Understanding Your Audience Part 1

 In Advertising, e-commerce, Social Media

One of the most common mistakes I see people doing that keeps them from achieving success in e-commerce (or any other marketing related venture for that matter) is the failure to understand their audience.

People may test many niches, and products, and audiences, and still fail to achieve success in any reasonable amount of time, whereas I see others making sales within the first 24 hours of launching their first campaign ever.

What differentiates between these people is not always the failure to follow the right steps, such as setting up the store correctly, or launching ads properly, or testing properly, or having the targeting/retargeting on point; sometimes a person may have all their ducks in a row and STILL fail to make any sales.

There is also no formula, no matter how rigorous and perfect, that anyone can give you that will bring you success in a predetermined amount of time, without basically handing you the keys to their own successful business. Nor should your focus be on attaining success so easily, for you would not be able to build on that or replicate it moving forward.

Having mentored many students in the field of e-commerce and marketing this past year, I see patterns – common factors that link my successful students (human pixel?) and common factors that keep my unsuccessful students from being successful. One of them is the failure to understand their audience. More than that probably, the lack of interest to really understand their audience because it’s not an easy fix.

Think about it from an outside perspective. People are making millions drop-shipping leggings, diapers, furniture, golf clubs, helicopters (yes, even helicopters), and more. The list is literally endless. Yet people focus more on what is “unique” and could be their next fidget spinner, rather than what their audience wants, needs, and how to speak their language. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t look for unique products, because you definitely SHOULD, regardless of what niche you are targeting. However, just finding unique products on its own is pointless if you don’t understand who your audience is, what they want, and how to fulfil their needs.

To keep this post to-the-point and easy to consume, I will focus on five main areas that you should focus on to begin with:

       Audience Research

       The Ad

       The Store

       The Retargeting

       The Competitor Research

Audience Research

The point of audience research is to understand your audience. What is relevant to them now. What kind of products they are looking for, or would buy. What their needs are. And most importantly, how to communicate with them in their language.

I always advise people starting out in e-commerce to test niches that are in sync with their own personal interests and hobbies. Having to analyse and understand a completely new audience takes time and makes the initial process of making sales a little longer and harder.

That being said, if you are not heavily involved in the niche you want to sell, here is how you can research the audience properly –

First of all, search Facebook groups, subreddits, forums, and other popular portals where your audience will congregate online. Read as many topics and threads as possible to understand the following:

       What is currently relevant

This means products, tournaments, personalities, events, scandals, products people in this niche wish they had, and more. Understand your audience’s needs, passions, and other relevant triggers which you can use in your ad copy, product offering, store design, and more.

       How do they communicate with each other

Think about it… When you are hanging out with your mates and talking about a specific niche, be it football, video games, online memes, golf,  or heavy metal, you guys will start speaking a different language. Ask your girlfriend, husband, sibling, mother (this is a good one especially) to tell you if they understand what the hell you are talking about. Very often you will be surprised that they don’t. But this is the language that excites you and connects you to those who share your passion. You need to bring this excitement and passion to play when communicating with your audience as well!

       What kind of imagery and design appeals to this audience.

Look at websites they visit, page/forum banners, competitor stores/ads, and more. Humans are hardwired to be influenced by what they see, hear, feel – the senses play a big part in determining the majority of our spontaneous reactions. On the marketing side of things, the biggest advertisers in the world will split test new images, titles, copy, landers, and more – not because they have no clue, but because sometimes a single word, or a slightly different hue can change the conversion rate. Take this information and have your designer make something that fits the theme.

If you can, try to go to physical stores in that niche, and see what is selling. What prices certain items go for. What is blatantly missing from the shelves. Do not worry that most physical stores are using the same business model – they sell many items from a variety of manufacturers and make insane margins to boot! There is no reason that your online store should not be able to compete with these physical stores. To further cement the point, think about those crazy 50% off, 70% off, and sometimes even 90% off deals. Do you think they are going into the negative with these sales? I hope you won’t believe in the good heartedness of business owners. Some of them might be good hearted and give to charity, but their underlying goal is MONEY. Nobody succeeds in business without thinking first and foremost about the bottom line – and that is not to say that you shouldn’t provide value, or treat your customers well, or think of the long term rather than short term profits; to me that is the bottom line.

