Don't forget the marketing in marketing

Marketing is a critical part of any successful ecommerce business. While a multi-pronged approach is necessary for marketing any store, it’s crucial to first focus on your target market. Knowing who makes up this target market will help you get your message to them across all marketing channels – PPC, SEO, social media, email, affiliate, and any others you might target.

In this post, I’m introducing you to customer personas and the process of identifying your ideal customer to better focus your marketing efforts.

Finding out who your customer is

You must have heard the old marketing adage: “If everyone is your customer, then no one is.” Even though you may have your niche selected and very tightly defined, it’s important to know who exactly you’re selling to.

If you know who this is, you can tailor your marketing messages and content specifically to them. This doesn’t mean you exclude anyone else, just that you focus more energy on one group in particular.

There are two main strategies to discover your ideal customer:

1. Make up a persona before you start, then polish it as you gain insight.

Let’s say you sell fancy men’s bowties. Your initial customer persona might be:

Male, 25-35 years old, unmarried, professional, has a strong sense of fashion, and makes over $50,000 per year.

This is a good starting place. To tailor your messages to these customers, you would focus on themes like men’s fashion and use language that appeals to this age group and inclination. You can also position yourself in places where these people are most likely to spend their time. Which types of blogs do they read? What websites do they visits first?

2. Create a specific persona based on a niche product, and embellish as you go.

If you sell something much more specific, like superhero wedding cake toppers, then your audience is going reflect that. You know that these are people who like superheroes, probably have a background in science or technology (the geek factor), and are engaged to be married.

You can see how this is already a more targeted audience than our bow-tie wearing professionals. This will shape your marketing. To build a more complete persona, you’ll use sales data to continually refocus and refine the words you use and the strategy you put in place.

Using Facebook ads to reach your audience

A quick way to get customers (or customer profiles, at least) is to use Facebook custom audiences.

To start, set up Facebook ads targeting the fans and followers of just one of your larger competitors. Your ads will be shown only to people who have liked your competitor. They target the same customers you are, so this is a good place to start.

Next, on your own site, you’ll set up a Facebook custom audience tracking pixel. Facebook will use this pixel to track who visited your site, and then attempt to create an audience who you can run more targeted ads to.

You might also consider running a survey on your landing page. Offer a gift card or run a contest in exchange for answers to a few specific questions (2 or 3 maximum). Use the information you collect to help hone your audience even further.

Stores that hit the bull’s eye

Here are a few examples of online store owners who successfully identified their ideal customers by focusing on specific needs and adapting their marketing accordingly.

Andrew Youderian of Ecommerce Fuel used to run a store where he sold trolling motors. At first, he sold all types of trolling motors, but eventually he realized that most of his sales were of higher end motors. So when he redesigned his site, he targeted the whole thing to focus on higher end motors and saw his conversion rates rise.

He runs another store that sells CB radios. He realized that most of his customers were using CB radios for 4 x 4 pickup trucks, so he repositioned that store to reflect this more specific use.

Similarly, the founders of Drones Etc. realized that their products would appeal not only to hobbyists but also to real estate agents who could use their drones to survey and photograph properties. A little research showed that the target market “real estate agent” was untapped, so they focused their efforts there – and saw brilliant results.

Conclusion

I hope it’s clear how important it is to define your target audience, even if the first try is more of an estimation. Your customer persona will evolve as your business grows, so don’t let a little uncertainty in the beginning stop you from testing your ideas.

As you start to narrow down our market, keep the following in mind:

  • When everyone is your customer, no one is your customer.
  • Use research, Facebook and sales data to create your first customer personas
  • Don’t be afraid to start with a simple persona and tweak it as your business grows
  • Targeted Marketing is more successful than vague generalities

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