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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Ask the Pit Crew: How Do I Find My Customers Online?


Finding Customers Online

Members of the Pole Position Marketing pit crew answer your web marketing questions from their unique perspectives, with a “bonus lap” by a guest industry pro.

Have a question you’d like answered? Ask the pit crew!

Today’s Question: How Do I Find My Customers Online?

Stoney deGeyter’s Answer from an SEO Perspective:

The great thing about marketing online is that you don’t always have to go looking for your customers. In fact, a significant chunk of online marketing is simply just making it easy for your customers to find you!

That’s what search engine optimization strives to accomplish. Every day millions of people go to search engines to find the product, service, or information that you offer. You just need to be positioned so they find you in that search.

There are two primary components to SEO (leaving aside other aspects of web marketing that may be just as critical). The first is making your site search engine friendly. You need more than a nice looking website. It needs to be coded so search engines can crawl the pages to understand what they are about. The second is to have content that matches searchers needs, also known as keyword optimization. You first have to do your research so you know what those keywords are, and then you have to create content that fulfills the searchers’ desires when they search for any particular keyword.

There are plenty of other web marketing components that are needed to show up in the top of the search engine rankings, but those two are the basic components of organic optimization. Start there, and you’ll be better positioned to bring customers to you rather than having to go out and find them.

Deb Briggs’ Answer From a Content Marketing Perspective:

Content is a broad term when it comes to online marketing. Anything you produce for people to consume—whether it’s a blog post, a PPC ad or a social media update—needs to reflect your company voice and meet the consumer’s needs. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Producing content that will resonate with your target audience will help your audience find you—and stick around once they find you—should be your goal.[/inlinetweet]

Your blog should be the central location for original content to share on the social media networks where your customers are most active. Buzzsumo is a great resource to see what kind of posts are trending with your target audience. Simply enter in a topic, and you’ll see actual blog posts with the number of shares it’s garnered on social media since it was published. It’s like magic!

Can you create similar, yet original, content to share with your customers? Sure, you can. And by doing so, you won’t have to worry so much about finding your customers because they will find you!

Kathy Gray’s Answer from a Social Media Perspective:

A common mistake in social media that I talk about a lot is feeling the need to be active on every social channel. But let’s face it, if your target market is 65 yr. old males who like to smoke cigars, they’re probably not on Pinterest. Or Vine. Or Instagram. In fact, most likely they’re only on Facebook and maybe LinkedIn.

How do you determine where they are? Stalk them. Channel your inner Magnum P.I. and start doing some investigative research.

The first thing you need to determine is who they are. How old are they? What gender? Where do they live? Where do they work? What do they like to do in their spare time? You can compare some of your demographic data against the Pew Research Center’s annual social media demographics report. That will give you an idea of a few places to start looking. Then pick a select group of customers and look for their profiles. See if any of them are actually on these networks.

Twitter and Facebook’s advertising tools both offer ways to upload your customer email list to advertise directly to those customers. You don’t have to advertise to upload the list. Upload it and see how many matches are found. Install Facebook’s tracking pixel on your website to see how many of your website visitors are on Facebook.

If you’re B2B, search by region and job title to see if your audience is active on LinkedIn. Search LinkedIn groups for organizations that your audience may belong to. Another way of finding them is to look at the blogs they are likely to read. Where are those bloggers most active and receiving the most engagement?

Dig out your binoculars. Call up T.C. and have him bring ’round the chopper. It’s time for a little surveillance. It may take a little time, but in the long run, you’ll waste less time than you would trying to make social networks work where your audience isn’t even active.

Annalisa Hilliard’s Answer From a Link Building & Local SEO Perspective:

In order to target customers in a specific geographic location, you’ll want to employ the help of PPC and social media.

Using PPC and social media, you can create ad campaigns to target potential customers. Search engines and social media platforms have tools you can use to set up and manage your ads. A word of caution, though. These tools make it easy to create an ad, but there are many nuances to be aware of before hitting the start button. If you don’t optimize the ads for proper targeting, you can waste money and resources, so it’s vital to know what you’re doing.

If done right, paid ads can be a great return on your investment, but like any aspect of web marketing, you shouldn’t pour all your time, effort and resources into one avenue. At the same time, spreading yourself too thin can be equally ineffective. Find a balance.

Offering knowledge and value to your established audience and potential customers is part of the groundwork for any marketing campaign.

Don’t just talk, listen. Don’t just share, have a conversation.

Don’t just run paid ads, find forums where people are asking questions about your industry, products or services and offer helpful insight.

Don’t just push your own content. Curate and share content from other sources you find valuable and relevant.

If you do these things, you’ll build an online community through which customers will find you.

Mike Fleming’s Answer From an Pay-Per-Click, Analytics and Conversions Perspective:

The answer to this question has gotten a little more complex (and exciting) in recent years.  It used to be you simply learned where customers hung out from context clues – on search from which keywords they used, and on other websites from what the website was about, on social networks from what groups they belong to or demographics that are a part of their profile.  But now there are other ways.

You can find them on other sites after they’ve been to your site through the use of remarketing technology.  Once they have been to your site, their device gets tagged. You can then ask them to come back to your site while they’re browsing corners of the World Wide Web that show ads.

If they haven’t been to your site yet, you can use technology like In-Market audiences to make sure you reach them.  Here’s how Google describes this capability:

In-market audiences is a way to connect with consumers who are actively researching or comparing products and services across Google Display Network publisher and partner sites and YouTube. To qualify someone as being in-market for a specific product or service, Google takes into account clicks on related ads and subsequent conversions, along with the content of the sites and pages they visit and the recency and frequency of the visits. In this way, Google accurately categorizes users so you can target those most interested in your offerings.

The last one I’ll share is by location.  Every time I pass my local shopping mall strip, my phone dings with savings for one of the stores I’m driving by.  So, you can find your “customers” by where they are in the world.  It’s possible they’re out looking for what you’re offering.  Or your prompts may persuade them to come in and check out how they can take advantage of your offers when they otherwise wouldn’t.

BONUS LAP WITH: Ryan Freeman, President of Strider Media

Ryan is a 5th generation small business owner, a florist and Canadian, all of which makes him pretty awesome. He has a passion for branding through online marketing and is quite experienced with Pay Per Click marketing and Search Optimization. Over the past 20 years Ryan has managed multiple web properties, run SEO campaigns for all major search engines and run all kinds of paid search campaigns.

The first step is to identify your ideal customer. For a retailer with a broad catalogue, you will have to identify different target clients for different segments of your products, whereas a niche B2B provider has a much simpler time of it with a more defined (though limited) audience.

Either way, once you have identified the Who, you need to figure out the Where. You can start with generalities: male tech geeks? Go to G+. Women / Moms and the family purse strings? Hello, Pinterest! Urban cool crowd? Twitter is the place to be. Try to identify online Groups, Hangouts, Forums and Communities focused on topics related to your offering. Selling fishing gear? Look for a hunting or shooting forum, or maybe one for ATV enthusiasts. The idea is to participate and bring value to a community without broadcasting what you offer across the forums.

Over time, you can pitch your products / services, but you can’t go in there spam-guns a-blazin’ or you can expect a very rude reception. Offer good advice, participate in dialogue (hint: you’ll find some great ideas for new content!) and become a respected community member. Just like in real life!

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