Knowing Where Your Customers Are = Smarter Targeted Marketing

Knowing where your customers are online is half the battle. The other half requires you to deliver exactly what they want. The more in line you are with your customers' thinking, the easier it will be to sell to them.
08/05/2015 10:42 am ET Updated Aug 05, 2016

Are you wasting your marketing efforts by barking up the wrong tree? If you don't know who your ideal customer is and where he spends time online, your marketing is likely resulting is scattershot sent in all the wrong directions. On the other hand, assessing where your customer is receptive to your messaging can help you instantly get better results. Here are tips to better align your marketing efforts with what your customers want online.

1. Identify Your Customer
How can you find someone if you don't know who you are looking for? One of the most important keys to finding customers is identifying the unique traits, characteristics, and preferences of your key target audience. It is incredibly difficult to find your customer online without this information. If you have not yet developed a detailed profile of your target customer, do it as soon as possible.

2. Identify Likely Hotspots
Once you have identified your keywords, do some additional research to figure out where your customers spend time online. It is possible to spend hours on this research, so focus on essentials. If your ideal customer skews older and more professional, you may find them on LinkedIn. If you sell a product that has great design, your customers might find Pinterest or Instagram more appealing. Facebook still offers a great cross section of customers and has great free analytics; however, be aware that younger audiences are not spending as much time on this social media network.

3. Determine Your Keywords and Hashtags
Now that you know your target customer, you must determine what keywords and hashtags this audience uses to search for content and information about your topic, expertise, or solution. My favorite keyword tools are wordtrakker.com, overture.com, and Google keyword research tool.

4. Create a Specific Campaign
You may think that you can use the same campaign for every social media marketing channel, but each site requires personalization and modification. Your campaign should include content that can be highlighted to show the network's strengths. For example, your efforts should skew more toward the visual, rather than content, for Pinterest, and you'll have to use bite-sized messages for Twitter given its character constraints.

5. Time Your Outreach
It is cliché, but timing is everything. Pay attention to the time zones your customers are in, and schedule your content to be published around that. Seasonal variances can also make a big difference. If you sell spices, barbecue season may be the perfect time to launch a big campaign. These are the elements that can subtly undermine or boost your efforts to find your customers online, so make sure you pay attention to them all.

6. Assess Results and Tweak as Necessary
It is a constant and consistent effort that builds your customer base online. Use Google analytics and the tracking tools provided by the difference social sites to make sure you are driving traffic and engaging your audience. Give your endeavor time to develop and then carefully evaluate your efforts to determine where you go in the future.

Knowing where your customers are online is half the battle. The other half requires you to deliver exactly what they want. The more in line you are with your customers' thinking, the easier it will be to sell to them.

This article was originally published under the title How to Find Out Where Your Customers Are Online at www.succeedasyourownboss.com

Melinda F. Emerson, SmallBizLady is America's #1 small business expert. She is an author, speaker and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She writes a weekly column for the New York Times, publishes a resource blog,www.succeedasyourownboss.com, which is syndicated through The Huffington Post. She also hosts a weekly talk show on Twitter called #SmallBizChat for small business owners. As a brand, she reaches 1.5 million entrepreneurs a week on the internet. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. Forbes Magazine named Melinda Emerson one of the #1 Woman for Entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. Melinda has been featured on MSNBC, Fox News, NBC Nightly News and in Fortune, The Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise. She is the bestselling author of "Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works," and the ebook How to Become a Social Media Ninja; 101 Ways to Dominate Your Competition Online.