One of the trickiest aspects of creating a successful online blog, service or other business, is adapting — and realigning it — to what the audience really wants.
You might start out doing one thing. But if that doesn’t achieve the results you expected, then you need to make a change. This might mean reevaluating your initial vision, broadening your horizons, compromising on taste — or even abandoning the project altogether.
So how might you adapt or realign your online business to achieve better results?
1. Use Related Searches To Identify Keywords
Part of realigning your business to the audience is working out what your audience actually searches for.
For example, you might call your product one thing (a brand name, a technical term etc) — but the audience may not be aware of that name. So you need to know how the average user finds products like yours.
An easy way to research this is to check the related searches at the bottom of the Google. It’ll give you an idea of what other people are searching for, and what relates to your content. It provides a simple — yet crucial — insight into your customers.
Here’s an example of my own. I sell basic aviation equipment. One of my rulers, I personally call a “pilot ruler”. But is that really what the general public searches for? I searched it, and looked at the Google suggestions:
So what I found here were several alternative keywords. These are very handy for blog posts, PPC advertising campaigns, and product listings. The ones which really stood out here were “aviation ruler”, “aviation chart ruler” and “flight ruler” — as they are most relevant to my product.
That’s precisely why I lifted those words and targeted them in both my on-site product listing, and Amazon listing.
I know a lot of sites out there also provide this tip — but I wanted to show it used on a simple, real life example. It worked well for me; my product now shows up higher in Google rankings as a result. And the same reverse engineering technique also applies on Amazon searches, or any other search tool with auto suggestions. Use it.
Learn more about your keyword strategy for SEO from my post.
2. Analyse The Popularity Of Your Products Or Services
You’ll want to gauge how popular your products or services are (in general), and what areas of your business garner the most interest. This gives you something to focus on.
You can use Google Trends to analyse search volumes on specific keywords. It’s surprisingly easy to draw comparisons between different topics. Here’s some common difficulties it can help you with.
Some of Your Products are Significantly More Popular than Others
If that’s the case then you have options. You could:
- Follow the money onto the popular products. Produce more of what the majority of your market wants (more competitive).
- Position yourself as the go-to company in a niche area of your business. Be the big fish in a small pond (less-competitive).
That’s a choice you might make based on your competition, and the strength of your products. But if you offer no advantages, or nothing unique, then you’re destined for an uphill struggle.
Virtually Nobody Searches for Your Product
Ok, so you’re in a small niche. That’s not the end of the line for you. There’s probably other ways around it. I’ll give you an example.
I once worked on promoting a new smart phone device called Gripad — a sticky pad that sticks your smart phone to multiple surfaces, and acts as a portable mount. The fundamental problem with promoting this product was that there wasn’t a common description for it. Nobody searches for “smart phone sticky pad thingy” or “stick my phone to things”. Google Trends revealed that this was in fact a seemingly small niche…
However, with a bit of thinking around the subject I discovered that a lot more people searched for “selfie without a stick”. I mean, who really wants to lug around a selfie stick?
So there were alternate avenues to promote this product via SEO. The Gripad website needed to target people looking for a solution to a problem (selfie sticks) — not those looking for the product itself.
Of course, ideally, your products could be so popular in the future that you don’t need to educate users on the solution to begin with — they’ll already know to come to you.
3. Assess The Competition & Outdo Them
The best case scenario for any small business is where there’s a demand, or need, for something without anyone else offering it. But that’s not the reality of online business. So you’ll need to look at your competitors and what they’re doing, then picture how you could do it better.
…Just be careful not to fixate on what your competitors doing — you might become accustomed to their approach, and lose your own ingenuity or single-mindedness.
The Customer Is Always Right
Put yourself in the shoes of the customer. You’ll be able to identify weaknesses in an existing product or service offered by your competitors. Here’s a few examples:
- Poor user experience. The website is slow and difficult to use.
- Pricing is too high. Customers begrudge having to pay for a product or service — but they’re the best in the market. No choice.
- Lack of innovation. The products aren’t that well produced, and the vendor has become complacent in being the market leader.
Whether you’re selling physical products, digital products or even just scouting topics to write about for your blog — you still ought to assess your competition. Take this site an an example. What’s my competition like?
Well, there’s far more credible, technical, detailed guides out there when it comes to SEO, marketing, Amazon FBA and online business. But that’s also a weakness: those sites aren’t designed for the average person to read and understand. They lack some of the obvious details. That’s why I believe I stand a chance at making a success of this site.
And if i don’t make it a success first time round… I’ll adapt, right?
Improve, Not Revolutionise
You don’t always need to be revolutionary. If competitors are merely the best of a small bunch, then that might be your cue to pounce on the opportunity. Do what they’re doing — but better. Improve their products, offer a great customer service, reduce the price the products, and so on.
I’m reminded of when I first looked into aviation as a potential niche. I was shocked how confusing it was to comprehend what is required to become a pilot in the UK. It was (and still is) an industry loaded with acronyms, rules, and regulations. The information is unintelligible to the uninitiated. I wanted to change that by making a simple starting point for student pilots. I’ve written it in the way I like to see the information laid out; a way that doesn’t make me feel stressed when reading it. It’s not new information — just easier to digest.
Getting results isn’t about reinventing the wheel.
4. Remain Current
What better way to market your content than to jump on current trends… right?
