Knowing who your market is and what your market wants is crucial to successfully promoting or attracting people to your site; in this lesson we'll investigate just What Does Your Market Want?
No market research is complete until you've had a good look at the people and issues that make up your market. Thorough research into the "people side" of your market can help you in several ways:
Every market has common concerns and recurring themes, issues and problems that people need answers for - things that drive them to the Internet for information; the role of the Internet marketer is to find out what these things are and provide solutions.
As a marketer you can usually make an educated guess as to what the concerns of your market are but, unless you already know a lot about your market, the only way to really get inside the head of your audience is to go in and see what your market is talking about.
The first place that most affiliates look is at the search volumes for relevant keywords. If, for example, you were thinking about creating a site about chicken recipes you would plug "chicken recipe" into your keyword research tool (such as the excellent Traffic Travis) or search engine of choice and see what sort of chicken recipe keywords most people were searching on.
(Learn how you can uncover the most effective and relevant keywords in our lesson on How to do Keyword Research!)
Although keyword volumes are a great way of getting a general overview of your market, the real power of market research comes from being able to speak directly and specifically to the problems your customers have.
One really good source to get a more in-depth look into your market are online forums. Forums give you a chance to view and discuss, and get a really good feel for, the relevant topics and concerns of your market; they can also often give you ideas for related topics for articles and marketing angles you not have thought of.
To find forums just type your topic and "forum" into Google. Before diving in completely be sure to take a quick look to check if there are many people talking and whether the forum is well-organized; if not, move on to the next one - if you've gained a bad impression of it, chances are other people have too.
Once you've found a suitable forum then even looking at the forum's index page can give you good ideas for topics for your website, much like we got from looking in Google or Yahoo.
One you've god some good ideas for general categories from the forum, dig into the topic a bit to see what people are really talking about; find out what sort of questions they're asking - if you know what your market's asking, you'll be able to answer (or, at least, acknowledge) their concerns on your website.
Remember, though, if you take these new ideas and go back to your keyword research tool you may be a little disappointed by the search volumes. You need to decide yourself whether it will be worth pursuing, but remember that more targeted nice search terms tend to convert much better than more general search terms, and it's easier to rank highly in the search engines.
"Demographics" is a nasty sounding word, but if you really want your audience to listen to you, you should pay attention to who they actually are. Researching can attain some of this information, but a lot of it might just be "common sense". Think about the following and then try to keep these ideas in mind when you design your site.
Age: How old are your readers? Are they mostly young, mostly middle-aged, or do they come from several age groups? The language you use with a younger person may differ from how you talk to an older person; similarly, you may want to consider site design/layout - e.g. making the text size on your website bigger for older visitors.
Gender: Does your site cater to mostly men or mostly women? It probably won't surprise you to know that the two genders like different things and respond in different ways. If you have a gender bias on your website be sure to target accordingly; also don't design your site to look overly masculine or overly feminine if you're targeting both genders!
Location: The largest online market is the US, but if you're also targeting other countries you don't want to alienate them by filling your site with US-centric content; however, we highly recommend sticking with American spellings.
Prior Knowledge: How much do your visitors already know about your topic? Are you throwing them in the deep end, or are you boring them with basics? Are the people looking to buy the product "newbies" or more experienced? Target your content accordingly.
Expectations: Once they've arrived at your website, what are they expecting to find? If there's a large gap between their expectations and what they think you're offering at first glance, they'll click the back button and scoot right out of there.
For example: if they're expecting lessons, don't offer them reviews; if they're expecting an informative article, don't hit them with a hard sales pitch.
You might say that it doesn't matter if someone hits the back button immediately - after all, at least some people will stick around - but remember that Google looks at your "bounce rate" to see whether people are finding useful information on your site. A high bounce rate can mean lower search engine rankings. Carefully wording your "title" tags can help mitigate or prevent this, so make sure they're an accurate representation of the actual content of your page (while still tackling your keywords!).
Needs: A lot of affiliates go overboard providing information into the background of their product, the history of their product, uses and testimonials for the product, without realizing that all their customer really wants to do is look at the product! Conversely, a site might provide product images and specifications galore, but not realize that their visitors really want reviews and opinions to help make a decision.
Think about what your visitors want and need to help them make a purchase.
Competition: Where might have your visitors previously gone? Make sure your site measures up to the competition - more polished designs, better targeted information, maybe offers your competitors don't have - remember that people don't just visit one website, they shop around.
Tone: You wouldn't build a website for high-end, expensive jewelry and decorate it with lots of cartoon characters and exclamation marks and you wouldn't speak to young children using really big words - these things aren't appropriate for their market.
This is one of the most "common sense", yet possibly one of the hardest, aspects to understand - make sure that your website design and the text you use in your website are "appropriate" for your audience. It may help to get a friend or relative to look at your site and see what they think; you can also try just putting yourself in the mindset of your audience, and look at your site from that perspective. It requires a bit of imagination, but you'll get the hang of it!
In this lesson we've investigated how to find out what your market wants, and how to target accordingly. A couple of ways you can improve your targeting is by:
Once you've determined better ways to target your keywords, it also pays to take a look at your site and content and think about the following aspects: