Small Business Online: How to Find Your Target Market?

Small Business

I can’t think of a more perfect vehicle and tool for small business than the internet. It can let you operate outside of regular business hours without prohibitive wage costs, you can sell anywhere in the world and aren’t limited to the geographic reach of one retail outlet, you can start off small with limited financial outlay and test the potential before risking more, letting sales determine the pace and direction of your business and further investment.

But the internet is not one homogenous being that is easy to understand and navigate. There are so many opportunities and possibilities online that working out which direction to take can be a baffling and frustrating process.

Perhaps you have a small business and you’ve read about the opportunities that exist online to connect with potential customers. But how do you find those people? Where exactly are they?

Thankfully there are several (free!) tools that businesses can use to help find their target market online. One tool is Quantcast. They have a media planner so even though a company’s own website may not be listed in Quantcast, you can enter demographic information, interests, market size and get a list of relevant sites. This can spark ideas for sites to approach about advertising directly on their websites or running ads in a newsletter.

Another similiar tool is Google Display Planner. These tools work best if you know the demographics or interests of your target market.

Some other ways to find your target market online:

  • See what ads are appearing on sites that seem related to your business – make a record in an excel spreadsheet, if they keep appearing over a period of time then you can assume that it’s profitable for them
  • Survey your customers or web visitors – ask them what other websites they love, find out more about them so you can find other visitors that are likely to be interested in what you’re offering, ask them how they would prefer to get updates on your business – email, twitter, facebook.
  • Check your web stats – how are people finding your website, who is referring traffic, can you advertise with them?

One of the best ways to market online is to do online advertising. It’s a great way to connect with what people are looking for and ideal for building business intelligence about what customers want. One of the best things about online advertising is that done properly all aspects are measurable.

Social media is a good way to build a conversation with your web visitors but this can take longer and requires a persistent approach. The key to making this work is offering value to your followers – show them how you can help them.