One of the oldest adages known to marketers is: Know your audience. It makes sense; you need to know who you’re trying to communicate with in order to communicate effectively. Once you’ve identified your audience, crafting the right messages to engage them is a whole new effort.
Here are 4 easy-to-follow steps that will help you identify your audience and effectively engage them.
Step 1: Identify Your Audience
You more than likely have a specific target audience in mind, the quintessential question is whether or not your website is currently attracting that target audience. And the way to answer that question is through your website’s analytics. Using a tool like Google Analytics, you can pinpoint exactly who’s visiting your site and how they’re getting there.
Who Is Visiting Your Site?
One way to get to know who is currently visiting your site—and how they compare to your target audience—is through demographic data, such as age and gender. For example, if your site is currently attracting women over 50 years old, but your target audience is women aged 35-50, you’ll want to understand why that is. Perhaps the content on your site is more relevant to an older audience. In Google Analytics you can pull this information directly from the Audience category.
Where Are They Coming From?
Geography is also important. You’re going to want to know where your current visitors live. Are most of them in the U.S. or international? If your target market is the U.S. and you’re seeing a significant portion of your web traffic coming from international visitors, you’ll want to dig deeper to understand how those visitors are landing on your website and how you can update your content to attract domestics visitors. As with demographics, geographical data can be found under the Audience category in Google Analytics.
How Are They Getting to Your Website?
In order to better understand who your visitors are, you’ll need to understand how they’re getting to your website. You’ll want to examine which channels are bringing in the greatest number of visitors and which channels have the highest conversion rates. The 6 main acquisition channels are direct, organic, referral, social, paid and email, and can be found in Google Analytics under Acquisition.
What Device Are They Using?
Lastly, find out how your visitors are accessing your website—through mobile, tablet or desktop. And then, make sure your website is optimized for all three. Understanding how your visitors are accessing your website can help you develop and format content for your site.
Are You Attracting Your Target Audience?
After you’ve identified your current visitors, you’re going to want to ask yourself whether or not they’re your target audience. If it turns out that they are, then you’re doing an amazing job. Celebrate, and then do some digging.
Consider the following: What have you been doing correctly to attract this group? Was it your site content? Was it smart targeting on social media? Have you had success with advertising? Focus your time, energy and funding on continuing to bolster the acquisition channels which have proven most successful in engaging your target audience.
What if You’re Not Attracting Your Target Audience?
On the other hand, if your analytics show that you haven’t been attracting your target audience, you’re going to want to understand why and attempt to correct it. Take a close look at your site and think about what content and community strategies you could develop to attract the right audience.
One way to develop an effective content strategy is by doing market research. For example, you might send a survey to customers or newsletter subscribers asking them to tell you what content they find useful. On social media, you might consider targeting your audience through a paid campaign. Or you might explore an organic campaign using smart hashtags.
The bottom line is don’t get discouraged—there are numerous steps you can take to attract your audience and improve your site’s numbers.
Step 2: Understand How Your Audience Currently Engages With Your Site
Now that you’ve identified your audience, the next step is to look at how your audience engages with your site.
What Content is Driving Traffic?
There are a few ways you can find out what content is performing well on your site and driving traffic. First, look to see which pages on your site have the highest page views. Then, you’re going to want to examine which content is actually driving people to your site. And lastly, you’ll want to understand what type of content is performing best for each acquisition channel. In other words, what’s bringing in visitors from organic search, social media or referrals?
Examining content popularity in this way will give you an indication of what type of content you should be investing in and which pieces of content you should focus on improving.
What Content Is Being Shared?
When your content is being shared on social media, your site’s visibility is amplified, so it’s essential to keep track of which content is being shared the most via social media. An easy tool that can help you keep track of social shares is the AddThis Sharing Sidebar.
Of course not all content will perform well across all channels. While some content will perform very well in social media—receiving “Likes,” “Favorites,” and “Shares”—other content on your site might be more geared towards generating traffic from organic search.
Act on Your Stats.
It’s important to understand which pages are doing a good job at converting people. From there, you should analyze the content on those pages to see what’s so effective about it, and how you can apply those lessons to other pages on your site. You should also consider how you can increase traffic to the highest converting pages.
Are you seeing engagement on your site? It’s easy to track stats without ever looking at them. The tough, but most essential part, is actually interpreting your stats and acting on the information they give you. For example, if you don’t like the conversion rates on your product detail pages, you’re going to want to play with the copy, the creative, or calls-to-action (CTA) to increase conversion on the page.
Step 3: Create Engaging Content
Now it’s time to take your learnings from Steps 1 and 2 and put them into action.
When it comes to creating engaging content, you need to keep your customer avatar or buyer persona in mind. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. For example, yoga clothing retailer Lululemon famously employs the fictional Ocean and Duke. Ocean is the muse that inspires Lululemon’s designers: she’s 30-something, fit, educated, and wealthy. Duke, her husband, inspires the men’s line.
When creating content for your web site, you want to remember your buyer persona and what types of content make them stop, click, and consume. Strive to develop content that always speaks to the audience you’re trying to reach.
When you were looking at your engagement stats, what content drove traffic to your site and resulted in conversions? To replicate that success, identify the characteristics of the piece of content that performed well and why it appealed to your buyer persona. Comparing content type, topic, length, and messaging can give you a clear idea on what your audience responds to and what they ignore.
That doesn’t mean you always need to offer content in the exact same way. You can diversify how you present your content to your audience to keep them interested. Infographics, videos, guides, how-tos, lists, research and original data all perform well. Consider including these types of material to keep your posts fresh.
Step 4: Measure, Optimize, Repeat
Now that you’ve got a good idea of who your customer is and how to create content that converts, it’s time to monitor analytics on your site on a consistent basis. Set a schedule and commit to it. One way to make analysis easier is by developing a reporting template. Knowing what stats you’re tracking and comparing month-to-month provides structure and clear goals.
Once you’re in the habit of analyzing stats on a routine basis, you’ll be in a great position to learn from the data, optimize your content to perform better, and develop new, high-performing content for your website.
Knowing your audience is the fundamental key to any kind of marketing communication. To keep your audience engaged and attract new users, don’t forget to look at your stats and let the data help to inform your content strategy