Anybody Out There? 5 Ways to Build the Right Online Audience

Personalizing online content often means creating stories that make people feel connected to a business or product. However, while it may be easy to make up stories that help people feel connected, creating an audience might be a bit more difficult.

Creating online content is like standing on a stage at a talent show. The different audience members like different kinds of acts. Some prefer music while others want to watch magic. The internet is similar to this since you are trying to draw in a multitude of diverse interests.

Finding ways to grab people’s attention can seem difficult and frustrating. However, with the right approach, any business can create a new audience, the key is to create a musical magic act.

Make your website mobile friendly

Most people read website on their phones or tablets while they’re on the move. Making a website mobile friendly is one of the easiest ways to create an audience for your product or service. In addition, Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking signal in April 2015.

  • Find a conversion platform
  • Use mobile plugins
  • Use a web design that is responsive to mobile

Use the right hashtags

Customers looking for products are going to be searching under hashtags. Think about the diversity of your customer base. FM Digital Group suggests marketing to multiple demographics can expand customer base by thinking of different categories of hashtags that can help.

For examples, just because you are a nail salon doesn’t mean that your manicures are just manicures. When tagging the designs on Instagram, go beyond the traditional nail art tags and decide how to market the actual designs. Think about the cross postings that hashtags can give across multiple social media sites.

Choose the right social media channel

Different social media networks offer different audiences and opportunities.

  • Facebook has the broadest range
  • Twitter works best for moving information quickly
  • Pinterest’s users are primarily women and works best for DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography, and food
  • Instagram which is entirely pictures and video works best for food, art, travel, fashion and other products that are visually appealing
  • Tumblr is mostly young people with half its visitor base under 25, but if your product is a niche product, this where the audience lives

Find your influencer

Influencers vary by business, but each can become your brand ambassador. In your industry, think about the voices. Building a relationship with one of them might be the best way to build an audience.  This strategy takes time. To make it work, you need to build a genuine relationship based on mutual respect and understanding. If it’s not real, neither the influencer nor the audience will stick around.

Read what others are talking about

Be involved in the conversations that others are having about your industry. Follow up on your competitors to be just as involved as they are. Competitors are just other people with the same audience as you. This means that the customers you want to engage may be engaged with them. By analyzing where your competitors find their audience, you can find your own.

Building an online audience sounds daunting. However, in the same way that the musician at the talent show is able to get the music fans to applaud a good show, so can you become capable of establishing a name for yourself.

Image source: Pixabay

3 Case Studies: How Content Boosted Traffic & Increased Customers

As a small business owner, or solopreneur, you’ve heard that content increases website traffic,and maybe you know that it also helps build brand trust and credibility.

And although you may be keen to try it for yourself, you’re looking for some kind of reassurance that after all your hard work, it’s a viable ROI.

In the case studies to follow, all three companies were young startups that decided to do things differently in order to get the edge over their competitors. Using content as their primary marketing strategy, they experienced tremendous results that enabled dramatic growth.

Have a read. Be the judge about whether content is a good ROI or not.

Case study 1: Turned problem into a solution with online course content

End result: $20K in 5 days
Company: Design Pickle
Industry: Marketing

Design Pickle, founded by Russ Perry in January 2015, offers a flat rate per month for an unlimited amount of graphic designs. Most large corporations have their own graphic designers, so this company’s clients are predominantly small businesses and solopreneurs.

Most small business owners don’t have a content design strategy in place, and therefore, the customer retention rate for graphic design services in particular is generally low. What Perry found, was that once clients received their designs, they would cancel their monthly subscription.

Design Pickle needed a way to grow and to educate its clients on marketing strategies.

Enter Pickle University online courses. The courses, hosted by Kajabi, an all-in-one marketing tools third party online course platform, allows Design Pickle to upsell and bundle services for discounted prices, and is used as a lead magnet to secure new, and empowered clients.

The launch of the first course brought in $20K within 5 days from pre-sale email marketing to people who were already on Design Pickle’s email lists. The key here, was that Perry identified a need; to educate clients on process and industry, and filled that need by providing online courses to help educate and grow the businesses of his clients.

By developing business and marketing courses, Perry is able not only to increase profit passively while still growing his graphics design business, but can also help his clients strengthen their businesses.

Description: online courses kajabi design pickle.jpg
Image Credit: Design Pickle and Kajabi
Russ Perry (back, middle) is the founder of Design Pickle.

Original source of case study: Kajabi

Case study 2: From outbound to primarily inbound

End result: 6 X boost in website traffic and 4 X more customers
Company: Glofox
Industry: Software developer for health industry

Glofox is a startup founded by Conor O’ Loughlin and Anthony Kelly in 2014, and experienced rapid growth with its software developed for gyms and fitness studios. The problem was that the direct sales strategy they were using to acquire customers, was costing too much. Their approach required the use of too many complex systems which were not playing nicely together.

Description: Glofox-670x310.jpg
Image Credit: BusinessAndFinance
The founders of Glofox: Conor O’ Loughlin and Anthony Kelly.

O’Loughlin and Kelly decided that they needed to attract customers to their website instead, by creating an inbound marketing machine. Using HubSpot, they set up a blog, created landing pages for targeted traffic, optin forms and smart call to actions. They say that by using content, they “are positioning ourselves as industry experts and thought leaders in our field; we blog constantly, we have a weekly podcast and we produce ebooks and user guides.”

Similarly to the first case study, the founders of this company say that creating personas was a vital part of their inbound strategy.

Since the swap from outbound to inbound marketing, Glofox has experienced a 6 X boost in traffic, and has 4 X more customers.

