Success on the Internet never comes out of thin air. Effective, successful websites are always a result of profound research and diligent, dedicated work.
Although optimizing a web page may seem like a daunting task and real ordeal for many website owners, with numerous manuals and practical advice available for absolutely free on the Internet, optimizing your website is just a piece of cake. This is where search engine optimization, content writing and target audience concepts come into play. It is essential to make your website attractive both to search engines and people. In fact, an average customer should be in a focus for any website, since it is the audience that you are going to interact with or sell goods to. It is impossible to please all Internet frequenters, yet it is possible to find the ones which are in search of information or services provided on your website. Below in this article we are going to dwell upon the importance of understanding your website audience, writing and optimizing your resource to meet your users’ wishes.
In order to illustrate the theory with some practice, let’s imagine that you, being a proficient designer, have decided to move your business online. So, once you have a functioning website and a certain clientele, you may start your research.
1. Use Questionnaires
Gathering demographic data about your website users is probably the easiest and the most surefire method to see what people visit your pages. There exist various ways to implement this. For instance, you may offer a bonus or a gift in exchange for a filled out form. The gift could be an extra cookie, a gift certificate or a discount for example. The questionnaire should not look intimidating. A typical form should include but not limited to:
- marital status;
- geographic location;
- food preferences (use a drop-down window, if necessary);
- hobbies and so on.
The questionnaire should include questions which would help you to create a profile of your average website user. For example, it could be ‘a strict vegetarian’ or ‘a busy and overburdened student’.
2. Process the Questionnaires
Now when you have the information, you are ready to think up a successful marketing campaign according to your clients’ preferences, as well as to make slight adjustments in the current company’s policy and goals. For instance, if most of your clients prefer vegetarian pastry or are going nuts for your apple and cinnamon strudels, you may focus on these recipes and hold over the unpopular ones. To surprise your frequenters you may add some new variations of the already existing recipes (the ones which are in demand, of course).
3. Maintain Your ‘Contact Us’ Page
All successful sites, large or small, should have a Contact Us page. At first glance, this page may seem insignificant, but it is the main gateway for your clients to contact you, especially if you don’t have a forum or run a blog. Make sure this page contains the actual, valid data. List all possible ways to contact you: e-mail, Skype, phone number and a physical address, if applicable. By doing so, you will raise your chances to get in touch with your direct customers.
4. Keep in Touch with Your Technical Support
In case you have a tech support which is run by another person or company, try to monitor its work. You can definitely learn a lot about your clientele from the most frequent questions they ask and problems they face when on your website.
5. Create a Forum
Forums are great tools allowing website owners study their customers’ habits and preferences well. It is essential to let your customers write and express their thoughts regarding your service, website and related topics. When creating topics, select several categories and watch which ones are the most popular and which stay untouched. It won’t take much time and effort, yet creating a Forum page can be a recipe for your business success.
6. Encourage Your Visitors to Join the Forum Page
Insert links into your website posts leading to corresponding topics on Forum. Let the most active users be moderators. You may also create a kind of hierarchy, either funny or serious: Member, Silver Member, Gold Member; Strudel Eater, Experienced Strudel Eater, Master Strudel Eater or BA, MA and Ph.D. in Strudenomics, etc. (just a hypothetic funny hierarchy for a cooking website forum).
7. Spark up Discussions
In order to attract attention of your website and Forum customers, you can employ some tricks. Don’t hesitate to spark up discussions: controlled debate is a very good tool for your target audience research. However, you should not go too far when adding fuel to the fire.
8. Create a Contest
Launching an interesting contest not only allows your customers express themselves and receive gifts, but also gives a lot of information about your target audience. The contest requirements should not be very strict, so that an average user could join the competition: a photo contest, a recipe contest and so on. It is essential to point out requirements and think up the prime and secondary prizes. The prizes should have something to do with your business domain: a cookbook, a gift certificate or a weekly strudel supply, etc.
9. Encourage Posts
Allow your customers contribute to your website or blog by uploading pictures and writing articles. Of course, it does not mean you are obliged to post everything you receive. Your customers’ pictures and especially articles will help you to get to know more about them than any questionnaire or forum. It is a really great pleasure for a person to see his or her creation on the web, especially if he or she does not run any web page. Other than that, with ‘third party’ posts your audience can increase rapidly, since contributors will want to share their works with their family members, close friends, colleagues and so on. So, by encouraging your website visitors writing posts and adding pictures you actually kill three birds with one stone:
- you receive unique papers;
- you learn more about your target audience;
- you get free advertisement.
10. Make Sure Your Customers Can Leave Comments
In order to study your target audience well, you need to know your customers’ likes and dislikes. Allow website visitors commenting on your posts, pictures and products. Analyze your users’ reviews and make right conclusions.
11. Writing a Review Page
In order to get the most sincere testimonials, you can create a Review page where everyone would be able to write an anonymous testimonial. Many websites today create such pages to fill them with fake reviews, though there is a more effective way to utilize those: by getting genuine testimonials you will know what gaps you need to fill and what adjustments to make.
