As a small business trying to gain traction online, you have probably already heard that you should be working out who your ideal customer is.
This is a basic early step in your digital marketing strategy, but one that relatively few businesses will do properly.
You might think you can already define your ideal customer, but this task is far more complex than it used to be. Customers are the most sophisticated they have ever been. And all your competitors have access to the marketing tools needed to directly engage with your clients.
So, it would be very beneficial for you to define your ideal client, in order to best be able to find them.
Let’s imagine that you run an online business selling baby clothing. You probably could already define your ideal customer in basic demographic terms, such as age, gender, marital status, employment status, and socioeconomic bracket. This is a good start.
Through your potential customer’s online history, you can determine what their interests are. You can find and target your ideal customer in terms of their interest. You can analyse what search terms they use and what websites they visit.
Analysing their history should enable you to make a list of the interests that your potential customers have.
Social media platforms
I have mentioned before why social media platforms are so important for small businesses to engage with, for a refresher see my article here.
One reason why you should reach your customers through social media is that’s where they hang out. But a better reason is that social media lets you target customers of the exact demographic and interest categories that you choose.
Particularly relevant to posting and advertising through social media, but always important to know regardless is when your potential customers are shopping.
You can use online tools to work on the best times to post or boost your posts. In general, there are busier times, but this will also vary depending on where your customers live and what demographics they fit into. Middle-aged men do not browse online at the same time as teenage girls, and if you need to connect with new mums, then you should research when the best times are to reach them.
Understanding the client journey
After you have all of the above information about your ideal customers, you still are missing one very key aspect. And this is where they are on their client journey.
This means working out how to reach people at whatever stage of the shopping process or buying cycle they are at. This is usually defined as within one of four stages:
Customers at all stages will use the internet to research their purchase, so you can engage with customers at any stage. But the way in which you connect with people varies from stage to stage because the keywords they use to search change.
Targeting your potential customers at the right times on this journey
You may think that the most valuable clients to target are the ones at Conversion stage, who are ready to buy now.
But your ability to reach them can be hampered by your competitors’ strategies and the depth of their advertising budget.
Your ideal client now has a lot more variables. You can’t just use one digital marketing strategy to reach all of your customers.
Even if they have all of the same demographics and interests and only use one social media platform (which they will not), you still need at least four strategies to connect with people at each stage of their client journey.
You can turn a potential client into an actual client at any stage on this journey.
It is harder to get a new person to come to your website than it is to get a previous visitor to convert to a buying customer. This means that your ideal client can be connected with early on, laying the groundwork for when they are ready to purchase. And if you have laid the groundwork, at the stage of conversion they will be more likely to return to you.
Why should you create models of your ideal client?
Creating models (note there are more than one) of your ideal client is really important, and can give your business some great advantages:
- You can work out what problems your customers have that aren’t being solved
- This will help you create the right solutions to your customers’ problems, for the right price
- It will help you tailor the most effective messages to speak directly to and connect with your customers
- It also helps you tap into the best way to reach the exact same person but at the different stages of their customer journey.
The early awareness customer: the untapped gold
The earlier people are on the customer journey, the less competition you have trying to get their attention. This makes them easier and cheaper to reach at this time, and if you do this well, you can already engage them enough to bring them back to you at conversion time.
At this stage people either don’t know that they have a problem, or they don’t yet know the solution.
Low-cost ways to engage with your ideal customer
Writing light and interesting content that is updated regularly is a great way to show up on searches by people starting out at the awareness journey.
Webinars and educational articles
Putting together videos, mini-courses and how-to articles will help you show up more often on searches by people looking for things under ‘How to’ or ‘Increase my’. These things will build your profile as an authority in the area.
Putting links in your website to influencers and experts, and even better, getting them to link to you, is a free way to raise your profile with potential customers.
Encouraging people to talk about you is also a wonderful way to get your name and brand out there. Getting customers to put reviews on your own pages, or discuss you positively on social media platforms can make you more likely to show up on searches run by your ideal customers.
Tap into the keywords that potential customers will be using at all of the different stages of their buying cycle.
Your ideal customer is out there, and if you are doing this right, you will find them. For more information on the best ways to engage your customers contact me today.