In our latest guide, we explained the Best Ecommerce Niches of 2020, outlining the top niche markets of the new year and discussing everything you need to know to get started. But choosing your niche is only half the battle — once your online store is up and running, that’s when the marketing begins.
Below, we share the 5 best tips for niche marketing. Although niche ecommerce stores follow most of the same marketing rules as other stores, specializing in a certain type of customer allows niche brands to also specialize in certain types of marketing strategies — which we’ll explain now.
1. Know Your Customers
This first rule of niche marketing might as well be the only rule: know you customers, inside and out. The beauty of a niche market is the customers all have the same influential characteristics in common; you can’t take advantage of this unless you know what those common traits are.
Your niche market clearly has similar tastes in what kinds of products they buy, but it often goes deeper than that. Niche customers usually have the same personality traits and ideologies that extend well past purchasing behaviors.
While you don’t need to psychoanalyze every shopper, we recommend paying particular attention to customer pain points — what problems do your customers need solving. This is a smart strategy for any retail brand, but for niches it’s especially effective since your customers may have similar pain points. Find out what they are, and you can offer more precise products or product variations to satisfy them.
2. Create Personas
Is “know your customers” too abstract for you? Many marketers find personas are the best way to wrap their heads around customer data.
A persona is an imaginary character a brand creates to represent an amalgamation of customer data. For niches, personas consolidate everything you know about your customers into one easy-to-reference document.
For example, a fishing equipment store might use a persona of a man in their 50s who goes fishing with friends every weekend. Sure, the store might have customers who are women, customers younger than 50, and customers who go fishing alone… but in general the persona should aggregate the most popular characteristics of their customer base and roll them up into one representative.
Personas are great at helping you focus when creating marketing content, brain-storming new features, or setting prices. “Would our persona share this article?” “Would our persona shop elsewhere if we didn’t offer free shipping?” “What updates would our persona appreciate most?” In essence, a persona is just a more convenient and efficient way to keep your customers in mind when making decisions on marketing and other aspects of business.
3. Research Your Niche’s Best Channels
Not all social media channels are the same. Like any other business, they each attract different types of users and cater their policies to match those users. For a niche ecommerce brand, the key is to find the channels your niche shoppers prefer most.
If you’ve already addressed the above two tips, all you have to do is cross-reference your target customers against the latest social media demographic data. You can see what kind of users each channel attracts, categorized by age, gender, education, income, etc.
Of course, most people use more than one channel, so don’t be afraid to market in more than one place. Just be sure to prioritize them — you’ll find some channels are better than others for your unique goals.
This goes beyond social media, too. You can also enlist the help of niche influencers and partner with other sites your target customers use.
4. Hand-Tailor Content
Once you hone in on the channels your niche market uses, you can start personalizing your content just for them. This is where knowing your customers and using your personas come in handy — effective marketing starts with predicting what content your shoppers want to see.
On the surface, this equates to knowing what kinds of blog topics, photography styles, or video types your niche shoppers connect to most. For niche marketing, it’s more than just getting likes or followers, you have to show you’re “one of them.” Niche markets are tight-knit communities, so you’ll do more business as an insider rather than an outsider.
Niche retailers also want to express a unique value proposition — why customers should shop with you instead of your competitors. Maybe it’s your product range, maybe it’s your prices, or maybe it’s your generous shipping and return policies.
For niche markets, the operative word is “unique;” a niche customer is defined by what makes them unique, so make sure they know what your store offers to them in particular.
5. Become an Authority
Last, one major goal of all content marketing is to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. For niche groups, with their emphasis on specialization, this is one of the most effective marketing strategies at your disposal.
As we mentioned above, you want to produce content that’s relevant to your niche customers and that shows you’re one of them. You can take this a step further by showing you’re an expert on this particular area. If your niche is organic dog treats, show you’re an expert on topics like organic foods in general, dog eating habits, food manufacturing, etc.
How do you establish yourself as an authority? Content like “how-tos” and other instructional guides are a good start — your niche customers may already be asking questions online, and if their search ends with you, it leaves a lasting impression.
The more products that flood the ecommerce industry, the more important niche marketing is. Targeting a particular niche over more general markets just makes sense — there’s less competition, and you can better focus your marketing and sales strategies. In fact, considering the upcoming ecommerce trends of 2020, the entire industry seems to be moving towards personalization and specialization — niche marketing is only going to become more effective in future!
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published May 2016 and was updated in January 2020 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.