In part 1 of the series “Designing the Perfect Social Media Marketing Strategy: Identifying your Goals”, we’ve discussed the first thing that every business owner should do before proceeding to market their business through social media. After setting the right business goals that you want to achieve from social media, now you need to identify, find and engage your target market. This step is crucial mainly because if you don’t do it correctly, you’ll end up spending lots of resources targeting the wrong people that won’t buy anything from you. Good targeting ensures that you cut your costs and improve your conversions as much as you can. The better you target those interested in your products and services, the better responsiveness and conversion you’re going to get and the more sales your business will make.
1- Market Identification
This task could be easy for business owners who have been operating in their markets for a while. However, for the person who’s just starting out, it could be a very challenging task. Here are some approaches that business owners take to identify their target market
– They Start With Their Best Guess
Many business owners start with their best guess and then improve on that every time they have new data that says otherwise. This strategy isn’t bad as it sounds, but it requires too much time to take a positive effect. As you all know, business shouldn’t be based on guessing, but if you’re a small business owner, and the only resource you have is time, then this strategy will work best for you. Some people start a blog just to learn more about their target market. Don’t get me wrong here, blogs are goldmines, but they take lots of time, and unless you’re sure that the people in your market are buyers, you’ll be wasting lots of time and effort without any return.
– They Run Advertising Campaigns
Others business owners prefer to invest money instead of time. They run ad campaigns like on Facebook for example. This way, they can determine where their product or service is converting the most based on the targeting they did on their campaigns. The Facebook advertising platform makes it super easy to target segments of the overall market and narrow down until you find you “Ideal Customer”. The other great thing about it is that it has very accurate targeting unlike many other advertising platforms out there (except for those kids who pretend they’re above 13 just to use Facebook!). I like this approach since you don’t spend lots of time trying to find your ideal customer. You just run some campaigns for a few days, and interpret the data in the reports to decide on the ideal customer (companies used to spend tons of money just to find out what you can now find with couple hundreds of dollars using Facebook advertising).
– Competition Analysis
There are many tools today that can do you wonders if used correctly. You can gather intelligence on your target market by analyzing your competitors who are already doing great. You can use tools like Quantcast.com and Alexa.com to see rank, traffic reports and the demographics of any of your competitors like (their audience age, gender, education, location, social status and even income).
So What Criteria Should you Use to Segment your Market?
Market segmentation is a very powerful and necessary step that you should take towards creating the perfect social media marketing strategy for your business. After this step, you’re going to be able to describe your “Ideal or Typical customer” in very few words. Here is what you should base your segmentation on:
1- Geographic Segmentation
This is the first step of market segmentation. You should first identify where does your target market live. This includes the countries, states, cities and also areas if you’re a local business owner.
2- Demographic Segmentation
This is all about collecting data related to gender, age range, income, social status, education, occupation…etc. When you have this data, you’ll start to form a good picture of whom you’re ideal customer is. The geographic and demographic date is easily accessible on tools like Alexa if you want to analyze one of your competitors.
This segmentation strategy implies that people that have similar demographics live in the same areas. When you classify your market according to their geodemographics or what’s sometimes called “neighborhood classification”, you’ll easily be able to reach and target those specific areas because you already know that they have similar demographics. Also, if you start seeing some customers coming from a new area, you’ll instantly know that if you market to other people in that particular area, they’ll probably respond the same way to your products and services. You now know why most companies ask you for your zip code and address when you sign up with them (or at least that’s what I think!).
4- Psychographic Segmentation
Also called “Lifestyle Segmentation” is grouping people according to their interests, opinions, activities, personality traits…etc. People that have similar lifestyles are most likely to have similar buying and decision making habits. This Psychographic segmentation is what made Facebook’s advertising platform very powerful. There, you can target people based on their interest. Many times this interest could be completely unrelated to your industry (Like when you figure out that many people within your segment like to listen to U2!).
5- Benefit Segmentation
This is probably one of the most powerful segmentation strategies that your business should apply. Many business owners start developing various features for their products while they don’t realize that customers don’t want or care about features, they only seek benefits.
This segmentation strategy focuses on identifying what benefit your products or services may offer to your customers. If you focus on benefits, then you’re going to be cutting all the distracting noise that might prevent you from identifying your real customers’ needs and problems. Benefits include but not limited to: saving money, time and effort, ease of use, mobility, losing weight fast…etc
6- Behavioral Segmentation
Behavioral segmentation as the name suggests is the ability to divide your customers according to their behavioral response to your specific product. These behavioral traits include: knowledge, loyalty, use or responsiveness to a specific product. Besides the fact that customers choose products based on their benefits and problem solving capabilities, there are many other factors that determine if a customer takes action toward purchasing a product or not. These other factors could be: occasions, the loyalty to a specific brand, the usage rate (purchase frequency) and the benefit sought by the customer (this could be incorporated in the behavioral segmentation as well).
