4 Hints That Your Target Market Is Moving (And How to Follow It)

by Stephanie Taylor Christensen on March 10, 2014
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You identified your target audience when you drafted your business plan, but perhaps since then the market has shifted in ways you didn’t anticipate. In fact, the customers you originally sought may differ greatly from those you attract today.

How do you know? Here are four clues your target audience has changed, along with some expert tips for adjusting your marketing efforts accordingly.

1. Your audience isn’t doing what you intend. Customers frequently browse your store and engage with your social media and web content, but they aren’t buying enough.

Online marketing consultant Dorin Rosenshine helped a client that rents office suites in New York overcome this very predicament. Its website that was attracting plenty of readers but not enough paying customers. When Rosenshine dug deeper into the site’s metrics (such as visitors’ bounce rate, time spent on the site, and number of pages per visit), she determined that in order to attract the audience that would contribute to revenue growth, the blog needed a fresh approach.

“When we started thinking about the content that would be relevant to [its customers], our content strategy shifted. … Once this happened, we started to get much more relevant blog traffic that converts much more often. We’re estimating that the content strategy changes improved conversions by about 20 percent,” Rosenshine says.

2. You’re unaware of your audience’s other hobbies and interests. Sure, you’ve studied your direct competitors. But have you taken time to uncover your customers’ other interests? If not, you may be missing an opportunity to develop more appealing products, services, promotions, and pricing strategies.

Michelle Jacobs, co-founder of Alight Analytics, suggests using Google Analytics’ free Demographics & Interests reports to learn more about your customers. Once you enable the tool to work with your site’s tracking code, you can see the age of your visitors, the types of content they consume beyond your website, and whether they may be in the market for products in specific categories.

“With this type of data, you can test your audience and even change your marketing plan to focus on the type of content users consume, along with how recently and frequently they consume it,” Jacobs says.

3. You’re not sure how people want to buy. When business is going well, you may presume that you’re giving your target market what it wants. But paying attention to analytics that indicate how your audience prefers to buy (even if it’s not a method you offer) can help you expand your appeal.

Jason White, senior SEO strategist at DragonSearch, says that when one of his retail clients realized its email campaign data indicated a 75 percent open rate from iPhone users, it began to consider new ways to cater to customers.

“This information didn’t just allow us to customize the best email experience to iPhone users,” he notes. “Armed with this knowledge, the [cheese] shop owners were able to provide pop-up, in-store displays that were tailored to iOS and even factored into buying decisions.”

4. You haven’t recently considered new growth opportunities. You may be proud of owning a small business, but when’s the last time you dared to think about how to reach a larger audience?

Joyce Bone, president and chief marketing officer of lip-balm maker Blamtastic, says that company founder Renee Sandler was able to grow her home-grown operation into a national one in less than a year by recognizing new ways to reach her audience. After Sandler learned of Wal-Mart’s commitment to carry products made in the U.S. by minority-owned businesses, she secured a meeting and made a successful pitch. As of Feb. 1, Blamstastic’s product is now sold in every store with a tween section — and the brand continues to expand its footprint.

“The transition from specialty to mass is skyrocketing our growth,” Bone says. “We are now turning our attention to other large retailers to study their stated objectives. If you ride the trends, you can make big things happen.”

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