From Brick-and-Mortar To Online: How to Connect with a Niche Audience

As an eCommerce business, every penny counts. If you want to be successful, you have to carefully balance spending money to generate business and the profits you make from your efforts. You have to sell smart and there is no smarter way to sell than to a group of people you know are interested in your product. While it is a simple suggestion, it is a critical component of any business’s marketing plan. If you don’t sell and market to your niche audience, a group of people who share a specific interest, you risk wasting money on marketing to people who may never reach your site. Knowing your niche audience is the first step to a marketing plan that not only increases sales but also builds a brand with loyal customers. How do you determine who those people are? And how do you market to them?

Finding Your Niche & Getting Started

It’s important to know as much about your product and your audience as possible. You don’t want to waste money marketing to people that you think should be in your audience; instead, you should spend some time researching to know exactly where to start. Begin by speaking with the customers you already have. What brought them to your store? Are they buying for themselves or are they purchasing a gift? Don’t be afraid to talk to customers or even ask them to fill out a survey (it wouldn’t hurt to offer a gift for their hard work). Another research avenue you don’t want to ignore is your competition. Pay attention to their marketing efforts, especially if they are already online. Asking the customer directly and being aware of your competition’s targeting and marketing efforts can be a great way for you to start building information on your niche. After you know who your audience is, you need to find out where your audience spends their time. Use data about online platforms to understand which one(s) will put you in front of the right people. For instance, Facebook has over 1 billion users and according to BrandWatch, 90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35. This information, and more, can help you to identify which platforms should be used for communication and also gives direction on how you should communicate.

Consider a small business, named Mugsy, that sells handmade coffee mugs. They have a store that generates a good number of sales but they want to find a new way to increase their business through online channels. Mugsy could start by simply targeting coffee drinkers in all of their online marketing channels. This would provide them with a large audience that they would be able to target over several online channels; however, not all coffee drinkers are interested in purchasing handmade mugs. The same can apply to your business. You know the basics of what your customers want. Your customers are interested in clothing or books or whatever your main product is, but you’ll find that the audience that you get from starting there is too broad. Once you have the general information about the type of customer you are looking to target, you can begin to narrow that audience down to find your niche. The owners of Mugsy know the customers who come to their store appreciate that their mugs are made in the United States and that they incorporate the work of an artist they have in-house. They’ve also noticed that the majority of their customers are between the age of 24-30 and they love to hear the story of how the shop started. This information can be used to develop customer profiles and discover even more unique characteristics about their customers. Customer profiles are essential to the way you connect with your niche audience across your online platforms.

Send the Right Message Online

It’s easy to dive into a platform and think that any post or ad will work, but if you’re looking to build a connection, you have to understand what causes your audience to engage. What would be the thing that makes the customer stop in front of a store that sells handmade coffee mugs? Is there a creative, colorful display at the front of the store that makes people stop and look? Are passersby able to see large groups of people participating in a mug decorating class and simultaneously become interested in learning more about the shop? Answering these types of questions for your business helps you find the answer to how you should connect online.

If an artistic and colorful design is what makes people stop and engage with you and your product then that is the way to get them to engage online. Starting this is as simple as taking photos of the products you have and placing them online. Show off the design and simply tell the story of the product, and simultaneously your business, to grab your audience’s attention. For example, “Our decorator, Clara, made this beautiful mug in honor of mothers for Mother’s Day.” With a simple sentence, you are able to make a post that is personal to your brand. You can tell the story of how your products were created and even relate to customers on a personal level. Even if an individual in your targeted audience hasn’t heard of you before they know what you do and have a reason to look for more after reading one simple post.

Make Your Brand & Your Story Interesting

Creatively sharing product images is a great way to start to connect with your niche audience, but it shouldn’t be the end. Images are a great way to get people to stop scrolling through their feeds and look at what you have to offer, but sharing your story is a great way to keep your niche audience engaged. Maybe your business isn’t closely related to the handmade coffee mug shop in our example, you don’t have an artist creating new designs and you aren’t making items by hand to sell locally. You still have a story. Consider what your business means to you, your employees, and your community. Is your business family owned? What do you hope every customer feels when they buy from you? Is there anything you can teach your customers or your community that would also benefit non-local online shoppers? Answering simple questions like these can help you focus on the story you want to tell, so when your audience clicks on a shared image out of interest, they get a story that they connect with and THAT makes them want to come back.

When sharing your story across platforms, tailor each message to the platform you are using. Branding items, like your logo and brand colors, should stay the same so that potential customers are able to recognize your business. For instance, when sharing on Facebook, you may find that your posts are more playful if that is how your audience there engages with you, but you will find it necessary to present yourself seriously and professionally on a platform like LinkedIn. Your logos and branding may be the same, but because your audience is different on these platforms, the way you present yourself must be different as well.

It’s important to note that your audience will always be looking for something new, but that doesn’t mean they want to be sold to. One thing to consider is the type of information you are sharing. Have you simply been sharing photos of your products for six months? While this is probably interesting to your audience, there will come a time when those posts will be monotonous and your audience will scroll past them as though they aren’t there. So, change it up! You may find that your audience’s interest in the people who work for you is just as high as their interest in your products. Has your company held team building events or been involved in the community? Record the moment and share the story with your audience. Don’t forget that the way you share is as important as what you share. Videos are popular on several platforms and a well-crafted video is a great way to keep your audience looking in your direction.

Adapt & Always Remember Your Audience

Once you begin targeting and engaging with your niche audience you’ll be able to gain insights into what your audience likes as well as interests and audience groups that you hadn’t considered before. Always use this information to adjust your audience, because while it is important that your niche audience is engaging with you it doesn’t mean much if they aren’t buying your products. When running ads and planning social media posts always consider what has worked for you in the past. Have customers been following your links on social to get to your site? Do the same people who engage with you on social only buy after seeing your ads on Google? Use any data you’ve gathered to find trends and follow them. Your niche audience won’t always be in the same place at the same time, but finding and connecting with them doesn’t have to be a mystery.

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