3 Ways to Find Your Customers on the Internet

find your customers

If we could spend an afternoon together talking about what you do, I’d either be impressed or concerned.

I wouldn’t care how big your business was or how long you’d been in business, because sometimes newbies are way more impressive than old hands.

Nor would I care if your branding was lackluster, you had no marketing plan, or a dozen other things you think matter. Those can all be fixed.

You’d impress me if you:

  1. Were enthusiastic about your subject
  2. Were more knowledgeable than 99% of the population (not the competition)
  3. Demonstrated the skills/product to delight your customers
  4. Had a voracious appetite for learning

If you had those things going for you, I’d be impressed.

If you had those four things, I know we could fast track your business to more sales…provided…WE COULD FIND YOUR CUSTOMERS!

In the next few moments, I’m going to share three ways to find your customers on the internet.

If you are willing to dedicate a couple of hours to these techniques you will know without a doubt where your customers are hanging out on the internet and what they care about.

Why You Need to Know Where to Find Your Customers

No matter how good you are or your product is, there’s a good chance that your next 100 customers haven’t heard of you yet.

They’re not going to wake up in the morning and with an unexplainable urge to seek you out like Richard Dreyfus’ character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

No matter how good your retention and referral rates are, growth depends on how many people you tell.

No matter how good your content is or how fabulously designed your site is, growth depends on how many people you tell.

To tell people, you need to know where to find them.

Knowing where your customers are on the internet is essential for building a successful digital strategy.

3 Ways to Find Your Customers

#1 – Look to Google.

The first and most basic place your customers are hanging out is on Google.

Your customers (at least 65% of them), especially the ones who don’t know you, start with Google.

What are they doing at Google? They’re asking a question, and Google is determined to provide the best possible answers to people’s questions.

They use formulas and algorithms to search 60 trillion pages on the internet. [If you want to understand how Google works you’ll like this.]

Your job is to find out which questions your potential customers are asking? The answers you find become the foundation for all of your content strategy.

How to Find out Which Questions Your Customers are Asking

Let’s say you are a financial planner in Colorado Springs and you want to establish yourself as an authority for this specific geographic area. We can find out which questions people in Colorado Springs ask most often related to financial planning.

Step One – Start by setting up a Google Adwords Account. It’s free, and you don’t have to place an ad to do the research.

Even if you are just starting out, Google Adwords will be an invaluable tool in your market research.

Step Two – Go though the first steps of setting up Your First Campaign.

find your customers - Google Adwords

Step Three – Decide how much to spend. This really doesn’t matter since you are not actually launching your campaign, but I still like to set a dollar amount that’s realistic for my budget. I use $10/day. [Click on the pencil to modify each section.]

find your customers - Google Adwords

Step Four – Choose your target audience. There are three sections that apply. The first section is Location.

find your customers - Google Adwords

Here you can choose the whole United States, other countries, and geographic areas. We’ve chosen Colorado Springs.

You can skip over Networks and open up Keywords. (This is the fun part!)

In the selection box, type in words your target audience probably starts their Google search with. In this example, I started with financial planner, retirement, and investments and then clicked the “Add” button.

find your customers - Google Adwords

The number that appears to the side of each green bar is the number of searches per month that you can expect for the search phrase.

For each term or phrase, you can click the “More Like This” button, and Google will provide similar search terms and their corresponding search rank.

I was surprised by the results. Retirement calculator was the highest ranked term. This means that if you are a financial planner in Colorado Springs, it’d be really smart to have a retirement calculator on your site.

Here’s another view of more specific questions about financial planner related questions. What blog post should you write based on this analysis?

find your customers - Google Adwords

Answering these questions will put you in front of more customers and position you as an authority.

Which really means that the more you help before the sale, the less you have to sell. Click To Tweet

#2 Follow the Emotion

It’s not just enough to know what questions people ask, you need to know what types of articles and blog posts get the most engagement.

The NY Times published a study about the motivations that trigger sharing, and they found that relationships were at the heart of most social shares. They also identified the five main reasons people share:

Why people share social media

Each of these are rooted in emotion.

Here’s how to find the emotional triggers related to your topic. Again, I used financial planners.

Step One – Go to the Buzzsumo website. They provide a basic free search, and this is all you need.

