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Increase your sales by USING NEW DEMOGRAPHICS

By Aaron Colman
Posted Thursday, December 9, 2004

A simple guide to increase your web sales.
"Lots of traffic. Few buyers."

Her name was Jill. She had spent more than three- thousand dollars on getting her webstore up and running. Unfortunately, 6 months later... it wasn't even crawling.

The site was intelligently designed. She had a knack for fitness and enjoyed discussing fitness equipment. So, naturally, she decided to sell it. It was a good idea. No, actually... it was an excellent idea. She had been working with a marketing specialist and together they had came up with a business plan.

Jill was a "meat and potatoes" type person. She had no patience for useless frill and she wanted her website to mirror those feelings. She shopped in bulk for the discount most of the time and decided that she wanted her webstore to have the discount shopping club's feel... concrete walls, no ceiling panels, don't even bother with unpacking the toilet paper, just leave in a box and let people buy it for price.

The site's background was a simple grey. It had pictures, descriptions and a price. The webstore was a discount catalog for fitness equipment. She had gone through all of the search engine tricks and had done quite a bit of advertising. And she was getting hits too. Hundreds per day, maybe even thousands on some days.

Only one problem... no one was buying. That's where I came in.

We took a look at the traffic reports. If you don't have traffic reports.. it's time to get some. Turns out that most of the traffic was from a few search engines. They'd browse around a bit, then disappear. Sometimes, months later, they'd come back and buy something... but there's a lost value when a customer procrastinates, and it was hurting her business. They would disappear! Where were they going?

So we decided to ask. A quick poll for people to tell us what they're looking for. The top rated responses? "I want to lose weight" and "I want to build muscle mass." ... Only 5 people out of hundreds said "I'm here to buy something at a good price." As I browsed through her catalog I realized that none of the descriptions was fit for either of those groups. Jill had become a victim of "Over-targeting" her market. In her race to design a website she had built one that only marketed to people like herself! She had ignored the fact that she has never once actually bought fitness equipment via the web... she bought most from close friends that could arrange a discount.

In marketing speak, these "groups" are called "demographics." I'm sure you've heard the term before.

Jill's "demographic" got their equipment on discount from friends. The demographics that were visiting her site were laymen interested in losing weight, gaining muscle and feeling better about themselves. They just didn't have the experience and education needed to understand how to get what they wanted. They left her site in confusion... looking for knowledge. Many getting lost along the way.

Have you ever had this happen to your website?

Most websites generate more than one demographic of visitors. Some are specialized "buyer-ready" traffic, but most are just curious bystanders. These bystanders can be converted into sales quite easily, but it should be obvious by now that if you over- target your site then you're sacrificing these converts. To make matters worse, by overtargeting her site she was unable to design test groups into the traffic flow. A simple catalog entitled "equipment designed for weightloss" would've been enough to solve this problem months in advance.

So what's the answer? *** SPREAD TARGETING ***

It's a simple concept that's been around for years. You simply create your marketing efforts and design your site to encompass several groups of demographics. Now this isn't to say that you shouldn't target your market, instead you should just use multiple targets.

So how do we determine what demographics you have on your website?

The easiest way is with your existing traffic. A simple poll is all that it takes. "What are you looking for?"

Then design your site around what they tell you. Be sure to design your reponses going from the most general to the most specific.

Example: "What are you looking for?" 1 - I want to lose weight 2 - I want to build muscle 3 - I'm looking for the best price 4 - I'm looking to develop my lower-body strength. 5 - I'm looking to develop my upper-body strength. 6 - I'm looking to tighten my abs

"Losing weight" is a general benefit of fitness equipment. "I want to buy an exer-bike to build my lower-body strength" is a very specific product benefit.

The latter obviously has more education and is a vastly different demographic than the former. Also, be sure to monitor traffic flow to the new areas to establish new test groups. This will also allow you to write multiple versions of sales and ad copy, using a separate one for each area. Remember, by spreading your sales over several different groups you also decrease the risk of any one group being under-served. If you have an unresponsive demographic, you can afford to change that area's ad- copy without destroying your entire store. By intelligently diversifying some of your site you increase the chance of finding a new demographic or finding a new way to effectively target an old one.

Anyway, to wrap this up... When designing your website and marketing efforts, be on the lookout for new demographics. Design your ad copy to target each group specifically, and make it easy to find these pages from the front page. Having a store concept is good, but make sure that concept fits with the traffic you have.

About the Author
Aaron is an experienced Small Business Consultant with years of experience working with start-ups. More articles can be found at (http://epowerpak.tripod.com)