12. Create a Profile Database
Although it can be very burdensome and take some time and effort, it is advisable to build a profile database for your customers. A personal profile is a great place to express your individuality and uniqueness. Many will make use of this advantage, because people enjoy seeing their personalized accounts with pictures next to their comments or articles on the web. You will also win from seeing your target audience personalized.
13. Create a Group on Facebook
Today you can hardly ever find an Internet user who has no account on Facebook. It is essential that your website includes different social media networks’ icons enabling visitors to share the information they like. Social media are great tools to promote your business online. You can create your website’s appearance on Facebook, for instance, and post your news there. You can also create events, such as an Open Air Strudel Party, for instance, and use other great functions to remind your subscribers of your existence.
14. Employ Twitter
Twitter does not offer as wide functionality for business purposes, as Facebook, yet it is still a great tool in understanding your target audience. In fact, Facebook ‘Likes’ and Twitter ‘Tweets’ are great tools to calculate your posts success: just scan the recent posts for amount of Likes and Tweets, and you will see which topics have sparked up your reader’s interest.
15. Make Use of YouTube Insights
Did you know that you can gather some info about your clientele with YouTube insights (assuming that the chosen video has enough views)? You can scan the video for Likes, Dislikes, Comments, Favorites etc. It is also possible to track top viewers’ geographical location and demographics. In case you do not have any own video, you can analyze your competitors’ materials.
16. Monitor Your Ads
In case you display your own or third parties’ ads on your website, you can track which ones are the most popular with your target audience. Commercials are a good indicator of a person’s concerns and interests.
In addition to aforementioned manual methods to investigate your target audience, there exist special online tools, both paid and free, allowing you studying your clientele in figures. The data obtained from tools described above are called qualitative, while information obtained with the help of analytics is referred to as quantitative. So, let’s move on to analytics tools you may use to understand your target audience better.
17. Hire a Team
Of course, if you are running a large website or a series of satellite pages with numerous visitors every day, and you take your target audience research very seriously, you may want to hire a professional team specializing in this domain.
However, in case of a small website you can gather some quantitative data yourself. Below we will dwell upon the most useful features of analytic tools, allowing you to see how visitors are arriving at your page, what they are doing once they are on your site, where they are from and much more.
18. Set up Goals
Analytics sites, such as Google Analytics, for instance, offer you an option of settings Goals for your enterprise. Let’s say, you want your visitors to go to the Pastry Catalogue once they are on your website and then go to the Discounts and Special Offers page. So, you can specify this route in your analytics tool. Thus you will get notification each time someone goes through these locations.
19. Measure Traffic
Measuring traffic allows you to see how many visitors come to your site per day. With special analytics tool it is even possible to track this data by the hour. By doing so, you will get information on how your website is performing on the web, such as which days of the week customers are most likely to visit your website. For example, you can notice that on weekdays, when people have no time to cook, they tend to order pastries via your website, while on weekends the clients flow is decreasing.
20. Know Your Bounce Rate
Measuring your website’s ‘bounce rate’ is very important, since it can make you think about adjusting your marketing tactics. Bounce rate indicates whether or not a visitor stayed at your page after arriving there. The lower the bounce rate, the better for your enterprise. High bounce rate shows that you may use wrong keywords or improper ads, and visitors cannot find a product/service/information they are looking for on your website. Bounce rate is an essential figure in understanding your target audience.
21. Know How Your Customers Find You
It is essential to monitor how customers arrive at your website: whether they found your page through paid advertising, search engine inquiry or through another source. Besides analytics, you may use manual methods to get this info: ask your customers how they found you when registering their accounts, for instance. Analytics is undoubtedly a powerful tool, yet it does not encompass cases of offline ads (in magazines, business cards, leaflets etc.), and word-of-mouth recommendations.
22. Join Discussion Groups of Other Websites
Browse around for customer discussion groups and forums related to your business. This is a good idea for those who still have no forums but would like to see what people are talking about. Look for groups which are as similar to your site’s main concept as possible, prefer groups with a lot of members.
23. Make Contact
In case you are running a small family business or anything like this, you can directly ask your customers (your friends, close relatives and colleagues) about what they might search for in the targeted topic, what they would not look for, etc. For instance, if your home bakeshop serves approximately twenty people a day, and all of them are frequenters, you may adjust the menu according to their preferences without any losses.
24. Use Competitors Experience
There is a plethora of data you can glean off of your competitors. There exist special websites allowing you analyzing your rival website performance. Of course, in this case you will not get in touch with your actual audience, but you will be able to pinpoint the type of audience you are going to deal with.
25. Stay Tuned!
It is essential to monitor your website’s performance regularly. Set new goals, measure your traffic, bounce rate and encourage your clients to write and express themselves. Stay abreast of the new developments in analytics and use as many tools as you can handle. Remember, success is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration!
Understanding your clientele will allow you to shift your marketing efforts into the right path and accommodate your average customer’s wishes. By narrowing your target market you will increase your sales. Remember, it is impossible to cater everyone’s needs: focus on a specific target, become an expert and be flexible in reacting on your target audience wishes.