“Thick curly hair” vs “Afrohair ” – Using your customer’s language

My best friend and I launched SmileCurly in Jan of this year. The premise was to help mums of mixed race kids who had no experience of dealing with this texture of hair.

We knew there was need, a problem we could solve and a strong market for our offerings. What we didn’t count on was there being a wall blocking our access – a language wall.

From our marketing copy, blog SEO, social media, hashtags – we quickly found out after launching with disappointing engagement results that we weren’t speaking the same language as our mums and therefore we weren’t finding them and they weren’t able to find us.

A simple example  is where we used “afro curls” and “mixed race hair” to tag our brand, our mums were googling “thick curly hair” and “frizzy” instead.

Why did it matter? We were wasting money, time and precious SEO on keywords that weren’t directed at our target audience, casting a wider sales funnel but with a much smaller conversion. Our site bounce rates were high and the people we did attract didn’t need our product.

If you’re finding yourself with disappointing engagement metrics in adwords and guessing at hashtags it maybe your keywords. Here are some pointers that may help you:

A & B Testing

We launched several $10 FB boosts using various language but keeping the basic call to action and image the same. We could see from our engagement metrics and also the profile of the audience who liked and engaged with us whether we were hitting our target audience.

Jump into forums – Old and new threads

Mumsnet forums gave us a whole wealth of information, because of the nature of forums being conversational and full of informal colloquial language they are like listening to a real conversation. Not only did we find new language and ways to hear them describe their problems we also heard what others were suggesting as solutions.

Run your own focus group – pick out the terminology

We’re in the process of running one now for product development. But we ran an initial one, we got them from friends and family and had several conversations around hair issues, saying very little but listening to their problems and the language they used. We picked out re-occurring phrases and words. Most importantly we did several in group calls and heard how mums in similar situation communicated with each other on this topic.

Use other keywords to target your same audience

We learnt that our target audience were mums with hair issues but also looked around our user stories to find out that bi-racial relationships, mixed race relationships and cultural divides were also hot topics for our audience, and we could reach the same audience from a different path. What other problems might your customer’s automatically face that comes hand in hand with the problem you’re trying to solve for them?

Test test test…

Once you have a bunch of words you think are right, test them across social media. Put them into searches across google, Instagram, FB, youtube, twitter etc see how close the results are to your product messaging.


At SmileCurly we are no means there yet with our language and have not doubt this will be an ongoing challenge especially as the world becomes more and more integrated.

About me: I write about my challenges as an entrepreneur and help other entrepreneurs get their passion off the ground. I love hearing about people living this brave life. Get in touch if you want to chat tayo@tayoleigh.com

And …if you know someone with a  “thick curly hair” tell them about http://www.smilecurly.com



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s