Engaging Digital Audiences Through Content

Defining your audience, developing a voice they can resonate with and content they will listen to are essential steps in cultivation of an online audience. This post covers tools and strategies on how to go about this.
Published on Oct 5 2015 by Brett Montgomery

If you haven’t read my earlier guide on Social Media I suggest you go back and do this now, part one and part two provide a breakdown of what social media channels are out there and profiles their respective audiences.

Having an idea of what the social media landscape looks like is only part of the challenge. Working out how to engage your audience is the real key to attaining conversions.

What content to create, what will work and what will engage an audience is not simple to ascertain. This is due to the fact there is not simple one size fits all answer. The fundamental goal for all content should be to cut through the clutter. To do this the focus should be providing content that resonates with your audience are their broader aims. In saying this, simply getting your content seen is just as pivotal. The following points outline key considerations to make and tools to help you achieve great content.

Identify your market and speak their language

target audience

There is no such thing as content that appeals to all groups - find your market.

A trap many businesses fall into is having too broad a target market and trying to be all things to all people. This is fraught with danger as this approach will leave your audience unsure of the value you are trying to deliver to them. It is not to say catering for specific niches is the only route to success, segmenting your audience is a great way to divide the audience into similar wants and needs. This enables you to create content that appeals to each group through specific and direct appeals. If you need a little more info on developing personas David has outlined the basics already.

The voice of your communications speaks a thousand words.

Every business needs to craft a voice and tailor their communications to be specifically for and resonate with their audience. There are many examples of this ranging from great through to extremely bad, being conscious of, and implementing a system of measurement and reflection for all strategies is a way to safeguard against wasting resources in this area. Content should be delivered consistently and add value for those who are reading it. This may not always lead to a direct conversion of sale but can go a long way to building your brand reputation. In a competitive market, reputation can clinch a client in their decision stage.

Investigate relevant content

magnifying glass

If the content is irrelevant to your persona it’s not worth having.

Careful selection of that what will fit with your brand is also essential. Writing an article completely unrelated to the business you’re in will damage your brand. You have no authority on this topic and the disconnect between topic and author will be plain for all to see. This is definitely a task that is easier said than done, however there are tools to help you keep your proverbial ear to the ground.

Tools to Define your Audience

Find out what engages your audience through primary research.

There is no tool more powerful than first hand customer feedback. Survey Monkey is a easy to use tool that empowers you build online surveys to send out to your target audience. Once you have identified this some feedback and insight into what they want to see.

Google Analytics is an essential tool. Use of which can help you measure how engaging the content on your site is. Tracking numbers of pageviews and comparing with time on page is one of the myriad ways to analyse traffic allowing the successes and failures to be identified. Using this data to learn what works, what doesn’t and what can be repeated is a great way to gradually build better engagement. Laura’s post on data driven marketing is a must read on this topic.

Distribution 

delivery keyboard button

You can create as much great content as you like, but if you don’t get the distribution right it will go to waste.

Ensuring content is posted and distributed at the right time is essential. Placing yourself into the shoes of your audience is essential in working out when content should be posted, whether this is when audience members are commuting home from work or on the couch watching TV this is precisely when you need to be front and center. If you think of a Twitter feed as a broader example for the internet, it is easy to imagine how quickly a post can drop from the top and be lost into the virtual abyss of content. Unless you strike at the right time your desired audience may not ever see what you have created.

Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute champions social media automation to facilitate this process, and boost the efficiency of this process. Automation may seem like another machine with an endless thirst for fresh content. This also represents a way to share content with those who missed it or get more mileage out of older evergreen content.

Other tips to look into:

idea spark

It has been long heralded and greatly documented that the free ride on Facebook is dead, so if you choose this channel you will likely have to pay to reach your audience. As you would with an resource investment, get educated and make sure you are going to get the best possible ROI. Some simple strategies that can be used as a jumping off point are listed here.

Use of Influencers (similar to using endorsers) in social media marketing is on the rise especially for companies in the B2C retail space. Audiencebloom offers a list of tips on how to engage influencers, however the hard task for certain businesses is identifying who these influencers may be.

Linking - a method of lending authority to your content through use of citations.

By citing the work of already established authorities in the same market as your business, linking can provide a boost for your sites SEO. This can be done by simply including links of existing articles on relevant topics within your own content. Exemplified throughout this piece and explained further here, the links you choose to include can be from other sites and within your own site as well.

Engaging an audience through digital channels can be a challenging task, armed with the above hints and tips a boost in traffic should not be too far away. The mantra that will ensure all efforts are not in vain is; adding value to the audience member. Essentially, if the targeted persona would not see value in, or understand the point of what you are doing this is a sign that you’re wasting your time.