Whenever I’m over on Quora looking for questions that people are asking regarding digital marketing, I always see someone complaining that their marketing or advertising on Facebook or Google isn’t working. Many blame the platform. Hint: It’s not the platform’s fault! Usually, it’s one or more factors in the marketing planning process that the advertiser failed to do. Consequently, this is part of a series which will be under the “Marketing Strategy” category and “Improving Marketing Results” tag with tips on how you can improve your marketing. The first one is a crucial step many people skip: Market Research. Here’s what you need to do.
Clearly Define Your Target Market(s)
Before you do anything, clearly define your target market or audience! If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one!
You have to put yourself in your target market’s shoes and determine which keywords, questions or phrases they are going to enter into the search box to find you. Once you complete the free Define Your Target Market Workbook, the next step is to do some market research to get to know your target.
Part 1: Keyword Research
What is your potential customer going to enter into the search box to find you? That is an important question! You want to be found when someone is looking for what you have to offer. That’s where keyword research comes in. This is something you should do every year. For instance, what people search for changed from 2019 to 2020. You might think you know, but you need to find out for sure.
Google’s Keyword Planner is free, but you have to sign up for Google Ads (pay per click [PPC]) to use it. A Google account will get you started. If you already have a Gmail account, click on “sign in” in the upper right hand corner and it will walk you through setting up an account. Hint: don’t use your personal Gmail account. Create a business one — it will keep you sane.
Continuing with Google, click on “Discover New Keywords”. Enter your up to 10 keywords or phrases separated by commas. You don’t need to enter the landing page or website URL unless you want to filter your search results. If you’re local, add your city or state in location.
Then click “Get Started”. This will give you ideas on other relevant keywords or phrases in a variety of combinations. You don’t really know what a searcher is going to enter into the search box, so you should consider these.
What to look for…
You want to find the keywords or phrases with high monthly searches and low to medium competition. That means that there are a lot of folks searching for that term but fewer sites have those words in their pages or have paid ads. Take note of those. They’ll give you blogging ideas. Now, obviously, some major keywords with high competition, depending on your industry, you’ll have to use on your site. But when you write blog posts, look for those with high searches and low or medium competition.
Depending on your geographic area, the monthly search results you get will vary. Nationally, look for relevant keywords with over 100-1000 monthly searches. On tight, local searches, you’ll get lower monthly searches so anything over 100 will be good.
Download your results list to an Excel spreadsheet so you can easily sort them and remove any that are not applicable.
There was a lady in one of my classes who was opening an online eCommerce clothing store for plus-size women. All the common phrases and keywords that came up had high searches but also high competition. Then we came across “curvy girls” with high searches (over 5000/m nationally) and low competition. I said to her, “That’s the name for your blog!” Putting that phrase at the top of her blog, as well as using it 2 or 3 times within her pages, will just about assure her that her site will come up when women are searching that phrase.
Part 2: Economic Outlook
For every major industry, you’ll find economic outlook reports. Google “[industry name] economic outlook” and see what comes up. Make sure you get the the most recent data. You might want to add the year to get current data. Sometimes the most current data is outdated, so keep in mind, especially if you’re in a growing industry, that the data, more than likely, has changed.
Look at related industries. For instance, a few years ago, in working with a local scuba dive shop, I looked into the leisure travel industry. I discovered that millennials were the ones that were be traveling a lot and they liked adventure travel and they’re into conservation. That information helped me put a social media strategy targeting millennials.
The economy can factor in your business success. You need to be aware of industry trends – whether up or down. All this will affect your marketing.
Check out your competition.
How often are they blogging? Where do they come up in Google search compared to you? How many followers do they have in the social networks? What are they posting on the networks? How often are they posting? On Facebook and Twitter there are ways to keep tabs on your competition without them knowing.
Your challenge: What will it take to bump the bottom 2 off the first page of Google so you’ll come up? This becomes your content and social media strategies. What are they NOT doing? If they’re not blogging, then you have to blog daily for the first week, then 2-3 times a day to bump them off. If they’re not active on social media, then you have to be.
Part 3: Finding Data on Your Target
Once you’ve clearly defined your target market (and you can have more than one target), you then need to get to know them as much as possible. My two favorite sources to get data are eMarketer.com and Marketing Sherpa.
eMarketer has a lot of statistical data on many subjects. Click on “Articles” and search for your target – like “baby boomers” or “millennials”. You’ll get a lot of free articles and some premium ones that you can subscribe to access. I’ve always been able to find enough data from their free articles. You can also search for “social media”, any of the specific networks, “mobile”, as well as specific industries.
Marketing Sherpa has marketing case studies. Search for your industry as well as target market keywords.
Research is important because if you just go out and start posting and blogging, you may be missing key factors that will make your marketing more effective. Working with the scuba dive shop, knowing that millennials are passionate about conservation, my client’s strategy was to include conservation blog posts, as well as posting and tweeting about it.
Think like your target audience/market
The whole idea is to put yourself in your target market’s shoes. Think like them. To be able to do that you need to get to know them. What solutions are you going to provide for their pain points – their problems? Or wants and desires.
Which social networks are they using the most? Hint: You don’t have to be on all the networks! Focus on the ones that your target market frequents the most.
Then go to sites like Social Media Today or Social Media Examiner to get ideas and strategies to best reach your target on social media. Learn about each network. Check out Content Marketing Institute and CopyBlogger for guidance on what to blog about to reach your target.
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, failing to do proper market research will hurt you in the long run.
You’re going to waste your time, effort and money going for the wrong target in the wrong way. The last thing you want to do is look stupid or insult people because you weren’t prepared.
Other sources of market research data:
- Your public library
- Chambers of Commerce
- Census data
- Civic organizations
- Government websites
- Trade associations
Part 4: Applying the Research to Your Strategy
Once you feel you’ve got a grip on your target(s), then you need to put together the strategic marketing plan. At one point, you DO have to stop researching and put a plan together!
Start with your goals and objectives. These are for your business in particular. How much money do you want to make in a year? Divide that by 12 and you’ll have your monthly monetary goal. Now, how many new clients do you need each month to reach that number? How many products do you need to sell to meet that goal? Write those down in your plan.
- 100 Twitter followers
- 100 Facebook likes
- 50 connections on LinkedIn
- 25 Pinterest followers
- 25 Subscribers on YouTube
Next you have your overall strategy…
What you’ve garnered by your research should have given you an idea of what you need to do.
Put down your ideas in each section: content marketing, each of the networks, keywords and hashtags, etc.
Keep in mind that this plan is NOT written in stone. In fact, it will change from month to month based on your analytics. You need to review your analytics from your website and social media every month to see what’s working and not working. Your following should be consistently growing. If it is, then you’re doing OK. Keep up the good work! If not, then look to see what your didn’t do or what you didn’t do enough. Did you post the wrong type of content?