With the exception of Amazon, which sells everything from 3-liter bottles of cat shampoo to state-of-the-art 3D printers, and a few online department stores, eCommerce sites are typically quite niche oriented. They succeed because they’ve identified a gap in the market for a specific product or idea, and they market themselves as leaders in the provision of these niche items or services. Therefore, attracting the right audience—an audience with the same niche interest—is vital, and a failure to locate and captivate this audience will undoubtedly make it more challenging to thrive.
Why define your audience?
Quite simply, it is impossible to market your products and services effectively unless you know who you’re marketing them to. There is no such thing as average marketing for the average Joe; every single advertisement, article or social media post will appeal to some more than others.
It’s important that the “some” in this scenario are those who may be interested in what you have to offer. For example, if you’re offering locally produced wines, it is a waste of time creating content aimed at teens who cannot legally purchase the product.
Marketing costs are increasing, particularly for the latest on-trend advertising techniques such as influencer marketing, for example. Many businesses simply cannot afford to spend on marketing that isn’t going to be effective in terms of boosting conversions and increasing sales and profits. That means we need to hone our efforts and ensure we spend our marketing budgets wisely. By narrowing down the market and focusing exclusively on those visitors who are statistically most likely to convert, we can help our businesses to further grow and develop.
Here are some simple tips for identifying your target audience and keeping them engaged:
Understanding your product or service
The most important first step when it comes to identifying your audience is simply to know and understand the product(s) or service(s) your business is offering. What is it? What does it do? And most importantly, who is going to want it?
While this may sound simple, it’s an area where many eCommerce businesses make a mistake; they fall at the first hurdle. It’s easy, for example, for a lighting company to say they need to target homeowners. This is correct but far too vague. A niche eCommerce site needs a niche audience, so rather than thinking “homeowners,” we should be thinking more along the lines of 20-something graduates buying their first property, or growing families looking to move to a larger place. We can then create content that is specially tailored to capture their interest.
Use what data you already have
If you are an established business, make use of the information that is already available to you rather than starting from scratch. Instead of speculating on who may or may not be interested in what you have to offer, check the facts.
Take a look at who has purchased your products or services in the past. This can give you great insight into the types of people who may be looking for a similar experience. While you are unlikely to have access to such specific information as age or household income unless you’ve previously sent out a customer survey, you should be able to determine gender and location from your standard sales information, and those are two of the most important factors. The location is particularly important if you are thinking of using local marketing terms and keywords in your SEO.
Get insight into your customers with retargeting & remarketing
Retargeting is often seen as a way to boost conversion rates—and it is—but it also has another very valuable purpose for eCommerce businesses: it provides you with an insight into your customer base.
With tools such as Facebook Pixel, for example, it’s possible to create a database of those who have visited your website but haven’t converted. We’re not interested in conversions here, but in seeing the pool of people who have obviously had some degree of interest in your business, no matter how big or small this level of interest was. From this, it’s possible to create what Facebook calls a “Lookalike Audience,” which produces a new pot of potential customers for you to advertise to based on their demographics and their similarities to your current audience database.
Check out the competition
While your business may be niche and you may well dominate your niche sector, there will always be eCommerce businesses with some sort of similarity or crossover with your own. So who are they targeting?
A good way to determine what sort of audience your competition is focusing on is to visit their website. Check out the tone of their text, as well as the subject matter of their blog posts if they regularly publish content online. Also be sure to check blog posts for comments to gauge their success and determine whether this particular type of content has proven successful in stimulating a response from the target audience. As you work to identify your own audience, you may wish to draw inspiration from those in a similar field.
Be flexible and prepared to expand your audience
Although it is important to shun generalizations in favor of identifying a more niche audience to attract, there is such a thing as taking it too far.
A high-end red lipstick, for example… it’s very easy to classify the target audience as 20- to 40-year-old women who are professional, high earning, powerful and not afraid to be bold and stand out. But we cannot focus on them exclusively. If we do, we run the risk of alienating what could be a significant percentage of those interested in the product. We need to go off on tangents every now and then.
Who else could be looking for an expensive red lipstick? A loving husband or boyfriend, or a teen searching for the ideal Mother’s Day gift. Particularly at certain times of the year, especially holidays, we need to be flexible and realize that our target audience may change.
We’re living in the digital age, which means we now have more opportunities than ever before for global exposure. For example, a simple Tweet or Facebook post by the right person at the right time can transform a local eCommerce business into a global phenomenon. As a result, many businesses consider expanding their services to include international shipping.
However, we cannot assume that our target audience in another country will be the same as our target audience in the United States. Identifying others who are interested in our products may take work. Consider makeup, for example. In the US, makeup is primarily worn by women. In South Korea, however, it is completely normal for men to wear cosmetics, so we need to consider how our products translate overseas.
Keep your audience interested
Once you have identified your target audience, your next step is to draw them in and keep them interested. This means creating content that is relevant to this particular audience. If you offer local services, for example, then one of the most effective ways to attract the right people is to optimize your content to include local keywords, such as “window cleaning Santa Monica,” or “roofing Scottsdale.” If content is relevant to the audience, they are more likely to feel engaged with the brand, which is one of the first steps towards conversion.
So the question is: who is your market? Follow the above tips to find out.