After months of planning, financing and working countless hours, you’re finally opening your business. You smile and wait for the customers to start enquiring about your product, but only a trickle of people are showing interest.
No doubt, you’re asking yourself, “where is everyone?”
Experienced business owners often find themselves asking the same questions too, even more so after starting to expand their advertising through the use of social media. They start Tweeting their deals, regularly posting offers on the Facebook pages and adding interesting articles to LinkedIn, but their conversion rate stays the same.
“Where is everyone?” they ask.
You’re both asking the wrong question.
Before asking where they’re hiding, you first need to ask who it is you’re seeking. Who is your ideal customer?
As Susan Chritton of Dummies.com once wrote:
“Think about the game of darts: You have to aim in order to hit the board.”
Only through understanding who your customer is can you truly convert and increase your sales.
So how can we understand our customer if we’ve yet to meet them?
Six Target Audience Questions
Through a short exercise with a pen and paper, you can quickly understand both who your audience is and where you should be aiming your social media marketing strategy.
1. How Old Is Your Target Customer?
If you’re selling a high-end luxury brand of cars, it’s unlikely that people between the age of 10-14 are going to be interested in your social media updates. Alternatively, it’s unlikely that many customers between the ages of 55-65 are going to be interested in purchasing a pair of trainers designed by rapper Kanye West, either.
Understanding the age range of your current and potential customers will help you to forecast which demographic has the keenest interest in your industry and the financial support to be a repeat purchaser.
2. Where Do They Live?
Understanding the location of your prospective customer isn’t an insight that only local small and medium-size businesses need to be aware of. Businesses both offline and online need to understand where their customers are to better target their social media marketing efforts.
As a local business owner, you’re keen to target and acquire customers within the workable radius of the service you offer. If you’re offering plumbing services in Leicester in England, it’s unlikely that people viewing your adverts or social media updates in France are likely to call you any time soon.
As an eCommerce entrepreneur, you’ll be able to distribute your goods across a much wider distance, yet you may not have the courier facilities in place to ship your product to the opposite side of the world.
Rather than spending all your money on Pay-Per-Click and social media adverts that target people worldwide, you can instead narrow down the range to only the most suitable locational demographic, thereby increasing your conversions and saving you money in the process.
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3. Are They Mostly Men or Women?
As important as how old your audience is and where they live is their gender.
Targeting your ladies cosmetics brand at men isn’t necessarily a bad choice in the run-up to Christmas, but throughout the rest of the year, it’s unlikely those adverts are going to convert into a sale.
By aiming your updates and adverts at women only, you can decrease the waste expenditure of your advertising campaign and reinvest that money into re-targeting the customers you already have for a repeat sale.
Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter have in-built advertising networks that are increasing in-depth every day. Today, you can create an advert aimed solely at the right gender — plus age group, location and many more metrics — for a much cheaper cost per click.
Learn how to use audience personas in your social media strategies to increase conversions in our podcast.
4. How Do You Promote Your Product to Those Individuals?
Understanding your demographics greatly aids you in creating social media updates and adverts that convert.
Some people need to repeatedly see a product in action through photos and videos over the space of a few days before making a purchase. Networks such as YouTube and Periscope are perfect for demonstrating not just how your product works but also how much easier it makes the lives of the people using it.
Others need to see a product multiple times before they feel like making a purchase. If your product is slightly out of the comfortable price range of the customer, they may take weeks or even months to save up and make the decision to purchase.
These customers are just as valuable as immediate-spend customers if their lifetime customer value is worthwhile.
Over the course of that period of saving and indecision, you can subtly target your audience through regular, jovial and engaging updates on the social media network your intended demographic uses the most, such as Facebook or Twitter.
In these instances, one advert running throughout the period, plus irregular engagements with them through social media, could be all that’s needed to secure a sale that might otherwise have been missed.
Learn about how to run profitable Facebook Ad campaigns in our podcast: How to Spend $1 Million in 6 Weeks on Facebook — and Profit.
5. Where Do They Get Their Information? Social Media? News?
More than 45% of people living in the UK are active social media users. That’s 3.483 billion people who are messaging friends over Facebook, following the news on Twitter and scrolling through Instagram wishing they were somewhere else.
Your next advertising campaign must take advantage of that prime real estate.
It’s important to understand how your target audience uses each social media platform. Facebook users tend to access the network during core work hours on weekdays, with mid-week and midday being peak times, whereas Twitter users are early risers and many check in as soon as the alarm goes off.
