Determined to make a name for yourself online? That means you have to send a powerful message to the people who matter to you the most. But how can you tell if you’re really converting John Does into fans, followers, potential buyers and brand evangelists? Most importantly, does your content strategy prove that you are out there, or are you actually preaching to the (wrong) choir and wasting lots of time and money in the process?
You need to know, in short, who are your readers and what do they really expect from you?
It’s NOT About You, It’s About Them
These days, the truly successful companies are the ones that manage to keep their prospects close. Most of them are relying on first-class, reader-oriented content to interact with their segment of public. Their reader-oriented Web writing is a powerful bridge between their brand and their audience. In this context, if you want to enjoy your fair share of business success, you have to create and deliver content that matches the needs and demands of your audience and also follows your specific goals. In the end, your objective is to feed stellar content to your followers and keep them coming back for more. This brings us to the next question:
Who Are You Talking To?
Who is hungry for your content? Who would click on your links? Who would subscribe to your newsletter? Who would add your products to their shopping carts and recommend your website? If you sell cars, you should target automotive enthusiasts. In case you sell paintings, you should capture the attention of refined art collectors. But is it really that simple? As a matter of fact, if you are actually selling various types of products under the same brand, you may actually be dealing with three, four or 10 different audiences. And yes, you can become and stay competitive and likeable without neglecting any segment of potential buyers.
Get Closer to Your Real Audience in Six Easy Steps
According to Moz, it is extremely important to target your audience early in the buying cycle. How do you actually define, catalog and get ready to welcome your potential customers during the earliest stages of the buying journey? Here are a few steps that will enable you to accomplish your mission.
1) Build a Searchable Website. A smart, personalized SEO plan will help you build and maintain a searchable website leading to more sales and a much-needed popularity increase. Proper keyword selection and analysis will help you create relevant content responding to the real needs and concerns of your audience. There are various free and almost free keyword tools that you can use. All of them will give you the chance to become more familiar with the stringent needs, desires and expectations of your public.
2) Analyze and Expand Your Personal Network. Treat your co-workers, family members and friends as invaluable resources allowing you to determine your audience. Brainstorming sessions could help you come up with awesome content ideas and proper segmentation strategies.
3) Stay Active. Do your homework and try to get in touch with people who are looking for businesses like the one that you are currently running. Find out more about the hottest topics and the real needs of your public by joining discussion groups. Follow influencers who dictate new trends in your sector and keep an eye on your competitors at all times.
4) A Little Pre-Planning Goes a Long Way. Knowledge is power. Find out everything you need to know about:
- Industry trends;
- Market entry and market demand;
- Market obstacles that may stand in the way of your success;
- Statistical details related to your targeted audience.
There are several online resources that provide cost-free articles and/or free or paid reports created and shared to help you become more familiar with your audience. eMarketer, MarketResearch.com, International Business Strategies, Plunkett Research and Valuation Resources are only a few extremely useful sources that you may want to consult, to customize and upgrade your strategy based on what your readers need and want to hear from you. According to Content Marketing Institute, it is very important to focus on the “who” and the “why” factors (as in “Who is reading my content and why do they care?) Afterward it is mandatory to determine the outcome and the replacement factor. In other words, what’s in it for your visitors and who could satisfy their needs if you can’t or won’t?
5) Use Social Media Tools to Gather Insight. Most Internet-savvy business owners already explore the tremendous influence of social networking websites to interact with their fans and followers. But only a few of them are fully aware of the fact that social media also offers them the tools required to measure their own success and likeability and discover the elements that truly make them irresistible in the eyes of their prospects. There are many sophisticated brand sentiment tools that you can put to good use to get to know your audience. Radian6, Nielsen Online, and NetBase are only a few of the most prominent ones.
6) Turn to Search Engines. If you don’t have the time or the money it takes to start using one of the many social listening tools available at this point, you should know that not all is lost. You can still stay on the same page with your audience and find out who are your readers, friends or foes online by simply using search engines, which crawl deeper and much faster than any kind of social media tool. A combination of verbs like “love,” “hate,” “would use” or “recommend” followed by your brand’s name or the names of your competitors will give you the chance to discover the good, the bad and the ugly in your niche and dig deeper to explore the interests and preferences of your audience. This is an old-school trick that still works and doesn’t cost you anything.
All these simple steps will help you discover your audience on time and on a budget. Remember what your mother taught you: never talk to strangers. Before spending a fortune on content creation and distribution strategies, make sure you know who is actually listening at the other end of the line.