Your audience keeps your brand relevant.
You may know this already but without them, your brand is as good as dead. That’s why audience development is critical for every business. It focuses on a key element of your business — your customer base.
It also helps you stay aware of their needs and maintain a lifetime connection with them so they keep coming back.
So what does ‘audience development’ mean?
Remember how you feel when someone gets you a very expensive gift…
Now imagine someone goes out of their way to get you a box of your favorite brand of chocolate and a bottle of your favorite wine? It’ll make you feel special and loved.
It’s the same with your audience — they feel special and important when they see content that’s tailor-made for them. Or when you send them a short email wishing them a happy birthday.
It’s the little things you do consistently that help you build your audience and lead to a boost in revenue, and an increase in your customer base and repeat customers.
This is what audience development is all about: building and nurturing a crowd of loyal people and customers around your brand who constantly engage with you and keep coming back for more.
It’s about getting to know your customer base to understand the kind of content they like to see. This way, you can anticipate their needs and create content and campaigns that resonate with them.
It’s more effective than aggressive and mindless marketing. Because the more you connect with your audience, the better you can create content that’s carefully personalized for them; research even shows that 63% of consumers prefer personalized content.
Your audience development plan in 4 steps:
As a business owner, you need to prioritize audience development. But this isn’t an easy feat especially if you’re a new business owner without any experience with it.
So how do you build an audience of raving fans? Strategic content marketing, that’s how.
Because content marketing focuses on creating and sharing valuable content to attract your target audience.
And in this blog post, you’ll be learning how to build your audience from scratch with a 4-step strategy:
Step 1. Build a compelling brand story
Your brand story is simply the story of the values, ideas, and experiences that shape your brand.
For example, HEY.com’s brand story is completely ingenious — a perfect example of a compelling brand story.
The company was born after the co-founders, Jason and David, wanted to change and improve how people use email. So they built HEY.com.
Their brand story, featured on their homepage (as shown in the screenshot above), is a written representation of what they’re really about, why they exist, and what sets them apart from their competitors — and yours should too. A compelling brand story is the foundation for creating relevant content to attract your audience without trying too hard.
So how do you build a compelling brand story?
- Write from your heart, telling your audience why your brand is unique and why they should choose you. It could even be a personal story detailing the reason you started your business.
- Make sure your brand voice matches your brand story, and be consistent with it.
- Come up with a tagline that describes your brand’s purpose, but keep it simple and concise. Story Sprints, a company dedicated to helping businesses clarify their story, perfectly describes what they’re about in their tagline, “Your story, clearly told.” It’s a catchy tagline that sticks and tells you what they do at first glance.
Step 2. Choose your audience development channel(s)
To build your audience, choose content marketing channels to help you engage and connect with your customer base.
There are different channels you can use for effective audience development.
You can create a blog on your website and engage with your audience there. You can also use social media outreach platforms like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
Lastly, you can build an email list and engage your customer base through email.
And research by Databox reveals that 44% of marketers say that email and social media marketing were effective for reaching their target audience.
But remember to stick to actively using 1-3 channels to begin with so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Ideally, there are two key channels that need to be part of your audience building strategy:
- Social media interactions
- Email marketing
Let’s take them one after the other:
Key channel A: Social media interactions — while being focused on your audience’s needs
Social media helps you make your brand more accessible to your audience. So when coming up with a social media strategy, be aware of these two things:
- Where your audience hangs out. You can’t be a photographer and not have a Pinterest or Instagram account, or a business consultant without a LinkedIn account where you can connect with prospective clients.
- Every social media platform works differently. So carefully study each social media platform — their purpose, demographics, level of engagement and interaction, major features, and how active your audience is on each platform before choosing the best one for your business.
This infographic from Accion highlights the features of various social media platforms to help you choose the best one for your business:
Key channel B: Email marketing with a personal touch
Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that lets you connect with your audience through email.
And when you’re creating email campaigns and newsletters, remember this:
- Don’t overwhelm your email subscribers with too many emails
- Connect with them on a personal level
- Don’t waste words in your emails, get straight to the point
- Use short clips, GIFs and pictures to spice up your newsletter
Step 3. Create meaningful, hyper-relevant content
Once you’ve selected your favorite channels to build an audience on, you need to prioritize sharing only relevant content.
