5 Signs You’re Reaching the Wrong Customers

By Madison Taylor
May 18, 2021
Overhead view of people walking in open area

Attracting new customers is a crucial aspect of running any business. In order to do so, you need to know who those customers are. We’ve always been strong proponents of buyer personas — idealized versions of your perfect customer that inform your marketing strategy — but even buyer personas can miss the mark.

Sometimes, companies fall flat when building their buyer personas because they misunderstand the way their product is being used. Brand new companies often struggle to nail down their audience, too — without an existing pool of customers, it’s difficult to extract useful information or glean patterns about their interests and behavior.

Random events in the cultural landscape can also completely change the audience for a brand. Cognac brand Remy Martin has been around since 1724, but they had to change their branding entirely when their “1738” brand became popular among rappers.

If you’re not targeting the right audience with your marketing and branding, you’re wasting time and money to get your brand in front of people who aren’t interested. To ensure you’re reaching the right people with your marketing, there are a few things to look out for.

1. Poor Conversion

The definition of conversion varies from one company to the next, but one of the most common standards for conversion is the percentage of website visitors that become paying customers. Baseline conversion rates are tricky to predict, but the median conversion rate tends to be around 3 percent.

If you’re bringing in high numbers of website visitors, but you’re not seeing the level of conversion that you expect, it’s possible that your marketing is reaching the wrong people. They’re clicking on your ads or email newsletters, but when they reach your website, they find that they’re not interested in what you have to offer.

2. Consistently Bad Reviews

Your reviews are another excellent indication that your product isn’t living up to the expectations set by your marketing. If your ads imply that your software is compatible with major analytics tools and it’s not, you’ll be hearing from plenty of disappointed customers.

This is a drastic example, but the same problem arises when you target the wrong people. Customers will form their own expectations about what your product offers from both your marketing and their own needs — if you’re not prepared to meet those needs, you should be re-orienting your marketing to focus on another audience.

3. Spikes in Unsubscribes

Email marketing is a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox, but it’s a double-edged sword. Hubspot reports that the most common reason for subscribing to a company email is to find out about promotions and sales, but one of the most common reasons for unsubscribing is that offers are no longer relevant.

If you’ve noticed that your unsubscribe rate is higher than around 0.5 percent, the problem is likely to be one of expectations. Your customers joined your email list because they thought you’d be offering relevant news, promotions, and announcements, but they discovered that wasn’t the case.

4. Constant Service Requests

Sometimes, customers don’t realize that your product won’t fit their needs until after they’ve purchased and attempted to implement it. In those cases, they’ll contact your service department to ask for help or start Googling the solution to their problems.

You might be targeting large businesses, but your product doesn’t have the scale to give account holders more than 25 logins on an account. Your product might not work well across time zones, making it a bad option for large or distributed companies. Talk to your service staff — if they’re consistently hearing the same questions or problems, there’s probably an issue with your marketing.

5. High Churn Rate

Subscription-based businesses, which are becoming increasingly common, face an additional set of challenges that traditional businesses don’t: convincing customers to renew their subscriptions for another term. Whether your product is renewed by the month or the year, a significant dropoff in renewals is cause for concern.

Often, a high churn rate is caused by the same disconnect that we’ve mentioned above. Subscribers to your service find that it simply doesn’t live up to their expectations. There are other possible explanations for this problem — sometimes your onboarding process doesn’t adequately explain the capabilities of your product or the interface is too difficult to use — but a high churn rate needs to be investigated and addressed.

Marketing is a difficult and ever-changing process, and you can’t afford to spend your budget in the wrong places or on the wrong people. If you notice any of the signs on this list, take a closer look. There might be nothing at all wrong with your business or your product — you’re just showing it to the wrong people.