Analysing the Target Market for Your eCommerce Store

Should you just launch your online store and hope customers will come? Of course not!
  
You will obviously need to attract them with marketing. But who to? And how?

Now, there’s a notorious story of an advertising executive whose agency had the Coca Cola account. When pitching an idea, the client asked him, “Who is this campaign for?”. The exec’s answer; “Every *so-and-so* with a mouth!” (It was actually a bit racier than that, but you get the idea…)

Anyway, the point is, unless you’re Coke, you can’t simply use a scattergun approach to marketing – you need to define your target. Well, you could… but we can’t think of a faster way to blow your budget for precious little results.

Finding Your Target Market

Simply put, your target market is the group of people who want what you’re offering.
Targeting, or segmenting, these people means you can ensure your store reaches the right audience, with the most efficient use of your resources.

First of all, though, you’ll want to clarify what need or problem your product or service provides a solution for.

What business am I really in?

Ideally, when you are narrowing down the niche your business is in you would go beyond the basic definition and consider the outcome for the customer.

For instance, Nike isn't in the shoe business. Nike is in the business of inspiring the athlete in all of us.

You’re really trying to think of your product’s benefits not its features. If you can make this distinction it will greatly assist the picture you create of your target market and how you talk to them.

Avoid assumptions

Knowing the solution your business really provides is a great start but the – really tempting - danger is jumping in and assuming you know who will benefit most.

The next crucial step is research: engaging with your potential customers and learning from them. You have a shopping list of characteristics you must be familiar with to create your ideal customer profile.

The people who are attracted to your business’ proposition will probably share a number of common similar traits. Understanding these will help you fine-tune your messaging throughout the customer journey.

Key demographics to target can include:

Age
Location
Gender
Income level
Education level
Marital or family status
Occupation
Ethnic background

That is simple, factual information – next you’ll be looking a little deeper, more into personal behaviour or psychographics, such as:

Personality
Attitudes
Values
Interests/hobbies
Lifestyles
Behaviour

These lists are not comprehensive, every business is as different as its customers. So select criteria that will have the most significant relevance to you – the more specific the better.

How do you find out target market information?

There are many tactics to help you find and refine your target audience.

A good place to start is discovering who is already searching for similar products or services. Tools like Google Trends can allow digital marketers like you to see what people are – or aren’t – searching, almost in real time.

You’ll probably want to start a Facebook Business Page - the Insights tab will let you do some quick research into your ‘fans’ to see the breakdown data like gender and age.

You can also…

Research your competitors - If you have direct competitors, look at their social media platforms, the type of people that regularly like their posts, and the type of content that gets a lot of response. Also, if you see what isn’t getting response it can help fast-track your progress by getting an insight into what to avoid.

Create surveys - This is one of the best methods to find out who the leads who convert to customers actually are. Build a survey with one of the many free survey tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey aimed at identifying key personas. Their answers to a few short questions can take out a lot of guesswork.

Look for trends in online customer feedback - Armed with your “What business am I really in?” awareness, you can go to popular online forums like Reddit or Quora to see who exactly is asking questions or interested in your industry/niche.

Create a Market Positioning Map - In the simplest terms, a positioning map is a visual representation of what your target market thinks about your product. Sometimes also called a perceptual map, it is usually done on a simple two-factor X & Y axis and can help you spot a vacancy in the market, strategically position your product and identify the audience to best market to.
You’re getting to know your audience. Now what?

Once you’ve gathered all the information you can about your customers, you can then make a plan to market to them. Pinpointing the characteristics of your target audience can guide you to craft the most focused, compelling and effective marketing messages.
You may find you’re also asking yourself questions like:

- Is the potential market large enough for my product or service?
- Do I need to modify my business model for maximum appeal to this audience?
- How can I make the most of my marketing budget to reach the most promising potential buyers?

Your new insights could influence the pricing of a product, or you might modify your products or services to suit your potential customers better.

You can review your website content and check that it’s geared to best provide solutions to their problems.

When you see what attracted your current customers, you can work the best way to get new ones.

Don’t just set and forget

It’s important to be aware that the marketplace is not static. As it shifts and evolves, your target audience can change with it, especially if you want to widen your reach

Because the market is dynamic, you will need to continually refine your customer profile to stay synchronised. This will help you fine-tune your marketing strategy to stay fresh and engaging, and to keep ahead of your competition.

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