When you start building an online business it’s critical to identify your target audience. Those who engage and try to understand who is most interested in their content have far greater success rates than those who don’t. You can have the greatest content in the world but if nobody is reading it, it’s nothing more than a personal journal. So today, we are going to focus on how to know your target audience. Let’s identify who might be interested in what you have to offer: your message, your talent, and your creativity.
It’s important to know right from the start that this will be an ongoing process because as your business starts to grow, so does your audience.
Common sense right? Well, it’s important to note that what works in the beginning, may not work 3 months from now. Don’t panic. Just be willing to make adjustments as needed to continue to feed value to your readers.
As your audience starts to grow the needs and demographics may start to shift. You may need to make tweaks and adjustments along the way. Tweaks to your article content, writing style, etc.
But not to worry. You will begin to develop sort of a 6th sense for it as you continue to engage and interact with your audience. The more you engage, the easier and more natural it will become.
When getting started you will need to do some research. If you’ve already scoped out your competition on the web it’s good to return to those websites and start reading the comments. Write down some trends that you see.
- What kind of questions are the readers asking?
- What kind of feedback and comments are readers offering?
- How is the content creator responding?
- Are the comments coming from older or younger individuals?
- Are the comments more from females or males?
Once you’ve checked out the website comments themselves head over to social media and do the same.
Take notes. The more you learn about your initial target audience the better, and the fewer adjustments you may have to make going forward.
While we would love to be able to reach everybody, everywhere, and in all stages of life with our content, that’s simply not reality. There are certain demographics of people who are going to be interested in your content while others will not. The first few months of your website you will really start to see who is most interested in what you have to offer and who is finding value.
Think of it this way, not everyone shops at large, globally owned, grocery stores. Some choose to shop at the smaller “mom and pop” store on the corner of American Dreams Blvd. They may choose a different store for different reasons. In general, people will shop at the store that offers them the most value. (Not always the lowest prices.) The same holds true in the online world.
When you tap into what your readers are searching for, you will become the “go-to” website for many of them, and they will share it with their friends. (i.e. growth)
When determining your initial demographics you’ll need to use a few tools to start identifying who is reading your first several pages of content. This information will be available to you via various resources such as:
This information will be available to you via various resources such as:
- Google Analytics
- Facebook Insights
- Twitter Analytics
You’ll be able to break it down and see who’s reading your stuff and be able to adjust your style appropriately.
Some of it comes down to common sense. Here are 2 obvious examples:
If your niche is, “helping nursing moms with breastfeeding”, one would imagine that your target audience will be first time mothers, predominantly female, and those who are struggling with getting their little ones to eat.
On the flip side, if your niche is, “dealing with the challenges of low testosterone”, you’re probably going to be focusing on middle-aged men who have low energy, little to no sex drives, weight loss challenges, etc. While you may have a few wives who come to your page to help their stubborn husbands out, it probably won’t be your core audience and it probably won’t be the norm.
Not every niche will be this easy to identify the target audience. But I’m trying to get you thinking about your own niche and who will most likely be interested in reading it.
Some niches will have specific age targets. Some will be a draw for baby boomers while others will draw in the millennials.
Here is a screenshot of the insights on one of my Facebook pages. It’s a newer page and I’ve done very little promoting to build its audience but it does have a few hundred followers. Here is how it breaks down so far:
As you can see: for this particular page, my posts are reaching mostly females from the ages of 25-45.
That doesn’t mean I ignore the men when it comes to writing out content because as you can also see, people who tend to enjoy the content on that page, or my “fans”, are mostly men between the ages of 25-54.
This will naturally shift over the course of time so check in on it on a regular basis.
This gives me a lot of information on how to structure my writing and market targeting going forward. Since more men seem to like my page I need to figure out how to get the content in front of them to read.
If you do a lot of local marketing with businesses and using business cards, bandit signs, or other advertising tools you will mostly find that your audience is around your hometown. There are ways to branch out. (Such as target boosting in other locations, etc.)
