A business blog could be a way to contact your customers through the search engine. If you write about the right subjects and design your blog to respond to the needs of your potential customer you’ll be able to ‘manipulate’ them into doing what you want them to do. SEO isn’t just keyword cramming and link spamming anymore. The heart of your new online strategy should be: ‘understand your target audience and provide the information they want and need’.
Do you want to reach and influence your customers through your business blog? The first step is to ‘know who your customers are’. Or even more important; who you want your customers to be. It is possible that your current customer file isn’t the most interesting group to target with your business blog. To find out who should be your ideal customer and thereby your business blog target audience, you’ll perform ‘target audience research’.
How to start your ‘target audience research’?
The first step while performing target audience research is to ‘learn what you want to learn’. You want to find out what your goals are and what you want to know after you’ve executed the research. The final question you want to answer is:
“What does my products or services most interesting and ideal customer look like?”
This may sound obvious but it isn’t that naturally in most of the cases. Many companies only look at the current customers on their website while developing their online strategy. This behaviour is due to the train of thoughts: “If we attract a lot of males from Spain at the age of 40 to 50 years by using their iPhones, this must be our target audience”. But, in most of the cases this may not be true. In your current communication it’s possible that mostly men are buying your products through the website. Maybe females with the age of 20 to 25 years old can’t find your product yet, but they could be an even more interesting group of future customers. This is something you’ll find out while conducting ‘target audience research’.
Look, listen and inform are the three keystones while conducting target audience research. Start at the beginning, look at potential groups and don’t be afraid to diverge your scope into smaller groups. Converge and diverge. Describe a wide group that has certain characteristics and could be your ideal customer.
Part 1: Case Gerards online petshop
Gerard has his own online pet shop and wants to start a business blog to get more traffic on his website. In Google Analytics, Gerard finds out that there are many young people between 15 and 25 years old with dogs, rabbits and cats who visit his website. But Gerard has a lot more to offer than what these people buy. He decides to start his target audience research by exploring the group ‘pet lovers’. This group is quite large but describes everyone he could target with his blog. Also people that don’t have any animals yet but do think about buying some are included in this description.
Segment your target audience into focus groups
After you’ve chosen your target audience, the next step is to segment your target audience into smaller pieces, your focus groups. It’s very important to get a good image of your focus groups behaviour and characteristics. This way you’ll be able to see how they overlap and differ from each other. This difference can be found in many different components. For example; sex, motives, choice of music, colour of socks, beliefs, demographics et cetera. Everything is possible. Not every way of segmentation might be as important. By thinking about different ways to segment you’ll be able to choose the right focus groups you should try to reach. In almost every group will be an overlay with the other groups. Use this in your advantage by keeping these things in mind after your target audience research.
Part 2: Case Gerards online petshop
Gerard decides to segment his target audience ‘pet lovers’ in multiple ways to get some inspiration for his possible focus groups. In the end, he decides to segment by choice of animal. Gerard sells products for dogs, cats and fish. These segments all need different information and way of communication. A cat owner doesn’t have to know how she can buy a dog. Gerad makes the following list:
- Cat owner
- Dog owner
- Fish owner
Gerard came to the conclusion that even in these segments there are many differences. For example, big dog owners need different information than small dog owners. They have different questions about the healthcare and nurture. They also need different kind of products to care for their animals
After doing some research on Google, Gerard found out that dog owners are easiest to contact online. Gerard doesn’t have that much time to maintain a business blog, that’s why he decides to focus his blog on this particular group. The focus group of Gerard can be appointed as ‘dog owners’ with the segments ‘small dog owners’ and ‘big dog owners’.
In the example above, you see Gerard chooses to segment on the size of the dog. But don’t forget this isn’t the only way. In your case, the segments might be selected on different characteristics. Dare to find these specific characteristics and you’ll see the best results. The most logical offline customer doesn’t have to be the person you want to reach online!
If you want to reach your focus group the best way you can, it’s very important to put enough time and effort into your online strategy. Don’t take challenges you can’t handle and choose the number of focus groups carefully. Note priorities and select the groups you want to contact first. Contacting one group at a time is mostly more effective than writing sloppy content for many different groups.
Customer journey, how do they behave?
The next step is to get some insights about the behaviour of your focus groups, online and offline. This is something you can do by using the customer journey. If you Google the definition of customer journey, you’ll find many different techniques to map your focus groups. The situation determines which method is the best. You can read more about the customer journey in the next part of the business blog series: Business blog series part 2: Map the customer journey.