“I already know my customer! I have their persona, some statistics and…”
Most of us have been guilty of writing off our target audience likes this at some point but the truth is we might have actually been write. At that time.
The trap that we fall into is when we don’t realize our target audience is a constantly moving target. They’re always changing. Preferences, likes, dislikes, trends etc…can have an effect on the perception of your brand.
So how do you keep up?
Fortunately, there are a few principles that drive these changes but don’t change themselves. In this article, I highlight four insights you can learn from your online audience to tailor your website content for building influence and increasing conversion.
What content do they really want?
If you know exactly what content your audience wants, you’ll know what to give them. So how do you find that out? Start snooping and figure out the other places they hang out online. Here’s a few ways to get you started…
- Drop in on their conversations. What questions is your target audience asking that you need to answer? I wrote a post awhile back outlining my favorite way to snoop on your customers. Your customers will think your reading their minds! Keep a list of their questions as inspiration for content.
- Zero in on Demographics. This might be the most old school way to research your audience but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Use a tool like Alexa to analyze your website demographics and top search terms your audience uses to find you. Use those demographics to help put together a persona to further identify with your target audience.
- Don’t forget about your competitors. Remember your competitors information is also out there. Use Alexa to also look up the demographics of your competitors’ websites compared to what kind of content they’re posting. If they’re attracting the exact same audience, chances are they’re using content that’s helping them. Figure out what their most popular content is and how you can make it better.
- Follow the crowd. If everybody else is reading it, your prospects probably are too. Use Google Blog Search or just Google, “Top _____ blogs” and fill in the space with your industry. The most influential blogs in your industry will be at the top of the lists. Subscribe to them and keep a list of the most popular topics to gain insight into what trends your audience prefers.
What makes them say OUCH?
Find the pain so you can ease it. But don’t stop it.
Pain is uncomfortable and creates urgency. It motivates people to take action.
We know if we don’t get to the top of our client’s to-do list, they probably won’t take action. All of the features and tactical reasons in the world aren’t going motivate a prospect to action. We need to find those emotional knee jerks that compel our audience to take the next step.
How do you find the pain points?
First focus on defining the pain, then go beyond that and how you describe the solution to your audience. The way you describe it becomes the connection that you make with your audience. If I’m in the market for redesigning my website, I’m not just looking for someone who can design in WordPress, I’m looking for someone focused in conversion optimization who understand the value of a direct response website but can also speak non-geek and take the time to understand my needs. That comes across in their content and website.
Here’s a simple rule I use to identify what makes my prospects say Ouch: Any question that I get more than two or three times, I write down. I keep a list of those frustrations they have because they always come up again. Don’t rely on your memory. Keep a shared doc and have your entire staff write down questions they get from each department.
What do want your visitors to remember about you?
Recently, I had lunch with the VP of digital marketing of a large bank. Before I meet someone for the first time, I always research the person and their company to prepare. After only a few minutes of poking around the bank’s website, I was really impressed. It didn’t feel like a bank website. It was easy to navigate, uncluttered and I could tell they actually cared about their visitors experience online. That’s a lot more than I can say about my bank’s website! Even though I hadn’t considered it before, just that experience made me want to look into the bank further.
When people visit your website, something will stick out to them. That something is either going to move them forward to action or backwards and off your site to your competition. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on SEO to get your site to the top of Google, if you don’t spend time on the on-site experience, it’s useless.
Don’t leave that “something” up to chance.
What’s the one thing you want your website to be remembered for? What is the reason people are going to come back? Is it the sincere tone of your brand’s voice? The simplicity of the design? A quick response? Helpful content?
Whatever it is, keep one thing in mind. Your content must be consistent with your offline experience. It should be a reflection of what visitors will experience on the phone or in your store.
Who Are Your Actionable Demographics?
You now know who your audience is and a few things about them. But what do you do with that information?
There’s a big difference between knowing who makes up your demographics and acting on them. If you can’t act on the data, it’s useless.
The more you know about your customers, the more you can tailor your content to resonate with them. Here’s a list of a few demographics and ways to apply each to your website and content. Use these as a springboard to think about your own target demographics and how you can make them actionable.
- Age: Helps predict generational influences. Are your customers Baby Boomers or Millennials? Each generation has different motivations.
- Gender: Helps sharpen your writing style. If your audience is primarily women, you should consider a women’s voice producing your content. You want to be part of the group your trying to target; not an outsider.
- Location: Helps increase relevance especially at a local level. That’s why people love the newspaper! It may be boring news but because it happened locally, people always pay attention.
- Occupation: Helps determine the best channels to deliver your content. If your audience is mostly corporate for example, you want to be careful about the links you include and the types of media. Most social networking sites are blocked in corporations.
- Family: If you find that your average customer has 2 kids, you know where they’re spending a lot of their time. Use the things you have in common to relate to them in your messaging.
- Education: Helps determine word choice. Don’t include industry jargon or big long words to try to impress your audience. Keep it simple.
- Affluence: Helps you determine where your content needs to be found. For example, this study shows that affluent males use Yahoo over Google for their search. Is your website ranked in Yahoo?
The first step to great content and a website that drives your audience to action is defining your content strategy and defining what success looks like. Once you’ve defined your strategy, use the insights above to zero in your target. The clearer the picture you have of your target audience, the less energy and resources you’ll waste in reaching them.
What actionable insights about your target audience have you found helpful?