“Who are your target customers?” For a consulting company like us, it sounds like a very cliche question to ask, but we can’t suggest our clients a strategy until we understand their target customers. So we have to ask this question again and again. The responses we usually get are something like: “We are targeting tall men 18-45 living in the US”. Often we feel from their responses that many retailers don’t know their customers beyond demographics. They know their customers well but they don’t know them well enough.
Here is the deal. Whether your sales graph is going up or down or even flat, you should, without fail, spend quality time studying your customers to understand what’s on their mind, for example:
- What kind of music she listens?
- What kind of makeup she likes?
- What does she aspires to be?
- What kind of words she likes to use?
- What kind of books she likes to read?
- What kind of food she likes to eat?
- What kind of sports she likes?
- What kind of weather she likes or hates?
Without this information, you can’t build / position your brand accurately for your target customers and you will keep losing your customers to your competitors. You can’t redesign your website, you can’t design banners, you can’t write the copy of your emails, you can’t pick topics for your editorial section… so on and so forth.
You may wonder how on earth do I get all this information about my customers. Well.. in the days when there was no social media, you would have to hire an expensive research firm. But now that you have tools such as Twitter & Instagram. All the customer information is right under your nose. You have to just start looking for it.
For example, Twitter is one of the easiest way to know your customers. Just follow your top customers on Twitter, especially the most active who tweet often. See what they are tweeting about? Do you see anything common? Make a note of it.
And if you’re a startup and do not have any customers yet to study and define your target customer audience, you should analyze your competition brand(s). For example you sell clothing to the adventurous men aged b/w 25 to 50 in the US and your competition brand is let’s say – Huckberry.com, you should search for people who posted tweets such as – ‘bought huckberry’ or ‘ordered huckberry’. You will find their customers such as ‘Matthew Flick’.
— Matthew Flick (@flickster) September 2, 2014
My @ugmonk shirt I ordered through @huckberry just arrived. #neversettle A photo posted by Matthew Flick (@matthewflick) on
Matthew’s twitter profile says he is Vice President, Instructor, & Creative Director at School of Advertising Art.. You can do a quick search from his 10.2K tweets, to know what food he likes to eat and music he likes to listen.
I can go on and on with the list of things you should know about your customers and there are more ways you can know them more closely. But you will never know them well enough. It has to be an on-going journey. As you spend more time in the business and as you serve more customers, your knowledge about them should also increase. Only then you can keep your brand relevant to them and stay ahead of your competitors.
Please note that I used the word ‘customer’ in a very literal sense. I have seen many e-tailers using ‘Customer Data’ & ‘Visitor Data’ interchangeably. Do not confuse / mix customer data with data of your website visitors (those who visited but didn’t buy), of course until you want to position your brand for window shoppers. Knowing your website visitors is important as well but it’s of secondary importance.