After months of planning, financing, and countless hours worked 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 and regularly post offers on the Facebook pages, but their conversion rate stays the same.
"Where is everyone?" they ask.
They’re both asking the wrong question.
Before asking where they’re hiding you first need to ask who it is you’re seeking.
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 an 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 Questions for Your Target Audience
Through a short exercise with a pen and paper you can quickly comprehend both who your audience is and where you should be aiming your social media marketing strategy.
1. How Old Are They?
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 of customers between the ages of 55-65 are going to be interested in purchasing the Kanye West Signature Range by Adidas either.
Understanding the age range of your current and soon-to-be 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 in order to better target their advertising and engagement through social media.
As a local business owner, you’re obviously 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 anytime soon.
As an e-commerce 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 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.
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 that 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 and location — for a much cheaper cost per click.
4. How Do You Promote Your Product To Those Individuals
Understanding your demographics greatly aids you in creating better 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 how much easier if makes the lives of the people using it.
Others need to see a product over time before they feel like making a purchase.
If your product is slightly out of the comfortable purchase range of the customer they may take up to 12 weeks to save or be convinced to purchase a product like a car.
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 them 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.
5. Where Do They Get Their Information? i.e. Social Media, News, etc
More than 60% of the people living in the USA are using social media on a daily basis. That’s 180 million 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 utilise that prime real estate.
During the middle of the day, millions of people around the world are picking up their phones [more than seventeen times per day](65% of adults now use social networking site "Americans spend an alarming amount of time checking social media on their phones") because they fear missing out on something.
By focusing all of your efforts onto the social media each of your demographics 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 then 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 which social media network your demographic is using compare it to 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 in 2015, but what if you’re target audience doesn’t use Facebook?
You’re needlessly spending a fortune creating incredible viral content that’s not being seen by the people that matter most.
With just a few moments of 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 change to reach the right person at just the right time.
If you’re selling SaaS or 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 are 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.
Understanding Your Audience Demographics
Gradually your notes are going to become the demographics you shape your future sales towards and it’s important to note that knowing the age, gender, and location isn’t the end of the road.
At the core they’re people with individual habits from which an average can be taken as a guide to their general buying habits.
You also have high earners who are penny-pinchers when it comes to spending. Alternatively you have low-income earners 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 a 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 an a drop in sales of close to five billion dollars and their share price halving 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.
Whilst putting together your social media strategy it’s much easier to understand the consequence of your work if you have someone in mind whilst 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 and make it easier to relate and logically predict how each target audience is most likely to behave.
For example, the e-commerce platform Shopify demonstrated in their 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 predicting how your customers are going to behave, then 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 who 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.
With six simple questions you can improve the aim of your darts. No longer will you be throwing wildly at the darts board 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.
Which social media channel works best with your audience?
You can find more details on how to get the best out of your social media marketing via our new book Profitable Social Media Marketing: How To Grow Your Business