Getting more web traffic is great, getting more targeted, high-converting web traffic is better.
The simple way to tell whether you are attracting the right people to your site is if you are seeing increased conversion rate in line with your increased web traffic rate. If your site traffic is soaring and your conversion rates are flatlining then you’re likely attracting the wrong kind of web traffic.
If you aren’t sure who your customers are, how are you going to find them?
Any customer data that you have should be pulled in for this process – it will make it much quicker and much more accurate. If you don’t have any way of collecting customer data yet or haven’t yet made your first sale, then you’ll have to use your best guesses and return to this later once you’ve tested your assumptions to fine tune your profiles.
Basic demographic profiling
There are hundreds of ways to demographically profile your customer base – when they are human. Some with funny acronyms (DINK – Double Income No Kids; HENRYs – High Earner Not Rich Yet) and other methods which vary from very scientific to random. One thing to note is that demographics is never an exact science, people will always surprise you.
On a basic level demographics are usually categorised by age, socioeconomic status, profession, and level of education.
This allows you to get an understanding of how much disposable income your customer has and what their professional priorities might be. At this stage, the data is based on the most common circumstances for a typical person who fits the data points you select. This data is often collected by huge national and global survey companies, and government or academic censuses.
If your customers are companies you need to think about this in two stages:
What sort of company are you selling to?
- Are they a startup or a big corporate?
- What is the turnover, profit, and budget of this company?
- What are their aims?
- Who are their customers?
Who in the company are you selling to?
- Who are they?
- What are their aims?
- What are their aims?
- What is their level of knowledge?
For B2B sales the company information and that of the person you are selling to must be considered together. The context of the sales situation is crucial to understand.
Once you have this shell profile it’s time to start looking deeper into the people and organisations that fit this demographic to flesh this out.
Knowing what your audience is reading, eating, watching, and doing is important to build up a fuller picture of your customers. When you have a better understanding of their behaviour, aspirations and likes, you are in a much better place to effectively market and sell your product or service to them.
Think about some of these questions below. If you are selling B2B some of these questions won’t be relevant – in this case focus on professional goals, and try to understand the context of their work environment and professional pain points.
- What do they read/watch/do?
- What brand behaviors do they show – are they loyal to one brand, or led by price?
- Where are they working – what sort of company, for how long?
- Are they married/single? Do they have kids?
- Where would they go on holiday?
- What do they do at the weekend?
- What are their aspirations?
- Which well-known people do they look up to?
- What news sources do they follow?
- Are they part of any groups?
- Who are they reporting to?
- Who are they trying to impress?
By drawing out an ‘ideal’ or ‘most common’ character profile for your customers you are able to simplify all this work into one page. We usually start with a sketch, right in the middle of the page, of your ideal customer. It doesn’t have to be a perfect portrait, stick figures are fine. The purpose of the image is to give your team a focal point and to serve as a reminder that when we are talking about customers we are talking about people. Don’t forget to give your ideal customer a name.
Make a few different profiles – it’s rare for any company to have just one type of customer – so that you can see the diversity in your customer base. It’s a good idea to highlight any crossovers in interest or behaviour that all your customers share. These shared interests will provide a great starting point for any marketing, especially if you are on a tight budget.
The examples below should give you an idea of how you can begin to build up a character profile for your customers. Your real profiles might be a page long, or you might choose to use illustrations or magazine cutouts to get a full picture of your customer. Get creative and get inside your customer’s head. A combination of images, notes, and prose usually brings the best results.
If you’re selling B2C:
Most people are more familiar with B2C profiling. If you are an online store selling high-quality bedding it might look a little like this:
Jacob is a 32-year-old man who lives in the fashionable part of Edinburgh His partner has recently moved in and they are looking for ways to make their home feel more ‘them’. In the past, Jacob might have purchased bedding from a well-known, run-of-the-mill, high street store or supermarket, but with a bit more money to spend and a developing interest in design (partly encouraged by Instagram) he has begun to appreciate nicer, more unique, homeware. He reads Architectural Digest, but only ever online, and visits sites like Apartment Therapy to pick up affordable home tips that make him feel like he’s got it all together. He is easily swayed by cool marketing and branding, but would never admit that.
If you’re selling B2B:
When you are selling B2B this customer profile technique can feel less natural, but remember at the end of the day you aren’t selling to a company, you’re selling to a person. Let’s say you are a company that sells office space to other companies:
Lucy has been delegated the task of researching all the options that Business Corp has available for their upcoming office move. She has a list of priorities from her boss and, as a newly promoted employee, she looking to prove her capabilities. Lucy is meticulous in her work and wants to make sure that she knows all the facts – just incase her boss asks for more details. She doesn’t like chatting on the phone in her open-plan office and so does all of her research online, quickly dismissing the options which say “call for more information” and not much else.
