Audience Targeting Equals Online Success
Getting More Bang for Your Advertising Buck
Have you ever seen an ad on TV for a store that didn't exist in your area? What a waste! Even if you were motivated to shop by the commercial... you can't! It's frustrating for watchers and truly a monumental waste of money for the advertiser. It's even bad the TV channel; after all, serving up interesting commercials is part of the whole entertainment experience. It's the perfect example poorly targeted advertising campaign.
So... how does this translate to Web marketing? It's not as different as you might think. The goal of any marketing campaign is to reach potential customers and minimize exposure to people who are not interested, not qualified, or out of your area. The Web is the ideal marketing medium because you can really target the people who will be interested in what you have to offer. Good audience targeting can make the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a so-so campaign.
Who is Your Target Audience?
Unfortunately, this question gets left blank most often on my SEO/Usability questionnaire. I can't work effectively without the answer to this question, and you can't either, whether you are aware of it or not. And no, your target audience isn't "everyone with an Internet connection and a credit card." Really! No, it's not. Yes, I'm talking to you!
The more you know about the people you are selling to, advertising to, or enticing to take some action (like subscribe, click or fill out a contact form), the better. Things to consider are your primary targets':
- Age Range
- Education Level
- Web Abilities
- Lifestyle- single, children, retired, etc.
- Geographic Location
- Problems to be solved
If "Everyone" is Your Target Customer, You'd Better Have a Real Advantage
If you are still insisting your target audience is "everyone with a credit card," good luck with that! If you have something that no other website can offer and everyone wants, then this may actually be your target audience. However, most of us have competitors, LOTS of competitors, offering similar products or services and limited resources to reach prospective customers. In the "real world" a great location can be enough to sell commodity items but online, everyone is just a click away. Location on the Internet is page one, Google and the competition to get there is HUGE.
Your target audience isn't everyone you would like to buy from you, your target audience is the people you are most likely to be able to reach effectively and convince to take action. By solving the needs of a specific audience, you are more likely to get them to take action. Let's take a look at an example:
Sarah's Body Cremes
Sarah has decided to start up her business website, selling a popular brand of body creme through a drop shipper. She decides her target audience is all women aged 16-90. She sets up her website and catalog using the vendor-provided information, starts using PPC ads, and submits her site to some directories. Her tagline is a generic "body cremes for all your needs."
The PPC ads do drive some traffic... but she isn't making much profit after she pays for the ads. She mentions her new business to her friends and creates a signature with her link on several mom-interest boards she likes to frequent. Her business takes a small upturn and she's thrilled.
Looking at her sales and stats, she notices 90% of her sales are of a specific cellulite crème, and digging deeper, the sales are mostly to other stay-at-home moms from her mom boards and friends from her local mom groups. Using this real-world data, she targets her website specifically to stay-at-home moms, aged 25-35, with some disposable income, who are concerned about cellulite! Now, she's ready to really fine-tune her strategy.
Taking a Chance on a Target Audience
Sarah figures she has little to lose, since her website income is barely a trickle. She culls her body creme website, removing the wide array of products and focusing on cellulite creme and a few related items, like an exfoliator, loofah, and finshing creme. She creates a "package" deal including all of these items as well selling them separately.
She rebrands her website as "the answer to stubborn cellulite for moms" and rewrites the copy to focus on the difficulties young mothers may have with getting out to excercise as often as they used to. She includes images of young moms playing with toddlers and focuses on their changed outlook- after all, playing with the baby is more important than worrying about looks. Then she offers a quick and effective solution that won't cut into time with the kids but will help her take care of herself.
Sarah adds resource pages devoted to body changes in new moms and advice on exercise and regaining your figure after childbirth. She rewrites her PPC ads to focus on cellulite issues for new moms, picks various mom-site publishers from the content network, and relaunches her marketing campaign.
Then she seeks out mom-related sites and blogs on the Internet and scans them for opportunities to offer advice on her new area of expertise- cellulite and new moms. She does not post blatant ads, but uses her research to position herself as a helpful expert. She contacts gyms and exercise sites aimed at women and offers to trade links, provide articles, or buy an ad on their site.
The Payoff- Higher Sales
Sarah's business takes off. Instead of limiting herself (as many people fear when it comes to targeting an audience) she's actually increased business by focusing on her most profitable items and customers. She later expands her offerings to include other targeted products that appeal to her established target audience, with each launch creating more detailed pages of information, PPC copy, and articles.
While many affiliates struggle with selling the entire line of cremes, Sarah has become a star partner by selling a limited selection to a demographic she knew and understood. By removing the overwhelming array of products, she made it easy for time-challenged moms to complete their purchase.
But I Don't Sell Affiliate Stuff...
The same concepts apply to any business. Who needs your stuff? Do you know of a specific industry or lifestyle within that larger group that you have access to?
- Bob's Web Design decides to focus on small business websites, then specifically on small business websites for wall painters, his former profession. Using his knowledge of the lingo and his contacts with various trade groups, he becomes an expert in painter's websites, adding a paid directory to generate a little extra income.
- Ink Haven is struggling to enter the ink cartridge sales market. The owner, a former car salesman, targets ink sales to car dealerships, advertising on B-to-B and auto manufacturer sites and launching a profitable direct mail campaign as well as advertising in several trade publications. He knows that the office manager's job is hectic and writes copy empathizing with the amount of work he/she has to do and offering an "automatic re-order" program to remove that task from the manager's day.
Every industry has it's own opportunities. Often, leveraging what you know about your industry and potential customers can suggest different targets. Some questions that can help you create your target audience are:
- Where are your customers located?
- What are your most profitable items?
- Are you collecting feedback from people who didn't find what they wanted?
- Which ads are the most frequently clicked, and why?
You've probably heard of the old 80/20 rule- 80% of your profits come from 20% of your products/services. Take a close look and see if you can get more of those 80% items sold.Don't be afraid to focus on a specific item or a specific niche of your market.
Test, Test, Test!
The best way to find your most effective marketing tactics is to test and fail until you find the right combination! Don't be afraid to set up landing pages and run PPC ads to get a feel for the best direction before investing a lot of time into branding yourself as an expert and doing aggressive marketing. Remember to use what you know and rely on your strengths in order to reach people who need your goods and services. By using what you are familiar with, not only can you build your business but also have fun doing it!
Scottie Claiborne is the owner of Right Click Web Consulting and the facilitator of the Successful Sites Newsletter. She is a speaker at the Search Engine Strategies conferences and the High Rankings Seminars as well as the administrator of the High Rankings Forum.
If you would like to reproduce this article in an email newsletter:
Permission is granted provided that the article is reproduced in its entirety as shown above, with the resource box/bio included, linking to http://www.successful-sites.com as the original publisher and the author's site. Please e-mail us notification that you would like to use the article and a copy of your newsletter.
If you would like to reproduce this article on a website:
Permission is granted provided that the article is reproduced in its entirety as shown above, and appropriate credit is given, with a link back to http://www.successful-sites.com as the original publisher and a link to the author's site. We appreciate an email to let us know which article you are reprinting and where it is posted.