By focusing all of your efforts on the social media platform your demographic uses, you can spend less time trying to be everywhere and instead create a singular cost-effective campaign on the one network your focus niche uses the most.
For example, if your core demographic is Hispanic females between the ages of 18-29, Instagram should be your primary network.
If you’re looking for leads for your new range of children’s toys, then Pinterest — with a large audience of 100 million active female users (many are at-home mothers with a household income of over $30,000 per annum) — is a perfect network for advertising.
To find out which social media network your demographic is using, compare your audience against this report on social networks users to find the right fit.
6. Which Type of Content Works Best?
Short videos on Facebook have become an increasingly popular method of advertising for many brands, but what if your target audience doesn’t use Facebook?
You’re needlessly spending a fortune creating incredible viral content that’s not being seen by the people who matter most.
By spending just a few moments thinking about the habits of your future customers, you can understand and put into action a social media strategy that works. Even the simple step of uploading the same videos to Instagram instead of Facebook could be all you need to do to reach the right group of people at just the right time.
If you’re selling Software as a Service (SaaS) or Business to Business (B2B), you might find that your videos are falling short but your Tweets are getting tonnes of engagement and clicks through to your business’s blog. Clearly, the right type of content for this particular group is long-form and detailed blog posts. They want as much information as possible before they make a purchase, and you’re not going to find them browsing Facebook for it.
Does your eCommerce website need social media marketing? Find out how interaction on social media can have a dramatic effect on the success of your site in our blog.
Understanding Your Audience Demographics
Gradually, your notes are going to become the demographics that shape your future sales strategy, but it’s important to note that knowing the age, gender and location isn’t the end of the road.
At the core, your target demographic are people with individual habits, from which an average can be taken to provide a guide to their general buying habits.
There will be high earners who are penny-pinchers when it comes to spending and people with a low-income level who will purchase non-essential items every weekend as a hard-earned reward to themselves.
Emotional triggers are a crucial part of forecasting the choices your clientèle will make. Ignoring them can cost you dramatically, as Jacqueline Curtis of Money Crashers relates in this examination of JCPenney:
“In 2012, CEO Ron Johnson decided to try something new: He revamped the store’s image by putting an end to what he called ‘fake pricing’ … pricing that ended in $0.99, clearance buys, and pricing that was discounted from a clearly inflated number.
In theory, it sounded nice. In practice, customers weren’t buying it – literally. Customers didn’t feel like they were getting value from their purchases. Sales plummeted…
Without that red line through the supposed original price and a sale price printed beneath, shoppers don’t feel like they’re getting huge value for their money.”
The purchasing intentions of JCPenney’s customers were clearly being driven by their emotions and by ignoring those signs, the company saw a drop in sales of close to five billion dollars; their share price halved within 12 months.
By understanding what your customers think and feel when it comes to making a purchase, you can avoid a similar drop in fortune.
Bringing Your Customers to Life
You’re probably not “Target 1: Male, 18-25, Student”. You’re certainly not “Target 4: Female, 25-45, Graphic Designer” either.
You’re a person, not a statistic — and so is your customer.
As you examine the numbers of each niche group you’ve identified, it can be quite easy to forget that behind each statistic is a person. Someone just like you.
While putting together your social media strategy, it’s much easier to understand the consequence of your work if you have someone in mind while you’re doing it.
“Jeff would love these trainers”
“Annie would buy this book in a heartbeat”
By putting names to the faces of our demographics, we humanise them and make it easier to relate and logically predict how each target audience is most likely to behave.
For example, the eCommerce platform Shopify demonstrated in its post How to Build Buyer Personas for Better Marketing a method for persona building worth replicating. Printing off your own small profiles to have with you will make your next campaign even easier to draft.
Compare to Competitors
If you’ve studied your numbers and you’re still finding it hard to predict how your customers are going to behave, there’s a fast-track method for finding out what’s working — check the competition.
By studying the successful companies in your industry, you can learn a lot about what is and isn’t working for your target audience. It also helps if your main competitor has been active on social media for longer than you, as you can quickly assess their methods and improve on them.
For entrepreneurs and small businesses that can’t compete with the large marketing budgets of their rivals, letting the competition do all the work is a crucial stepping stone for piecing together a cohesive marketing strategy.
Putting It All Together
With six simple questions, you can improve the aim of your darts. No longer will you be throwing wildly at the dartboard, hoping that at least one will hit the bullseye.
Understanding your target market — who they are, which networks they use and their purchasing habits — will help you utilise the strength of a strong social media strategy to increase your total sales.