The e-commerce industry has been growing faster than ever.
More and more customers are turning to online businesses than before. However, the inverse is also true: Many more businesses are now online compared to the years past.
Competition is tight, so it is tough to grow and stand out among the millions of e-commerce businesses out there.
As such, many e-commerce businesses target niche markets instead of the general market to get ahead of the competition.
A niche market is a portion of a broad market that has more specific preferences. Targeting a niche market can lead to brand loyalty and revenue because your business is addressing specific needs that are often left unattended by the bigger players.
Niche markets can be found in almost any large market, but here are a few examples.
- While several restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian options, it is not often their priority. A restaurant serving all vegetarian or vegan food addresses the needs of a niche market that is often overlooked.
- In the fashion industry, there is a large market for gowns and formal wear. Environmentally conscious consumers would appreciate clothing made from recycled materials, so a clothing shop specializing in eco-friendly gowns and formal wear would address that niche market’s need.
Benefits of niche marketing
Compared to the broader market, you will find less competition in a niche group.
For instance, a lot of stores sell bags, but consumers might find a hard time finding vegan leather bags. This means that you can really shine and stand out without millions of others competing for the same consumers.
Solving your customers’ needs directly encourages loyalty. Instead of trying to satisfy the general public, you are serving a more specific group of people. What you offer is unique and useful to a customer base that may be under-served.
With a niche market, you will be spending less on marketing due to your specialized product or service.
Niche markets are likely to search longer terms, also known as “long-tail keywords,” which can be more effective than shorter search terms.
For example, the search term “notebook” is used by millions of people and, therefore, the cost-per-click can be high. Meanwhile, “100% recycled paper notebook” narrows down the results and addresses the specific needs of those looking for them. The latter also costs less in terms of SEO marketing.
Choosing the right niche for your business
Finding the best niche to target is easier once you ask yourself the following questions.
1. What are you good at?
Every business has different strengths and weaknesses, but understanding them can go a long way.
- Where does your team excel?
- What do you have that your competitors don’t?
- What do you and your team enjoy doing?
By making sure that these strengths align with the niche you want to target, you are making a better-informed decision about who to serve and market to.
2. What needs are not being met?
Search for customers’ needs that do not have a lot of (or enough) supply. Here are a few tools to get started on market data and keyword research.
3. Who is making moves in this market?
Once you have found a few options, find your potential competitors. With a niche market, there will not be a lot, so look into them and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Use tools like Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool to analyze the existing competitors.
The ideal niche market has little competition with room for growth and a good number of customers.
Be careful! If you find a completely unaddressed need, you can either find a great opportunity or a great loss. If there are absolutely no competitors, there is a chance that they failed because of a lack of customers. Do your research on previous businesses as well.
Promoting your niche product
Once you have found your target market and product, promoting it on your e-commerce store is your next step.
1. Create a marketing plan
Depending on the nature of your niche product, you may find some channels more effective than others. Get creative and explore new options you may not have considered previously. A few channels to explore:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Social media ads
- Affiliate marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Email marketing
In general, a marketing plan for an e-commerce business includes the following parts:
- Executive Summary
- Goals (long-term)
Tip: Be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) with your goals.
- Objectives (short-term)
- Mission and Vision
- Target Market
2. Provide content relevant to your customers
Your content marketing plan should feature posts, videos, and images that your customers would be interested in. By providing quality content, you are building trust and proving your expertise in your niche.
Refrain from only making product advertisements as content. Find out what information your customers are looking for and provide that for them.
If you are selling fresh homegrown lemonade, here are some content pieces your audience will likely look for:
- Homegrown vs commercial lemonade
- Benefits of locally sourced food and drinks
- Top nutritional drinks that are best consumed fresh
3. Commit to excellent customer service
Great customer service goes a long way. When impressed by a company’s customer service, people recommend it to their friends and continue to support the brand. Plus, repeat customers are likely to spend more than new customers would.
A few tips to keep your customers happy:
- Listen to what they are saying on social media and review sites. You can easily find opinions posted about your product or service through social media search engines, review sites, and specialized tools.
