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Nearly every business in the modern world needs an online following to provide buzz, sales, and easy customer feedback. However, anyone can shove together a list or following on a social media platform through generic methods. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get any response when you start marketing to them. There’s a dangerous trap with audience building, and it’s the assumption that bigger is better, when in reality bigger and better are two completely separate aspects of an audience.
If you’re tossing and turning over how to master audience building and quality control, adding only high-quality, interested leads to your mailing lists and social media platforms, consider the strategies and tips provided below. We’ll go over the most universal methods that will be used today and well into the future, but we’ll also dive into the intricacies that make all the difference. Take these insights to heart in your future marketing, and you’ll build an audience that isn’t just big, but filled with fans who you understand like your own friends.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s no less true: content marketing is the best way to build an audience online. When you provide something that entertains your potential customer base, or answers a question, solves a problem, or is otherwise useful, you build credibility, appreciation, and attention for your brand.
Content marketing is a complicated art that deserves, and already has, many articles of its own. You could even fill a row of your bookshelf with content marketing books. We’ll stick to the fundamentals: research what your audience is interested in, make great content that fulfills those needs, provide it reliably through a schedule, and listen to any feedback that could make your content more appealing.
Social Media Engagement
Create content that your audience loves, and they’ll share that content with their friends and spread the word. However, this only becomes truly powerful if you do your best to make it happen. Engage on social media by posting the new content you provide. Engagement really is the key word here, so check what your competitors do on social media to engage with customers, and use social media tracking tools to study up on their posting habits and which posts are most effective.
It’s not all about copying your rivals, though. Be original and use the insights gleaned from your research to find original things that should appeal to your audience. Maybe your competition hasn’t tried a contest that potentially rewards the people who share your posts or creating and promoting a small hashtag to track discussion of your brand or a certain product. The possibilities are vast, and there are way too many copycats online, so think about what you can do to not only engage with your audience, but draw their interest.
Image via Flickr by thelir
This is the most important aspect for making your audience bigger. When you optimize the funnels and strategies used to build your customer base and find new leads, you can eventually scale up an efficient model, perpetually making a profit as you continue to spend smaller amounts of time and money on lead generation. Unfortunately, some business owners and marketers never actually get to the optimization stage, because they are constantly leapfrogging to new strategies, hoping to find one that is “easy.”
The truth is that the chance of striking gold and finding an easy way to draw in quality leads is very low, and even if you find one, the lack of effort taken will leave you unprepared to move on when the ship has sailed. Instead of constantly trying new lead generation strategies and giving up on them, pick one that appeals to your business and audience, test different strategies until you find something that works, and then optimize until it works well. You’ll finally be free of your constant hunt for the next big thing in audience building.
Segment and Re-target
Many expert marketers have repeated the same core advice for content marketing, audience building, and business in general: know your audience. But this mantra goes beyond just building a generic profile for your average customer. The concept of using data to invent a pretend ideal customer is all over the internet, but you can take this much deeper. Instead of reducing your customer base down to, say, “Shirley, age 25, single, lives in Northeast U.S., likes clean romance novels” and saying “All right, this is my average customer. I’ll target people like this.” Find the core divisions of your audience that matter to you, and then build profiles for each of them.
What sort of people are your repeat buyers? What sort of people are your one-time buyers? What sort of people rarely buy, but frequently share your content on social media? Study any divisions so that you know exactly what sort of content, language, tactics, etc. will please these groups. It takes time, research, and testing, but if you accurately discover the average person among your audience segments, you can target each with what they like best for more repeat sales, more one-time buys, more social media shares, and whatever other key performance indicators you can link to a particular group.
Never go into an audience generation campaign until you are dedicated to attaining a certain quality of clientele. Audience building can be made into a partly automated process if you fine tune it enough, but that won’t happen unless you’re only pulling in people who earn your business revenue in one way or another, and you know how to inspire their full engagement.
You can’t go wrong with content marketing if you aim to attract leads through free material such as blog posts or videos, as long as you’re aiming it at the right potential customers and that content is good enough to convince them to buy from you further down in the sales path. Above all else, good content is necessary to filter out disinterested or lackluster leads, so don’t skimp on your content campaign or approach it halfheartedly. When you take all the lessons based around content, audience outreach, and social media seriously, the pieces come together.