How to Find Customers Online Using Google and Twitter

by Eric Tsai

The three most important elements when starting out with marketing on the internet is to 1) define success and 2) know your target audience 3) listen to your customers.

Once you form a foundation for your web strategy, the execution becomes easy. The goal is to constantly test and use different campaigns from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to email marketing in an attempt to achieve business objectives.

I often hear business owners talk about wanting to increase sales and generate leads but fail to define what success look like to them. In order to define success, you must first realize your current state of business from an analytical and financial perspective.

Do you have any existing data to help you take the pulse of the business? What kind of financial (Return on Investment or ROI) and non-financial (business impact) objectives and metrics are available?

Without real knowledge of your true costs, you run into a potential misconception of what your real ROI is.

Understand that ROI includes not just how much you pay for web hosting or your overheads, but also other costs associated with running the entire campaign such as, cost of time working on the campaign (broken down into average hourly wages), amount of labor burden costs (cost consisting of all indirect labor costs incidental to operations), SEO costs (monthly or accordance with your budget), email marketing costs, technology infrastructure costs etc.

Understand Your Costs and Metric

Once you have a true total cost of you running the campaign, you can run those numbers against your traffic and sales conversion rates to identify your ROI.  Here is an example of how you can create a simple metric chart:

sample social media metric

Assuming I get those numbers, with a quick glance the data shows that by spending 3 times amount of money on this campaign, the result returns 8 times more sales with the cost per sale reduced by more than half. This is a high level overview to help you define your goals for each metrics. Again, watching your real cost of the campaign will bring clarity to your true profitability.

Using Google and Twitter to Identify Your Customers Online

Once you define your goals and know what success looks like, the next step is defining your customer profiles then search for them online.

For starters, you should at least know the age demographic, income level or occupation. After you know who your typical customer looks like, you need to find where they are online and what they’re talking about to get a step closer to engage them.

This is where you should be looking at using some free online tools to help you gather useful data.

Let’s look at using a combination of Google and Twitter to find your customers. As an example, I’m going to assume that you own a local retail apparel store and you want to drive traffic to your store.

First you should come up with a list of keywords that people are searching on Google.  The simple and fast way to do it is to use Google Keyword Tool and Google Insights for Search.

Google Keyword Tool

Google offers the keyword tool so you can search and find what popular keywords people are searching around your products or services.  I’ve used the keyword “evening wear” and as you can see, it returned all relevant keywords and the volume of searches for the past 12 months.

Feel free to make adjustments to show the data in different ways (I’ve sorted the list by Local search volume) and how much people are paying for those keywords.

Google KeyWorld Tool

There is no doubt that “evening wear” is the most popular keyword locally. This indicates that most people simply put in the keyword “evening wear” so if you want to target a narrower range like “evening wear tops” you will have less competition for the same keyword.

Click on Add and you can create your list (will be displayed on the right) and when you’re done adding, you can export the entire list in text or excel format.

Google Insights for Search

Once you have a basic list of keywords, head over to Google Insights for Search to compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.

Now you can take popular keywords you’ve found and insert them into the search term area, and you’ll find more information about your keywords.

Unquestionably the keyword “dress” out paced all other keywords I’ve insert (evening wear, women’s shoes, handbags).

And you’ll also find that New York is the place where people search most for dresses.

Google Insights for Search

Play around with the different settings and you can also export the results in excel format.

Google Wonder Wheel

The Google Wonder Wheel was introduced to simplify and arrange search results. It’s basically a pre-defined mind mapper which helps the user get all the related search results in a wheel shaped like display.

Simply go to and input your search term, click on the “show options” link and find the “Wonder Wheel” link on the bottom left to get your search terms mind-mapped.

Google Wonder Wheel

Google Wonder Wheel

Once you get to the Wonder wheel, you can explore around the related keywords and it’ll expand into another wheel.

Google Wonder Wheel

I went ahead and clicked on the “discount evening wear” and the most popular and relevant keywords associated with discount evening wear shows up.

This is another great way to narrow your search term down to what your customers may be looking for in order to personalize the message.

Google Wonder Wheel

So if I’m running a promotional campaign or sending out newsletters, I could use content such as:

“Discount designer evening gowns perfect for cocktail parties or formal events!”

Or combine with my findings from Google Insights,

“A night out in New York? Checkout our discounted cocktail dresses from BCBG! Available in plus size directly from Macy’s.”

Combining Google with Twitter

Since Google have no problem indexing Twitter’s data, you can now use Twitter’s search engine to find you target customers using keywords as well as conversational phrases.

First go to and click on advanced search and start looking for conversations phrases around what people would say when they’re looking for clothing.

The example below shows a search for people saying “what should I wear” within 100 miles of Los Angeles, CA.

You can also leave it blank for broad search to view everything around the world, perhaps you have an online store so tracking both local, geo-targeted search and broad search make sense.

Twitter Search

As you can see, the search result would return a stream of conversations with people saying “what should I wear.” You can take a moment to scan over the conversation, perhaps follow those individuals, checkout their profile and “listen” in on their dialogues.

