No matter if you have a brand new website or you’ve been around for years, knowing where your target market hangs out online will make your marketing a whole lot easier.
After all: If you’re an inbound marketer, then your market isn’t just your market. It’s your audience. That means you have an obligation to know what your audience wants and where they’re going for the kind of content that’s most meaningful for them.
This remains true no matter whether you’re in B2C or B2B.
In fact, B2B inbound marketers have a harder job ahead of them. B2B content has to sound completely credible in every situation, even when dealing with new industry trends or other issues nobody without a crystal ball can discuss with total certainty.
That’s why knowing exactly where your market goes online is vital.
It provides you with huge advantages for planning your content:
- You’ll know what tone, format, and level of depth your market already responds to.
- You’ll see which platforms may be able to provide you with beneficial partnerships.
- You can more easily determine what websites might be useful in display advertising.
But how, exactly, do you figure out where your target audience is?
It takes a little detective work, but it will pay off handsomely in the end.
1. First, Be Sure You Know Who Your Audience Is
Everything you do is based on your understanding of the market – both your prospects and existing customers. So, always be refining that understanding.
Start by making sure you’ve got clear, complete buyer personas. Also review all the different situations you product or service might be employed in – their “use cases” – to find the fault lines that divide up your different audiences.
2. Make Sure Your Data Analytics Software is Working
Inferences, intuition, and large-scale research all have their place in understanding your market, but data is the undisputed king. Your analytics suite should be keeping track of both links to your website and sources of incoming traffic.
Not only will you be able to act quickly if you find your site linked by a great industry source, but you’ll also see what visitors read just before they saw you.
3. Start Scanning Your Social Networks and Mentions
A buyer persona can be a helpful, interesting tool – but the rubber meets the road when you start talking about real people. Get used to watching your social media accounts to pinpoint the websites shared by the most influential users who also follow your brand’s updates.
Another way you could work this is by picking someone – whether they follow you or not – who meets your buyer persona criteria in every respect. Do some research on some of the top social sites like Facebook and Twitter to get a better idea of how your buyer personas behave online.
Keep a close eye not only on what sources they read and discuss, but what content they cheer for and make use of.
This lets you take the buyer persona – which can be a little bit abstract – and bring it down to earth in a meaningful, relatable way. You can also experiment with approaches to learning about and meeting these “core users” by sending content to them or to influencers they respect.
4. Use Progressive Profiling for Traffic Attribution
Most B2B product research sessions start with a generic online search. Still, the majority of B2B decision-makers have a core set of publications and online platforms they tend to look to for news and information. They know what these are: You just have to ask them.
When you first start qualifying a lead, it’s important to ask him or her only the questions that are really essential. However, you can experiment with putting “How did you find us?” into your contact or email subscription form to get leads on the websites prospects use.
Even more effective, however, is using post-sales surveys for already-existing customers.
5. Get Answers from New, Eager Customers
Within a week to two weeks of the sale, your new customers are about as happy with you as they’ll ever be. They’re also more likely to answer questions you might have. Naturally, that enthusiasm will lose steam over time, so it’s important to get on it!
Depending on the situation, an email survey or a one-to-one conversation with a sales rep might be the best way to get details on which sites your customers consider most trutworthy.
Weigh your options based on any customer service or technical issues the new customer has been having and whether it would be a good idea to have a wide-ranging chat with them while gathering the information you’re interested in.
6. Check Out General Forums and Websites
General forums like those on Reddit might seem like a tough place to get solid intelligence on business matters, but it depends how closely you look. People are more likely to relax and be themselves on these forums, and that includes sharing info about their favorite sites.
You can also look at popular thought leadership sites like Medium. Not only will people share their lists of “best sites” in your space, they’ll also be keen to answer and ask questions – so, you’ll be able to see what problems people in your industry are struggling with right now.
That gives you a massive head start when it comes time to plan blogs and other Web content.
With this combination of methods, you’ll slowly pull back the curtain and figure out exactly which websites loom largest in the mind of your audience.
Depending on the size and scope of your market, you’ll usually find that about 3-6 sites command the lion’s share of attention. Keep new data coming in and you’ll even start to notice when some sites are slipping out of favor and being replaced by new ones.
Ultimately, knowing which sites your target market loves means knowing which opinions and news are reaching them the fastest. That empowers you to craft your entire messaging strategy around their preferences and needs. Over time, you can find you save money and get more sales faster, too.