Finding Your Target Audience Online
If you’ve already figured out how your business stands out from the crowd and defined who your target audience is, you’re probably working hard creating content that tells the unique story of your business. You also need to get busy finding your target audience online, so you can tell them your awesome story, deliver great content to them, and demonstrate why your service is the best choice for them.
Finding warm leads who are already looking for your particular service is more efficient than firing random marketing efforts out into the void. The better you know your target audience, the better chance you have of delivering your message to them.
Personas are a model of what your target clients look like, sort of an imaginary profile of who you want to reach. The more detail we can put into defining your target audience, the more vivid the persona we will be able to create. Details about your target customers that you should consider:
- Their age, gender, income bracket, hobbies.
- Level of education, philosophy or outlook on life.
- How do they spend their time?
- Are they single, married, do they have kids?
- Do they have political affiliations? Do they belong to any groups? How do they make a living?
- Are they tech savvy or not at all? How do they get their information?
- How do they speak? What kind of “voice” do they respond to? Who do they respect? What things inspire or fascinate them?
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a start. In order to get our message in front of our intended audience, we really need to make an effort to get inside their head and understand them.
Be Where Your Target Audience Is
Once we have a well-established profile of who we are targeting, we can start to figure out where they might be. By knowing their interests, we can predict who influences them, what blogs they might be reading, what sites they might visit, and who they might interact with. Engaging with our audience requires figuring out where they might go online, and becoming part of those communities. Some ways that you might begin:
- Research other blogs and sites dedicated to your industry.
- Where do your competitors spend time engaging people online?
- Are there sites, blogs, Facebook Pages, or YouTube channels that your target clients would find interesting? Are your competitors spending time there already?
To get your message to spread, you have to start planting seeds for others to find. I regularly plant seeds for my business by leaving blog comments, offing advice in forums, answering questions on Quora or Yahoo Answers, and conversing with thought leaders on Twitter. Other places that your business might leave useful information is on your own website, on relevant Facebook Pages, on YouTube videos, or any other place where your potential customers are likely to see your face. Every one of these seeds becomes another potential place that customers begin to associate your name with your service and your expertise.
It’s a long haul effort, but being helpful to people looking for answers, and providing timely information pays off if you stick with it.
Getting Their Undivided Attention
The goal of all these efforts is to bring potential customers to your website, and finally, to convert them into paying customers. Whether your target audience pays with their money, their time, or something else, the goal is to convince them to trust you and make that investment.
There’s an old saying in advertising that people have to see your name at least 20 times before they even consider making a purchase. Putting your name out there, demonstrating your willingness to help, showing your expertise online—these are all ways of putting your brand name out there for people to see, convincing them that you are trustworthy.
Eventually, people will hear your name enough, and come to your website. That is where you should have your most powerful and best articulated content. Once a person comes to your website, they are waiting for you to convince them that your business is the one they should hire to do the job.
There is no secret method—only a willingness to define and discover who your prospects are, and a desire to meet them where they already spend time.
Always measure your efforts. I use tools such as Google Analytics or Site Stats in WordPress Jetpack to track where visitors to my websites are coming from, how long they stay, and what content they view. I track which forums, videos, and links are converting day after day and focus on using more of those. Every business is different; every audience is different. You cannot be everywhere, but you can be in the places that your target audience will see you.