"Watering holes" are where your potential customers go to explore their interests. There are thousands of them these days, and from a marketer's viewpoint, that makes finding the most fruitful ones challenging. But it's worth the effort.
See someone who reviews a lot of kitchen products on Amazon? Give them a tweet, compliment them, introduce your product, etc.
As we mentioned in our first article on this topic, blogs, forums, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and so on can yield precious insights into your customers' thinking that you can use to craft your messages and source products. Once you find great watering holes, you can also engage customers or potential customers in an unobtrusive way.
In our first article we showed you how to find watering holes with advice from Orun Bhuiyan, who refers to himself as a "marketing technologist" and works for SEOcial, a company that helps its customers "understand and strategically communicate to the hearts and minds of their audience." Here we explore what to do once you find your customers' watering holes.
Really know your client avatars
One of the first suggestions Bhuiyan had was to create a client avatar to help you visualize everything about your target customers. The idea is to imagine everything, from their income to the names of their kids to their favorite cereal.
Once you know that, gather tangible data on your consumer segment, he says. He suggests looking at market research company Experian's Mosaic segmentation portal for help. Experian has neatly categorized consumers by demographics and life choices. And once you know what social segment(s) your ideal customer belongs to, you can learn exactly how they behave here.
Connect on Twitter
Twitter allows users to publicly communicate with brands (and one another). As a result, Bhuiyan says, many Twitter users are very vocal about brands they support and those they don't.
This, he contends, makes Twitter the perfect climate "for cultivating brand advocates." Here's something you may not have thought of, though. Bhuiyan says the key to Twitter is to directly communicate with specific people out of the blue.
"See someone who reviews a lot of kitchen products on Amazon? Give them a tweet, compliment them, introduce your product, etc.," he says. "Do this several times each day and you'll find a plethora of niche followers engaged in what you have to say."
Determine sites that have the greatest concentration of your target customers
Bhuiyan says that's the beauty of Twitter: It houses thousands of micro-communities, and to get in all you need to do is say "Hello" regularly.
Dig into watering holes
"The thing to remember about [watering holes] is that they're part of an ecosystem: They pass traffic to each other and your target market visits many of the same sites," Bhuiyan notes.
So establish which of the water holes you found are especially rich in possibilities. That is, determine sites that have the greatest concentration of your target customers. Now is the time to use sites like Moz, Majestic and Ahrefs to find out where the top links for that site come from. Who do your prospects trade traffic with the most and why?
"This will not only paint a picture of the ecosystem, establishing new watering holes you didn't previously know about," Bhuiyan explains, it will also teach you to make your e-commerce platform into a watering hole in its own right.
Advanced searches pay off
One of the most fruitful strategies Bhuiyan told us about is using advanced Google searches to pinpoint watering holes. He gave an example of how to do this. Imagine you're selling kitchen products. By using a search term like "cooking"+("forum" OR "forums" OR "blog" OR "blogs"), he claimed Google would return the best cooking forums, blogs, or lists of forums and blogs.
For this article we actually did this search to test his claim. Here are some of the results we retrieved from Google's first search results page:
While [advanced] Google searches take more time, it's worth it. You can drink up from the watering holes unearthed with this kind of search for quite a while
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums… Yoshihiro Cutlery. New Posts All Forums: Forum Nav:… Please use this forum to post job or internship opportunities.
A cooking forum and community for people who love food and cooking. Get advice on cooking techniques, exchange family recipes and discuss cooking tips.
Apr 14, 2014—See the winners of our 2014 Best Food Blog Awards!… Best Food Blog Awards, we're astounded at the depth, variety, creativity, and ingenuity of the food blogs nominated, and this year was no exception… Best Cooking Blog.
As you can see, while these Google searches take more time, it's worth it. You can drink up from the watering holes unearthed with this kind of search for quite a while!
E-commerce merchants are almost always thirsty for new clients. We hope these strategies will help you quench that thirst. Still thirsty for more? In our next article we'll discuss using watering holes to validate new product ideas.