However, you don’t want to spend all day reading people’s conversations, and searching for the same phrases every time.  This is where Google Reader comes in handy. Google Reader is a great tool to aggregate all your RSS feeds into one place and it also has some analytical capabilities.

On your Twitter search results page, find the RSS feed icon on the top right hand corner, right click on it and copy the link address of the feed.

Twitter Search

Then open your Google Reader and click on “Add a subscriber” and paste the link into your Google Reader to start building a collection of feeds around your target search phrases.

Google Reader

Once you’ve added the feed into your Google Reader, wait for a couple of days for the data to aggregate before you can start analyzing it (ideally you want to have at least 30 days).

You can start checking the data by clicking on “show detail” on the top right hand corner.

Google Reader

You’ll see data for the last 30 days, time of day and day of the week.  Depending on how you look at it, you can see which day of the month people start talking about your search term.

Maybe it’s the end of the month, everyone got paid so a discussion about shopping starts; or perhaps everyone goes out on Thursday evening in LA so on Wednesday people are talking about what to wear for Thursday.

The time of the day is a good area to gauge when these people log on to Twitter to talk about your search term.

Google Reader

Another good use of these data is to figure out when to send out your coupons, promotions and newsletters so your message arrives when people’s minds are on your product or service.

Remember, personalized messages delivered at the right place at the right time are key ingredients to conversion.

Search Twitter Profile Using Google

Another method to find your target customer on Twitter is to search through people’s Twitter profile using Google.  Go to click on advanced search and put in

intext:”bio*love shopping”

and you’ll find a list of people that indicated they “love shopping” in their bio on Twitter.

Basically intext:”bio*xxxx” tells Google to search for text within the Twitter bio section. So replace xxxx with whatever you like that matches to what your target customer may put in their Twitter bio.

Search Twitter using Google

Now that you know from your Google Insights that shoppers in New York have the most interest in searching for dresses, how do we target people who loves to shop and lives in New York?

This is what you put in

intext:bio-*-love shopping intext:location-*-NY

Search Twitter using Google

Notice that there is a minor tweak to the search input. You will need to add – in between the * mark.  So intext:bio-*-xxxx intext:location-*-xx where the xx is now searches within that state.  Give it a try and you’ll find extremely targeted individuals

I don’t usually do detailed step by step posts, but I had repeatedly explain this to many business owners and marketers so I  thought to share some of my tips to help you find your customers online.

I hope you find the above information helpful and it’s a very useful way to build your customer segmentation list.

I hope this helps you to set up your social media “listening station.”

And if you like to learn more tips like this, sign up for Profitable Knowledge FREE course below!

Further Reading

Comments Closed


  1. Ted Hessing   •  

    Wonderfully detailed analysis! This is some serious, professional-grade stuff you’re sharing out here! I will recommend this to my more technically sales minded clients.

  2. Great walk-through with some excellent ideas for narrowing down on your audience and being accessible in the right places at the right times. Thanks for sharing, I’ll be passing this on!

  3. @Camilla Todd Whoops, loved the KeywordLuv idea so decided to try it, but I must have done it wrong, sorry for the nasty name. Feel free to edit/delete as you prefer. :)

  4. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Glad you find the information useful. Regardless if you’re a SEO guru or doing it for your own blog, these are the steps to start building your marketing database, thanks for the comment.

    Thanks for the feedback, remember not everyone is your customer.

  5. Great Analysis and you did a wonderful job of mashing up multiple processes, platforms and technologies to generate real ROI. See you on Twitter……..again thanks……great job.
    .-= Social Media Marketing´s last blog ..Leveraging Pay Per Click Advertising =-.

  6. Varsha Peshavaria   •  

    Dear Eric,
    Great post and easy to follow. Thanks for having done a lot of work for us :-)

  7. Jay Baer   •  

    Whoa. I’ve been doing some of this for a while, but several new ideas here, especially RSS analysis. Thank you so much for an incredibly useful post.
    .-= Jay Baer´s last blog ..The Truth About the iPad =-.

  8. Hae Jin Higgins   •  

    Comprehensive. Easy. Doable. Love it. Thanks so much for the instructions and photos.

  9. I am very impressed. This was a great post laid out without all the Search/Digital Jargon we all get caught up in. Thank you.

  10. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Google Keyword tool is mostly good to search via Google’s ad network, if you combine all the above put it into a customer segmentation list, you’ll be able to aggregate detailed profiles.

    Debbie,Varsh, Neal
    no problem, if you have creative ways of using these list, feel free to share with everyone.

    Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your blog as well..

    Hae Jin, Howie,
    You’re welcome, share your findings and if there are new tricks, let me know and I will update the post.

  11. Frank G   •  

    This is perfect. Very well laid out and informative and comprehensive.

  12. Elaine Greenberg   •  

    This article is just what I need. Trying to figure all this out is quite a challenge.
    I just subscribed to your newsletter.
    Thank you.
    Btw, I was directed here by Larry Brauner, who posted it on Facebook.

  13. Billy Girlardo   •  

    I can’t think of a better post I’ve read on focused searching – thanks so much!
    .-= Billy Girlardo´s last blog ..BillyBLOGirlardo =-.

