I once worked with a business that specialized in making custom squirrel horror dioramas.
If you’re wondering what in the world a custom squirrel horror diorama is, then you’ve proved an underlying point of this article.
Unique niches are really tough for marketing.
If there are 37 people on the planet that are in your target market, then you’ve got your work cut out for you.
But at the same time, a unique niche is a huge advantage!
Marketing in a tight and well-defined niche is deliciously straightforward.
You have less competition.
You can segment your audience with ease.
You can go hyper specific with organic and paid keywords.
You can micro target the heck out of Facebook ads.
You have the potential to get higher conversion rates.
You can get to know each of those 37 people on a first-name basis.
But there are some things that are more difficult in unique niches.
What’s Difficult About Unique Niches?
Customer engagement falls into that category.
Okay, so customer engagement itself isn’t that complicated.
However, when you’re in a specific niche, your customers are going to have specific wants and needs.
So you have to take a much more strategic approach to customer engagement if you want to get the results you’re looking for.
Lots of niche businesses overlook this, and it costs them.
“Customer engagement” falls into the abyss of other jargony business best practices that just don’t get done.
You can avoid falling into the same trap, but you have to plan ahead and work a little harder to understand your customers better.
And that’s the thing — engagement starts with understanding.
Unsurprisingly, customer engagement with niche customers looks a lot like a relationship, but what many brands forget is that relationships take work.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to push the relationship or dating analogy too far.
But I do want to speak directly to businesses that are in a well-defined niche.
I’ve worked with companies who designed hair dryers for women with light and curly hair. Another one of my clients made big rock-shaking machines for mines. (It’s called vibratory equipment.)
Niches are really cool.
And I also want to speak to businesses that need to boost their customer engagement efforts.
Customer engagement is more than just clever tweets and using emojis in your Facebook posts.
Customer engagement is a fascinating world that can dish up more conversions than you ever thought possible.
We’re going to solve the customer engagement problem in unique niches.
(And if you’re the custom squirrel horror diorama guy I used to work with, this article is for you, man.)
Get Up Close and Personal
It makes sense that if you want to sell to customers who have specific wants and needs, you need to figure out what those wants and needs are.
That’s why it’s important to dig deep into demographics and psychographics. Your demographics will tell you who, while psychographics will tell you why.
Demographics and psychographics are important for every customer engagement strategy, but they’re especially crucial when you’re operating in a small niche.
To get this information, you can use a number of different platforms, but Google Analytics is probably the easiest (and it’s free).
Although it will only show you some basic information, it’s often enough to get started.
To find demographics in Google Analytics, go to the sidebar and navigate to Audience > Demographics > Overview.
You’ll find two sections: age and gender.
Again, It’s really basic, and gives you only a slice of relevant demographic data.
Because Google Analytics is so lacking here, consider doing some more research. Other demographics you might want to research include:
Family status (marital status, number of children, etc.)
You can find most of these using sites like City-Data.com that give you information on demographics in a certain area that you specify.
When it comes to psychographics, Google Analytics provides more information than you might expect.
You can see this info by going to Audience > Interests > Overview.
Here you’ll see three categories: Affinity Category, In-Market Segment, and Other Category. When you put these three together, you get a better idea of what your customers like.
Pay extra attention to the In-Market Segment. These are things that your customers are in the market for. They’re already into the sales funnel and might even be ready to buy.
Together, demographics and psychographics help paint a vivid picture of your audience.
You not only know what kind of people you’re engaging but also how to engage them (because you know what they want).
So now you know who your customers are and what they want.
What do you do next? You create a strategy that’s custom made for them.
There are lots of ways you can go about this, and it can get confusing.
Here are a few tips to help you out.
Approachability is one factor that is exponentially more important for niche businesses than it is for more general businesses.
That’s because a unique niche is personal to your customers. Any given customer might even go so far as to define him or herself using a niche.
Consider the cassette market. (Yes, cassettes are making a comeback.) People who listen to cassettes might call themselves cassette enthusiasts.
These people form a community, albeit small, that want that kind of personal engagement that their interests require.
Often, you’re engaging your customers in a way that’s intensely personal to them.
The more approachable you are, the better your customers will feel.
Understand that your customers don’t just want to like you––they want to trust you.
Building trust takes time and effort, but it has a big impact.
So how do you become more approachable?
Especially, since we’re dealing with the issue in a business context, and not in a warm-handshake-and-friendly-smile context.
First, listen to your customers.
And get serious about listening.
It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re listening to your customers, but are you really? If you aren’t, it’s never too late to start.
When you get customer feedback, don’t just make a mental note of it.
Keep a record of it and actually look at it.
Look for common threads in the feedback you get.
You might need to ask for feedback in the form of a survey. Most of your users will be happy to give you their thought, and a nice incentive (like a prize drawing) doesn’t hurt either.
Second, create a personality around your brand.
Of course, you could do this literally like Geico did with their gecko mascot (who has his own Twitter account).
But you could also transform your entire brand into something your customers trust.
Coca-Cola does this with its unforgettable marketing campaigns that are focused on happiness and positivity.
Bonus: Be funny.
If humor comes naturally to you, use it.
One example of a hilarious brand is Blockbuster. Specifically, The Last Blockbuster.
Okay, maybe it’s not actually a real business, but it sure is funny.
Humor doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes, it’s feels forced and painful, like chewing on screws.
But for businesses that can do it, it enhances approachability.
