Identify your online target audience
1. If you don’t have hard data, start with assumptions or make an educated guess based on your personal experience and anecdotal evidence.
Ask yourself Who are the target customers? How would you describe their life (or business) situation? What do they want? What’s the pain? and What are their needs that aren’t being met? Ask such questions especially if you have no paying customers yet. Look for data about your customer’s lifestyle, for example, are they into entertainment, are they into tech gadgets, rather than demographic insights like age, gender, and geographic location.
2. Talk to real people to validate target market assumptions, and use the feedback to improve and build.
Meet different people and businesses to collect info about customers. Go out, observe how they behave, and soak in that knowledge. As an example, after Austin-based startup Food on the Table approached a mom who plans meals and uses coupons, and spent three weeks shadowing her as she made lists and visited the local supermarket, the startup had enough information to pull out the first version of their website. They soon reached 1 million users and were eventually acquired by Food Network.
3. If you learn that your current business assumptions are wrong, then pivot.
Change the course of your company if need be, once you are past the stage of assumptions and have a better market insight. PayPal and Groupon are just two of many examples that pivoted and changed directions once mastering the knowledge of their target audience.
4. Survey current customers to learn why and how they buy, and to find out who they associate you with.
Try to get in the heads of the last 20, minimum, to 100, maximum, persons who recently enough purchased from you. If you ask somebody who made the purchase a year ago, their input may be fallible. Ask demographical questions such as Who are you? Or if you run a B2B business, ask about their industry and company position. Ask questions that concern your product such as What are you using it for? How is your life better thanks to it? and What did you like about our product the most? would be relevant ones as well. Ask questions related to competitors such as Did you consider any alternatives to our product? If so, which ones? What made you sign up for our product? What convinced you that it’s a good decision? or Why did you choose us over others? Build a compare page where you compare yourself to the competition and make a case for your advantages. Identify those advantages that you can emphasize on your current website.
5. Ask customers short and relevant questions, using a neutral tone to ensure quantity and quality of answers.
Write your questions, then weed them out. Don’t ask questions just because you’re curious, but include questions that will help you collect information on which you can act upon. Once you have written your questions, go through them and ask yourself, What am I going to do with this information once I have it? Ensure each question is necessary to ask and contributes with meaning. Use language that doesn’t lead the customer any particular way. Adjust the wording to make it sound neutral.
6. Avoid multiple choice questions when interviewing customers.
Use free-form questions to help customers express themselves without constraints. Pay attention to how customers word things in the answers. Make notes on how they describe the problem, the solution, the benefits. Your website has to speak the same language your customers do. Copy and use the exact wording from a survey answer in a value proposition, or other key part of the website copy to see if the two are in harmony.
7. Put time limits when you send out surveys, and incentivize with small gifts.
Use phrases such as fill this out in the next 3 days, to get data faster. Reward everyone who answers with a free product or service or Amazon gift card.
8. Set up goals and/or e-commerce tracking.
Check our dedicated playbooks for step-by-step implementation guidelines. Look at the traffic sources that convert the best. Analyze the landing pages that perform the best and the best converting keywords. Analyze the channels which convert the best.
9. Check the Google Analytics Traffic Report to track where the traffic that converts comes from, or the Keywords Analysis Report to identify high-value keywords on which you want to improve your site ranking.
Other type-specific reports reveal information on the best performing content, best-converting landing pages, or best-performing channels if you run an ecommerce site. Spend time, money, and effort on the high-performing traffic senders you identify thanks to the data insights. Pay attention to which blogs send you the best-performing traffic and try to be regular on those blogs, that is if your content marketing strategy incorporates guest blogging.