Your Target Audience: What Do Customers Really Want?

This Company Understands Me!
The single most important thing to know about writing for the web is revealed in the answer to this question:  What do your customers really want?

One way to discover exactly what your target audience wants is to use a common Google AdWords report.

Learning about the desires of potential customers is Qualitative Analytics.  You might use focus groups to discover what your customers really want. Yet these Qualitative insights can also be revealed with data analysis.

Just bop on over to AdWords and run an "Ad Performance" report.  The actionable insights are outstanding and can lead to dramatic increases in conversion rates.

If you have an AdWords account, you can run an Ad Performance report. It shows amazing information about all the ads you've ever run.
When I want to discover the desires of our potential customers, I'll just:
    1. Open the report's date range wide to get as much data as possible.
    2. Sort by ad impressions and delete ads with less than 1,000 impressions.
    3. Sort by Click Through Rate (CTR).
  • My objective is: Identify the ad with the highest CTR.
There's a reason why people click.  They are revealing what interests them.

You could put customers in focus groups.  You could put them on a couch and have Dr. Freud analyze them for seven years.  Or, you could get insights into the heart's desire of your customers in five minutes using this method.

I'm amazed at how well it works. When I've had other sources of data about what customers are most interested in, it's surprising how the ad with the highest CTR has ad copy that speaks directly to that exact, same desire.

So, let's optimize!

First let's start small.  Then let's change the entire company.

    You have an HTML Title coded in every page of your site.  In most cases, the only time people see it is in search results.

    The three requirements for an HTML Title are:
    • Relevance. The HTML Title should contain the search phrase you want to rank for. Above, a page from Martha Stewart's site appears in Google's search results. The HTML Title starts with "Cupcakes," so it's no surprise to find this page ranks high in a Google search for "cupcakes."
    • Length. The HTML Title should be less than 65 characters long.
    • If the HTML Title is too long it won't fit on Google's search results page. We want people to see the whole thing, not just the first part.
    • Enticing. The HTML Title should be enticing, so people will click.  Your HTML Titles are like the headlines that appear on magazine covers that are designed to get people to pick up the magazine and buy it.

    The #1 Best Selling Magazine on College Campuses
    Cosmo Knows the Most Important Issues on the Minds of Their Target Audience 

    Above, the girl is about to have sex. She may not say it out loud, but she may wonder: Is it a hookup or something more? Put in a less contemporary way: Does he love me or is he just using me for sex? Cosmo laser targets important issues on the minds of their potential buyers. They are the #1 selling magazine on college campuses because they know exactly what topics are of interest to their target market.

    Your Problem: When it comes to creating ENTICING headlines that will appear in Google's search results, are you laser targeting the true desires of your audience?  Usually, people write HTML Titles based on opinions, hunches and guesses. A better approach is found in the way Steve Jobs described Apple: "We are a data driven company."

    If you have a AdWords account, you have data. The Google AdWords Ad Performance report will show you which ads have the highest click through rate. There's no doubt.  Your potential customers are telling you what interests them.

    Solution:  Take copy from ads with the best CTR and place it in HTML Titles. Here you have examples of what your target audience likes to click on, so why not use the same ad copy for web page Titles?

    If you optimize in this way, your Click Through Rate on pages that appear in Google's organic search results will increase.  As a general rule, more visitors means more customers.

    There's a multiplier effect!  In AdWords, Click Through Rate on ads is extremely important to Google - they do not want to put up ads that are hardly ever clicked on.  The same appears to be true with the organic results.  If that blue headline in the organic search results is enticing, people will click.  So if your HTML title (which appears in blue in the search results) has a high click through rate, Google takes this as a signal that the result is relevant to the user, moving it higher up, resulting in even more clicks and visits to your website.

    From the AdWords "Ad Performance" report, certain ad copy will emerge as having the highest CTR. People are revealing to you what interests them most.

    As Dear Abby was fond of saying, we need to wake up and smell the coffee.  Now!  Those high CTR ads are revealing the secret, most important desires of our potential customers.

    We are not fooling around here.  Let's get a list of high CTR ads.  Let's figure out what our customers really want.  Now!

    Does the ad copy in high CTR ads match up with your advertising, marketing, and the products and services you offer? Use this data to optimize:
    • The tag line under your logo
    • The cool art stickers you give out that people put on their laptops
    • The products and services you sell
    It's easy to be a data driven company. Just use insights from data to take action that will help you connect with customers, offer what they are interested in and increase revenue flowing into your company.

    Google Analytics Sticker on a Notebook Computer

    Since everybody at your company is soooo conservative and reluctant to change, before you recommend shaking things up it might be nice to see more data, so how about double checking quantitative data from AdWords by looking at a second source: qualitative analytics data, as described by Google's Web Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, in his book on marketing optimization, Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity.

    Companies often don't know what their customers really want. They think they know, but do they have data to back this up?
    • Your company may talk about how they help people become efficient.  That may be true.
    • What if the deepest desire of your potential customers is to have their businesses gain new customers?
    • Can you help their businesses gain new customers?
    • Currently, does any part of what you sell help people gain new customers? Can you emphasize that in your advertising and marketing? And tag line? And stickers?
    • Can you add new features to your products and services that will help them gain new customers?  Why focus on making them more efficient if what they really want is to gain new customers?
    • Can you change the entire focus of your company to align with the true desires of current customers and potential customers?
    Do you even know what your customers want? Are you willing to double check? Try logging in to AdWords and running an Ad Performance report. The answer - that may cause your company to become dramatically more profitable - is five minutes away.

    What's your company tag line?

    Often companies have a tag line that appears under their logo. Your tag line tells me what your company focuses on. Your AdWords ad with the highest CTR tells me what potential customers truly want.  These two better match.  If they do not match it's a bad sign.

    Or maybe it's a good sign, since it indicates an opportunity for optimization - of your advertising, marketing, the products and services you sell, and the revenue flowing into your company.

    People reveal themselves in interesting ways. Who needs Dr. Freud?  Who needs Avinash Kaushik?  ;)  Amazing how a quick AdWords report can show your target audience's innermost desires.

    Resources for You

    Learn about Qualitative Analytics
    Check it out at Amazon

    For fun, an Analytics Mug
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