Building an Audience – your website, your media platform
Purpose & Objectives
First, you should start with thinking about the purpose of your website
- in relation to your potential customers
- in context with the rest of the market
- it’s role with social media
And then, about your objectives… you need to decide whether you want;
- to build/develop a new set of customers?
- to engage solely with an existing audience?
- to become famous for something?
- to just launch a specific product, service or idea?
- or a combination of a few of the above…
We start with the assumption that it’s important to your business to get new customers – if it’s not then perhaps view this article in terms of keeping your existing audience (or customers), rather than trying to grow or build a new audience.
Who is your Audience
Next, you need to consider who your audience is? This can sometimes be slightly different (in scope at least) to your ideal or target customers.
What is the profile of your existing customers?
– what are their demographics, what are they interested in and what are their behaviours?
What is the profile of your desired customer?
– if this is different to your existing set of customers, how can you transition between one type of audience and the other or communicate to both types?
And finally, what is your audience interested in – outside of the specific scope of what you want to tell them about?
Once you’ve identified who your audience is, you can start thinking about the type of content that is going to be of interest to them.
Example: Hotel Owner
Your ideal customer might be of a certain age and social-economic group. The majority of your clients are UK based but you have a small percentage from Scandinavian countries. You are based in a fabulous coastal location surrounded by a few well known restaurants and local artisan crafts people. The hotel has a live music evening every week with artists from around the region (and further afield).
From these ‘attributes’, we can tell that the type of audience we should be targeting:
- likes good food – so quality shots of mouth watering dishes should be posted on social media, and a guide to local food places on your website will work well.
- likes to imagine or look forward to being somewhere amazing whilst working long hours – so breathtaking scenery or amazing sunsets posted on social media, and your website will work well.
- likes to spend holiday money on ‘local’ products at quality artisan studios
- … and so on and so forth.
Your audience is both people who appreciate these things and people who appreciate these things and will share what they see with others.
In the case of the hotel owner, we know that people love sharing pictures of food – so doing this on social media will both directly and indirectly target potential customers.
Build an audience – on your platform
One of the key lessons that we can learn from the past is to build your audience on your own platform i.e. your own website.
What do we mean by this?
In todays online digital world there is a term called ‘digital sharecropping’ – building business on someone else’s land. You are essentially renting access to the space, not owning it – like you do with your website (you own the website and it’s content).
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have hundreds of millions of users, which might seem like an attractive audience to be marketing your business at – they are, but if all you are doing is creating good content on their platform, then you are serving the business objectives of that social media platform – not necessarily your own. The content you create in Facebook for example is used to target an audience for your ads (that you have to pay for by the way) and other peoples adverts that appear in the sidebar.
The key is to utilise these shared spaces, but create the ‘good stuff’ – your content, on your own website, and directing users on these shared spaces to you.
The Content Marketing Process
Next we want to go through the various stages of setting up and ‘running’ your own content marketing operation.
The rest of this lesson details the content marketing process we are going to be working within, going forward.
How do we get Good Quality, Volume Traffic to our Website?
But first, lets think about how we get good quality, volume traffic to our website – that then converts into leads, enquiries or sales.
Good Quality – attracting website visitors who could potentially become customers, not thousands of people who aren’t interested or just passing.
Volume Traffic – every business, every set of business objectives and every different website needs a certain amount of traffic in order to get the level of sales, enquiries or subscriptions – to achieve your goals.
1. Setup an Email List
Our first step is to ensure we are capturing email contacts from the very beginning – new visitors to the site (newsletter subscribers), enquiry contacts as well as current and previous customers.
Why? Email continues to be the best and most effective way to build relationships and get results from your potential audience. There is literally a direct correlation between sending out an email campaign and getting results (visits to your website and sales).
You’ll probably start off with a small amount of ‘subscribers’ on your list but quite quickly it will grow as new enquiries are automatically added and you capture other email addresses offline e.g. a guest book, business card drop-in box or an exchange of contact information.
2. Optimise your website
You may know this by the term SEO – Search Engine Optimisation?
We prefer to think about this as Optimising Content for Discovery and Conversion – it’s more than just optimising for a search engine. It’s making sure visitors can find your site through a search engine and then once they are on your site, that it is organised and has the right content to convert into an enquiry or sale.
3. Setup profiles on social media
Next you need to setup social media profiles for your business. Social Media in the context of your website helps tell your story, attract attention to and drive traffic to your website.
There are a plethora of social media platforms, and depending on your business certain ones will be more appropriate and get better results for you. If you’re just starting out then you may not know which ones are right for you – that’s ok, but over time and with a regular review of Google Analytics you’ll be able to see which ones get the most traffic and interaction for your business.
4. Email Campaigns
This is listed before publishing new content, because even if you have just launched your website you could send out an email campaign (a launch email telling people about your new or updated website), however in practice your campaigns will probably be linked to the content you are creating.
An ’email campaign’ is just the terminology used for sending out a pre-formatted, professional looking email automatically to your email list.
You can monitor the results of a campaign – the number of people who received the email, how many opened it, who clicked a link, what time of day an email was opened and much more! Combined with Google Analytics the data available is very useful.
5. Publish New Content
Publishing new, good quality content is the foundation of your media platform and to your content marketing process.
Content can be words, images, moving images (sliders, slideshows) and media (video). They might take the format of a news or blog article, an update to a ‘static’ page or updating product information in your online store.
Publishing New Content is shown on the diagram in green – because as far as possible we want the new content to be ‘evergreen’ i.e. not have a specific shelf life on it. For example, if we write a blog article about Valentines Day then we can refer to the day rather than a specific date, so that in future years the article might be picked up by website searches and still be relevant.
6. Update Social Media
Another step in the process, which ideally should be linked to publishing new content on your website, is updating your chosen social media platforms.
Some of your social media updates will be interactions with other users, profile building or ‘telling your story’. These can be a combination of text and images, but where possible we want this to be based on content that users can access on your website.
Our golden rule for posting social media updates is that if your update contains a link make sure it is to your own website, and not one of your other social media accounts, as this rarely serves any point other than diverting potential customers away from your customer conversion platform.
We talked about this in a previous lesson – reviewing your Google Analytics information will help you see what is working, what actions and content get the greatest amount of pageviews, the most click throughs and… the best results.
8. Repeat & Rinse
Once you’re all setup its an ongoing process of repeating steps 4 – 7.
So here is the process in it’s entirety.
It can look pretty complex at first but over time and with the judicious use of the appropriate social media platforms and various management tools we’ll make it a finely tuned content marketing engine that drives good quality traffic and results!
Next time, we look at some simple but often overlooked ideas for promoting your website post launch.
This lesson is part of an education series of 7 articles called ‘Getting the Most from your Website‘ – aimed at giving business owners insight into some of the basics of running and promoting (or marketing) a successful website.