Whether your target customer is a kid using their parents’ iPad or a senior citizen using their smartphone, there are significant numbers of the exact kind of person you want to find online. So how do you find them?
To make this easier to think about, let’s think of your customer going through a sales process.
Stage One: Investigation
Your potential customer is interested in what you have to offer. They are at the stage of visiting websites and getting information.
Stage Two: Interrogation
This is where you start seeing posts on Facebook like “We’re considering blah-blah-blah, who’s good?” or you get someone who fills out the contact form of your website. They’ve looked and are interested, and they have some questions.
Stage Three: Enthusiasm
Whether they end up buying from you or not, these people like you. They follow you online, comment on your stuff, share with their friends and, directly or indirectly, you’ll probably get a customer.
Clearly we’ve got people at different levels looking at our businesses all the time. So let’s look at some questions here:
Where is your target audience spending time online? (Investigation)
Source: www.alexa.com (You’ll need to install the toolbar to get some of the data you want but trust me, it’s worth it)
It’s important to know where your customer is hanging out online. To paraphrase from Gary V’s book ‘Crush It’, money follows eyeballs.
Here’s an example. About three years ago, I looked at an office space above one very steep flight of stairs but I didn’t take it was that I thought my growing business would involve older people that couldn’t want to walk up stairs.
It turns out my best customers are business owners in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. In other words, looking at the data, the people spending money with Breaking Even are skewing younger than I was expecting. So I went ahead and got an even better deal on an office… and didn’t even hesitate when I saw it was up two flights of stairs.
At first, you will guess who your customers are but after you have some data, you’ll actually know who they are. Where your ideal customer is, be there online. So if we look at the comparison above and see that Facebook and Twitter are skewing younger, Pinterest is in my target and LinkedIn is in my target and skewing older. If we look at other kinds of data (and more websites) where to be becomes more and more clear.
Take this idea beyond social media websites. Look at blogs, news websites, anything. Knowing where your customer spends time is knowing where you should spend time, and potentially buy ad space if it comes down to that.
Who is talking about my business online and what are they saying? (Investigation)
SocialMention, like Google Alerts but on steroids, allows you to see what keywords are being associated with a phrase, who the content creators are, and what blogs, Twitter status updates and more.
Hint: You might need to tweak results using the ‘Advanced Search’ function (see green circle upper right). Otherwise you may get a lot of extraneous results. I also recommend making a Google Alert for your business name and possibly your name, just to keep tabs on what’s going on.
Knowing who is talking about you means you can talk to them back… and potentially get even more ideas of what your customers are doing online.
Who is actively engaged in your brand/business?
Source: Facebook Insights (linked on your business’ Facebook page) or other metrics like Twitter retweeters, etc.
This statistic is a bit less straight forward. You can often collect names and sometimes contact information but this process is manual and involves individual followup if you are serious. But if someone is taking the time to repin twenty items of mine on Pinterest or retweet half my blog posts, the least I can do is make a personal connection by messaging them.
As social media stats get more robust, this will not be so manual as it is now but at the very least, it’s worth taking some time to pay attention. You may be surprised just who your enthusiastic advocates are!
So if you find your potential customers at the investigation, interrogation, and enthusiasm stages and keep in touch with your current customers, soon you should have a good idea of where places you can maximize your online time. Then do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
What about you: Where are your customers online? And more importantly, how do you know?