It’s time to get practical here on the blog. Thinking about your customers is central to a good online marketing strategy. With this post I want to show how thinking about your customers can improve your website marketing, increase traffic and lead to sales. I want to do it with a practical example.
Let’s look at how thinking about your customers can help you with getting quality, relevant inbound links to your site. We all know that link building is a vital part of our SEO and increasing our traffic, right?
Specifically, we are going to think about your customers and see whether there are any “special interest” groups in there? All I mean here by a special interest group is an identifiable group of customers that share some interest and have a use for your products or services.
Some of the uses of your product or service are standard. They are what you expect and they were probably your first port of call in your marketing and your link building. If you consider your customers more carefully, however, you might notice that there are some less obvious groups that use your product or service. I’m going to use an interest of mine as an example.
I’m in the process of getting a dog right now and this is a really good example of how special interest groups could generate links and customers. People are nuts about their dogs. Like any other interest, there are forums, blogs etc. all over the web where people spend what appears to be most of their lives talking about their dogs.
Imagine that you run a hotel or other accommodation.
Does your hotel allow people to bring their dogs? If someone rang you up and said, “I’d like to bring my dog and this is what I’d need”, would you try to accommodate them?
You see, if your accommodation accepts dogs then you’ve got the beginnings of some “dog friendly” accommodation. When you think about this special interest group (dog owners) amongst your customer base, you will realise that travelling is a pain in the backside for these people. They would often like to bring their dog but can’t. When they leave their dog at home, they may need to kennel it (at a cost).
Your accomodation might already be dog friendly. It might be that you are willing to make some small changes to make it dog friendly. So lets ask ourselves some questions.
Do you think there are directories and listings of “dog friendly accommodation” out there linking to hotels, caravan sites and self catering accommodation that will let you bring your dog?
I’d have thought that’s a very big YES and an easy source of free links
Do you think there are forums out there and blogs that are full of dog lovers who will occasionally talk about dog friendly accommodation, how to find it etc?
My guess is another YES and more free links.
By thinking about our customers and identifying a special interest group we have identified a marketing opportunity for our business. We can and should find those directories and lists of dog friendly accommodation and get some links. You could go out and spam those forums and generate some more fairly low quality links but I’m going to suggest that you don’t. I’m going to suggest that you could take this whole thing a step further and genuinely engage with the special interest group you’ve identified.
Engaging with your special interest group
What would it take to make your hotel dog friendly? Is it something that would suit your place? Are you in an area people are likely to want to bring their dogs? Are there ways you could improve the experience of dogs and their owners?
How would you find these things out? I don’t know about you but I’d join their forums or comment on their blogs and ask them. Having asked them and acted on that feedback to improve my service I’d tell them about it. I’d ask for feedback on the improvements. I’d invite them to come and stay and give feedback and, you know what? I think they would.
I think that some of them would stay and some of them would give feedback and they would give that feedback on the web and that feedback would include links. Those links will help your SEO and you’d probably also pick up some sales.
The thing about special interest groups on the web is that they are disproportionately engaged. They are massively engaged in the subject of their interest and they use the web as a means of expressing that. So they are highly motivated and blogs, forums etc give them the means to spread your message and to give links (important for your SEO).
When they find something they like, they talk about it online.
One small note of caution here. That passion you find amongst special interest groups works both ways. If they don’t like what you’re doing, they won’t be shy talking about that as well. So if you go down this route, you want to be genuine and you want to make a real effort to provide a service.
You probably don’t run a hotel but if you spend some time thinking about your customers maybe you can identify similar opportunities.
- Who uses your products or services and what do they use them for?
- Divide them into groups according to their uses and interests
- Are you seeing any special interest groups in there?
- Is your product or service perhaps more important to this group than you knew?
- Do they have forums and blogs etc. online?