a 3rd party if you have a time constraint or simply lack the expertise in the area. Online marketing is the lifeblood of business in 2021, so make sure that when spinning up your marketing efforts you jumpstart the process by standing on the shoulders of giants.