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How to Build a Loyal Online Audience

How to Build a Loyal Online Audience

When it comes to attracting traffic to your website or blog, you want more than just click-through.

What you really need is engagement – people who are going to stick around long enough to hear what you have to say, and to respond in some meaningful way. This involves developing a content strategy that will help you reach your target audiences, and in turn, generate more leads and engagement.

Know your audience

It also requires more than creating the most brilliantly written blog post in existence or having the latest state-of-the-art website (as important as these things are) in the vague hope that someone somewhere will stumble across them at some stage. Rather, you need to implement a very strategic approach for promoting what you have to offer.

There are numerous ways to make this happen, and if you’re currently reading up about content marketing (or its close relative, inbound marketing), these may already sound familiar.

1. Know your audience

Step one in all this is knowing who you are writing for and why. For example, your tone and content in the B2C space (writing for customers) is probably going to be quite different from that used in B2B (business-to-business).

Knowing your target audience well – what interests and inspires them and what they are looking for – should always be at the forefront of any marketing exercise. This is certainly true when it comes building an online following.

Comprehensive personas – describing the interests, job roles, pain points and other criteria – for your target audiences can help you to strategise better when creating content in terms of topics, tone of voice and offering solutions to specific problems. Your copywriters also need to understand what appeals to your audience.

2. Optimise your site

If your site is not optimised for search engines (through the use of popular search terms for example) then you may be missing out on getting noticed online at all. If you don’t know how to do this, get an SEO professional to help make it happen.

Your site should also be adapted for mobile use. All the signs indicate that the use of mobile devices for accessing the internet is taking over from desktops. This means if your website or blog is hard to read or use on a smart phone or tablet, you may be reducing its impact. You can find out how well your site performs on mobile by using this Google mobile-friendly tool.

Promotion plan

3. Promote your website or blog – three ways

If you don’t share your content on other channels it may not reach the audiences you wish to target. Here are three options to consider.

Social media

Sharing your content on social media should definitely form part of your content plan, as it can help you to build your audience. It does however require more just than posting and seeing what happens. Some tips:

  • There is no need to share on every platform. Find out where and when your target audiences hang out, and time your posts accordingly. Make sure to always link back to your website or blog.
  • Use social channels to build a community and to show your business’s human face. This means you will need to engage with your audience and also respond to compliments and complaints.
  • Consider including visuals such as images and videos where appropriate, as these may attract more attention than text alone.
  • Make use of tools for managing your social media posts. Hootsuite, for example, enables you to manage your workflows across multiple platforms, schedule posts, track interactions, analyse responses, identify influencers, measure campaign impact, and perform various other activities. Hootsuite comes with a free option that you can use for up to three channels.
  • Make use of paid options (such as advertising or post boosts), as these enable you to do some low-cost marketing and can widen your impact considerably.

Email Newsletter

Email and e-newsletters

Email can be a great low cost or free method of promoting your content. However, as most of us know, people can tend to get so bombarded with emails that they end up unsubscribing just to clear their inboxes!

This means you need to be savvy about promoting through email, by using subject lines that will gain attention and providing interesting content that is relevant to your target audiences.

There are a number of email marketing tools available, including MailChimp, which allows you to create templates and campaigns and to track results and responses, enabling you to refine and improve your email activities.

Partner with influencers

Nothing really beats word-of-mouth marketing! The ideal situation occurs when people are so excited about your brand that they can’t help but tell their friends, either on social media or face-to-face.

However since that situation doesn’t usually just happen on cue, finding out who your best influencers are (i.e. those who interact with you and share your posts in their networks) and partnering with them is a good idea.

Measure performance

But, since identifying your key influencers is not always easy, you might be interested in tools that help to make it happen. One example is BoostSuite – an online marketing product that enables you to find businesses with a similar target audience to yours, and to partner with them in order to widen your circle of influence.

4. Test and analyse your content

It’s important, of course, to gain an understanding of how people are responding to your content. One way to do so is with software such as Google Analytics, which enables you to gain insights into your audience’s behaviour and preferences and to measure how well your blog post or website is faring.

Another way to test your website is through conducting experiments. Google Experiments lets you test different versions of your website to see which one gets the best response.

5. Repurpose your content

In your content strategy, you don’t actually have to come up with fresh content all the time! Repurposing your best-performing content into other formats – such e-books, infographics, slideshows and videos – can help widen its impact and also keep it in front of your audience in a new and fresh way.

Survey your customers

Another thing to consider in your content plan is promoting repurposed content across a variety of channels, perhaps altering the angle to suit the particular target audience in question.

6. Survey your audience

One way to find out what captures your audience’s attention and inspires them is to ask!

Conducting surveys can be made easier by using online tools such as Survey Monkey, which provides several different types of questions, survey templates, tips for conducting surveys, analytics, reporting and other features.

If you’ve done all the right things and created a great website or blog, but are still finding it’s hardly making a dent in your traffic or generating much in the way of leads, you might want to try out some of these tips for developing a content strategy.

This should help you to widen your impact, and engage with and build a faithful online audience.