The Internet is perhaps the single biggest technological development to affect the world of mass media, making it easier and faster than ever for just about anyone to transmit messages to as many people as possible.
The Internet lets audiences provide feedback to whatever content you throw out there, which they can also share with each other.
But as a business, what if your audience isn’t online?
Let’s say that most people who buy at your store—an arts and crafts shop—are seniors.
Naturally, you may think your target audience is composed primarily of people above the age of 50. In turn, this might give you the idea that your audience probably doesn’t use the Internet.
In cases like this, should you still start a blog or invest in content marketing in general?
Short answer? Yes.
Below are a few reasons to start blogging now, and things you need to do in order to more effectively target your audience better.
Rely on data and research, not assumptions.
Even if you have an existing clientele, don’t assume you’re dealing with a homogenous audience.
Doing so means you’re only making educated guesses and using anecdotal evidence instead of real data.
It used to be that the way for a business to identify its target audience was to determine their:
- Specific needs
While much of traditional audience research process still applies online, there are major differences to take note of.
- For starters, location isn’t as important on the Internet, not unless you’re exclusively targeting an online audience within your city or state.
- And age? Suffice to say it’s no longer what it used to mean, not when many 50-year-olds are just as familiar with new technology and many 30-year-olds have still yet to own their own homes.
Note that the kind of audience data you will need depends on your product and service, the industry or niche you are in, and whether your business is a B2B or B2C enterprise.
Focus on lifestyle, not qualities of specific people.
And just because your brick-and-mortar business’ primary clients are a certain demographic, doesn’t mean they’re the only people you should be reaching out to. Instead, what you should be looking at is lifestyle.
- What are your customers buying habits? What is their business or life situation?
- What would they potentially want from your brand?
- What are their pain points?
- What problems do they have that need your help?
Rather than think of the ‘who,’ focus instead on personas. This brings us to our next point.
Develop customer personas
Developing customer personas will help you understand your customers and potential customers. In turn, your personas will help you create custom content and messages, as well as products and services designed for the needs and behaviors of your different customer groups.
Simply put, even if you know your target audience is mostly composed of people over the age of 40, are you sure of their specific interests and needs? What characteristics do your ideal buyers share?
In other words, your customer personas will help you figure out what makes your customers tick.
There are no hard and fast rules for how many personas to create. Depending on the kind of business you run, you could have as many as 20 personas, to as little as 1 or 2.
One way of developing customer personas is to talk to your actual customers. This brings us to the next tip…
Conduct a customer survey
Your paying customers are a rich source of marketing information, so don’t hesitate to ask them questions.
One of the best ways to do that is by conducting customer surveys, which will allow you to get inside your customers’ minds and understand how they buy, and more importantly, why the buy.
Of course, customer research can be a challenging task, which is why I wouldn’t suggest surveying all your customers. At the very least, gather insights from 20 customers and a maximum of 100.
Below are a few examples of questions to ask your customers:
- Profile questions – Your customers can tell you about themselves, which will allow you to gather demographic and geographic location data on your audience.
- How and why do you use our product or service? – This will allow you to get insights on how your customers use your product/service, why they use it, and what purpose it serves in their lives.
- How did our product or service improve your quality of life? – What improvements did your product or service give to the lives of your customers? This will help you make improvements on your product/service features to make them even better.
- What is the best feature of our product or service? – Identify what your customers like best about your product or service. This should then be a part of your content marketing campaign’s core message.
- Was our product or service part of a selection process? – This question will help identify your competition and other products and services your customers see as being similar to yours. In turn, this will allow you to zero in on your brand’s advantages, especially when writing your marketing copy.
- What finally pushed you to choose our product or service? – What convinced your customers that choosing your brand was the best decision? This should give you an idea of what part of your product and marketing efforts are working.
- Did you have any hesitations or second thoughts before choosing our product? – This will allow you to identify main sources of friction, allowing you to fix them if necessary.
- Did you have questions about our product or service that you couldn’t find answers to? – Many product purchases fail or are abandoned because of insufficient information. Asking this question will let you identify missing information on your website and landing page copy your customers want.
- What products or services do you wish we could offer? – Your customers could very well be your best source of ideas for new products, so you might as well ask them for suggestions.
- Do you have any other suggestions and feedback? – It never hurts to gather as much feedback from your customers on how you can improve your product and customer service, and what they’d like to see on your site.
Just be sure the customers you survey actually remember their purchase experience. If a customer’s last purchase was more than six months ago, it’s highly likely they’ve forgotten what happened and will provide you with inaccurate feedback.
Blogging offers an opportunity to be social
Many business owners have the wrong mindset with blogging. For them, blogging is probably a way to get traffic from search engines—an observation they got from looking at popular blogs.
But the truth is that new blogs rarely (if ever) get a lot of visits from Google. The search engine ranks sites by authority, meaning it pushes blogs it knows are authoritative and influential sources of information.
Rather than focusing on search engines, concentrate your efforts on building interest on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and even Instagram offer several opportunities for your to drive traffic to your site using content assets in the short run.
Investing time in social media also lets you send out ‘feelers’ that capture leads from your potential customers.
Of course, this means you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time interacting with your audience, reaching out to your local community, making friends with your customers and influencers in your industry, and sharing your stories.
Boost your content’s visibility with paid ads
Once you’ve developed your customer personas, you can use the data you have to create targeted ad campaigns to capture traffic and leads from platforms like Facebook Ads and Google AdWords.
Paid ads work, and in some cases, may work better at getting in front of your target audience.
Don’t be afraid to diversify your ad campaigns, especially if you’re just starting out. For some businesses, Google AdWords and Google Product Listings might be the most effective and cost-efficient option.
For others, Facebook might be where their relevant customers are. It all depends on your circumstances, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Remember, just because you think your audience isn’t online, doesn’t mean that’s the way things really are.
Given how cost-efficient blogging and content marketing is next to traditional marketing methods, there are very few reasons not to invest in creating content for your audience.
Your job is to understand your audience by conducting objective and fact-based research. Talk to your customers, ask them to fill up surveys, and refer to the analytics data when framing your website copy and your core marketing message.
Above all, don’t rely on assumptions. While traditional marketing can still be effective at reaching out to your audience, failing to take advantage of the Internet’s ability to reach out to potential customers is akin to leaving money on the table.
How do you reach an audience that you perceive to be totally offline?