The Internet is a pretty big place, going from a single website in 1991 to more than 1 billion in 2014. At the same time, the number of users online has jumped more than tenfold from 1999 to 2013. If you’re a business owner, the challenge of finding your buyers online in order to deliver the most targeted advertisements directly to them has never been harder!
If you’re currently struggling to match your online activities to your buyers’ Internet habits, give the following three strategies a try:
1. Social-networking sites
According to the Content Marketing Institute, social media and blogs account for 23 percent of all time spent online. So there’s a good chance that, no matter what types of buyers you’re targeting, you can find them on some type of social-networking site.
Of course, the recent flight of teenagers from Facebook demonstrates that not all demographics participate equally on each of these popular sites. If you want to know where your specific buyers are, you need to familiarize yourself with the group-usage statistics associated with each platform.
One of the best sources of this type of information is the Pew Research Internet Project’s “Social Media Update 2013” (the most recent year this information has been made available).
If your target buyer persona is female, you might note that Facebook and Pinterest show promise, as more women than men are active on each site. However, if your buyers tend to be older, getting active on Facebook might be a better choice, as 45 percent of online adults ages 65 and older maintain profiles on the site, while only 9 percent of this group is active on Pinterest.
The Pew study includes demographic data on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn that are worth a look. However, while you should use these statistics as a rough guide, they shouldn’t be the “be all, end all” of your buyer identification efforts. Instead, use these numbers as a jumping-off point to determine where you should begin engaging, but be sure to measure your performance on each site to see when and if you need to change course.
2. Authority blogs
Every industry has authority bloggers, and if you can find the ones that are popular in your niche, you have a number of opportunities to connect with your target buyers -- from submitting guest posts for publication, running display ads, to responding to reader questions in the comments.
You might already know these sites, and if you do, use the techniques listed above to make your presence known. If you don’t, here are a few strategies for finding them:
- Go to alltop.com and search for your industry. Any of the blogs listed might be authority blogs, though you’ll want to qualify them further by checking for recent, consistent publication and active social profiles.
- Go to Topsy and enter your target keywords. Filter your results so that you’re viewing a week’s worth of popular links -- there’s a good chance these have come from authority blogs.
- Find one authority blogger and open his or her Twitter profile. Look for any other sites whose content is being retweeted -- these are likely authority sites as well.
3. Message boards
Message boards might sound like a dated Internet convention on par with webrings and chat rooms. But the modern message board -- think Reddit -- can actually be a hotbed of target-buyer activity.
Here’s how to find these resources:
- Google “[your niche] message board.” It’s a straightforward approach, but it works.
- Find the subreddit that caters to your industry. Not only can this be a good place to share your content, it can reveal a number of other authority blogs or message boards you should target within the other links that are shared.
- Look for public Facebook Groups. The extent to which Facebook has been adopted across groups makes it a good fit for just about every target buyer. Conduct a few searches on Facebook to find the public Groups where your buyers are hanging out and then get active there!
Bear in mind that message boards can be particularly sensitive to activity that’s deemed too self-promotional. Become an active member of the community before you start sharing, and keep your eyes open.
The constant expansion of the Internet means that new hot sites will always be popping up, while former favorites will die out. Use the strategies above to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry's online activity and use this knowledge to your advantage to get your message in front of your target buyers.
Do you have other strategies for finding target buyers? Share them below in the comments section!