The Value of Knowing Your Market – Customer Profiling

Traffic, it is an understatement to say it’s a big part of marketing your business online. Worrying about converting visitors into sales or working out the best ways to keep them coming back to your site to view your product or service is pointless if you don’t have traffic coming to your site to begin with. There’s a lot of different ways to go about getting visitors to your website. For example:

  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Blogging
  • Paid Advertising
  • Guest Posting
  • Infographics
  • Video Marketing
  • Web 2.0
  • Directory Listings
  • Forum Marketing

So what really is the best way to get traffic to your site?

The answer is all of the above.

But…your focus should be on where your potential customers already are and what is the most effective way of reaching them. For instance there’s no point going all out on on Facebook if your ideal customers don’t use it and likewise if your market responds to video you are probably letting an opportunity pass you by if you don’t have a YouTube channel.

The Only Consistency Online is Change

You shouldn’t focus all your efforts on one particular traffic source though, if change happens (and it does regularly online, does anyone remember MySpace?) and you have your online marketing dependent on one particular traffic source you are going to lose traffic to your site at some stage, rest assured. So don’t put all your eggs in the one basket, but do have a good idea of where your customers are and what they are all about so you can start a conversation with them that resonates.

What Type of Content Appeals to my Market?

The other thing to keep in mind is people’s personal preferences when it comes to digesting content. For example take into account the actual media itself e.g. text, audio, video and how you apply it. An example of this might be if your ideal customer is typically very busy and doesn’t have time to sit down at a computer regularly you may need to consider other channels e.g. Podcasts which can be listened to while doing other things e.g. driving to work or exercising at the gym.

You might be surprised how much you can learn about your market just from your website statistics. For example Google Analytics provides you with a wealth of information about your site visitors including:

  • Location e.g. country or city your visitors come from
  • Traffic source e.g. search engines or direct traffic
  • Your most popular pages
  • The time spent on site
  • Your Bounce rate e.g. the number of visitors that click the back button without engaging with your site
  • The speed of the internet connection your visitors most regularly use. (You can be sure someone with a slow internet connection wont want to sit through video)
  • New Vs Returning visitors
  • Top Exit pages e.g. the pages most people leave your website through
  • The browser and operating system
  • Mobile or Desktop Computer
  • Keywords used to find your site (Google has recently reduced this information significantly)

Where are Your Customers and what Interests Them?

So how does one figure all this out. The first step should be defining your market, so you can better understand how to push their buttons. For some small businesses your customers will vary considerably by demographic e.g. if you are a painter your market is potentially anyone who owns a house, the same if you are in the medical field – all age groups and occupations can require treatment at some stage. So don’t worry if your entire market is too broad to define, instead profile your ideal customer. If you can’t laser target your entire audience then focus on the perfect customer.

If on the other hand you have a very specific market then keep a note of the average age, occupation and income level for starters. There will be other information more specific to your industry so keep that in mind and start using the right language and media to get them interested in your content and marketing.

Using Alexa.com to Profile your Market

Another method I like to use to define a market involves ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ and borrowing data from those who are already a big player in your industry. They don’t need to be in the same country, in fact I recommend profiling American businesses to take advantage of the larger pool of data you can collect.

An example of this might be if you were a musical instrument retailer. Why not look at one of the biggest brands in your industry by doing a search on Alexa and then drilling down to find out the profile of their typical customer. For example if I take a closer look at ‘Musicians Friend‘ (A large US based musical instrument retailer) I can easily get the following data.

[highlight]Based on internet averages, musiciansfriend.com is visited more frequently by males who are in the age range 55-64 and received some college education.[/highlight]

That’s just for starters. Clicking on the ‘audience’ tab will uncover even more useful information. (Refer to screenshot below) including level of education, browsing location and if they have children.

alexa

Summing it all up

Having access to this type of information allows you to tailor your online content to really speak to your market and understand them better. Online marketing isn’t about trying to draw in as many people as you can, it’s about attracting people that are a good fit for your business and product or service. It’s difficult for a business owner to put themselves in their customers shoes, but it’s important. For example some of the terms your customers may be using to find you may not necessarily be the terms you use every day to describe what you do. This is critical if you are going to invest money into achieving higher rankings via SEO for instance.

On the flipside, knowing your market profile also allows you to repel the type of customers you don’t want to attract e.g. tyre kickers and those who don’t see the value in what you do.