“My customers are not online, they don’t do Facebook.” Generally this comes from a business owner who doesn’t like social media or they talked to one of their customers who does not have a Facebook account.
For all I know they may be right. I haven’t researched their customer’s profiles but after a few questions it is clear they have not researched their customers’ profile either. Even though all of your potential customers are not online a lot of them are. Most of these active, online prospects are not going to be reached with outbound marketing techniques like direct mail or an ad in the yellow pages.
Where can a business owner or marketer get information on what their potential customers are doing online?
First you will need to define your customer profile or persona so you will know what your potential customer is like. A good place to start is this blog from HubSpot: How to Build Better Buyer Personas to Drive Killer Content. The next step is to start finding out a bit more about how your potential customers act online.
You could hire a marketing research company or you can take advantage of these 5 free resources on the internet.
1. Forrester’s Social Technographics Tool
In Forrester’s ground breaking book Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, they classified consumers into seven overlapping levels of social technology participation. This tool shows you how different groups identified by age, gender and nationality fit into each of these classifications. For example with this tool we can see that 18 to 24 year old women in the U.S. are more likely than men in the same age group to be creators while men are more likely to be critics. Both genders in this age group are more active online than those in the 35 to 44 age bracket. Go ahead and try it, it is very cool.
2. Ignite’s Social Network Analysis Report
For the past five years Ignite Social Media has been analyzing and publishing the demographic and geographic information about every social media platform known to humankind. The analysis across platforms makes it very easy to compare apples to apples in social media. For example you can compare the educational level between the users of Facebook and LinkedIn.
Charts from Ignite Social Meda
The information is presented in a series of charts and graphs and you can download pdf’s from past years. The data does represent international data and knowing for example that Facebook enjoys almost universal acceptance in Turkey may not help you plan a social media strategy for Tennessee. When you use our next tool you can use the same research tools Ignite used.
3. Google Insights and Ad Planner
You do not need to be advertising on Google AdWords to use their great tools for finding out who is doing what on the internet, just a Google account. Google Insights for Search can give you details on how often a term like Facebook was searched within a given time period and even within a given geographic location and you can compare it with other terms like Pinterest.
Chart from Google Insights for Search
For even more information go to Google Ad Planner and put in a domain name like Facebook.com and you will get a wealth of demographic information. Now you can start to compare different social media platforms and see how they fit your customer persona. Ad Planner also shows you other sites this audience visited and their other interests.
Chart from Google Ad Planner
4. Google’s Global Business Map
Google’s Global Business Map is meant to be a resource for international business advertisers and gives basic facts, demographics and Internet statistics for 48 countries. But even if you are only interested in one country the information is very helpful. For example for the profile on the U.S.A. we learn that 78% of the US population has access to the internet and 44% use mobile smart phones and mobile search queries have grown by 511%. This is good stuff to know.
Chart from Google Global Business Map
5. Traffic Sources in Google Analytics and HubSpot
One way to learn where your potential customers are active is to see if they are finding your website via social media. In order to learn this you need to be active on different social media platforms but by studying who responds to your social media activity you can find out what is working and where to invest your efforts.
Google Analytics’ new Social Sources report gives you information on traffic sources, page views, length of visits and a host of other options that give you a detailed, granular view of your social media traffic. You can set up conversion goals and find out if which social media channels contribute to your bottom line. If you are a fan of visual representation of data check out their nifty Social Visitors Flow Chart.
Chart from Google Analytics
HubSpot (affiliation notice: I am a HubSpot Partner Agency) tracks much of the same information as Google with the conversion connections built right into the software so it is easy to track where your traffic comes from and if that traffic is converting into leads and customers. The advantage for a small business is that you do not need to have to set up the conversion codes and tracking URLS. HubSpot does that for you and tracks all the online activity. With HubSpot it is not only possible to see how many people came to your website from a particular Twitter Campaign but how many converted for a specific activity such as downloading an eBook and how many eventually become customers.
Image from HubSpot
Setting up your business social media strategy is an important part of your inbound marketing plan. It is important to define your customer’s persona or profile and learn what they do online. These tools are not going to identify every potential customer but they will give you valuable insight into how you can craft your social media marketing strategy. If you are interested in how your website performs, including how well it integrates social media into you’re your marketing plan sign up for a free website evaluation from Image Media Partners. There is no obligation and you will learn valuable information about the performance of your website.