It has pros and cons, actually. Fads come and go — so you might want not wish to invest too much effort (or be tied to) something that isn’t sustainable. But there are ways you can hugely benefit from the latest trends. I’ll give you some examples of this.
Preempting New Trends
Being first to the punch is vital — especially when many trends are short-lived.
It’s not always easy to detect a new trend. But if you fully understand the needs of the consumer and know something (e.g. a new or unique product) is likely to appeal to them, then it might be time to start the trend, or get on the band-wagon as early as possible.
I’ve tried to preempt trends. A trend i feel will take off is Expected Goals (xG) statistics in football. British fans are becoming increasingly more interested in statistics (like the US already is). In particular, the xG metric has started to infiltrate popular panels such as Match of The Day. However, the main stumbling block for xG right now is education. People need to be shown how Expected Goals (xG) works.
So I researched it, wrote a post about it, and highlighted the rationality it brings to football analysis. I’m in there early. In fact, I’m one of the first people to write about the topic from a sports betting standpoint.
Preparing For Spikes In Traffic
You can bet that many businesses position themselves for spikes in traffic. Public events — such as political ones — bring enormous numbers of visitors.
I recall seeing on social media that the most popular UK Google search around Brexit was “what is the EU”. Indeed, anyone who could have predicted a spike in that search may have just found a way of improving their traffic (if only, temporarily).
I noted a couple of years back that some (less competitive search terms) spike when the weather changes. I wrote a post titled “How Does Weather Impact Horse Racing?“. It caters to people interested in answering that exact question. And once the English weather (predictably) pours down — so does traffic into my website. The goal is to capture a high % of visitors searching for non-competitive words.
Posting About Current Affairs
Social media was practically invented so we can remain current. It’s used for keeping up-to-date with general news, friends, local business, worldwide business, new products, sport, holiday destinations, and so on…
People use social media to connect with what they’re interested in right now. So you can use the platform to post content loosely relevant to your current products. People who enjoy those posts are likely to browse your product, and maybe even buy it.
To be honest, keeping my social profiles current is a weakness in my own projects. I’d love to do more of it, but I don’t have the time. I’ve also found that it doesn’t have the highest ROI or even “Return on time spent”. I find focusing on SEO and PPC to be a better use of time and expense, for now.
5. Research Popular Questions On Quora
Another way to research your market (without using a search engine) is to utilise answer banks, like Quora. Use the platform to read about, and follow, topics that you’re interested in. As a business owner, you’ll very quickly establish what other people want to know about your industry.
You can base your marketing efforts around those key questions you find. Some of them make great names for blog posts. For example: “How Much Does It Cost To Become A Pilot?“. That’s a very popular question in the aviation section of Quora, and one which I have deliberately targeted in a bid to establish a brand with those starting out in aviation.
6. Utilise Social Media To Learn About Your Audience
Social media enables us to gauge what other people enjoy. It also reveals what specific subjects (and types of post) have the most active audiences.
Interestingly, a particular subject might be equally as popular as another in terms of your site visits — yet one has a more outspoken, and more active social media presence. And the louder the audience, the more shares and likes you’ll get, and the better it is for promoting your brand/product.
Football fans are the most engaged social media users I’ve came across. There are some reasons for this:
- Football is incredibly popular. Therefore the engagement is usually higher on posts containing football images/tags/links, than in many other sports.
- Playing and watching football involves so many different human factors. Excitement, enjoyment, outspokenness, opinions, gossip, humour, pain, togetherness. Social media is the perfect platform for both players and fans to express themselves.
Last night ⚽👌🏼 pic.twitter.com/3FZQyL74VV
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) May 27, 2018
Football’s immense popularity across all age ranges, countries and genders makes the market obvious — yet still highly attractive — for creating niches.
You too might be able to use social media identify areas of your business with a highly engaged audience.
7. Monitor Your Own Traffic
Once you have enough site visitors, it’ll become clear what your audience wants. Using Google Analytics you’ll be able to answer fundamental questions such as:
- What topics/posts are my followers most interested in? What’s ignored or neglected?
- What topics/posts do they bounce off quickly? What keeps them most engaged?
It’s not only analytics traffic, either. You will receive emails or comments about certain topics more than others. It’ll be obvious to you what’s in demand, and what’s not.
I must admit, I’ve created some posts that I considered to be the cornerstone of my whole site. But then hardly anyone read it. Thousands of visitors didn’t give a damn about it! So in those situations, I’d either continue to publicise those post and hope it catches on… or simply move on.
In many cases you’re best off letting the audience guide you. As it stands, right at this precise moment of writing, I can only estimate what posts on Nice Carve will be most popular. I’m very much in the process of aligning my own content.
I wonder… will this post take off?
You Can Adapt… But You Can’t Please Everyone
No matter how much you adapt and evolve your business, you won’t win over everyone in your target market. Only a certain percentage of your site visitors will like what you have to offer.
And that’s fine — provided your business is profitable. You don’t need to compromise a very specific vision in favour of what’s popular. The last thing you want is to lose your originality.
But on the other hand, stay open-minded. Stubbornly sticking to your guns and ignoring obvious opportunities to adapt and improve might be detrimental to your growth. Or naive at best.
So ask yourself: whats my audience telling me? Can I capitalise on what they’re interested in? Do I want to?