Great resources for building up your customer profiles.
It’s important to do research and think about your strategy before going into any campaign planning, however, we know that there’s not always the time and budget available. Below is a range of paid and free resources suitable for a range of situations and budgets. Keep a look out for industry sources in your own space as well as taking a look at these general resources.
YouGov is one of the best places to find data on opinions, behaviours, and trends. They do charge for their services, but if you have the budget available for this they can be a great help.
Part of the huge advertising agency JWT, their consumer insights arm is consistently producing great content and insights on customer behaviour and trends.
TrendWatching has a range of free and premium feature briefings on the latest trends and updates across every industry imaginable. They also produce a great quarterly report which is worth signing up for.
Canvas8 is a paid-for behavioural insights platform which can help you for planning larger, more expensive campaigns where there is the available budget for strategy and research.
All this information will create a really clear profile of who your customers are. Once you have this you are able to tailor everything about your website, sales, and marketing strategy to better suit these profiles.
Don’t stick them in a drawer and never re-visit them again – treat them as an evolving document. They will change as your customer changes, as your product changes, and as the cultural context changes. Once you start collecting and using real customer data make sure to input this into your profiles to keep them accurate.
If you have gone down the creative route of drawing up images of your customers and the things they care about print this out and stick them up on the office wall.
Let’s put this research to work.
Once you’re clear on who your customers are its time to start tailoring your site to be as appealing to them as possible.
Content marketing consistently performs highly.
What we might have once called blogging has become a whole subsection of marketing in its own right, and is arguably one of the most important marketing tools for promoting your website. This section could be (and is!) an entire topic in itself so here we will just get into two of the most relevant considerations.
Style your pieces in a familiar but new way.
Make yourself familiar with content that’s popular with your ideal customer. Pay attention to the style of the language – do they use technical jargon or simple phrasing? Can you pick out how much assumed knowledge there is? Look at presentation styles, length, format – anything that will give you a better understanding of what is already resonating with this group.
Use this knowledge not only to blend in and make your content part of this existing culture but also to identify areas where your content can stand out from the rest. Surprise the audience by going the extra mile – use custom images and illustrations, provide print outs or downloadable formats, or experiment with a unique format.
Start with your customer’s pain points
It’s time to get inside your customer’s heads.
What sort of questions are they asking their colleagues, their bosses, and themselves? What questions are their customers asking them? Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about what search terms and topics would grab your attention. Start here, not with a high ranking keyword.
If you pick the right topic – from an issue your actual customers really face – everything else will become easier. People will be more willing to share the content, more excited to read it, and more likely to come across it.
Content distribution is half the work.
If you sit back and wait for visitors to come to you, you’ll be waiting a really long time.
Luckily there are a few things you can do to speed this up. Just like we’ve been looking at ways to tailor your content for the right audience, we also need to make sure we are putting this content in front of the right people.
There’s a tonne of research and advice all over the internet about how to perfect your SEO strategy so we won’t go into that here. Instead, here are some distribution techniques you might not have tried.
There are industry newsletters for every sector you can imagine. Some are wide-reaching with huge audiences and others have a niche, devoted audiences. Subscribe to as many of them as you can find. Keep an eye out for newsletters which curate industry news and insights as they’ll be the most useful for this method of distribution and have the potential to drive a large amount of web traffic to your site.
Don’t be shy. Hit reply and send in your latest piece of content to see if the newsletter curators find it interesting, or if they might want to feature it in an upcoming edition. Make sure you’re not sending in every single piece of content you create. Be thoughtful about why they might like this specific piece and how it’s suitable for their audience. If you can show that you’ve put in the time and effort to understand their audience and themes your email will be much more warmly received.
Build relationships with press
Do your research. Find out who the journalists are that write about your niche, sector, and industry locally and globally. Get in touch with these journalists – most of them have professional email addresses and social media accounts easily found with a quick search – and introduce yourself.
Make sure your company is on their radar – and keep them on yours. You could segment them into a twitter group to check a couple of times a week so that you’re aware if there are any requests for quotes or stats that your company could contribute to.
Offer to guest write for blogs and publications you admire
Remember that getting the right people to see your product or service is often about being in the right place.
Make yourself familiar with the top publications in your space and reach out to see if you can contribute in some way. These could be independent publishers or company-owned blogs and publications. It’s best if you go in with some ideas rather than a generic “can I write a post for your blog” request. Write out a few title suggestions and 2 or 3 sentences explaining each idea. Don’t forget to include your credentials and links to your own blog and writing.
