Knowing Your Audience is the Key to a Successful Blog
Why do you have a blog? If your answer is because most other businesses in your niche do, you are dead wrong. If you are looking at your blog as just something you “need” to do, then just stop.
Let’s look at the right answer. You have a blog because it is a part of your content marketing strategy. It is where you educate, entertain, and inspire people – people who should ultimately become customers.
You have a blog to ultimately make money.
Every blogger has “been there.” He writes what he thinks is an amazing post, hoping to drive a bunch of new readers, who then turn into followers, follow-through on calls to action, and become new customers. It is an epic fail – very few readers, lack of engagement and follow-through, and certainly no interest in coming back for more.
What went wrong?
It didn’t “connect.” For some reason, it didn’t resonate, because it was not what your intended audience was looking for. Which begs the question – what is your audience looking for?
If you haven’t answered this question, then you don’t know your audience. And no more content should be written until you really do.
So, let’s unpack how you get to know your audience and then how you design and produce content that will resonate, grow that following, and get those conversions.
- What do You Already Know About Your Customer?
You have customers who have purchased your products/services. And some of them have probably returned to re-purchase.
What is it about your offering that makes them buy from you? What problem or pain point are you solving for them? And do you know anything about their demographics?
You may have an audience that is diverse and yet still has common needs and wants. And you need to know what those are.
One thing you should consider is a customer survey about these things. People will usually provide their opinions, especially if you offer an incentive – a discount or freebie perhaps.
This is an “old-school” method, but it does still provide some valuable information.
The other and more scientific method is to use what technology now provides, specifically in the arena of data science.
- How Can You Use Data Science?
Ron Johnson became the CEO of JC Penney, as it was faltering. He set about changing the entire image of the brand. He sacked the private Penney’s label and instead stocked designer labels; he sacked the coupon and discount programs for “everyday low prices.”
It was a disaster. He now admits that he really did not know the Penney’s customer well enough – someone who wants a bargain, who does not want designer-labels, and who doesn’t want to pay a lot for his clothing. He should have taken a lesson from Kohls. He should have invested in some solid data science.
There are oceans of unstructured data floating around in cyberspace. You may not have the internal IT staff to collect and churn it, but there are a large number of data science services that do.
The key is to ask the right questions about your audience, to develop a customer persona based on real data, not gut feelings. According to data research expert Tony Zambito:
“Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.”
Consider how a bank uses data science to learn about its target audience and then decide what types of retail loan products it should offer. Data science gathers information about previous popularity of loan products, those that have become unpopular, what types of consumers “buy” specific loans, and will predict the types of products they will find popular. This allows the bank to create loan products and market them to its audiences.
Data science will give a blogger lots of valuable customer information, no matter what the product or service. It can be used to drive topic selection, verbiage, type of humor, psychological triggers, pain points and problems, things that will inspire, and more.
In short, the data allows you to “connect” with your audience in very personal ways.
- Use Your Customer Persona to Empathize
Now that you know who your customer is, what he wants, and what keeps him up at night, you are ready to “empathize,” – putting yourself in their shoes and crafting blog content that shows you understand their needs and wants.
Dan Collier, a content marketer for Studicus, puts it this way:
“A large chunk of our clientele are college students who are totally overwhelmed with the sheer amount of essay and research paper assignments they face, along with the other stressors of college life. Our blog focuses on tips to make their academic, social, financial, and emotional college life better. Along the way, we also include content that this demographic will find humorous and inspirational.”
Determine how you can empathize with your customer’s pain points. Dollar Shave Club built an entire business around empathy – the frustration consumers have of running out of disposable razors or having to make a special trip to the store to buy them. Now, they get those razors delivered to their mailbox once a month. Its audience is mostly millennial (and coming Gen Z’ers), and its site and blog content are built around personal grooming issues (much of it is also hilarious).
Crafting Amazing Blog Posts for Your Audience
Now that you have a full picture of your audience, you are ready to craft those posts. Let’s look at the factors that should be included:
- Choosing the Topics
It’s all about quality – quality in the eyes of your customers, that is, not necessarily yours. And quality in this sense translates to relevance to the personas you now have.
You can use a lot of tools as you explore topics. Here are some key ones:
► Buzzsumo has a topic explorer based upon a lot of research. You will learn which topics are the most popular with your audience.
► SemRush Topic Research will comb the web, based upon relevant keywords and how often consumers in your niche use those keywords to search for content, as well as the popularity of specific content.
► Ahrefs is a bit like a search engine, and it has a huge database. You can enter a topic and it will return related content and its popularity level.