If your brand is approachable, you’ll stand out from all your competitors.
Your customers will feel like you know them, and that’s because you do. All the work you put into finding demographics and psychographics will pay off at this step.
Enhance Your Online Presence
Like any relationship, the connection between you and your customers has to be nurtured. It takes frequent and open communication for any relationship to succeed.
That’s why having a robust online presence can drastically improve your customer engagement.
Being more active online mean that there are more points of contact.
Your customers can reach you more often, and that very act builds a ton of trust.
You probably saw this coming from a mile away, but being available on social media often is a huge plus.
People spend a lot of time on social media, and you can take advantage of that by also spending a lot of time on various networks.
Social media is most likely where your target audience hangs out. Your specific audience might tend to congregate on one or two social media sites, and you need to find out exactly where.
This doesn’t mean you should go out and run a bunch of ads on every social media site.
It does mean that you should have a human presence on your accounts.
Look, I love bots just as much as the next guy, but you’re going to tick people off if your Twitter “customer service” is a poorly programmed bot.
(Bots aren’t pure evil, as I’ll mention in just a minute.)
Many brands understand how important this is, and they make sure to respond to as much customer feedback as they can. Target’s Facebook excels at this:
Other brands go above and beyond the call of duty. Some companies like Warby Parker have created social media accounts solely for customer support.
But old-fashioned customer support isn’t the only option. Some businesses, especially smaller ones, simply don’t have the resources to staff a dedicated support team.
That’s one of the reasons live chat has become so popular over the past few years.
With live chat, you can have business hours, so to speak. Your customers know when you’re available, and you can respond in real time.
It’s a super efficient and cost-effective method of doing customer support in a way that your customers will love.
The ability to talk with your customers in real time is a big benefit. It’ll increase the level of hospitality and make customers feel closer to your brand.
Correctly programmed and carefully used, Chatbots can be used appropriately.
You’ve probably seen these around. They look like live chat boxes but are handled by software.
You can program these bots to do a ton of helpful things, like ask questions and make product suggestions.
Setting up a chatbot will take a little more time, but on the upside, you won’t have to do much after it’s done.
One of the big benefits of chatbots is consistent customer engagement. Your customers can interact with your brand even when you’re not there.
Still, it’s no replacement for human contact, which is why most businesses supplement chatbots with live chat support, and they work nicely in tandem.
Figure Out How to Treat Your Customers
Customer engagement looks a lot different today than it did just ten years ago.
(Sheesh, I’m starting to sound like one of those “when I was a kid” people!)
Today, you can improve your customers’ experiences with interactive quizzes, well-timed popup offers, and even games.
The abundance of customer engagement resources also means that it’s actually more difficult to engage customers than ever before. How can you cut through all the noise?
What many businesses are discovering is that it takes a lot of value for customers to pay attention to a brand.
If you’re not an industry titan like Google or Coca-Cola, this is the road you have to take. And thankfully, it’s not too hard to navigate.
You probably already know that customers prioritize value above all else, but you might be underestimating how much value you need to provide.
There has to be a huge amount of value every step of the way.
Value isn’t just something that you do. It’s something you are.
That sounds fluffy, but it really isn’t. It means that if you’re not giving your customers value as they go through the sales funnel, you’re not doing your job.
Value is what will separate you from everyone else in your niche. You need to figure out what kind of value your customers want and determine the best way to deliver that value.
If you’ve already researched your audience’s demographics and psychographics, you’re already halfway there. All that’s left is to provide the value your customers are looking for.
How do you do that? Actionable content is one of the best ways. Content marketing is still alive and well, and people still respond well to it.
The more helpful your content is, the more your customers will engage with it.
For your content to stand out, it should be better than your competitors’ content. (That will also help people find your site before they find your competitors.)
The Skyscraper Technique is a popular method for creating amazing content, but in the end, all that matters is providing an overwhelming amount of value with every piece of content you publish.
Use Email For Good, Not Evil
Email is a powerful tool in every marketer’s arsenal––in fact, it’s the most powerful. Email is one of the top-converting channels. It’s simply unparalleled for engagement.
Sadly, it’s often overused. How many times have you gotten annoying email campaigns you didn’t want? Probably more times than you can count.
When it comes to your email strategy, keep Seth Godin’s idea of permission marketing in mind.
When someone gives you their email address, they’re trusting you with it. They expect you to not spam them or send them content they don’t want.
That’s the idea of permission marketing. You are literally getting your subscribers’ permission to market to them, and you have a responsibility to make good on your promise to only give them what they want. That means no spam or unscrupulous tactics.
This goes back to what we covered earlier about building trust with your customers. Email plays a huge role in that. If you respect people’s emails, they will respect you.
Did you know? Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with Kissmetrics Campaigns, which lets users send targeted emails to their audience to nudge them toward engagement and activation.
It’s tempting to use a lot of fine print to trick people into opting in to more than one list, and you might even want to rent out your list.
But if you really want to engage your customers and turn them into lifelong brand fans, you have to stick to email best practices.
Being in a super specific niche doesn’t have to make your customer engagement difficult.
In fact, niche engagement has the potential to allow you to connect with your customers on a personal level.
At its core, customer engagement has the same principles and priorities no matter what kind of business you own.
But within each niche, it looks a little different.
It’s well worth your time to find out what works and what doesn’t for your customer base.
If you’ve had any problems with customer engagement in your niche, share your experiences in the comments!
And if you have any major wins tell about those, too!
About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.