One of my pet peeves is website owners who think they should target “everyone” with their website marketing. Look, I don't care what you offer, “everyone” is not your target.
The truth is, no matter what you have to offer, it isn't really for everyone. And the sooner you figure that out — and start focusing your efforts — the better you'll do. Really!
I know it's hard. You want to go after everybody, because you don't want to leave any sales on the table. The fear is if you narrow your focus, you'll miss potential customers.
I remember awhile back on one one of the discussion forums I frequent, a site owner asked for a review of his computer sales site. He insisted his product was intended for everyone.
But not everyone needs a computer. Not everyone can afford a computer. Some people live in remote areas with no electricity and couldn't use a computer even if they wanted to. His site was only in English and he only offered English-language support — so there was nothing there to appeal to non-English-speaking customers.
No matter what he might have wished, his products wouldn't be suitable for everybody. And therefore his site shouldn't try to appeal to everybody. But no matter how I tried to convince him Chinese toddlers, nomadic Masai herdsman and my technophobic mom were not among the target customers for his gaming-enhanced computers, he seemed to have trouble narrowing his focus past “everybody.”
When you try to target everybody, you usually end up appealing to nobody. You get generic, bland content in a generic, bland site. You won't offend anybody, but you'll likely not generate much excitement, either.
Instead of trying to appeal to everybody (and ending up with something so blah and colorless it bores the world to tears), zero in on your target audience. Use the words and phrases they would use. Select a color scheme they would find attractive. Organize your site in a way that makes sense to them.
Will you lose a few sales from people who aren't in your target market and hate your color scheme, can't figure out what in the world you're talking about and for the life of 'em can't locate anything on the darned site? Possibly. But you know what? You probably wouldn't have gotten that many sales from them to start with.
Certainly not enough to make up for all the sales you'd be losing with your unfocused “everything for everybody in general, and nothing for anybody in particular” website.
Engage your most likely customers, focus on giving them exactly what they want, and you'll most likely get more total sales.
Okay, I admit for dramatic purposes I overstated the “death” of the target audience. As you can see, they're still very much alive (and still a darned useful concept).
And for those trying to work their way up from “focusing” on everybody, identifying a target audience is an excellent first step. Once you get to know the groups who would be most interested in your offer, you'll almost automatically create an online experience more likely to appeal to them.
Which almost automatically means improved website performance.
But once you've got the target audience thing down pat, there's no resting on your laurels. If you really want to rev up your site performance, it's time to take it to the next level.
To become a true Ninja Warrior web marketer, grasshopper, I recommend you learn about and use personas.
So whattheheck is a persona? And what makes a persona different from — and potentially better than — a target audience?
Well, personas are individuals; target audiences are groups. While writing for a well-focused group is better than trying to appeal to everybody, writing to an individual is even more powerful. When your customers believe you're speaking directly to them, one-on-one, you forge a stronger personal connection. You'll be answering their questions before they even ask. You'll reduce friction in the sales process... and therefore make more sales.
Finding it hard to believe me about results? Afraid it's going to be a complicated, expensive process? Here's an example from the GrokDotCom article:
Just ask Steve Franzman, founder of Detoxologie.com, a client who used personas to boost conversion by 400%, and get a 2 to 1 return on a floundering Pay-Per-Click campaign... [the company] used just four simple personas to get enough perspective to rework the entire website.
Wow — a 400% boost in their conversion rates with “just four simple personas”? So what's holding you back now?
If you're concerned that by writing to individuals, you'll exclude too many prospective customers, consider this insight from the Psychotactics article:
Writing a headline just for [one persona] seems like marketing suicide, but actually it's quite the opposite. Because a million mothers with the very same problem will look at your headline and say, “That's me! This is exactly the service I wanted.”
It matters not if your site is consumer-oriented or B2B, whether you sell products or services, whether a conversion is a direct sale or if you're trying to generate leads. You can learn to use personas effectively to improve your website's performance.
Intrigued? Want to learn more? Here are two articles to help you get going:
Bottom line, if you think your products or services are intended for everybody, think again. Start by considering who might be your target audience. Focus your attention on this target audience and I bet you'll see an improvement — possibly a significant improvement — in your site's performance.
And even if you already have the target audience down pat, there's still room to improve. Learn to use them appropriately and personas can be your new best friends.
Learn more about the ways Diane can help improve the performance and profitability of your business web site, or request a no-obligation personal consultation, by visiting www.NineYards.com.
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