So you’re a business owner who thinks he has a good grasp on who your target market is, but you’re now at the point where you want to know precisely. Or you could be new to running a business and you are looking to engage with and get to know your audience better. Where do you start? Who is your target market really? Chances are you have an idea, but you don’t want to throw shit at a wall and hope it sticks—you need to know it will.
Step #1: Reflect on what you know already.
Step #2: Engage and get personal.
Step #3: Investigate true behavior.
Step #4: Evaluate your feedback.
Step #5: Execute: Design customer experiences around the feedback you received and continue to test your user experience.
Reflect on what you know already.
Who is buying from you right now? Who has shown interest in buying your product or services? Why do they buy from you? Is it because you have a great reputation for high-quality work? Do you sell something very niche? Define what makes you different or special to your current customer base and ask yourself why. Ask yourself “why?” one hundred times, then ask “why?” one hundred times more throughout this whole process until you feel confident that you know. Don’t stop there, test it!
Who are your competitors marketing to? Why are their customers choosing them over your brand? Are they choosing them over you because they provide higher quality, more valuable products or services than you? If the answer is “no,” that is a start to a bigger question. How could you make it known to consumers that you provide something more convenient, of higher quality, more valuable, etc., than your competition? If the answer is “yes,” stop reading this and get to work.
Analyze your product/service. What are the unique features provided that nobody else has or is doing? Why does this matter to your target market? Is it possible to add more features or upsells that create more value for your customers? List the benefits to your products or services and all additional features and upsells. Why is this important to your customers and how does it affect them?
Make a list of customer needs that your benefits fulfill. This will also help you generate more questions to test and receive feedback for and the more questions you have, the more accurate your targeting efforts will be.
Engage and get personal.
Start with a list of answers you want to receive to reach your bottom line and business goals. A couple examples of this would be like:
• The customer wants to know __________ when they initially visit my website.
• The customer is fearful of _________ .
• They are / are not concerned with __________.
• The customer will / will not pay X for _________.
Second, go into the demographics; who is the most likely to buy and who has the need? Demographics are questions like:
• How old are they?
• Where do they live?
• Are they male or female?
• How much money do they make?
• What is their level of education?
• Are they married, single or widowed?
• Where do they work?
• What is their ethnicity?
Understanding demographics is a good base to ask more questions and test more hypotheses you may have.
Last in this phase of the process are the psychographics of your target market. It’s now time to get to know the people that will be buying from you with questions that target:
The absolute best way you can ask these questions are in person. This will allow you to read their body language and give you more feedback than just answers. In a face-to-face interview, you can hear their tone of voice, read their body language and let them know you genuinely care about them as a customer. After the interview is conducted, it is also way more likely you just gained a lifelong customer.
If they can’t meet for an interview, see if they have time for a phone call. With a phone call you have the chance to hear their tones and, again, gain more information than simply answers. Remember people are busy, asking for their time away from their daily duties to help you out is asking a lot. Be polite and respectful of their time. Work with their schedule, not yours, and make sure the time you spend doing this is valuable and no longer than 30 minutes unless they request it to be.
Your last attempt would be an email questionnaire. Give them a timeline and tell them that you will follow up with them mid-timeline. Additionally, give them an out. Don’t come off too strong if they don’t want to do it—politely ask them to tell you they are not interested. After all, you don’t want their feedback if they don’t care.
Investigate true behavior.
Usertesting.com is what I personally use to monitor how people behave on your website. Usertesting.com allows you to watch and listen to specific independent web users, you can ask them questions and give them specific tasks to complete while on your site and your competitors’ sites. This is great because you get to hear the frustration in their voice when issues arise and since they are most likely not invested in your brand yet they are 100% brutally honest with you.
More software options include:
• User Zoom
After these tests are conducted and reviewed by a designer, the changes for improvement become clear. These changes will make for a stronger user interface and give an overall better experience with conversions.
Evaluate your feedback.
So, were your assumptions correct? Did their feedback validate what you already knew or, better yet, bring something new to your attention? In any case, you should now have more clarity on who your target market is and what you can do to better serve it. Evaluate your feedback and get started on creating new ideas for design changes. Always consult with a professional web designer for guidance as they will be able to execute the quality you need and give you the best options with your website’s architecture.
Execute: Design customer experiences around the feedback you received and continue to test your user experience.
You now have all the ammunition you need to make great design decisions to communicate most clearly with your specific target market. Realize that it requires a complete high-quality experience for your users to convert. Once they take one action, they are more likely to continue by making another. Ensure they are being led through your conversion funnel with one clear call-to-action (CTA). Again, remember to respect their time. They don’t have time set aside to sift through your stupid options. You user-tested for a reason: What are they looking for or need? What do you want them to do? That is the single most important CTA you give them.
Your content should reflect the tone of voice that resonates with your target market. You learned who your audience was in step #2, so use that information to create a tone for your brand and content. They will relate more to your brand and feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Photography is important to most people visiting your website, so use photos that look like them, show them who they want to be or display the end result they desire. People are not idiots. We all have what you call a “bullshit radar,” and it activates immediately when somebody feels like you’re not being authentic, legitimate or trustworthy.
Web design is nothing without valuable content and valuable content is nothing without professional design. Evaluate the quality of your website and always make appropriate adjustments that will create better experiences for your users. You should be consistently testing your conversions and making changes that optimize your site for maximum conversion rates. Not doing this puts you at risk of falling behind your competitors and losing more revenue than you should be comfortable with.