Sometimes the most lucrative markets are the hardest to target. For example, patients with chronic conditions, children under the age of 1, or bleisure travelers. Small, niche markets like these are often loyal users of a product or service when they find one that meets their needs. Niche markets can also have a disproportionate amount of influence, becoming early adopters for products and services.
Yet it’s hard to target these niche markets — the broad demographic-based marketing techniques that reach a large audience like business travelers won’t cut it for 40-something "bleisure" travelers who extend business trips for leisure. Even when you are able to target them, it is easy to misstep by using language or behaving in a way that rubs the members of a distinct subculture the wrong way.
Here’s what you need to know about targeting niche markets, and collecting data on these hard-to-reach markets.
THE PROBLEM WITH MASS MARKETING
Simple, traditional, linear mass marketing techniques were developed for high-volume consumer products, not for niche markets. Mass marketing techniques honed in the 1950s and 1960s to sell cigarettes and cars just won’t cut it when promoting products only of interest to very specific audiences.
For niche markets, mass marketing achieves too few returns to justify its high costs. With its scattershot approach, there’s no guarantee you will reach the audience you want — but you will spend a lot of money.
Digital marketing is much better for niche markets, as you are able to target your consumer on the platforms and networks that they use. The key to using digital marketing properly with a niche offering is to know your audience, which as any marketer knows, is crucial to marketing. So how can you get to know your target market better, even if they are difficult to reach?
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Good research is the cornerstone of effective digital marketing. Every day, there are more research tools to give you insight into your target market.
Products like Luth Research’s ZQ Intelligence digitally track consumer activity, providing a holistic picture of niche audiences that are difficult to get in other ways.
At Luth Research, we passively track about 150,000 customers per month who have agreed to participate in our research. It tracks the sites they visit, the time they spend on these sites, what they search for, and much more.
Each of these tools has its place. Yet one of the most powerful research techniques is also one of the most overlooked.
Using Passive Tracking to Understand Your Audience
Imagine if you could track your consumers’ activity on the computers and mobile devices they use. What sites they visit, what news they consume, what they buy online, what their decision triggers are, how they behave differently on desktop computers or their phones — this would give you an incredible wealth of information on your audience.
This is possible. Passive tracking products digitally track consumer activity, providing a holistic picture of niche audiences that are difficult to get in other ways.
Passive tracking involves recruiting participants that agree to participate in research. It tracks the sites they visit, the time they spend on these sites, what they search for, and much more.
Companies can then use this data to build a respondent digital profile, which allows single-source analysis — in other words, it makes it possible to drill down to the individual level, rather than relying on aggregate data. It gives a level of specificity, accuracy, and detail many other research methodologies can’t provide.
With this kind of data, marketers can create highly specialized marketing campaigns that will attract the attention of any niche market.
Best Practices in Passive Tracking for Niche Audiences
As longitudinal data, passive tracking is reliant on participants having a good experience and remaining part of the research. These best practices are important to providing an enjoyable participant experience.
- Painless participation experience. To retain participants, it has to be easy for them to take part in the research and use the technology.
- Genuine and helpful human interaction. When something goes wrong, it is important participants receive timely and empathetic support.
- Creative incentive solutions for participants. Compensation is one incentive, but depending on the audience, others may be more powerful. Business owners may be interested in seeing the results of the research as an incentive, for example, and other participants may prefer a donation to charity.
- Data security and privacy. Certain niche audiences, such as medical patients and minors, will be especially concerned about data security and privacy. All efforts should be taken to ensure security and privacy.
Challenges of Passive Tracking
Some challenges differ from niche audience to niche audience. For example, medical patients tend to drop out of the studies at higher rates than other participants. This means it is important to over-recruit patients, to ensure enough data from the beginning to end of the research.
Research on children presents another set of challenges, as it requires parental permission. This makes children the secondary audience for recruitment purposes–it’s really about recruiting parents, rather than children.
Each niche market is unique and has its own research challenges. It’s important to work with a research firm that understands passive tracking and is familiar with your niche market, so it is able to overcome those challenges.
Wherever possible, bring insiders from the niche market onto your team working on the research project to ensure understanding of the market’s motivations and attitudes, not merely its actions and behaviors. This will pay dividends as you analyze the research and prepare a targeted marketing campaign, using language as an approach that resonates with chronic patients or "bleisure" travelers.
It’s hard to get accurate data on niche markets. Without accurate data, it’s even harder to create marketing campaigns that will attract the attention of your audience.
Done well, and supplemented with surveys and other qualitative data, passive tracking provides unprecedented insight into difficult-to-reach markets. If your target market is highly dispersed and organized around a niche interest or hobby, passive tracking might be just what you need to understand your audience better and take your marketing to the next level.