- Train customer-facing employees well so they can properly represent your business to your customers. After all, up to 96% of customers cite customer service as important to their loyalty to a brand.
- Regularly check in with your staff to see if they have enough resources to excellently do their job.
- Happy employees can translate to happy customers, so create a productive environment for your team. Acknowledge milestones and motivate them so they are fulfilled in their work.
- Improve your company’s customer experience. Optimize your website, social media, and customer support channels for a smooth customer journey.
4. Encourage referrals
People in a niche often stick together. Pet lovers make friends with other pet lovers, comic book fans orbit in the same friend circles, calligraphy enthusiasts chat and ask questions within their community, and so on.
More likely than not, one customer knows several friends who would enjoy your product. Niche markets provide great opportunities for referrals and recommendations.
You can give incentives for referrals like discounts or special gifts to encourage customers to share your product with others.
5. Ask your customers
Because you operate in a niche market, your customers are often passionate and happy to share their feedback.
While there are many ways to do this, here are some examples.
- Reward points: Regularly provide points as rewards to customers for filling up a short survey.
- Automated emails: Set up emails to send to customers who do certain actions. You could approach this in many different ways, but most companies would ask for feedback when customers finalized a purchase, if they consistently supported the business, or if they unsubscribed from the company newsletter.
- AI Surveys: By integrating artificial intelligence into feedback surveys, you can give your customers more personalized questions that are rooted in previous data. AI can also make surveys less boring and more engaging through conversational language.
6. Experiment and evaluate
Try out new methods in marketing your niche product. After doing research, you can find unique ways to connect to your target market. Hold webinars, work with influencers, or join a Discord community—unconventional methods may surprise you!
Perhaps more important than trying new things is to learn from them. Every time you start a marketing project, set goals like “250 purchases in a week” or “3000 unique clicks on this ad.”
Whether you succeed or fail, try to figure out why. Perhaps you can retry that failed strategy with a small tweak here and there! Continuous improvement of your strategy can take you far in a niche market.
Examples of niche marketing
Let us look at a few niche marketing examples to learn from.
When buying toys, most people pick up plastic toys. However, after a large product recall in 2007, the folks in Vermont grew wary of mass-produced children’s toys.
Situated in this niche of toys that are safe and made with care is Vermont Wooden Toys. Vermont Wooden Toys sells toy trains, toy trucks, rocking horses, building blocks, and a large variety of handmade wooden toys. The business owner, Ron Voake, creates every wooden toy himself. His craft and design have been featured in the New York Times and NBC News.
Vermont Wooden Toys knows its niche target well—people who want handmade wooden toys that are safe, authentic, and high quality.
An example of great innovation in a large market is UNTUCKit. Their target? People who prefer to not tuck in their shirts.
By solving a specific problem that a lot of people had, UNTUCKit differentiated itself from other clothing stores. UNTUCKit proves with its unique approach that even long-established industries have room for new ideas.
Did you know that about 10% of the world’s population is left-handed?
Left-handed people are Lefty’s target market. Because most products like scissors, notebooks, and can openers are made for right-hand use, left-handed people have struggled to use them comfortably.
Lefty’s product designs are made to solve this problem.
Try typing the keywords “left-handed scissors” or other variations of this search term, and you’re likely to see Lefty’s ads. That shows the company has been successful in bringing its products to those who are looking for them.
Is niche marketing for you?
While there is no definitive answer to this question, marketing to a niche market can be beneficial for your business in many ways.
Because of the smaller target market, there is less competition in a niche. Tackling a specific need also encourages more loyalty from your customers. Of course, marketing can be cheaper and more effective due to the nature of a niche market.
An invaluable step in promoting your product is to create your marketing plan, outlining the different steps and goals for your product. Connecting with your audience through relevant content also gives credibility and improves your website’s SEO.
Excellent customer service is another key factor in driving loyal customers to your business. Because communities surrounding a niche can be close-knit, referrals may prove more effective in niche markets.
Customer feedback should guide your strategy in bringing your products to your customers, as well.
Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things and evaluate your marketing methods as you go. Promoting a niche product can be a rewarding venture that brings you loyal customers and a strong connection to a niche community.
With an informed strategy and a driven team, your business can go far in a niche market.