Matching Products with Your Audience

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If you have a trade publication website, you have a unique opportunity when it comes to monetizing your site because your site interacts with a defined niche market 24/7.

Because you have a targeted audience, you have a head start in learning which products they're most interested in.
Since you have a targeted audience, you have a head start in learning which products they’re most interested in.

If you feature niche-specific products in reviews, feature stories or blog posts that attract brisk traffic, you have an edge in gaining site ads featuring those products. If your site has an e-commerce section, you can learn which products to stock based on site visitor interest. To be able to do these things and have them generate revenue, you have to be able to carefully select the products that your audience wants. Here are some ways you can learn which products your trade publication website’s audience responds to.

Determine Which Blog Posts Receive the Most Attention

With basic site analytics from your hosting company, you should be able to determine which pages and which blog posts receive the most traffic. However, finding out which posts receive heavy traffic is only part of the story. Look at the blog posts with the most comments and read those comments. If it’s a blog post about, for example, a software product used by people in your industry, comments can hold valuable clues about whether or not that software responds to their needs and, if it doesn’t, which alternative products do. Blog comments tend to be very straightforward about which products meet needs and which don’t and why. Pay attention to these comments and you improve your chances of featuring products that readers respond to.

Place a Poll on Your Website

Most web hosts make it easy to put up a poll on your home page without having to know how to write code. You could list four or five top product brands and have readers vote on their favorite, or you could ask questions about particular product categories: “How important is brand when you purchase a new stethoscope?” for example. You could have a blog post linked to the poll and ask participants to share their feelings about the products in their comments. These can often be grounds for stimulating discussions among site visitors, increasing traffic, making your site “stickier” and yielding valuable information about products your readers like.

Mine Existing Discussion Forum Threads

This could be a good task for an intern. Have him or her go through discussion threads on your site’s forum and make note of specific products mentioned in them. For example, discussions by computer gaming enthusiasts are generally filled with passionate stories about which games and game franchises are popular, and why. A discussion among automotive specialists about diagnostic technology may be filled with comments about “dream products,” which new products they’re looking forward to and which products are falling out of favor.

Start a New Discussion Forum Thread

While it’s important to curate your discussion forum topics carefully, there’s nothing wrong with introducing a new thread about a particular category of products. For example, if you run a site for pet grooming professionals, you could start a new discussion thread specifically about clippers, shampoos or even appointment scheduling software. Once a thread gains traction, if it’s well moderated it can bring you valuable information on specific products your website’s audience is enthusiastic about.

Check Out Your Competitors

Have a look at competitor sites to see what's generating buzz in your industry.
Have a look at competitor sites to see what’s generating buzz in your industry.

Keeping up with competitor websites is a good idea anyway, but you may also be able to supplement information gathered from your own site by looking through their comments and discussions. Just like when you Google yourself, you have to put in the effort. Keep in mind any fundamental differences between their site traffic and yours. If, for example, you run a photojournalism site that attracts a lot of Canon users and a competing site attracts mostly Nikon users, you’ll want to look for commonalities between your audiences, such as a common love for a particular type of studio light.

Conclusions

Taking a lackadaisical approach to reviewing and featuring niche products on your website won’t be as effective as doing the work up front to find out which products your audience is interested in. Chances are there is already information in your site analytics, in blog comments and in discussion forum threads that can guide you in choosing products your audience will respond to. However, you also have several options for asking them directly, through the use of polls or targeted discussion threads. Finally, checking out competitor sites can help you see larger trends and gain more insight into what your own website’s audience is interested in.

Photo Credits: sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net, bigjom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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