It’s an age-old question retailers have been asking since the advent of the internet: how can I find customers online?
You may have tried advertising, social media promotion, boosting posts… maybe you’ve dabbled in SEO. But if you’ve been focusing on the wrong metric—if you haven’t been focusing on relevance—you likely haven’t been getting the best possible returns.
In this post, we’ll cover how you can use the philosophy of relevance to beef up your efforts and reach more potential customers. We’ll cover:
- What relevance is and how it can increase sales
- Four ways to use relevance to reach the right potential customers
The Small Business Guide to Getting Found on Google
Get noticed by customers online.
What is relevance and how can it increase sales?
Let’s say you placed an ad targeting everyone within 50 miles of your store. With no other filtering. This means you’re paying for your ad to be shown to anyone nearby.
What are the chances that every person who saw that ad would be interested?
Likely rather low. Which means you’ve spent at least part of your marketing budget on an ineffective ad. Because you haven’t tailored your audience based on interests, you’re gambling that everyone around you cares about what you have to offer.
A better bet is to be relevant to your desired customers instead of focusing on sheer audience size. Relevance is exactly what it sounds like: how likely the product or business is to be relevant to the viewer.
There are two ways to think about relevance, and they’re equally important for finding customers online. First is the way Google governs it for your ads: how relevant is the ad to the keywords someone searched? If you’re advertising a store that sells handmade living room furniture, and you’re targeting keywords about kitchen renovations, your ad isn’t relevant to the search results.
The second way extrapolates from the first. If being irrelevant when advertising on Google hurts your chances of the right customers seeing your ad, then making efforts to reach the most relevant audience possible in all your marketing can only help your chances.
Focusing on relevance means you’re more likely to catch the eye of whoever sees your ad or your content. It may mean a smaller audience (at first, at least), but it’s a potentially more valuable audience more likely to convert and, as such, increase sales.
How can relevance help me find customers online?
Whatever it is you’re selling—jewelry for dogs, organic coconut yogurt, power tools with the best battery packs around—someone out there wants it.
Prioritizing relevance, not the widest possible reach without any specific demographic and interest filtering, is your secret weapon to finding them.
But the power of relevance goes beyond the usual paid ads.
Let’s say you’re a vegan candy business. You have a focus on fair trade chocolate and sustainable alternatives to the average sweet treat, and you pride yourself on a wide selection so vegans don’t have to settle for their second choice.
When it comes to managing your social media presence, which of these audiences do you think is more likely to be interested in following you and purchasing your products?
- Anyone between the ages of 18-30
- All users within 25 miles of your brick and mortar location
- Women posting in the #valentines hashtag
- Users posting in the #vegan and #vegetarian hashtags
It’s the last audience, right? And so instead of casting a wide net, you could focus your community engagement on those users posting in hashtags relevant to your business.
Where to find customers online with relevance tactics
It’s all well and good to say your marketing efforts should focus on relevance, not just audience size, but where can you use these tactics? Where can you find customers online?
The answer is anywhere you already focus your efforts (or where you should be). It’s about tweaking your approach, not reinventing the wheel.
If you focus on:
- Being visible in Google searches
- Becoming an organic part of your customers’ social media sphere
- Advertising to the right people, not the most people
…you’ll find your customers, because you’ll bring them to you.
Four ways to find customers online with relevance
Relevance is a simple enough concept. By using the right tools, you can harness its power to find customers online who want to buy from you. They just don’t know it yet.
Build your community on social media
Organic social media management—organic meaning not paid, as in you don’t pay for ads or boosting posts—is a long-term strategy. You go into it expecting to build a personality for your business, a touch-point for your brand.
As you engage with the community, follow customers, comment on posts and share content with relevant hashtags, you’ll find customers online by being part of their social sphere.
To find an audience relevant to you, try these steps:
- Check out hashtags related to the products you carry. Carrying a new line of designer handbags? Check out hashtags about the brand, luxury fashion and outfit of the day posts. Like the posts and keep the hashtags in mind.
- Follow and comment on users relevant to your business. Find the users posting in those relevant hashtags and start following them. Comment on their posts—and be genuine about it! Don’t promote your business in every comment.
