How to Find Your Ideal Customers Online
As more and more of the world gets online, the challenge to find the hiding spots of your ideal customers increases. But there are a wealth of tools to help you.
Before you can start, you need to be beyond clear about who you are looking for.
You need 3 distinct segments of information on who you are looking for.
- Demographics. This is a starting point not an end point. Age, life circumstances, income, location are all important in helping you narrow your focus but on their own they are not enough.
- The issues your target market need to solve. Without this insight, you will not know if there is even a market for your product or service.
- How your target market thinks, sees the world, interacts with the world and what their aspirations are. This information will inform the approach you take and the language you use connect with your ideal customer.
You need to get to know your ideal customer so well that you can have an imaginary conversation with them – which means going way beyond the statistics. It means getting right into their heads and looking out through their eyes. Every second you spend on building your understanding will pay you back many times over.
Researching Your Customers
There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes. This is one approach to finding your ideal customer online.
Putting Google to Work
Start by putting your main product or service keywords into Google and see what comes up on page one. Try to use strings of 3 – 5 words rather than single keywords. These long tail keywords are a much richer fishing ground and will reduce the amount of research you need to do.
In a separate tab, head over to SpyFu and enter the top pages to see what their keywords are and what their traffic is like. Note down the most valuable and interesting ones to explore further.
Check out the top competitors and their keywords. Even with the free account, you will be able to find some really valuable information about the keywords the market is using. If you are small, you are getting the benefit of some big business intelligence for free.
Go back to Google and put in the competitor keywords you have identified as being promising. There are two things you want to be looking for here. First is, what other sites pop up on the search that you can explore to further refine your keywords. The second is taking advantage of Google Autosuggest. As you put in the keywords it will start to recommend some phrases that you might be interested in. Scribble these down – you will be coming back to them.
At the bottom of the page and look at the searches related to your search. Make a note of promising ones that closely relate to your product or service.
You now have a stack of ideas which you need to whittle down to something more manageable that will prevent your head from exploding. You want a list of about 10 that are really aligned with your product or service. If you have multiple products or services, you will need a group for each to explore further.
Now over to Google Adwords.
In the tools menu, select keyword planner. Individually enter the keywords you want to explore. This will bring up a lot of information about search volume and competition. Keywords with a higher search volume may serve you well but if you have a really niche market, look for ones that have less search volume. These will potentially do better for you because you can get more visibility and higher rankings in a more niche market.
Your next step is to drill down even deeper. You are going to use the most flexible and powerful search engine out there – no it isn’t Google. You want to find where people hang out and there is only one place that has the depth of information you need – Facebook.
From a personal point of view, the amount Facebook knows about you is downright scary. But from a business point of view, it is pure gold dust.
Before you do anything – even if you have no intention of ever paying for Facebook ads, set up your ad account, grab your conversion pixel and get it installed on your site.
Because it will start tracking visitors to your website and building up an invaluable picture of what those visitors are interested in. In Advert Audience Insights, if you have enough traffic you will be able to see interests and demographic information that isn’t available within Facebook Page Insights.
Facebook Page Insights
Page Insights provide you with valuable demographic information on who likes your stuff and gives you a great opportunity to test your theory about your target market (as long as you don’t have a stack of friends and family who like your page and screw up your data).
You should know around 6 – 10 people who fit the profile of your ideal customer. You may be able to identify these from your Facebook page, Twitter profile or Instagram followers – look for people who are highly engaged.
Facebook is an incredibly valuable starting point to find out more about their general likes and interests. Using Facebook search – find their profiles. See what public posts they share. Look for key interests and language used.
Now go one step further – use the search strings “posts by xxx”, “groups joined by xxx”, “pages liked by xxx”. (Tip, if you aren’t getting many results, then for the duration of this exercise try changing your language settings to English US.) This will give you a great deal of insight into where you need to be seen, the language you need to be using and the type of content that will be warmly greeted by your target market.
If you haven’t got it already, install Discover.ly on Chrome. This allows you to see all of someone’s social media profiles. Head back to your ideal client profile. Click on the discover.ly icon to see their other social media profiles and what they post.
You now have a wealth of insight into the interests, language, thoughts, feelings and more of your ideal clients that you can use to build your marketing. Set up a swipe file to record all the interesting findings you unearth as you search. Group your findings into key areas that you can use as a source of inspiration in your marketing and business development activities.
Now you have found your ideal customers, you need to work out how to connect, engage and talk to them. But that is a whole different topic.