The Ad

Let’s take e-sports as an example, and let’s niche down to Counter Strike. Some of you will understand this example, some may not. But if you do not, that means I am doing it right.

Which ad would you feel is more relevant to you?

  1.      Hey gamer! In celebration of 1,000 sales we are offering a 50% discount on all Counter Strike related items in our store! Click the link below to see more!
  1.      Calling all Dust2 pros! Rush B for a 30% discount on selected rare special items (no keys or rage required) by clicking the link below. Hurry before the timer runs out!

While the first ad copy is used to great effect by many advertisers, you need to realize that you are not a big, known, branded store that can use their established presence to justify whatever ad copy they are running. Nor do you want to have your little ad drown in a sea of mediocrity, sounding like every other person starting out.

If you have already decided to sell in a certain niche, you need to make sure you can stop the person scrolling down their news feed (if we are talking FB ads), take notice, laugh at the retardedly nerdy (yet relevant) copy, and take enough interest to click the link below.

I’m not saying the first ad copy doesn’t work, but it can conjure negative reactions in a lot of people. “Who the hell cares about your store or how many sales you made?”; “Why should this matter to me?”; “Do I know you?”.

When speaking the language of your audience, you connect with them on a deeper level, even though they have no clue who the hell you are, or where your store came from. It breaks down defences and answers a few of those subconscious questions that will influence a decision on whether to click or continue scrolling.

Attention – Interest – Desire – Action

Yeah, you probably heard this a million times, but that is only because it works! Before even dreaming of having a person take action, you need to grab their attention, generate interest, and convince them (make them desire) to make the decision to click that link. All in the span of a few short moments.

So if they feel that you are one of them, and that you understand them, they will assume you also know what they need and what will interest them. Psychologically this will prepare them more for the add to cart if your product page does not disappoint.

The Store

As I said in the Audience Research section, your store needs to feel like it is run by people in the niche, for people in the niche. This means that your overall store design, banners, product copy, descriptions, and even color palette need to be relevant to the person who will buy from you.

Your ads need to be congruent with the store as well. In the age of popups, popunders, popovers, links that redirect you 5 million times, and all that affiliate marketer stuff, people lose interest very easily if they feel that they clicked a link and went somewhere else. Do not confuse them, and do not try to do too much. Your theme, including colors and design, need to be congruent, from the moment they first see your ad, till the moment they understand they arrived to the right place (which can take a few moments of orientation to achieve).

I covered the most important points in the Audience Research section that apply to your store, so I won’t exhaust you by writing too much more.

That being said, it is always important that your store loads FAST, looks uncluttered (get rid of McAffee badges and other crap that hurt the mobile experience especially), and is easy to navigate.

The Retargeting

This is more or less in line with the advertising. Nothing too different here, except you need to understand that bringing past buyers to your store is much cheaper than acquiring NEW clients. This applies to all businesses, online and land-based, that depend on clients purchasing a product or service.

Make sure your clients feel engaged from your end, without feeling like they are being spammed to death. Send them RELEVANT emails – this means that your audience research never really ends. Something will always be relevant today, and forgotten tomorrow. Engage people on current events, developments, scandals and more in their niche. Use this to grab their attention, and remind them that your store is by people in their niche, for people in their niche.

Make sure to find new, interesting products that fulfil their needs or interests. As long as you provide good service, communicate with them in a balanced manner, and send them good quality products with caring follow-up (let them know where their order stands; ask them their thoughts/survey on their purchase; give them a discount coupon for being a loyal customer), these people will keep coming to your store again and again and again. Obviously the point comes to mind here that you should choose a niche in which this is possible – whether new products are manufactured, or you can create new products, you cannot rely on the same stock to sell forever.

The Competitor Research

Well, this post has grown quite long… so tell you what. I will post the Competitor Research tomorrow, where I will go in depth on how to do this effectively for your niche, without having to be an affiliate marketer genius.

I will keep sharing my knowledge and experience with the hope that some of you will start seeing a clearer path to success on your journey to financial freedom.

Let me know your thoughts, and if you saw value in this, don’t hesitate to share, like and click on my affiliate link. Just kidding on the last one. I’m happy to share value, as I believe that helping people makes the world smile back at you.

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