► Check out the blogs of your competitors. Look at those that are most popular. The idea is not to copy but to take topic ideas and see how you can improve them and provide some unique and new insights. You can use MozBar to find these popular blogs in your niche, saving you lots of time. These are blogs/posts that Google has ranked high.
- Matching Style to Audience
Every piece of content has a message (topic). How that message is delivered is just as important as the message, if it is to resonate with your audiences. And this is all a part of the style of your posts.
The style includes vocabulary, how formal or informal, reading level and the “voice” of the brand. It also includes, by the way, the “look” of the piece (short or long paragraphs, use of headings, bullet points, and the visuals that are included).
These are all choices made based upon your understanding of your audience. It’s sort of like clothing styles – the choices people make send messages about themselves. What is your style saying about your brand?
Let’s unpack the factors of the style.
- Vocabulary: Your audience has a certain level of sophistication. Someone looking for pet supplies, for example, will not want “scientific” terminology that has little meaning or that he may not understand. On the other hand, a seasoned programmer will understand computer technical terminology.
Choose a vocabulary that fits the product or service you offer and the consumer who is looking for it. If you are selling a baby diaper subscription service, the blog post vocabulary should be simple and direct, as well as include words that have an emotional appeal to new mothers.
For example, in the case of TrustMyPaper.com writing agency, vocabulary (including current slang terms) is selected to resonate with students, a young audience with very specific and largely informal voice tone, except, of course, when they have to write academic papers.
If you are selling power tools, obviously the vocabulary will be far different – appealing to hands-on skilled workers and DIY enthusiasts who want to be able to “see” and “feel” the toughness of a product.
- Level of Formality: If your audience is scientific or in some other way comprised of niche professionals, the style may be more formal. However, for the majority of customers/clients, posts should be informal and conversational in tone. Use short sentences and simple language
- Reading Level: Most experts believe that the vast majority of blog posts should be at the reading level of 7th grade. This impacts both vocabulary and sentence structure. And, they recommend active rather than passive voice. Use a tool such as Readable to test this.
- Brand Voice: Every brand has a voice, and that voice should be used to match the audience you have. Some brands are more serious with more serious customers (e.g., financial services) while some are far more casual and even fun (e.g. Dollar Shave Club). Customers expect a language tone that matches their own conversational language, their senses of humor, etc.
- Incorporating Visuals/Media
No blog post should ever be published without visuals. Why? Because walls of text are an immediate turnoff. People are in a hurry; they want to be engaged immediately, and they want to take in any message quickly. And the more you can say with visuals, the better.
Research shows that the human brain processes visual information 60,000X faster than textual. And it retains visual information better. Photos, graphs/charts, drawings, and video are all effective ways to get your message across. And, like text, they, too, must be appropriate for your brand voice and your audience.
But make no mistake – visuals must be included in your posts. They are part of what will keep readers moving forward.
- Providing Interactions
One of the best ways to keep customers and potential customers engaged is to get them involved in your content. This can be done in a number of ways:
► Include surveys that let them express opinions on your content, your product/service, or related news items that might be a hot topic.
► Ask questions for discussion at the end of the post, and encourage readers to comment, interacting with one another. This helps to establish a “community” of sorts. Regular readers and commenters will also often bring in their friends who are also a part of your target audience. (of course, you have share buttons too)
- Using Your Audience for Brand Spread
Again, if you know your audience, you know where they hang out online. And many in their communities are similar in demographics. Ask them to share your posts with their friends and provide an incentive to do so.
- Leading Relationships to Purchases
Because you know your audience intimately, and because you have worked to develop relationships through your content, you are in a position to lead your audience to conversions.
Nudge them. Use small and subtle call-to-action phrases throughout your posts, even if it to subscribe to your blog via email (you then get that address), or to access a page on your website that provides additional information about your products or services. Use your blog as the beginning of a buying journey to new customers and as a return for existing ones.
Remember – It’s All About Them
Every post you create and publish must have one purpose in mind – how is this piece providing value to my audience? Am I educating, entertaining, and/or inspiring the people I have come to know so well?
If you can do this consistently, your following will grow. And as your following grows, so will your chance to establish real connections. Of course, as connections are established, people are willing to take your advice, see you as an expert, and begin their purchasing journey with your brand.
Dorian Martin is a professional writer and content creator working with GrabMyEssay.com and WowGrade.com, among other companies. He’s also an essay contributor at BestEssayEducation.com, where he specializes in topics of health, fitness, and nutrition.
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