Knowing Your Audience
When creating an online marketing strategy it is extremely important to understand who your audience is, where they are, what they enjoy, and what they’re interested in. Many companies, when going social, for instance, will create a profile on every social network known to man instead of focusing on the networks which their audiences use.
Also, when creating content, do you really know what kind of content your audience enjoys? Do they like helpful how-to videos, funny pictures, or maybe just relevant industry news. Do you even know who your target audience is? This is something you need to determine before you create your online marketing strategy.
Back when I was still a teen I was working at Blockbuster. Now, while the younger audience may not even know what Blockbuster even is anymore, you may remember going in to rent a DVD for movie night, not entirely sure what you even wanted to rent. Well, while working there, we would have customers come up to us and ask us for suggestions on what to rent. One evening I had a gentlemen come up to me and ask me to give him some suggestions for a good movie. I then took the liberty to point out one of my favorite action flicks – I can’t remember which one it was but since I have impeccable tastes in action flicks I know it was awesome. What I hadn’t been paying attention to was that the gentlemen was with his 5 year old son picking out a movie and, upon hearing my suggestion, immediately checked the rating – which happened to be “R”. The gentlemen then gave me a weird look and walked away.
What I’m getting at with the story above is that if you don’t pay attention to learning who your audience is and knowing what they’re interested in, you’re not going to reach them successfully. Had I been paying attention to my audience (my customer) when I made that movie suggestion, then I would’ve known to suggest something more family-appropriate rather than going straight to what I like and what I think is good.
Mapping Out Your Audience
I’ve talked to numerous clients in the past who, upon me asking them who their target audience is, would tell me something along the lines of “I want to target people who are interested in [my product]”. Great! Now what does that tell me? Almost nothing.
A plumber, for instance, could say that his target audience is anyone who has a leaky pipe, but who are those people when they don’t have a leaky pipe? How about homeowners? Every homeowner could potentially need a plumber at some point in time, so why not make them familiar with you so they remember you when they need you? But lets take a step back and see if we can’t narrow down your audience to be more specific. I’ll lay out some obvious specifications for our example:
- People who don’t know much about plumbing
- People who are located in your service area
- People who live in older homes
These are just some very general things to look at when narrowing down your audience – you could get as specific as age, gender, education, and more. The idea here is to establish who your existing customers are and in turn determine who your potential customers could be.
Determining What Your Audience Enjoys
Once you’ve determined who your audience is, you need to determine what your audience enjoys, what their interested in, what keeps them up at night, anything and everything that you can learn about your audience can help.
Lets use another example, this time a men’s affordable suit retailer. We’ve established that our general audience consists of low to middle-class men over the age of 21 who are entering the work force with limited funds. At the most general level we know that our target audience has recently graduated from college and is now looking for a degree-level job. In this basic, very general, example we could come to the conclusion that our target audience is interested in finding a good job and learning how to interview for said job. So, taking this information we could come up with a content marketing strategy that consists of helpful articles about job hunting and interviewing. Some examples of possible articles:
- 7 Tips on How to Ace Your Interview
- What to Wear to Your Job Interview
- Best Companies in [your area] to Work For
- Questions You Should Ask in Your Interview
By creating helpful content that your target audience is looking for, you’re able to make those people aware of your business without throwing a bunch of ads in their face. This is what inbound marketing is all about and what online marketing has evolved into.
Determining Where Your Audience Is
Now that you know who your audience is and what they are looking for, you then need to determine how to find them. Lets stick with the last example of the suit retailer. We know who our audience is and we know they are looking for a job, therefore we’ve created some helpful content that they would find interesting and useful, now we need to determine where they are. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don’t need to post to every social networking site out there in the attempt to possibly reach the right person. Instead, now that we know who our audience is and what they want, we can determine the best location to share our helpful content. So where do these kind of people go? If you haven’t figured it out already, the best social networking site for this audience would likely be LinkedIn or Google+.
Determining where your target audience goes shouldn’t be decided upon by what seems to be the most obvious choice, though. First try posting your content on multiple networks, maybe 3 to 5, and see which ones attract the most attention and get the most engagement. Then look at conversion rates of the traffic coming from those social networking sites. You may get a lot more exposure on Facebook, for instance, and it may even attract a lot more traffic to your site, but if your Facebook traffic isn’t converting as well as your LinkedIn traffic then why put as much effort into it.
So to summarize: Focus your online marketing efforts by first determining who your target audience is, what they enjoy, and where they are.