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Find your customers online

Know where and how to find potential customers online.

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  • Discover how to find your customers and where they are
  • Learn more about your customers
  • Learn how to engage with your customers
Small Business Victoria's Your Business in a Digital World and Develop Your Online Strategy workshops will help you develop a strategy to help grow your business through your online activities and make your products and services easy for potential customers to find. Find a workshop near you.

Don't wait for customers to come to you, go to them

What needs, wants, or desires are you actually fulfilling for your customers?

Sometimes subtle insights into the true nature of your product or service offering can make a significant difference to the way in which you market yourself, and to who. By learning more about your customers needs, it becomes easier to find them and fulfil them. 

SBV Workshops - An introduction to eCommerce video transcript (DOCX 14.93 KB)DOCX icon 

Know the customer

The more niche your business offering, the easier this question is to answer. If you sell hats, you might say your customer is anyone with a head, which is too broad. You need to target your audience as much as possible to maximise your ROI (return on investment) for whatever activity you’re investing in. 

Focus on key demographics, such as:

  • age range
  • marital status
  • location, locally, nationally, overseas, or perhaps in very specific locations
  • gender
  • affluence
  • race/ethnicity.
A good online tool to help you better understand your likely target markets is Google Trends. Just give it a search term (just like you would a normal Google search), and let Google reply with popularity and location information. Doing market research can also help you define your target market, making it easier to know where to look for them.

Know where to look

Ok, you know what you’re selling, and you know who you want to sell it to. So where are your customers?

Do a search on relevant keywords and phrases. See where the discussions are taking place. Note which competitors websites appear prominently and learn from their design and content. Keep in mind Google localises searches, meaning you’ll get different search results back for the same keyword search depending on where you’re geographically located at the time.

Look at social media such as: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Who uses which? The landscape can change rapidly, so it’s always good to search for the latest research.

For example:

  • While 69% of online Australians use social media, only 48% of small to medium businesses and 79% of large businesses have a social media presence
  • Facebook is the dominant platform with 95% of social networkers maintaining Facebook profile but rising use of more visual platforms like Instagram (31%) and Snapchat (22%) provide opportunities for business to engage with fans and potential customers
  • Just over 1 in 3 Australians follows a social networking group associated with a particular brand of business.
  • 43% of Australians will inspect a brand's social media presence before making a purchase if they have not purchased from their website before
Source: Sensis Social Media Report 2016

Don’t be shy in asking your customers where they spend their time online, you might learn about some relatively small niche website with a very high density of target market individuals that isn’t yet showing up in the search engines.

Know what to do

So you know where your ideal customers are. Now what?

Take a little time familiarising yourself with the channel you choose - think about how it works, the etiquette, and the advertising opportunities. Consider some targeted advertising spend - a little at first, more later if it’s paying dividends. Include some clear business goals in your digital strategy, and think about how you will measure the success of your efforts.

Try actively using your chosen channel to promote yourself as an expert/leader in your field. Do not blatantly self-promote at every single opportunity. Write articles. Be professional, courteous, helpful, prompt, sincere. Engaging with social media in the form of articles, conversations, support, ideas, etc. might not give you the instant hit (i.e. increased traffic to your site) that paid advertising might, so think of it more as a long-term investment.

The benefits of paid advertising stop the moment you stop paying. Your online words and deeds will be around, and findable, a great deal longer. Learn more about how you can use social media for business.

If you are using your own website to engage with your customers, remember to consider the legal aspects of privacy, spam and electronic transactions.

Measure and monitor

Make sure you have decided what you're measuring such as click-through-rate (CTR - i.e. how many people are coming to your site from a particular location) and conversions (how many are continuing on to buy something).

Google Analytics
remains the standard for measuring and monitoring visits to your website. Ensure you’ve got a Google Analytics account hooked up to your website, and take some time familiarising yourself with it. If you’re too time poor, there are professionals to assist.

Google Garage offers free online course on topics such as running search ads, helping people nearby find you online and getting noticed through social media.

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Case Study: Online business and marketing on a budget

'Social media has so many ways to connect with other like-minded businesses and customers. You can basically network now from your living room.'

Emma Morris, Round She Goes

Read more on Online business and marketing on a budget

Emma Morris of Round She Goes sitting next to an orange and brown lamp