- Post lifestyle content in hashtags related to your brand. Let’s say you’re an outdoor sports equipment store. In addition to posting about your products and sales, you might try creating content about hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, with tips, inspiration and trips your customers have gone on, for example, would give an audience a reason to follow you beyond sales.
As a bonus, you can increase online sales by engaging in social commerce, the practice of selling to customers directly through your social media profile. You’re already building an audience highly relevant to your brand. Giving them the option to shop through Instagram or Facebook removes a step to conversion.
Hone your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of making your site as relevant as possible to the keywords customers are searching. If you optimize the SEO on a product page for a high-end mountain bike, you want to make sure keywords about mountain bikes are present in the product description and name.
Employing relevance here means making sure that your keywords are specific. In the mountain bike example, if we only focus on keywords for bikes as a whole, customers looking for a specific kind of bike have very little chance of seeing your site in their results.
To start optimizing your SEO, you can:
- Search for keywords using tools like Ahrefs. Take note of the monthly search volume, since keywords that are very specific but have no search volume won’t be as useful.
- Pick a spread of keywords specific to your business, from the ultra-niche to the more general, but more widely searched.
- Incorporate these keywords into your product content, home page and about page.
However, unless you have a really niche product, you’re entering into a crowded market. Organic SEO is important, especially since no two people searching Google get the exact same results. But if you rely on SEO alone, you might not reach as many customers as you’d like.
Marrying organic SEO to paid efforts will help you find customers online by giving them multiple avenues to discover your business.
Put your products in front of nearby customers with local inventory ads
Local inventory ads capitalize on relevancy. They’re useful for finding customers online, because only local users looking for the goods you carry will see them.
59% of shoppers in a survey stated that they use Google to research purchases. When you place local inventory ads, Google showcases your inventory to those shoppers searching for the kinds of products you sell. Your store is brought to their attention, bringing customers to you even if they were previously unaware of your business.
Here’s the best part: you don’t need an eCom store for local inventory ads to help you find customers online. While you should be thinking about going omnichannel (customers expect it), if you’re still in the brick and mortar-only stage, you’re in luck. Local inventory ads give you a way to catch potential customer eyes with your products.
The one catch with local inventory ads is that getting your inventory set up can be a lengthy process. However, if you’re a Lightspeed user, it takes less time and effort, because we’ll handle a lot of the inventory verification process for you.
Here’s how you do it:
- Open Lightspeed Retail and click on the Marketing tab.
- Set up your Google My Business profile.
- In your Google Merchant Center, sync your inventory.
- Set your budget and run your ads.
- Check your results in Lightspeed and adjust your campaign as needed.
Tailor your audience for your Facebook and Instagram ads
In addition to local inventory ads, you can find customers online through Facebook and Instagram ads with highly targeted audiences.
It is true that impressions are an important part of advertising on social media. Impressions are measurements of how many times your ad is displayed. You don’t want your audience so tailored that your potential impressions are in the double digits! But just as important as impressions are clicks: the number of times someone saw your ad and clicked it to follow through.
The average click through rate for retail ads on Facebook is 1.59%. If you have high impressions, but lower clicks than the average rate, you’ll fall short of your competition.
One way to increase your click through rate is by taking a look at your targeting. If your audience is too wide, narrow it! Let’s say we’re a vintage records store trying to advertise to users with interests in musical genres. We could narrow our audience by targeting users with interests in vintage record players and vinyl record covers. This way, we’re using relevance to find customers who want our specific product.
You can also use tools like Ascent360 to get ultra relevant and target customers you know like your brand. Ascent360 accesses the customer data in your POS system to segment customers into groups you can target your ads towards.
You can group customers who are active on Facebook and Instagram and have spent over a specific amount on particular products, then use Ascent360 to send that group to the ads manager. You know they like your products, so your advertising is relevant to their interests—and they’re likely to come back and buy again.
Find customers online with the right tactics and tools
Building your audience to be as relevant as possible helps you jump over some important hurdles. It’s less work to convince people that they want to buy your products if they’re already interested, after all.
Using integrated local inventory ads and Ascent360 can make that easier. If you want to learn how Lightspeed connects you to the tools you need to thrive, let’s chat.