Remember: being an online entrepreneur has the advantage of being able to reach the largest audience in the world. (Currently 3.75 BILLION!!!) Use that to your advantage!
You’ll begin to uncover this over time and will be able to adjust your writing and marketing accordingly. Just make sure you check in with it often and document the trends.
Don’t Assume You Know What Your Target Audience Wants
One of the biggest mistakes that new online business owners make is that they don’t connect and engage with their target audience. They just keep on writing whatever they feel like and don’t try to understand the needs of their readers.
Look, I get it. When you set out to become an entrepreneur, be it online or brick and mortar, you have a mentality of, “it’s me against the world, I’m going to do it my way, and I don’t care what anybody else thinks.”
Again, I get it. I was there as well. But you have to realize that that line of thinking is most likely going to lead you to failure, and quickly.
If you get nothing else out of this article, please let it be this. Your readers have come to YOUR site for VALUE. If you ignore them and don’t give them what THEY are looking for, and only focus on what YOU want to feed them, they will leave (bounce) and find another website who will! Don’t make this mistake.
Surveys and Polls Are Your Friends
People love taking polls and some even enjoy taking short surveys. Use these tools to your advantage. Not only does it trigger engagement and even comments (especially if you utilize this on social media), but people are far more inclined to click on a bubble than they are to write you an email suggesting which article to work on next.
Don’t overdo it, don’t do 10 polls a day or something crazy like that. But doing a poll every once in a while about different issues or content ideas can really spark interaction and excitement with your readers. They will begin to feel a part of what you are doing.
Also, if someone asks you to do an article on a particular subject. DO IT! Not only will you build more trust with that reader, but others will see it as well and will build trust with them, as well. As you build trust they will want YOUR opinion on different products, processes, etc. and when you provide it, it will form a much deeper connection.
Enable and Embrace Reviews
This can be a double-edged sword. But it’s a great way to gauge how well you are connecting with the needs of your readers.
On the one hand, a great review will go far and looks great in the eyes of Google, Yahoo, Bing and all of the social media platforms. People will be far more inclined to check out your content and services plus it helps you identify what it is that your readers enjoy.
A negative review, however, can be devastating at first. It can make you feel like a failure and you may start to question everything you are doing.
But instead of freaking out and rebuking the negative comments, try this:
- Take a deep breath.
- Realize that criticism is healthy and will push you to grow.
- Try to connect with the person and learn what their frustrations are and how you can better address their needs.
- Remember that not everyone is going to agree with you.
- Remember that the internet is full of trolls as well and they love to push buttons.
I’ll go further into detail about handling this in a future article. But for now, I’ll just say this, you can also leverage a negative review, as well.
I know of a small business owner who once he received his first negative review, he took it in stride and launched a video series that not only addressed and corrected the complaint, but it also helped market his business in a whole new way.
Get creative, not frustrated!
Remember, whether it’s in an official review, a comment, etc. You WILL receive negative feedback and criticism at some point. And it happens far more often in the online world because people love to fly off the handle while sitting behind their keyboard. It’s going to happen. Try not to take it personally. Just roll with it and find ways to spin it to your advantage.
As I mentioned above, your focus needs to be 100% on offering value to your reader.
- Who are you connecting with?
- Who is sharing your content?
- What subjects/articles are getting the most feedback?
- Are you connecting more with males or females?
- Is your audience younger, middle-aged, or older? (Boomers or Millennials)
- What other things are your readers interested in that you could leverage into your content? (i.e. hobbies, etc.)
These are just a few things to consider while your business continues to grow.
It will evolve over time and as long as you continue to monitor the trends and engage your readers you will be setting yourself up for some great success in the months to come.
Each week, Jay Neill @ Wealthy Affiliate hosts a live webinar helping both beginner level and experienced online business owners take their websites to the next level. The link below is a replay of an episode about “Understanding Your Audience”. Check it out for yourself!
What ways have you found to know your target audience better? What tools do you primarily use to track your demographics? Leave it in the comments below.
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