If you can’t find your target audience online, you can’t craft your content marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) strategy around them. But how do you find them?
The trick is to poke around online and in your analytics reports to see who’s active and where. It doesn’t take as much time as you might think.
Who’s Active and Who’s Not?
Some industries are more active online than others, and some job categories are more active than others. Activity level depends on how an industry operates and how tech-savvy the people working in a job category are.
For example, customer service is a very active industry online. At the time of this article, there were 3,040 groups listed under the term ‘customer service’ on LinkedIn. This makes sense because customers are online, so the people working in those industries are, naturally, online as well. If they’re not, they’re not doing their jobs very well.
(While 3,000-plus may seem like an overwhelming number of groups if you’re looking to join a few and start networking, you’ll be able to whittle the list down to a manageable number very easily. For example, if you’re in Florida, you probably don’t need to join a group for people in Minnesota, and so on.)
There are also a number of groups dedicated to the techier side of customer service—customer relationship management, or CRM. At the time of this article, there were 2,241 groups listed under ‘CRM’ on LinkedIn.
The reason there are almost as many CRM groups as there are customer service groups is simply because of the inherent ‘techiness’ of the people working in CRM and their affinity for online social media.
By contrast, you won’t find many groups online for ‘Oriental rugs,’ perhaps surprisingly. While Oriental rug retail is a customer-oriented industry, the customers and retailers are still operating primarily under the old storefront model of business. Therefore, you only find 7 groups on LinkedIn for ‘Oriental rugs.’
Look Around on Social Media
To figure out which industries and groups within those industries are active online, start by spending some time on social media sites looking around.
For many businesses, LinkedIn is a crucial social media site because it’s where professionals do most of their networking and communicating. It’s particularly important for B2Bs.
LinkedIn is a good place to start looking because of the groups—on LinkedIn, there are groups for almost everything, which makes it very easy to tell how active a potential target audience is. The more groups there are for a given field, the more active the people in that field typically are.
Look at Your Analytics
SEO and analytics can be kind of a rabbit hole, especially for the uninitiated. But while you can spend endless hours milling over your numbers and compiling custom reports, you can also get some very valuable information about your business in very little time.
Discovering your target audience and where they’re active online is one area in which analytics metrics can help without bogging you down.
Without getting too technical, you can get a general sense of your online target audience by looking at acquisition numbers. (Acquisition is simply where your website traffic comes from—or the site they were on when they hit the link to your site.)
If you look at Acquisition Overview in Google Analytics, for example, it will separate out where traffic is coming from, such as Organic (i.e., keyword search), Direct (i.e., they typed in your URL while looking specifically for your site), Social (i.e., online social media sites), Referral (i.e., any other site) and email (i.e., a link in an email).
For target audience purposes, the important categories here are Social, Referral and Email. By comparing the analytics metrics for each of these categories against your content marketing efforts, you can determine who’s active and not active online.
For example, if you send an email newsletter out and get a bunch of traffic from that email, you’ll see it under the Email category. If you post an article on various social media sites, you’ll see which ones are driving the most traffic under the Social category.
A Little Poking Around Goes a Long Way
While SEO and online content marketing are complicated, it’s not hard to get some key understanding fairly easily. You can discover who’s active and not active online by doing a little lightweight poking around on social media and in your analytics metrics.
Without knowing your online audience, you can’t target them with your content marketing. Once you know who they are, you can create content that speaks to them directly and helps bring them over to your brand.