Use Research on Target Audience Groups to Shape Your Web Content
Before you get serious about creating web content for your small business, it’s essential to identify the target audience groups on the Web that you want to reach. Successful communication starts with your intended audience—not with a message that you want to get across. Your message is important too, but if you don’t understand your target audience groups on the Web you won’t be able to give them the web content they want and keep their attention long enough for your message to matter.
Identifying your target audience groups on the Web and creating specific client personas or profiles will help you understand what your audience’s web content needs, wants, and, more importantly, WHO they are. Developing useful information about your target audience groups on the Web and specific personas requires research and a healthy dose of imagination. If you can start to see the world in ways that make sense to your target audience groups on the Web, current clients, and tomorrow’s customers you’ll be in a much better position to deliver valuable web content and grow your business.
The process of identifying target audience groups on the Web and creating client personas can help you think in terms of your collective audience and specific individuals at the same time. I like to break it down into 4 steps. Today’s post addresses steps 1 & 2.
- Describe your target audience groups on the Web in broad terms.
- Identify the characteristics of ideal clients who will be the best fit for your services.
- Build on what you know about your target audience groups on the Web to create detailed client personas.
- Use target audience groups and specific personas to shape your web content.
Be sure to ask yourself how your target web audience groups are similar to or different from your existing clients or customers. You may be shaping your web content to meet the needs of one core group or finding that your current clients don’t care what you do on the web. If that’s the case, you’ll need to identify new target audience groups for the Web.
Web content is a great tool for expanding your audience and reach. Make time to question your operating assumptions about each and every target audience group for your web content, learn from your research, and unleash your creativity along the way.
Describe Your Target Web Audience Groups
First, think in broad terms.
Who are your current clients or customers? Identify the types of people who use your services or products. If you’re just starting a business, who will you serve?
- Describe your current customers in demographic terms: age, sex, income level, education, geographic area, etc.
- What motivates them?
- What cultural touchstones, interests, or causes do they support or oppose?
- If your clients are businesses, what characteristics do they share?
- Do your individual clients tend to share particular personality traits?
- Why do they choose your services or products over the competition?
- What makes them willing to invest in your services? What keeps them coming back for more? Is it pricing, level of service, convenience, reputation, etc.
- How web savvy are they? Do they use the Web to find service providers like you? Or do they rely on personal referrals?
- How do they benefit from working with your business?
- What type of content can you provide that would be most useful for them? Information to help make decisions? Improve their practice? General background education? Entertainment?
- Do they gravitate to certain content formats? Video, written text, audio, etc.?
- What social networks do they frequent?
If you’re using the Web to reach different target audience groups, use the questions above to describe other types of clients that you’re trying to reach.
OK, that covers your perspective and experience. Now you need to learn what your clients are actually thinking by asking them a version of the same questions. Have some conversations, send out a survey, poll your network, whatever works for your situation.
Where Does Your Target Web Audience Meet Your Business Passion?
Every business has ideal clients—the ones who “get” you and your services or the ones that don’t want to live without your products. Ideal clients share certain characteristics as a group and identifying who you want to work with will also help with shaping your web content.
Take this time to question your own assumptions about what “ideal” means for you and your business. If you provide services that involve intensive client interaction, it’s especially important to identify what you like and don’t like about working with your current clients.
- Describe your ideal type of client–it may help you to build on your answers to the questions above.
- Describe the characteristics of some of your best clients. Why are they a good fit for your services?
- What’s your motivation? Why do you do what you do in business?
- What do you and your company have in common with the competition?
- What sets you and your company apart from competitors?
- Identify the benefits that your clients will enjoy when they choose to work with your company.
- Identify the benefits that your company will enjoy when you attract clients who are a good fit.
The Social Web helps small businesses make professionally personal connections with broad target audiences and ideal clients. Creating web content that matters to your audience plays a central role in achieving that overarching goal.
I’ll continue putting the puzzle together in my next post with tips for creating detailed client personas and examples of how to use what you know about your target web audience groups and specific client personas to shape the web content you create.