Relevant content will always resonate with your audience.
So make sure you’re creating content that they find relevant (useful), not just creating content to fill up your page or tick a checklist in your marketing strategy.
When your content inspires your audience to take actions that better their lives, they’ll keep coming back. Besides that, relevant content gives them something to share with their followers and connections that will attract new customers.
Tools for creating content
To create content that will wow your audience, there are several tools you can leverage to help with your design, research, writing, and editing process.
Here’s a list of some great tools (based on their function) that will help you create well-structured, accurate, and visually appealing content:
- Brainstorming & research: Google, AnswerThePublic, Buzzsumo, Ubersuggest
- Editing: Grammarly, Hemingway Editor
- Design: Visme, Canva, Skitch, Pablo by Buffer
How to create hyper-relevant content
The only way to create content that resonates with your audience is to first carry out audience research and come up with topics that will attract them. Then come up with an attractive headline optimized for search engines.
Your content should be well researched, accurate, thought-provoking, and informative for your audience.
Mom and Dad Money is a great example of a business that’s creating content to attract their audience. They’re a financial service company that helps new parents make financial decisions that will keep them financially secure.
The company has a great blog with good financial advice for parents in every area of life from health insurance and investments, to budgeting and saving for college.
This content hooks their audience because they learn from these blog posts and apply them in real life. Take a look at the amount of traffic their website got this month:
And while 17k visitors may not look like much to you, it’s a pretty good number for a niche website that has content specifically targeted at an audience.
Step 4. Promote content that will reach your audience
With the huge amount of content created on a daily basis, you need to promote your content so your audience actually sees it.
Promoting your content helps you make the most of it, so instead of creating multiple pieces of content every day, you can focus on developing one good piece of content and then repurpose it through promotion.
Remember to use the best promotion tactics for the audience development channel you’ve chosen. Here are different ways you can promote your content to reach your target audience:
I. Hold online contests
Holding online contests where customers can win freebies is another way to get people talking about your brand and grow your audience.
An example of a brand doing this is The Souled Store.
They held a giveaway with some of their products on Instagram. To enter, users had to like the picture, follow their Instagram page, and tag their friends who remind them of iron man.
This is a free content promotion tactic for them as they got lots of engagement on that post with over 5000 likes, and over 600 comments.
II. Network on social media
You can comment on posts and network with prospective clients using your preferred audience development channels.
Connecting with your target audience will get you noticed and will drive traffic to your page and website. No wonder 73% of marketers believe in the power of social media.
You can also use paid promotion channels; each social platform has options for sponsored ads, sponsored posts, and targeted or customized ads.
III. Offer existing customers freebies when they refer your business to others.
When you offer loyal clients freebies for referrals, it makes them a lot more motivated to tell others about you because they know there’s something in it for them.
For example, Scribe Writing, a book publishing company, offers their published authors $2,000 dollars for referring other authors to them. They get the money in cash when the new author signs up to get published with them.
IV. Google and Facebook ads
Facebook and Google have great ad campaigns your business can take advantage of.
There are various Facebook ads, but creating a custom audience and targeting lookalike audiences is best for audience development.
You can upload your email list to Facebook and target them or target lookalike audiences that have the same interests or are of the same age bracket as your customer base.
Erika Volk, a fitness expert, created a Facebook ad advertising her free email course. Her goal was to build her email list, so clicking on the ad took leads to a landing page to register for the email course. The results were amazing — they got 1,892 email subscribers and 11,850 visitors in one month.
V. Create lead magnets to build your email list
When you promote content and get the attention of your target audience, you need to offer them lead magnets to build your list.
You can create lead magnets like webinars, ebooks, toolkits, YouTube videos, and more to attract new customers to join your email list.
A lead magnet is an incentive or value proposition you offer prospective customers in exchange for their email addresses. It’s a win-win situation because your prospective customer gets value while you get to build your customer base.
For example, MuleSoft — a Salesforce company — offers prospective customers an ebook to help improve their apps. With this, they’re able to get more potential clients to their email list.
Read more: Best lead magnets for lead generation study
Now that you know all about audience development, you can start building your own clique.
Having a brand community will help you build your business, so pay attention and stay connected to them. A large customer base means more profit for you and return customers who stay loyal to your brand and refer you to their network.
Remember, you can only be remembered when you keep reaching out.