Every person in the world is not going to see every ad in the world. Each ad has a specific audience that will see it, and it’s the marketer’s job to find the best placement to ensure the target audience will see it. For example, an ad for skateboards placed in a local senior citizen housing association newsletter is not likely to generate a lot of sales. In fact, it would be a waste of advertising dollars. The target audience for skateboards is teenagers or young adults. The vast majority of senior citizens do not use skateboards, and it is not a product category in which they typically purchase gifts. Before you buy ad space, make sure you’re spending your money in the right place to get the biggest bang for your buck in terms of exposure and building awareness of your product or service.
First, take the time to research your customers thoroughly. In most businesses, 20 percent of customers are responsible for 80 percent of sales (this is called the 80/20 rule in case you’re curious about the official marketing terminology for this phenomenon). That 20 percent represents your best customer, and your job is to determine who that 20 percent is. Evaluate your customers and put together a demographic profile of your most valuable customer, so you can advertise in the best places to find similar people who are likely prospects. If you’re a small business owner, you probably don’t have a budget set aside to conduct a thorough research study and analysis of your customer base, so you’ll have to improvise by using your own communication skills and visual investigation. Remember, you’re trying to develop a basic profile of your target customer, not a CIA profile of each individual who buys your product. Do your best with the information you have.
There are many attributes you can use to develop a demographic profile of your customers. Following is a list of examples of traits to help you start your own demographic profiling initiative:
- Family Status
Launching a market research initiative to support your digital marketing campaign
If you’re reading this and thinking that you’ve been marketing online without the aid of market research, let’s start there. A solid market research campaign plays an important role in a successful marketing initiative by giving you’re the information that you need to focus in on your audience and content. The market research needed to support a digital marketing initiative has two main focuses:
- Decoding your audience’s most urgent concern: Understanding your audience has profound implications for your marketing strategy and beyond. From the perspective of developing your content and SEO strategy, it helps you answer vital questions such as: who are your customers? What are their most urgent and pressing concerns? What factors are they focused on in terms of making a buying decision. This information helps you decide what strategy will reach them most effectively on every point from design and copy to keyword research and content deployment.For help determining this information, see “Are You Using Your B2B Marketing Personas Effectively?”
- Focusing your content: Determining how your audience finds your site, what they read, and more is the core of a successful content marketing strategy. If you need more advice on this element of the discussion, I highly recommend you read 7 Ways to Find Out What Your Target Audience Wants and Create Epic Content.
It’s fair to say that this information can have far more reaching impact on the way that you do business. But it helps to understand the ways that businesses gather this information. Here are a few of my favorite techniques.
Keyword research: The world of keyword research is constantly evolving. What information are Google and Bing making available? What’s the best tool to dig in? Understanding what keywords matter for your space and how people are currently finding your site is invaluable information.
Website analytics: Your website analytics program, such as Google Analytics, can tell you a lot about your visitors. What’s their demographic information, what’s bringing them to your site, and what do they do once they’re there? Mining your website analytics can help fill in the picture of where the gaps exist in your online marketing strategy. 15 Google Analytics Tricks to Help You Maximize Your Marketing Campaign offers further tips.
PPC-based research: Author Tim Ferriss, of The Four Hour Workweek fame, tells a great story where he used PPC advertising to test options for the title of his book. Using Google AdWords to test concepts and gauge interest in products and services – as well as refine the messaging in connection with these aspects of your business– is a smart strategy.
Auditing existing buyer data: You probably store a lot of information about existing customers, including who they are, how they buy, what they buy, when and where they buy, and what triggers that action. Mining your existing data will give you a very solid picture of who you’re selling to and the kinds of areas to focus in on in your research.
A/B testing: A/B testing is a kind of data gathering that lets you determine what’s most effective for reaching your audience. It can focus on e-newsletter headlines, designs for the landing page of your website, or the specific copy of a call to action. By pitting two options against each other, you’re able to determine which performs better and make incremental improvements to your website and overall marketing strategy.