These collaborations give your brand expert status within a community and this will bring even more opportunities for distribution and brand recognition. Having people guest post on your blog is also great for distribution and brand recognition as they will share the content to an audience you might not have access to through your own channels.
Get involved with online communities
Being a member of online communities and channels provides a great opportunity for distributing your content.
There are hundreds of Slack communities to choose from if you work in tech – just a simple search of ‘best slack communities for tech’ will throw up enough results to keep you busy.
Likewise for tech companies, somewhere like Product Hunt or Hacker News is a great place to share your work and reach an audience who are already engaged in the sector.
It’s important not to come across as ‘spammy’ in these communities. Contribute and comment on other people’s work more often than you share your own. Remember that they are communities and discussion boards first, and opportunities for distribution second. Only share your content or new release if you can see a genuine use case for the others in the group.
Build a presence at awards and events
Getting your company in the running for awards is a great way to get some publicity around your product, and again in front of the right people. Every industry has events, conferences, and awards that you can get involved in – if you’re feeling ambitious, you could even start your own.
Another way to get your company out in front of the right people is to get involved in a webinar series. There are always people out there organising digital conferences and webinars who are looking for more content. If you have a voice, knowledge, and a point of view on your industry then there’s no reason why you can’t find somewhere to share this via a webinar.
Ask for reviews
Have a search online to find out who are the ‘influencers’ in your industry. When we think influencer we typically think of the beauty or fashion industries, but there are influencers in every space from technology to household goods, to kids toys.
Depending on the size of your company and your budgets going after the biggest influencers in your space might not be the best idea. Instead, embrace the micro-influencers who have a few thousand followers at most and ask if they would like to try out your product in return for a review. Advertising regulations mean that they are under no obligation to post about your product and must mark the post as ‘gifted’ so be careful about what you ask from a reviewer.
Consider the personal touch
At the end of the day, people buy from people. We find that when we share posts from our personal accounts (whether on Twitter or LinkedIn) this often results in a bigger engagement than if it’s shared just from the company account.
This needs to be considered carefully of course, but if your team use their social media in a professional capacity it can be a great way to distribute content.
Know that poorly-targeted ads are a false friend.
Done well, advertising can have great results. On the other hand, poorly targeted advertising might give your site an initial boost of web traffic, but it’s almost always paired with a disappointing lack of follow through.
Unless you are taking the time to tailor and target your digital advertising to the right audience the results you get from your efforts are going to be misleading. Even poorly-targeted advertising will create a slight increase in web traffic, but many of these visits will register as bounces and even fewer will have the potential for conversion.
Understand that well-targeted ads can be a great source of new customers
All digital advertising platforms contain the ability to target the audience – it’s one of the biggest benefits that online advertising has over offline advertising. Use the character profiles of your customers to pick out a tightly targeted audience to test your campaign on. If you have access to real-time analytics data you will be able to tailor the campaigns whilst they are live. If not, make sure you take learnings from each campaign once it ends and test out a few different audiences to establish where your sweet spot is.
Why you should use a CRM tool
You can get even more detail on your customers and where they come from by using a Customer Relationship Management tool. There are loads of different options out there, including the one we make.
What is a CRM?
A CRM is a combination of strategies, data points, and tools that help you to guide your customer through the buying process and beyond.
All the tools work slightly differently when you get into them but broadly speaking a CRM tool collates data on your customers and helps you to view this data in a helpful way. Through this, you can get a whole load of helpful information on who your real customers are, and find out how accurate your original ideas around who your customers will be are.
How does it help me to attract the right kind of web traffic to my site?
Well, it doesn’t. But it does help you monitor the impact of your marketing and sales efforts, see who your real customer are, and tailor future customer interactions and campaigns. By getting real data on who is visiting your site and which sections they are spending time on you are able to build a better picture of the content that your real customers are most attracted to.
Building a site that attracts the right kind of web traffic and brings visitors in numbers is an ongoing process of keeping up with changing trends and developing customer behaviours. We can all benefit from checking in with what works and what doesn’t to make sure that the most valuable content is highlighted and given the time and attention it deserves.
What’s next now that you are confident that you’re attracting the right kind of web traffic?
If you aren’t already, start using an analytics tool to track the success of your efforts. Get your team together at regular intervals and re-do these exercises – your customer base will change over time, and that’s okay as long as your stay on top of it and keep tailoring your content to your audience.
Once you’ve got this increased web traffic it’s time to start converting your visitors into customers. If you’re looking for further optimisation, make sure that once you’ve taken the steps to understand your customers as people as you learn how to stay human in an age of automated sales. Move on to learning how to boost your conversion rate with contextual real-time selling, or learn how to use live-chat to speed up your sales process.