Every product has its unique clientele, and very few companies can afford to market to everyone. That is why businesses spend millions of dollars on market research and identifying their target market. As a startup e-commerce business, identifying your target market is even more significant. This target market is what will guide your marketing strategy, and to an extent, even future product development. E-commerce companies are less restricted by geographical boundaries and can practically sell their products all over the world, which makes defining their market a little more upstream, although we’re not complaining. Knowing just who to market your product to can help you generate much higher ROI on your marketing spend and more importantly, create a niche for yourself in the economy. So in the first part of this article, we will talk about identifying and defining your target market.
But your job of defining your target market is never really finished. Your business can keep growing and your target market can expand. This can happen in many ways. The groups of people you cater to may grow up, change or evolve in a different way. Your boundaries may widen and more audiences may join in. And why may? They should. You can actively work to grow and expand your target market with time. You could start with selling baby care products, and then expand to include maternity wear and maybe slowly become a complete family shop.
However, to do this the right way and scale efficiently without losing track of your vision along the way, you need a plan. The second part of this article will show you how to strategically expand your target market over time and involve more customers in your journey, appeal to newer demographics and effectively grow your business.
Identifying Your Market
Identifying your market is more complicated than just saying, working women aged 18-35 with a median salary of $30,000 pa. Such segmentation is too broad and too narrow at the same time. It encompasses a very large section of the population and leaves out key variables like race, ethnicity, willingness to spend, etc. So to really stand out, you need to become more specific with your marketing and try to reach out to a specific group of people, whom you can motivate to think that you are the solution they were looking for. Here are the steps to identifying the target audience for your business
Analyze The Broad Categories First
Begin with analyzing your product offering and gathering broad intel about who the makers of that product are. Think of the macro demographics such as age, gender, and location. Which category do your customers fall in? It could be babies and kids, young parents, millennials, baby boomers, or the gen Z. Some of the key factors to consider are:
- Income Level
- Marital status
- Family status
Then Delve Into The Finer Classifications
In addition to the broad demographics, there are psychographic elements like lifestyle, hobbies, interests, personalities, values, and attitude. Take a good look at all the features and benefits your product offers and think about how those features will fit into the lifestyles or values of people. For an eCommerce business, you must also think about how much time they spend online and how active they are on online shopping sites. Think about how much your products cost. You will need to target people who can spend that kind of money.
Analyze Your Competition
No matter what business you are in, a good look at the competition is always a pre-requisite. Think of who your competitors are targeting and how they are framing their value proposition. This step hardly means that you go after the same market. In fact, you could use a competitor analysis to find gaps in the market. You could find a group most others are leaving un-harnessed and go after that.
Do More Research
By now, you will probably have a rather specific idea about who you want to target with your marketing messages. But to truly fine-tune your strategy and create a marketing plan that will hit it home with your target market, you need to do more research about them. What do they like? What do they feel is missing from the experience? Can you fill that gap? Check resources like Pew Internet to find out more about internet use among your target audience. Check out popular magazines and data reporting companies to know your consumers and what they would like more of. And while you’re at this research, you will potentially uncover nuggets of information that will eventually lead to expanding your target market beyond the groups you have been targeting so far. And with that, we come to the second section of this blog post
How To Expand Your Target Market
Now if you’ve been selling successfully to your defined target market for a while, you could very well try to expand your target market and get newer groups of people to notice the benefits of buying your products. A little more research can help you uncover new markets or expand the boundaries of the current market. You could begin selling internationally, tweak your advertising to appeal to a new demographic, develop a new product to involve a related group and do many other things to expand your target market. Being creative with your approach and paying close attention to your customers is the key. So here are some of the ways you can expand your target market and appeal to a larger audience.
Leverage Analytics To Their Full Potential
Everything begins with research. For an e-commerce company, you need to dive headlong into your website analytics and pore over the details, trends, and numbers. Where are your current visitors coming from? Are you receiving any sporadic traffic from surprising sources? Maybe you should look into that and see who’s checking out your business. Maybe that is an untapped market you need to start advertising to upfront. Are there people that are checking out particular styles or products? Maybe they are looking for something, but not finding it. What could that be? Could you provide that and create a new market? Are you getting visitors from zip codes that you don’t yet deliver to? If only you expanded your delivery network there, those are probably visitors waiting to convert.
The above examples barely scratch the surface of what lies beneath your website analytics. So use the power of data to explore new markets and grow your eCommerce business. Google Analytics and Kissmetrics are undoubtedly the best analytics programs, along with several other free and paid ones you can choose from.
Refocus Your Marketing Message
Most products come with a varied set of benefits. Clothes add style and glamour to the customer’s lives. So you market your eCommerce store as the best place to buy the latest fashion. But if you use organic natural fabrics to make your clothes, you could go out as an environment-friendly brand and attract buyers who aren’t big on fashion and trends but are enthusiastic about going green and saving the planet. Almost every other product has one such feature that isn’t currently the primary component of your advertising but could be leveraged to attract a different set of customers.
Go Cross-Cultural, Cross-Border, Cross-Platform – Just Cross Over
You might not even have noticed but your marketing might have had a largely American appeal. But have you considered how many Asians-Americans, African-Americans, Europeans, and many many other people also use your products? Do some research to see how encouraging their numbers are, and consider creating personalized marketing campaigns for them.
Similarly, if your store has been doing well for long enough, you could consider opening operations in a new country. Maybe expand to a growing economy like India or hit the more established markets of Europe. Of course, a step like that must come after due research and mulling over, but if you find that there is a potential market for your product in those regions, and if you feel that your company can handle it, it could be a risk worth taking.
Going cross-platform is another major opportunity that needs creative handling. It could mean a lot of things. If your online selling is doing well, but there are still people who don’t buy from you despite showing interest, it could be because they have the irrepressible need to see, touch and really examine the product before they buy. If your research reveals that there are too many of such visitors, you could mull over opening a physical store on the lines of Bonobos, Adore Me and many other digital native brands that opened brick-and-mortar stores. You could start with just one store in a city that has the largest chunk of your customers, and if it works well, you could consider doing more of these.
Another way to go cross-platform is the simpler, more obvious one. If you have a successful Android shopping app, you could develop an iOS app too. But I’m guessing you already took care of that.
You can’t impress everyone with one message, so there’s no point trying to market to the masses. For a marketing campaign to be truly impactful, it needs to directly address the unique wants and needs of a specific group of customers. As you saw, there are ways to effectively determine who your target market is, so that you can tailor your marketing strategy to suit those customers. And once you have established yourself as a trustworthy brand among one target market, look to expanding your target market using the techniques we spoke of here. After all, that’s what business is all about right? Providing a great product, and taking it to as many people as you can. Having a proper strategy in place will help you ensure that all your marketing dollars are put to good use. An unplanned, untargeted approach to marketing results in wasted resources and in the current state of the economy, e-commerce businesses don’t have the affordance to let any resources be wasted. Well, now you don’t have to.