  14. Bob Morris   •  

    Wow. Some great ideas here, many that I’ve not seen elsewhere. Thanks.

  15. Bob Morris   •  

    Another tool is Yahoo Pipes. ( Using drag-and-drop and a little programming knowledge, you can create filtered RSS feeds from multiple RSS. I use it to search multiple Craigslist job listings for a particular type of job listing. I’ve gotten new clients this way.

    Others may be able to adapt this process to find customers in their geographic area or nationwide, if the customer doesn’t have to be local.

    Here’s how my pipes work. I have an arcane specialty converting ancient DOS-based database programs written in Clipper and Foxpro to Windows (Yes, there a zillions of them still out there, often doing mission-critical stuff for large corporations. Since 1992.)

    Using Pipes, I create a pipe of searches for “Clipper” from about ten Craigslist areas (it chokes at more than ten, sometimes.) I filter out best as possible any hairdresser ads (as their ads often mention “clipper”)

    I do this nationwide, getting several such Pipes. Then I do the same for “Foxpro.”

    Here’s the neat part. The final step combines all the Pipes into one feed, which I then monitor in my feed reader.
    .-= Bob Morris´s last blog ..The Pope is a criminal. Seriously =-.

  16. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Hmm…not sure who Larry Brauner is but thanks for sharing.

    I’ll have a LinedIn 1 soon, stay tuned.

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll look into Yahoo Pipes as well. Keep in mind that everyone should use what works for them, Google and Twitter is very common for B2C, you need to be more creative with B2B and traditional ways of inbound marketing tactics (whitepapers, case studies, research reports etc.) still works well.

  17. Jack Smith   •  

    Eric, thank you so much for a great post. You did a great job with the screenshots and explanation behind the pictures. I greatly appreciate the work you put into this and know it will be helpful not only to myself, but my clients in AZ as well. Cheers!

  18. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Jack, no problem I’m going to have a follow-up post later also to clarify the issue of profiling people online.

    great, share with us any interesting finding you may have, thanks.

  19. Helen Neely   •  

    Wow, this is a detailed and comprehensive article on building one’s campaign like nothing else I’ve seen online. Thanks alot for sharing it. You would be surprised how many people sell useless ebooks that are not even half what is here…and you’ve placed this here for free.

    I will definitely subscribe to your blog – I don’t want to miss a thing next time :)

  20. matt   •  

    Nice work. great analysis. thanks man

  21. Shyam   •  

    Excellent article. Very detailed and ingenious!

  22. Scott   •  

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Great job

  23. Thierry Andriamirado   •  

    Great advices, great detailed post, Eric! Thanks a lot for sharing those useful tips!

  24. ruco48   •  

    what is “bio”?

  25. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Thanks helen, matt, shyam, scott and thierry.

    ruco, bio means biography.

  26. Ed Cohen   •  

    Eric, great articles you have here, I have learned alot.

  27. Abdul Aziz   •  

    Awesome post Eric – Brilliant :) . Really really useful.
    .-= Abdul Aziz´s last blog ..Cracking VTU =-.

  28. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Ed,glad you did I’ve also learned a lot from our meeting the other day thanks!

    Thanks Christian, I’ve done all the design myself using WordPress it’s really not that difficult.

    Traffic Omega,
    Just make sure you give credit where it’s due.

    MMA, I would consider guest blogging that has to do with my topic, send me what you’re thinking.

    If you find other useful techniques, feel free to share, thanks.

  29. Heels   •  

    This is a great post. Appreciate you sharing the tips!

  30. Jeff Loper   •  

    Wow! What a fabulous post. I’ve seen much of this before, but you did an awesome job of pulling it altogether and showing how it can work across the two platforms. You also went into a lot more detail than I’ve seen and have uncovered some very helpful tips that will come in very handy. Thank you.

  31. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Heels, glad you enjoy it.

    Jeff, you’re welcome. I’ve asked everyone to come back and share their findings to add to this post so feel free to do the same.

  32. Saumya   •  

    Great article. Realy easy to follow. Must say that you have made our life a bit easier now. Thanks.

  33. Clear, concise, and informative. Thanks for the helpful sharing! This article is informative and provides food for thought. The reason for this is consumers now have so many choices, they no longer have to rely on digging through the phone book or count on the right “interruption based” advertising message to create a “top of mind awareness” for when they are ready to make a buying decision. Let’s face it … The Internet is here to stay!

  34. Connor Bringas   •  

    This is a great post! Really informative. Thanks for the read!

  35. Ron   •  

    Thank you for what you give is for those who want to learn

  36. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    there is plenty more where that came from…just subscribe to my newsletter

  37. Rhonda G   •  

    Awesome post! I just got the link to it from Lou D’Alo.
    I love this kind of value in a post. Totally off the hook!

  38. Eric Tsai   •     Author

    Thanks! If you learned something new, you’re welcome to share it with everyone here :)

  39. ?? ?? (@iketomo)   •  

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  40. GoogleとTwitterでユーザ像を探る方法:(1)キーワードツール(2)Google Insights(3)ワンダーホイール(4)アドバンスサーチによるTwitter検索

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  42. @SEGStaffing   •  

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