When starting a business or growing a small business, one of the most important things you can do is learn about your target market. Knowing who your ideal customer is—and understanding their needs and wants—is essential to building a successful business. But how can you learn more about your target market without crossing ethical boundaries? Here are five ways to get to know your customers better, ethically:
1. Social Media Listening
Social media listening is monitoring social media platforms for mentions of your brand, product, or service—and then engaging with those mentions. This is a great way to connect with current and potential customers and get insights into their thoughts and feelings. To get started with social media listening, create a list of keywords related to your brand and set up Google Alerts for those keywords. Then, set aside a few hours each day to check for mentions and engage with them accordingly.
2. Surveys and Polls
Asking your target market for their thoughts and feedback is always a good idea. One study found that 80% of consumers are likelier to do business with a company that solicits feedback and offers a more personalized experience. Surveys and polls are also great ways to get insights into what your target market is thinking, and they can be used to gather valuable data about your customers.
There are a few different ways you can do this: you can send out surveys via email or social media, post polls on your website or blog, or even hand out paper surveys at events or in-store. Just be sure to keep your survey questions relevant, concise, and clear. Nobody wants to spend their valuable time filling out a 20-question survey!
3. Creating an Online Community
Your customers will more likely be online these days. And most importantly, they’re more willing to give you feedback and engage with you if they feel like they’re part of a community. Creating an online community for your customers is a great way to build relationships and get insights into their thoughts and needs. There are a few different ways you can create an online community: you can start a private Facebook group, create a forum on your website, or even just encourage customers to engage with you on social media.
Alternatively, you can partner with a company to create a specialized platform for your online community. These companies can often build platforms that can provide analytics, build customer profiles, provide moderation tools, and help you schedule and post content automatically. With a platform specific to your business, you’ll get even more insights into your target market a little better.
4. Competitor Research
Researching your competitors is one ethical way to learn more about your target market. Look at their social media platforms, websites, and marketing materials. Understand their strategies to reach their target audiences. You can also sign up for their email newsletters and follow them on social media to get an idea of the type of content they’re sharing. Just be sure not to copy their ideas too closely—you want to stand out from the competition, not blend in!
5. Google Analytics & Search Console
If you have a website or blog for your business, you likely already have Google Analytics installed—but are you using it? Arguably one of the most powerful tools available for understanding your website visitors, Google Analytics can give you insights into where your traffic is coming from, what pages people spend the most time on, and what type of device they’re using. If you’re not already using Google Analytics (or need help understanding it), now is the time to start!
In addition to Google Analytics, Search Console is another tool that can give you insights into how people find your website through Google searches. By understanding how people find and use your website, you can make changes to improve the experience for new and returning visitors.
6. Market Research Reports and Case Studies
There are many sources of information that compile data about different markets and industries—and this data can be extremely valuable in understanding your target audience. Professional research reports can be costly. However, you can get free reports from government agencies like the Small Business Administration. You can also find case studies from companies within your industry that will provide detailed information about certain aspects of running a business within that space.
Ethical Market Research Is Important
Figuring out who your target market is and what they want are critical in building any business in the digital age. The good news is that there are plenty of ethical ways to get this information! From social media listening to competitor research, taking the time to understand more about who your ideal customer is will undoubtedly pay off in the long run. Get out there and start learning more about your target market today.