6 Key Steps to Identifying Your Target Market for Your E-commerce Store

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

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Once you have identified your niche and chosen the right products to sell, it's time to start focusing on the individuals who are most likely to buy from your e-commerce store. To ensure that you’re making the most of your efforts, here are six key steps to help you identify and target the right segments of customers for your e-commerce store.

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1: Identifying Your Target Market By Researching Your Competitors

Analyzing your competitors isn't just about identifying their strengths and weaknesses, but more importantly, it's about understanding their customer base. The target audiences who are currently purchasing from your competitors could potentially be your future customers as well. Determine who these customers are by examining your competitor’s marketing and sales strategies. This can include everything from their website design, product descriptions, pricing strategies, and their social media engagement.

This analysis offers valuable insights into what resonates with the target audience, and can help you tailor your own strategies accordingly to attract and retain a target market. Remember, knowing your competitors means knowing their customers, and those customers could soon be clicking the ‘purchase' button on your e-commerce store.

2: Understand Your Customers (Your Target Market)

Taking the time to research the demographics, online behavior, and purchase patterns of customers who are already purchasing from stores similar to yours can illuminate potent strategies for attracting these target audiences.

Start by understanding the basic demographics of your target audience such as age, gender, geographical location, and income levels. These factors can significantly influence purchasing decisions and will help you create more targeted marketing campaigns.

Next, delve into their online behavior. What social media platforms do they use? How do they interact with brands online? What kind of content do they engage with? This information can guide your content creation and social media strategies.

Finally, studying purchase patterns is essential. When do they typically make purchases? What triggers these purchases — is it seasonal trends, discounts, or new product releases? Recognizing these patterns can help you to predict customer behavior and plan your sales and marketing campaign accordingly. By understanding these realities about your potential customers, you can tailor your e-commerce strategies to resonate with them, increasing the likelihood of attracting and retaining a target audience.

Any marketing campaigns that you run should be built from this understanding of your target market. A marketing campaign is a collection of activities that you use to get your target audience to think about buying from your brand.

3: Use Social Media to Identify Your Target Market

Social media platforms are a goldmine of information when it comes to understanding your potential target audience and your target market. It's not just about who is following your page or engaging with your posts, but you can also gain insights by observing the online behavior of users who interact with similar brands or stores.

Begin by investigating the profiles of individuals who follow or engage with competitors in your niche. These customers may be your target audience, which means that you can build a marketing strategy from the intel. Research can provide clues about their preferences, hobbies, and lifestyle which can help you fine-tune your marketing messages. For instance, if you notice a trend of users who are fitness enthusiasts, you could consider incorporating health or fitness themes into your promotions or product descriptions.

Moreover, social media listening tools like Hootsuite, BuzzSumo, or Sprout Social can be invaluable. These tools allow you to monitor mentions of your brand, competitors, and industry trends in real time. This can give you a snapshot of current consumer sentiment, emerging trends, and potential areas for improvement.

Furthermore, engaging with your followers on social media not only builds relationships but also gives you an opportunity to learn more about your potential targe audience. Asking questions, running polls or surveys, and encouraging user-generated content can provide further insights into their needs, wants, and interests.

Remember, the goal is not just to sell, but to understand and cater to the needs of your audience. By leveraging social media for market research, you can gain a deeper understanding of your potential customers and optimize your marketing efforts for better engagement and conversion.

4: Utilize User Reviews and Testimonials

User reviews and testimonials serve as powerful tools for understanding the types of customers your e-commerce store attracts. They offer firsthand insights into how your target audience perceives your products, their overall customer service experience, and their shopping journey with you. Nothing shows your target market segments more clearly than actual paying customers.

Reading through reviews can reveal what your target audiences truly appreciate about your products and services, as well as areas where improvement is needed. Praise for product quality, ease of use, or excellent customer support can serve as indicators of what to maintain or enhance. On the other hand, consistent complaints about delivery times, product performance, or poor service can highlight areas that need immediate attention. Different target audiences may care about different things, so be sure to keep an eye on which specific group they may be a part of.

Testimonials, especially those that detail a customer's experience from the moment they land on your website to the point of purchase, can provide deep insights into the customer journey. They can reveal what motivates a target audience to buy, any obstacles they encountered, and how they felt upon receiving their product.

Armed with such intimate knowledge of your customers' experiences, you can make informed changes to your marketing strategy, target audience, and focus groups. This enables you to better align your strategies with your customers' buying habits, preferences, and needs. For instance, if you notice that a significant portion of your positive reviews come from moms who appreciate your eco-friendly products, you can target your marketing to appeal to environmentally conscious parents.

Remember, reviews and testimonials are not merely promotional tools, but rich, qualitative data sources that can significantly improve your understanding of your target market and enhance the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

5: Analyze Your Customer Journey

Understanding the customer journey is critical to the success of your e-commerce store. It's not just about the end goal of making a sale, but also about comprehending the steps that lead consumers to make a purchase. These steps, or touchpoints, can include the initial awareness of your brand, research and consideration of your products, the decision to purchase, and even the post-purchase experience.

By using tools like Google Analytics, you can track a customer's path across your website, identify which pages are most visited, the time spent on each page, and where potential customers are dropping off. This can provide invaluable insights, allowing you to optimize your website to enhance user experience and improve conversion rates.

Further, you can analyze user interactions with your email marketing, advertisements, and social media posts. How many users open your emails? Which links do they click on? Do certain types of social media content garner more engagement than others? By answering these questions, you can refine your content strategy to better appeal to your target audience.

Let's assume that your analytics data shows a high drop-off rate at the checkout page. Possible issues could be a complicated checkout process, high shipping costs, or lack of trust signals. By identifying and addressing such issues, you can increase conversions and boost sales.

The customer journey offers a roadmap to your customers' behaviors, preferences, and needs. By continually analyzing and adjusting your e-commerce strategies based on these insights, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are not just based on guesswork, but are driven by data and a deep understanding of your target market.

6: Invest in Market Segmentation

Market segmentation is an indispensable strategy in effectively catering to the varying needs and preferences of your potential customers. By segmenting your market into distinct groups based on characteristics like demographic data, purchase behavior, interests, or lifestyle, you can tailor your marketing messages and strategies to resonate more powerfully with each specific segment. Each market segment can represent current customers, or a specific target market you're trying to hit. Your customer base should ideally be split up into a few target markets for the most effective marketing campaign.

Digital advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads Manager offer robust tools for market segmentation. They allow you to divide your audience based on a multitude of criteria, including age, gender, location, interests, and behaviors. You can then create personalized ads aimed at each of these segments, significantly improving the relevance and effectiveness of your messages.

Additionally, many Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software come equipped with automated market segmentation capabilities. They can analyze your customer data and automatically generate detailed segments, helping you better understand your target market. For example, you may discover that a significant portion of your customers are young, tech-savvy professionals who respond well to messages about product innovation and sustainability. You can then hone your marketing to appeal specifically to this group, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates.

Remember, market segments are not a one-time task, but an ongoing process. As you gather more data about your target audiences, their behaviors and preferences may evolve, necessitating adjustments to your segments and strategies. By investing time and resources into systematic market segmentation, you can ensure that your marketing efforts remain targeted, relevant, and effective.

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