So you’ve decided to become an entrepreneur and launch an online business. Congrats! Now it’s time to dive in and figure out what you’ll need to make it happen. One of the first things you’ll need to do is to conduct a market research study to get an idea of what your target audience is looking for and whether or not you’ll be able to provide it. This article will discuss the basics of conducting market research for your online business and what you should know.
The Importance Of Research
If you’re reading this, we assume you’re either an entrepreneur wanting to know how to launch an online business or someone who’s already launched and is looking to grow their business. In either case, you’ve probably figured out by now that doing business online can be a lot more complicated than just putting up a website and hoping for the best.
Even when you’ve done your best to make your website relevant and interesting, if nobody is searching for your products or services, you’re wasting your time and money. This is where market research comes in. Market research is discovering your target audience, what they want, what keeps them coming back, and much more.
The Basics Of Market Research
To successfully conduct market research, you need to do some research to find out what works best for you and your business. Several tools can help you with this (free and paid), but nothing replaces doing your own homework.
Here are the five basic steps in doing market research:
Identify your target audience
Market research is a lot like traditional market segmentation in that you’re trying to divide your audience into smaller and smaller groups until you find the core elements that unite them.
Once you’ve understood your target audience well, you can use this data to craft marketing strategies and formulae to capture their attention and encourage them to buy your products or services.
Sound a little bit like a marketing plan? It kind of is. But a plan with a purpose. That’s what marketing objectives always are.
You’ll need to start segmenting your target audience to achieve this. This means you’ll be able to tell at a glance which groups of people you should focus on and what you should do to get them to respond to your marketing efforts.
Segment your target audience
Now that you have your target audience, it’s time to figure out how to segment it. The first step in this process is to define the criteria you’ll use to segment your audience. This is a critical step.
You can’t segment your audience if you don’t know what segments you’re trying to create. In the example below, you can see that we’ve defined two segments: high-funnel buyers and low-funnel buyers.
The second step is identifying the key elements that will enable you to segment your audience. These elements are often different for each type of product or service, but they always include the following:
- Demographics (i.e., age, gender, ethnicity)
- Psychographics (i.e., interests, lifestyle, purchasing motivation)
- Social media accounts (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram)
- Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari usage statistics
- The geographical location (i.e., country, state, region)
- Mobile phone carrier (i.e., AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile)
- Ownership of other digital platforms (i.e., Pinterest, Gmail, YouTube)
- Voice search data (i.e., Google Search volumes in different languages)
- Online shopping data (i.e., purchase amounts and locations)
Group the target audience segments
The next step is to group your segments. You don’t have to put them in any particular order, but it’s usually a good idea. When you put your key elements in order, you’ll begin to see patterns and connections that you might not have seen before.
When we put these segments in order, we can see that they’re largely composed of different types of people with different interests. Low-funnel buyers are searching for popular social media platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram, while high-funnel buyers are looking for websites that guide and answer their questions.
It’s important to note here that both segments want quality content, but the techniques they use to find it are very different.
Create your buyer persona
The final step is to create your buyer persona. A buyer persona is simply an archetype of a typical user. It represents the individual you’ll speak to when developing and designing your online business.
The better your idea of your target audience, the better your chances of understanding and appealing to them. When developing your buyer persona, you should remember that you’re creating a stereotype, so make sure you portray someone representative of your target audience.
Check your competition
Now that you have your segments and buyer persona, it’s time to take a good look at your competition. You’ll need to do this to figure out what to do to stand out from the crowd.
If you don’t know where to start, try reviewing popular websites and blogs in your niche for similar content. Also, be sure to look at well-known brands that are already in your niche.
If you can find a similar product or service that already exists, there’s a good chance that you can replicate it successfully. If you don’t have the money to spend on expensive tools or software, you can always use free methods like Google Trends or Market Watch to get market research data.
You can find all the information you need with just a few clicks. Not only that, but you can also get trend data for specific countries.
So if you’re looking to expand your business to a certain country, this is the perfect place to start. Just remember to be creative when finding similar brands. If you’re not, you will struggle in the coming months trying to find customers.
Where Do I Start?
Once you have your target audience and segments defined, it’s time to figure out what you need to do to gain their trust and, eventually, their business. If you don’t know where to start, just dive in and start building. When it comes to marketing, you’ll usually need a mixture of both organic and paid strategies to have a successful online business. Below, we’ll discuss some of the basics of organic marketing.
Create relevant and engaging content
Whether you’re an experienced marketer or a recent graduate, you’ve probably heard that content is valuable, and you should engage with your audience through various mediums.
Creating relevant and engaging content is a great way to connect with your audience and show them that you understand their needs. If you’re trying to grow your blog following, you know that attracting new subscribers is only the first step to establishing credibility as an authoritative voice in your industry. Once you have them subscribing, you can continue to engage with them through articles that will help them along their journey.
It’s important to note here that not all content will have equal value. While some content will be more engaging, you should aim to provide value to your audience regardless of the form you deliver.
Build a community
Having a thriving community around your brand is great for many reasons. It adds a level of engagement that may not be present in your typical one-way communication. If your community gets to a point where they feel that they can’t get the answer to their question from your content, or if you’re delivering value but still haven’t touched on the topic within their expertise, they may turn to someone more reputable for an answer.
Even if you’re not directly answering their question, you’re providing value by being in their ecosystem and establishing yourself as an expert.
Use multiple platforms
Let’s get real here: unless you’re a pro, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain a blog that generates enough revenue to make a real difference in your life.
That being said, most of the population still relies on digital media to get their news and information. As a result, many traditional businesses still operate largely online.
Many online news publications will consider an article or a blog post more valuable if it’s been “viral” enough or garnered enough attention to attract a substantial number of comments.
If you’re looking to establish a following in the form of subscribers who are ready to engage with your content on a more personal level, consider engaging with your audience on multiple platforms. A single blog post may not be enough to attract the people you’re looking for. Try publishing content to LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook, if you can pull off a successful campaign there. You may need to research each platform’s algorithms to ensure that your content gets picked up by the right audience.
Measure The Results Of Your Efforts
The majority of businesses fail to see the value in what they do, which leads them to believe that they’re not effective. If you’re looking for proof that what you’re doing is worthwhile, consider that almost half of the market value of a company can be attributed to the value of its online store.
While it’s great to see the results of your hard work, it’s also important to track the results of your efforts. If you’re looking to establish a following in the form of subscribers who are ready to engage with your content on a more personal level, consider engaging with your audience on multiple platforms.
A single blog post may not be enough to attract the people you’re looking for. Try publishing content to LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook, if you can pull off a successful campaign there. You may need to research each platform’s algorithms to ensure that your content gets picked up by the right audience.
Power Of Organic Marketing
Organic marketing is the practice of marketing and promoting businesses, products, and services without using paid ads. Instead, you target individuals interested in your product or service through curated content that is valuable to these individuals.
You may ask yourself, “Why should I bother with organic marketing? More and more people are using ad blockers, so why would someone need to seek out my content when they can just tune out my ads? ”The short answer is: Because they care. A lot. Believe in the power of organic marketing and see the results.
Using the steps we just discussed, you can begin market research right away!