Original source of case study: HubSpot

Case study 3: Infographic backlinks strategy for new blog

End result: Website traffic increase of 963% in 6 weeks
Company: ChewieSays (now HerePup)
Industry: Pets

Perrin Carrol, who started the ChewieSays blog, identified an opportunity in the pet niche, after noticing that there were not a lot of smaller pet sites providing good content, and that a handful of big pet sites were completely dominating the Internet.

Carrol needed a strategy to compete with the handful of some seriously big competitors in the niche. To go up against them would entail producing some brilliant content, and promoting it in order to get quality backlinks to his site.

What Carrol did (and this is key), was to identify what was proven to be important to his target audience, and create an infographic around it. Doing his due diligence, he came up with the topic of “ways that pets improve human health”.

Armed with the 22 points gathered from his research, he hired a freelancer to design a pretty basic infographic to use as “bait” for authority websites, in order to get quality backlinks to his site. The link to the ChewySays website, was placed into introductory content on the infographic, which is good for SEO.

Finding prospective blogs in the niche that might have been interested in publishing the infographic, he contacted 92 bloggers and got a positive response of 5.4%.

Once those bloggers confirmed their interest in the infographic, Carrol removed as many barriers as possible, to make sharing the content easy.

The end result was eight niche-related, white hat backlinks which provided a dramatic surge of traffic to his new blog.

Description: infographic-example.png
Image Credit: Backlinko
The infographic that sparked traffic to a new blog.

Original source of case study: Backlinko

Key points

Three startup companies achieved dramatic results, all from using content as their primary marketing tactic. In summary, here’s what they did and what happened:

  1. A graphics design startup launched online courses as a way to grow, and to educate clients. Proving the need for the online courses, was the $20K that was generated as a result.
  2. The cost to acquire clients was proving too expensive for a software developer company, and the founders decided to switch to a primarily inbound marketing strategy, seeing a 6 X boost in traffic and 4 X more customers.
  3. The founder of a brand new pet blog, needed a way to compete with major sites that were dominating the industry, and with a cleverly designed infographic, received eight quality backlinks, boosting the traffic by 963% within six weeks.

Why You Should Have Less Marketing In Your Content Marketing

Ultimately, the key to modern content marketing is starting from a place of informing your audience. How many times would you want to hear about the perks of your product? If you’re boring yourself as you’re writing your blog post, your audience is already gone.

Schedule a personal profile, a day-in-the-office piece, or some innovative method of using your product that your customers haven’t considered yet.

With marketing right there in the name, it seems obvious that your content marketing is going to include some, well, marketing. And of course, occasionally you’re going to mention the product you offer or the services you want people to buy. But if every single piece of content you offer ends with a marketing pitch or for the purpose of building links, you’re not going to see the sales you want. Let’s talk about why.

Diversity of Content is Key

If there ever was a time when customers made the choice to buy based on a single piece of marketing, that time has passed. With more choices than ever before, customers exhaust many avenues of research before settling on a single product or company. The more kinds of content you offer, the better chance you have of engaging with them.

How-to videos, FAQs, customer testimonials, and articles about industry developments relevant to your product are all key content pieces that move the needle from “undecided” towards “sold.”

Millennials Know When They’re Being Sold To

In many classic marketing schemes, companies almost pretended that they weren’t selling anything. Ads featured brand X and brand Y, only revealing at the last moment that they were recommending something completely different. Modern television ads are full of commercials that never tout the actual benefits of the car or phone they’re advertising, just show a movie star driving around a closed course or showing simulated screen images.

Having grown up with this sort of marketing at their fingertips, Millennials have incredibly canny at understanding when someone is selling to them, and understanding what is, and what is not, being said.

Content marketing works, but marketing to Millennials requires a different sort of communication than marketing to their elders. They expect to get information on your blog, not a sales pitch.

Inside scoops on how the product came to market, a day in the life of your sales team, and the way your company is looking to change the world are all going to make much more of an impact than another story about why they should buy your product.

Millennials Have An Incredible Amount of Buying Power

Some companies may believe that reaching the age-group between 17 and 34 years old is optional, but any company that wants to be profitable cannot afford to leave these people behind. Millennials are expected to spend $200 billion a year, beginning next year, and $10 trillion over their lifetimes.

This is more than any previous consumer generation. Companies that focus only on older marketing methods and older generations will, by definition, find their customer base decreasing year over year.

Customers Of All Ages Respond More To Other Types of Content

Every marketing expert agrees that reaching Millennials means having active and fruitful social media channels, but too many companies start a Facebook page and maybe an Instagram account and think their work is done.

In fact, understanding what makes a person likely to share a piece on social media can help a company develop content.

There are five primary reasons we share content:

  • To bring value and entertainment to our friends
  • To define ourselves to our friends
  • To grow and nourish our relationships
  • To feel more involved in the world
  • To support a cause

Knowing this, businesses should design content that fits at least one of these categories. For example, a smartphone company could write an article about five great places their phones are being used (entertainment and defining ourselves as people who might do these things) or how their phones are being used by disabled people to aid communication (to support a cause and feel more involved).

But Balance Is Key

Of course, at some point, you’re going to write some straight-up marketing pieces. Usually, these are great when there’s something new happening. A new product, a new service, a new edition, a big sale, or a once-in-a-product opportunity.

Many companies aspire to have a 70/30 split, where around 70 percent of content is “evergreen,” reflecting articles that customers might refer to time and time again, and 30 percent is “news,” reflecting on industry, product, and personnel news. Maintaining an editorial calendar can help a company make sure that they’re getting the balance about right.