Many websites fail because they are not designed with their target market in mind! Once you define your target market, then develop your marketing accordingly.
If you know your target markets you can then work out how and where to advertise your website, and give your website designer the insight needed to design a site that will appeal to clients and instil trust in your market. If you start with this premise you will save a lot of money on costly mistakes; money that could be better spent developing and advertising your site.
Although you may think your product will sell to anyone and everyone; as a rule this isn't true. If you have several target markets, you would be better to have several websites built to appeal to each market.
Example: You are selling posters, aimed at the age group 18-21, they are interested in the latest rap music, video games, internet and cell phones.
Things you must consider:
Is your site interesting to your target market? Do things move on pages (flash movies, animations etc), is there a lot of color? Although flash movies make larger web pages that are slower to load, people in this age group are more likely to have high-speed internet connection, so within reason, a slower loading page wouldn't be such a problem as it would be if your target market had dial-up connections.
Do the posters you have appeal to your target market? It would be a waste of space to have beautiful scenery or affirmation posters. Detailed descriptions of the poster would be wasted on this young market, although they might be of interest to older age groups.
What payment systems do you have? Paypal or credit cards would appeal to this age group more than sending checks or money orders. You should keep in mind that this market group wants things fast, and won't want to wait weeks for checks to clear etc.
What are your delivery options? You don't need several options, just overnight (more expensive) or regular mail. Again this target group wants things fast and don't want to be overwhelmed with several options.
Is your target market likely to visit your site again? Hopefully the answer is yes so to ensure return custom; think of offering incentives. Offer incentives for telling a friend to visit also.
What other places online do your clients visit? Knowing this will give you insight into where to advertise and possibly places to approach about advertising on your site.
What other items or services (things that you don't sell) might be of interest to this age group? If you sell just posters, consider finding places that sell cell phones, or a music download sites to advertise on your site. Look into affiliate programs those type of sites might offer; that way, if you don't make a sale, when the visitor clicks on the advertisement you at least get some money from them.
What else would appeal to this particular target market? One thing that stands out as something your target market would enjoy and would encourage them to return to your site is some type of competition or contest.
What type of free advertising can you do with this target market? Since many of your target market probably have a blog, you could perhaps offer something like: create a link to our site from your website or blog and your name will be entered into the draw for MUSIC CD or LATEST VIDEO GAME HERE.
Links from other websites can be seen in your website’s statistics. Make the prize comparable to the number of links created. This particular type of promotion has many types of pay-offs; not only are you potentially getting new clients, but one way links like this are priceless for your website’s popularity in search engines. So even though you might only receive one visitor from each link, search engines also follow links and rank your website better in search results because of each link.
How do you find out this type of information about your visitors?
You will probably find your target market love polls, so give them a chance to have their say. If your target market isn't so receptive to polls, give them some kind of incentive for answering these questions that are so vital to your online success. Polls that list choices are more popular with young people… a place to add your own thoughts are more popular with older people.
As you can see by the information above, some things you really can't know, so be prepared to develop your site as new information becomes available.
Remember, knowing your target market can definitely save you very costly mistakes, saving you money that is then available to develop your website.
Lynny Brown - Lynn is the people person at CanzDesign. She helps her clients work through these and other questions when they first look at having a new website built, or their original website re-built. She is also an expert in the field of SEO and likes nothing better than to see the websites built by her business doing well in search engines.