Note: The above segmentation is applicable to the B2C industry. If you’re operating in the B2B industry, then you should target based on which companies or clients may need your products or services. The targeting will be based on: what industries your product will fit, the size of companies you’re trying to target, the place where most of your target companies operate in (country, state…etc), who they’re trying to reach, what benefit these clients are seeking from your products or services, who are responsible for the decision making of the company…etc.
Describing Your “Ideal Customer”
If you had to write a book only to describe your customer, then you haven’t done your segmentation the right way. The goal here is to be able to describe your typical customer in few words. Your typical customer should also fit the Pareto principle which suggests that “20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your revenue”. Most of your time, effort, money and energy should be focused towards that typical customer. You must learn how to communicate with them, offer them guidance and help them solve their problems. A good description of an ideal customer could be:
A male who is between 25-40 of age, lives in the US or Canada, father, makes between $20K-$40K, have a full-time job, trying to build a part-time income, interested in online marketing.
Gathering More Data
Before you can start talking to your ideal customer, you first need to identify what they respond to the most in your market. The segmentation strategies we discussed above will give you most of the criteria you’ll need to start targeting your potential customers, but it doesn’t hurt if you take a further step and see everything in action before you test it yourself.
You first need to find the competitors who are trying to reach the same market as yours. Then you should assess what they’re doing online or offline if they’re a local business. See their social profiles, take a look at their blog…etc. You should be able to easily spot what drives people nuts in your market. Try to make a list of their most performing messages and then compare them to the profile that you’ve build of your ideal customer to see if it fits or not. This step will help you create or adjust the tone that you should be using to communicate with your market.
If you already have an established brand and you want to deepen your understanding of your market, then you can use tools like SocialMention and Google Alerts to monitor your brand and see what people are saying about it. This will help you stay on top of every discussion that happens about your brand so you respond accordingly.
Another thing that is priceless when it comes to designing the perfect social media marketing strategy is understanding your customers’ habits. Based on the segmentation we did before + your prior understanding of your market, you should now be able to draw a clear picture of when and where your customers are hanging online. This will help you reach them at optimal times so you make the best of every opportunity you have to talk with them.
Imagine that your customers are the type that doesn’t open their Facebook accounts until 6 p.m. If you try and reach them before work, let’s say 7 a.m, by the time they connect on Facebook, your statuses will be buried in their news feed and you miss the chance to communicate with them. Then Facebook’s EdgeRank may punish your page because it doesn’t have a good engagement rate, and you end up losing contact with your hard earned fans.
If you don’t know much about your customers’ habits, then don’t worry, because you will after implementing a posting strategy and tracking what worked and what didn’t (I’ll discuss this in detail in the next posts of the series). There are also many tools that will tell you exactly when to post to reach the highest number of your fans or followers.
If you want to play solo and climb the mountain of business success alone, then it’s really up to you. However, I should tell you that this is going to take you lots of time, not to mention not seeing results quickly which can lead to frustration and giving up. The key to social media success is “Having Influential Connections” on your side. Let me say that again!
HAVING INFLUENTIAL CONNECTIONS ON YOUR SIDE!
In today’s web, who you know will determine how further you can go with your business. These connection aren’t easily acquired, but if everything you provide have value either for them or their audience (which is your audience since you’re operating in the same market), then they’ll be left with no reason not to promote you and most of all for FREE! In fact if they care about their audience, then they’ll feel responsible to share your great content.
As you already heard, a very powerful principle of marketing is “Reciprocity”. This principle will best work for you if you know how to apply it properly. It suggests that we “HUMAN” all have the tendency to give back in return of something valuable we receive. Many people in the online world have built their successful businesses thanks to influential people in their markets. A great story would be How Danny Iny landed Guy Kawasaki and Brian Clark or how he got 872 subscribers in 24 hours.
So the more value you give, the more people you help, the more success your business will have. If you want to speed things up, then you should target influencers in your market and help them provide more value to their audience. This way it’ll be a win-win situation for both of you.
How Can I Find Influencers?
In most markets, a Google search will be more than enough to learn about these influencers if you’re new to the market. You can type in queries like “Top Influencers in Social Media Marketing” or “Top Photographers” OR “Top Fishing blogs”…etc.
You can also use Twitter directories like Twellow.com to search for highly followed profiles in your market, or use Facebook’s search feature to search for pages with a huge number of fans in your industry…etc. When you identify the key influencers in your market, now it will just be a matter of reaching out to them via social platforms, promote their content that you find helpful to your audience, replying to them, commenting on their updates…etc. when you get pass that initial introduction, then you can reach out to them with a guest post, interview, webinar…etc.
Now that you understand who your ideal customer is and the top influencers in your market, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. The next step of the process of designing the perfect social media marketing strategy for your business will be identifying the tools/platforms that will be a great fit for your business. Stay tuned for the next posts of the series “Designing the perfect social media marketing strategy”. Subscribe below!
Images Credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page