‘Learning about your audience’ is one of those throwaway messages found in every marketing book and online article pertaining to social media.
Sounds easy enough…right? Here’s my train of thought:
If you’re a blogger your audience is essentially your ‘congregation’. You meet with them on occasion in the form of a new blog post/email newsletter/social media update. Your objective is to provide them with the content and resources they will find useful and that will help them achieve a desired result.
Not feeling a true connection with your audience? Take a step back and assess your site every 30-45 days to ensure you’re not deviating too far from your goals and initial intentions.
Learning about your audience is the NATURAL thing to do. You want to foster a community right? Turn folks into raving fans? Potentially take them through a sales funnel and profit from your expertise?
Of course you do! You shouldn’t be blogging if you don’t want a community, fans or some sort of ROI.
Unless you’ve got a strongly opinionated fanbase full of passionate people, you’re left to determine what engages an audience all on your own. That’s a tall task for anybody!
If you’re a new blog, chances are your email list is tiny and your social media engagement is barely keeping a pulse. Here are three ways I’ve found that can help you study and learn about your audience even when there’s seemingly very little analytics to dissect.
- Experiment. Fail. Experiment. Fail. Repeat until you have success.
Admit it. When you started your blog you had an ideal audience in mind. That audience was destined to stumble across your blog and drive you to quit your day job. If you’re flustered over your lack of traction in the blogosphere just remember that hard work and dedication DO pay off, but you have to be willing to experiment or push the envelope.Switch lead magnets. Alter your content. Split test headlines. Run Facebook Ads. Create a video. Send out a survey. Point being — do something.
- Switch gears and monitor traffic for peaks/valleys.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Identify an area or niche which will separate you from the crowd so you can reach the audience you deserve. Narrow your focus and target to that specific audience.Pay close attention to the analytics to gauge traffic and engagement levels. If your site starts producing the desired results then you’re well on your way to building momentum, but if it’s not see #1.
- Write with your biggest critic in mind: yourself!
That sounds a little odd right? It’s actually one of the better ways to learn about your audience. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas because you’re unsure what’s going to work then simply start by focusing on your headline.You obviously know better than anyone else which headlines can entice you to click and which ones you gloss over. Write the type of killer headline that would make you click it if you came across it on another site or on Twitter. Follow that mantra throughout the rest of your writing process and continue creating the article as if you were the intended audience on the other end learning about something new.
Example time: I was fairly certain my blog posts would serve as good material to put on my Facebook Fan Page. Wrong!!! Whenever I post links from my blog, the engagement and reach on my FB page drop significantly.
The answer is simple. My Facebook fans aren’t the same as my intended audience. That’s what I’m currently working on — growing more of a highly-targeted Facebook audience.
I took a step back and realized that of all my various content posts, the ones with the highest level of engagement centered around photos (working on a project or giving a presentation) or quotes that were stylized with graphics. Even certain text status updates were met with more enthusiasm than my blog articles.
You can use Facebook Insights on your admin page to dig deeper and find what content works best for you. Don’t forget to vary your content and try new things!
My Facebook Fans dictated what I should be posting by simply choosing to engage or not engage with certain content. I learned my lesson and adjusted my strategy.
What I’m doing now is working. I’ve picked up 20 new likes lately and my blog traffic has soared.
It’s a good feeling, but I’m even happier knowing that I learned from my audience and made the necessary adjustments to get the pendulum swinging back in my favor.