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January 24, 2012

Targeting and Engaging Your True Audience – A SPN Exclusive Article

Successfully capturing readers’ attention is critical to transform your blog from a part-time hobby into a powerful web resource. To take the giant leap into influencer-status, you must identify your target audience, understand their interests and desires, and credibly deliver quality content. So how do you get there? Many successful bloggers I know, think of their blogs like entrepreneurial ventures. Why? Effective entrepreneurs set goals, determine how to reach them, and make adjustments to keep themselves moving towards their target. You should take the same approach with your blog. Web publishers must know their customers and constantly hone their message and approach to move ahead of the pack.

Aim and Shoot

There’s an old saying that goes, “He who aims to please everyone, pleases no one.” The first step most entrepreneurs take when launching a new venture is to define the ideal customer. Whether you are an experienced blogger, or just starting out, you should always pay close attention to both your real and desired audience, and any gaps that may occur between the two. If you fail to target the appropriate individuals, you won’t reach your desired goals. So who are you targeting, and how can you go about getting to them? Regardless of whom you decide to target, there are certain steps you should follow to capture and maintain their interest.

You can’t always please everyone, so you need to have a particular industry, topic, or style that will be your focus. Customizing your approach towards a niche audience is often referred to as “niche marketing,” and essentially means that you should settle on a specific target with the understanding that your blog won’t be appropriate for everyone. Your visitors are not looking for fancy graphics or functionality, they are looking for something to believe in, something to learn from, and something that will help them entertain or better themselves. Find a topic that will align your interests with those of your ideal readership.

Be Flexible

One you have determined the main industry or niche that you are serving with your site, the next step in understanding who your suitable audience is, should be to perfect your knowledge and understanding of that industry. Quite often, the best way to learn, is to teach. The same holds true with your writing. You will quickly learn new and amazing things as you write about different topics. Use this to your advantage and start writing about things out of your comfort zone at the outset. Remember, you should look at your blog like a start-up company – this means you should constantly be learning, adapting, and adjusting. The result will be a product that is always improving and growing.

Be an Expert

Be sure to share your credentials to galvanize your expertise with your audience. In addition to broadening your horizons with new subjects, you should try to capitalize on your current unique knowledge by writing about your specific areas of expertise and personal experiences. After all, readers want to study blogs published by successful professionals, so don’t be afraid to let them know why they should pay attention to you.

Truly knowing and understanding your target audience is an integral part of any writer or entrepreneur’s ability to connect. When your audience believes their needs are being met, you can be sure that they will keep coming day after day for more useful information. While you should ideally blog about a topic that you love, it should also be written about a topic that you fully understand.

Be a Friend

Lastly, don’t forget your readers. Visitors who already frequent your website have entered into a relationship of sorts with your blog. You must make the most of their loyalty, and offer something that will motivate them to share your content with their network. Get them talking. Ask for their comments, input, and suggestions. If you’re successful, they will feel like they were some of the select few who were there from the beginning. Share your content on social media and interact with the users who retweet, or “like” it. This will help you stand out from the pack and broaden your reach.

Understanding your audience will go a long way towards building your credibility and likability. Tailoring your content to your readers and engaging with them will keep them coming back for more. You can use what you learn to craft content ideas that will pique the interest of the actual readers of your site, not just those you dreamed about prior to your initial launch. Obviously, what you write about, and its perceived quality will determine just how appealing your blog will be. When you write about topics in which you are interested, knowledgeable, or are experienced, you can share your practical knowledge to your audience’s benefit. Enthusiastic writing yields enthusiastic reading. If you share your personal expertise in a way that helps your readers, they will keep coming back for more.

Adam Shore is a former SMB marketing executive, and currently blogs about business and management at Contemporary Manager.