Investing in digital marketing, or any kind of marketing for that matter, always has an end-goal, for a certain target audience, in sight: leads, clients, sales, revenue, net income… It doesn’t matter which objective you are chasing with each exact campaign – it might even be something as difficult to put a price tag on as your online reputation, or the strength of your brand – but, at the end of the day, what really matters to every business owner is “what is my return on the investment, how much income have I generated?”. And for most businesses, this means concentrating on sales.
A sale might be something rather immediate, like clicking through to the online shop, filling up the cart and paying for your purchase; or something much more complicated, like strengthening your brand and warming up a cold audience by answering their doubts in order for them to come to your actual showroom (one day in the future) and become your customer.
Whatever the process is, you want to sell, and, preferably, more than during the previous period. But sometimes you notice that your sales are plummeting, and no, this has nothing to do with viruses, economic cycles, or any other Armageddon-like situations, as your competition seems to be doing just fine. You haven’t cut on your marketing budget, you haven’t change anything big at all. So, what is going on?!
It’s probably your digital marketing manager, who might have screwed up! For sure, he or she just clicked in the wrong place and now the public just doesn’t know about your wonderful product! Otherwise, they would buy, of course!
You schedule several intense working sessions with your marketing team, you analyse every single bit of statistics you can get, but after all that analysis, you get a bad surprise – there seems to be absolutely nothing wrong with your digital marketing strategy. You are reaching your target audience, exactly the way you should, and bringing them through to your sales funnel in the seemingly best way. It’s just… they do not buy your stuff…
At this point, you feel quite desperate because, in your opinion, you have a solid strategy in place, and a wonderful product. However, the key phrase here is ‘in your opinion’. Are you sure that your target audience shares this point of view? Is your product really that unique, perfect and useful?
Success comes not only to businesses that sell awesome products, but also to those who help their target audience resolve their problems, or fulfil their dreams, by using the type of product or service they want and feel it’s the most useful in their exact situation. It is not so much about what you have to offer, but rather what they need and are searching for.
How do you get that information? You do your target audience research – your main way to understand your perfect client’s needs, doubts, pains, dreams, etc, etc.
There are many ways you can go about it. You can do something as obvious as asking some questions to your current clients in an little chat during or after the purchase. Or you might even offer them a discount if they are open to do more, like, for instance, answering a questionnaire or going through a small ‘interview’. Just remember, you are getting answers from the people that did buy from you, but what you really need to get are the answers from those who didn’t.
Another way to get it is to hire a company that specialises in market research and buy your target audience study. Or you can pay for a focus group. There are plenty of types of research you can pay for; the downside is the cost.
But there are some things you can do yourself and get some answers for free, should you not ready be for that type of commitment and investment in your marketing. So, let’s see the five free sources of information you can use to (at least) start your journey on understanding your target audience better, or, in other words, let’s have a look at five free ways to help in business owner’s desperate search for answers when all seems to be functioning perfectly, yet nothing works.
- Search functionality on your website:
If your website has a search bar this can be your gold mine for answers. Typically, if people can’t immediately find on your website what they need, they either give up or use the search bar. In your search bar history, you will find exactly what your audience is searching for and has trouble finding. Are you catering to those queries? Should you work on your product/ service line to add the most popular searches that are missing? Or do you already have all of it and just need to rename it, so people don’t get confused? Maybe you need to work on your website’s menu or categories to make the search process easier.
- Search queries in Google Search Console (or Google Ads if you use it):
Google Search Console is a free tool available for any website. There you can get valuable information of what users wrote in Google Search when your website appeared in the results. And yes, that is not a representative sample, as you will only see the data for when your website got a chance to appear on the search results. But analysing the exact wording of your potential clients will definitely give you a solid idea of what they need and how they expect you to call it. To get this information, just log into Google Search Console and click “Performance – Open report”. If you are running Google Ads, you can also check the “Search queries” section, where you will get the same information but for the paid advertising.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner:
Google Ads offers a very useful keyword researching tool, where you can get tons of valuable information. And yes, you can use it even if you are not running any campaigns yet. In this case, you will not get all the stats, but as you are ‘hunting’ for our target audience’s words, that information will be perfectly fine. You will just need to register an account (Google Ads will ask you to link your credit card to it, but do not worry for, if you do not create any campaign, or do not specifically instruct to activate it should you create one, no money will be taken from your bank account).
Google Ads Keyword Planner lets you choose where your audience is located and the language they speak. After that, you can just experiment with typing in your products or services (think more in terms of categories than your specific brand name) and you will get hundreds of variations on what your target audience is searching for regarding this and related topics. You can even try to type in questions like ‘how/ what/ where/ why + your product/service’ and get a list of doubts that your potential customers are having. What do you do next? As in previous points, you make sure that you are selling what they are searching for. And if you find popular doubts, make sure you address them on your ads or landing pages.
- Google Trends:
Time goes by, trends change, people’s priorities and needs change. Maybe your offer has just lost its popularity and people have moved on to ‘the next best thing’? You can get the answer to this question by exploring Google Trends, another free but very useful tool. Check which topics are growing in popularity – can you adapt your products or services line to serve these new needs?
- Google Search:
Yes, your plain, oldie but goodie, google.com. Search for your product or service category and pay attention to the ‘People also ask’ and ‘Related searches’ sections. Google usually includes there the most prominent questions and topics related to the one you have entered. If you thought of the previous four sources of information as confusing or ‘too marketing’, with this one, you have no excuse – everyone knows how to google!
Ok Google, now what?! After you’ve gathered all that information, try to analyse it: do you really offer what your target audience is searching for? Is there any additional or complementary service that you can introduce to better answer their needs?
And if your offer is 100% relevant, do you ‘call it by the right words’? Are you selling ‘bouquet delivery” while your target audience needs ‘flower delivery’? While you can argue that this is the same thing and that anybody really interested in ordering it will not see a big difference, let us remind you that that decision (like ‘which search result to click on’ or ‘whether to keep browsing the website or close it immediately’) is being made in a split second, and people don’t really put too much thought into it – if it’s not exactly what they need, their eyes will most likely pass right by it. And don’t even get us started on Google’s ranking algorithms!
Speak your client’s language, have their best interest at heart, and do your research – this is the main recipe to success.
And, if after all the research and all the adjustments, ‘the internet is still not working for your business’, be sure to check out the article where we address other possible causes to this problem, and which professionals might help you with it.