Step Two – Type your primary subject in the search bar and select the time frame to analyze. I like using the one year selection because it gives an indication of the long term interests of my customers.

Find your customers - Buzzsumo

You should try a few phrases or search terms, because the question you want to answer is, “What are my customer’s emotional triggers?”

Step Three – Look at the headlines of the most shared posts, and identify the main emotion behind each.

Find your customers - Buzzsumo

What emotions do you think these headlines trigger? Fear, uncertainty, confusion?

If you are a financial planner and want to write articles that resonate and get attention, you need to know what types of articles get your potential customers fired up.

What we think is important to our customers is just a guess — until it’s proven. Click To Tweet

#3 – Look for the Trust

A lot of social shares may tell you what’s trending, but now we need to know who your customers trust, and we find that by identifying where they congregate.

A good portion of your potential customers regularly read other blogs or publications. Your job is to identify which ones.

Step One – The trick here is to use the keyword results from (See #1 above) to conduct a new search for the top blogs and publications related to those keywords.

For our financial planner, I searched for the top blogs of both financial planning and retirement. Always search for a list of the top blogs.

find your customers - trust

Notice how each search resulted in a different list.

What we’re looking for is a list that uses some form of ranking.

Opinion based lists are useful in the right circumstances, but in this case we want data based results.

The best choices are:

[Remember, data beats hunches. You’ll see why in just a moment, because a couple of things surprised me and would have an impact on my strategy if I wanted to build a financial blog.]

Step Two – Review the search results.

The first list is from Kitces:

Find your customers - Kitces

For the sake of this post, we’ll only look at the number one ranked blog, in this case The Big Picture.

Their overall rank is important, but we’ll also want to look at their Alexa score. (We’ll did deeper into Alexa below.)

Alexa is a service offered by Amazon that shows you where every website in the world ranks globally and within the specified country. It’s free to do a basic level search, and there is a ton of useful information.

Here’s the list from Wise Bread:

Find your customers - Wise Bread

Step Three – Look at the top blog on each site to get an overall feel for the brand, design, and content.

Find your customers - The Big Picture

Find your customers - Mr. Money Mustache

  Then I looked each one up on Alexa to get more insight into the type of customers that regularly visit each blog. 

Find your customers - Alexa

Find your customers - Alexa

Step Four – Next, I analyzed what I found. Here are some observations I made. Do you agree?

  • Each of the blog’s Alexa rankings were higher than represented on the two lists I used. This is normal, and you will find a website’s ranking fluctuates depending on how many page visits they’re receiving at the time of a search. Anything under 100,000 is good.
  • I was surprised with the design and brand of each blog. I expected something more serious, but what a revelation.
  • Furthermore, I was surprised that Mr. Money Mustache ranked so HIGH! The name is crazy, the design is unique, and the copy is edgy! I loved it and subscribed!
  • I was surprised at the differences between their respective audiences.
  • For example, The Big Picture (ritholtz.com) had a greater percentage of female readers, more readers without college experience, and a significant number of people who read the blog from school!
  • Whereas, Mr. Money Mustache’s readers did most of their reading from home with very little from school.

What to Do Next

What should you do after you have:

Looked to Google

Followed the Emotion

and Looked for the Trust

It’s largely dependent on where you are on content marketing, but here are a few examples of actions you could take:

  1. Make sure you are answering your customer’s questions in your blog posts, and not writing what you think they want to hear.
  2. Evaluate your headlines for better search engine optimization.
  3. Make sure your headlines are emotionally interesting to your audience.
  4. Analyze your design and brand elements for differentiation.
  5. Write your blog posts from the perspective of your target audience.
  6. Quit trying to be all things to all people.
  7. Dig deeper into other blogs on the list to find opportunities to guest post.
  8. Use the information to target your advertising on Facebook and Google.

Remember where we started? I’d be impressed if you:

  1. Were enthusiastic about your subject,
  2. Were more knowledgeable than 99% of the population (not the competition)
  3. Demonstrated the skills/product to delight your customers
  4. Had a voracious appetite for learning

I’d be even more impressed if you knew where to find your customers on the internet.

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t done this yet.

I’ve had large corporate clients that built advertising and marketing campaigns based on hunches rather than research.

What’s fun is seeing a person’s face when they discover revelations about their customers, and go onto to get better marketing results.


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