Most online marketing campaigns are already successes or failures at the planning stage. If you choose to go in a “wrong” direction, or an unprofitable one, it doesn’t matter if you execute your plan flawlessly — you’ll never achieve your original potential.
One of the most important elements of any online marketing strategy is your target niche, which can change over time or alternate based on which area of the business you’re developing.
Get this wrong and your entire strategy could collapse — but why is it so important, and how can you even tell it’s wrong?
Why Niches Are Important
According to Neil Patel, your choice in niche is one of the biggest determining factors in the profitability of your blog or website. Not only does it determine who your target audience is, it also determines how potentially relevant you can be for them. It also dictates how you develop the remainder of your strategies, so any hiccup here could be magnified to something egregious in scope.
Niche Mistakes to Watch For
So how do you know your niche might be wrong for your business? Here are a few possible signs:
1. It’s too broad. One of the most common offenses is choosing a niche that’s just too broad. Just like in biology, there are broad niches and narrow niches in marketing. Broad ones are general subjects with a huge potential audience, but lots of competitors and little potential relevance. Narrow niches have much smaller potential audiences, but they’re easier to attract because of lower competition and higher relevance. Generally, you should strive to choose a niche that’s as specific as possible — especially considering you can always expand later.
2. There’s too much competition. Even if you choose a narrow niche, you could still choose a niche with too much competition. For example, you could start a blog dedicated to helping amateurs learn how to cook with cheap ingredients — but the competition here is extraordinarily high. It’s hard to compensate for this because it demands coming up with an original angle, but it’s necessary if you want to stand out.
3. There’s not enough interest. You may also choose a niche that doesn’t have enough potential interest around it; this is especially hard to gauge if you’re exploring a topic with minimal competition that you can learn from (the catch-22 of niche selection). If you’re stuck and you aren’t sure whether there’s enough interest to support your idea, consider conducting a survey using a site like Survey Monkey or TypeForm to get a read on your potential audience.
4. It has no room for expansion. One of the greatest advantages of starting in a specific niche is that it gives you a chance to “zoom out” your target audience once you’ve developed a big enough reputation. In essence, you can gradually make your niche more broad as you earn the notoriety to muscle your way past the conventional competition. However, to do this, you must first choose a niche that has room for expansion. Pigeonholing yourself could keep you trapped to one small audience forever.
5. There aren’t ample opportunities for development. You also need to choose a niche that you can write deeply about for an extended period of time. If you go too narrow with your niche or pick something downright obscure, you could conceivably run out of content topics a month or two into your endeavor. It’s hard to predict the future for every niche, but try to choose something with significant long-term potential.
6. You don’t have the expertise. Remember, your content needs to be authoritative, so if you don’t already have expertise in your target niche (or have someone on staff who is), you’re going to run into problems. You can always attempt to learn your new subject on the fly, but readers may have a hard time trusting your credentials unless you have experience to back it up.
7. There isn’t enough data. Finally, you need to choose a niche that you can understand a lot about. Market research is the key here — how much do you know about the audience potentially interested in this topic? You can use the Census Bureau and other publicly available tools to gain information, or look to existing competitors for insights. If you don’t have enough data to back up your suspicions, it might not be worth continuing.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s not an indication that you should throw your ideas away and start from scratch; instead, see if you can rework your target niche, even if only slightly.
Sometimes a small adjustment — such as narrowing your focus or building up your own expertise in the subject—can mean the difference between an idea poised for success and one poised for failure.
Missing the Mark Photo via Shutterstock