A business is always trying to reach and connect with their audiences. From picking up the phone when a customer or client calls, to interacting with someone that has walked into the store, the business owner and staff are able to interact with the customer, gain insight about them and their needs, and assist them as well as (hopefully) make the sale.
When it comes to a company’s website or social media channels, too often audience definition, audience development, and an audience capture strategy are never defined and documented. The intimate customer-knowledge, gained by experience and touch points with clients/customers every day, is never translated to the online presence. The company neglects to incorporate everything that makes them successful in real life, everything that makes them unique, everything that would enable them to grow their audience and foment new customer/client relationships.
In the absence of those touch points, most website strategies are doomed to a slow failure. There is little to zero connection being made with the reader, as the website isn’t speaking to that specific reader, but instead to a one-dimensional generic reader. No connection is being made, or even being attempted.
Imagine walking into your neighborhood ice cream parlor, where you’ve known the owner for years on a first name basis. You walk in “hey Jerry, what’s the new and awesome flavor today?!” And Jerry responds “hello, sir, welcome to the parlor, here is some of our generic vanilla in a cup.”
A business and a website only work when each talks to the person making the inquiry, learns about their needs/wants, and fulfills them in the best way possible.
An Exercise in Definition
One of the most challenging, and probably most rewarding tasks that we engage in with a client is our Audience Development worksheet. During this exercise, we work with the client to exhaustively define each type of user that could end up at the website, and then for each user type, subtypes.
Using those user types (also known as Buyer Personas), we create situations for each type and many of the sub-types.
- What is their need or challenge?
- Why are they coming to the site?
- What are they looking for?
- How are they looking for it?
- What types of queries did they use and how are those queries structured?
- Are we answering their needs and questions?
- How are we guiding them from question to answer and solution?
- Is that challenge that they have being optimally addressed, and then are we easily moving them to one or more goal conversions for the site/business?
- Are we making a positive and lasting impression?
This exercise is set up to walk you through as many of the primary situations that your business or website would encounter. It is user-focused so as to focus your efforts on that one user, that one persona, and allow you to re-connect with the one-to-one sales relationship that your business has in person or over the phone.
Example – the guy with a dead car battery
A guy walks out of his house in the morning and discovers he has a dead car battery. How is your business going to be the one that he deals with? What would his buyer persona look like and what questions would you ask?
Let’s say, if he’s finding you via search, that he’s in his mid-20s to late 30s, structuring his query “how to fix a dead car battery”, or possibly “how to test if your car battery is dead”. He’s trying to be a DIYer, so you give him some simple methods of testing. You walk through identifying what battery he currently has so he can easily order a new one. You clearly show him where your local stores are relative to him, or a way to easily find them. You provide a click-to-call number since you know he’s on his cell phone. You might even provide services for quickly delivering the battery to him within the hour so he can go to work. You even show how to remove the old battery and replace it with the new battery.
But, if your thinking is missing this persona method, chances are you’re just providing a link to your different batteries and technical details about each one.
See the problem?
Example – the athletic trainer
Sports medicine and athletic training websites have a signficant challenge: their content must appeal to a broad audience, many with very diverse needs and focuses. For example, visitors to the website might be a professional athlete, a teenager looking to stay fit, someone hoping to lose weight through exercise, someone recovering after an injury…
Being able to write content to each of these very diverse audiences, each with their own unique needs, enables you to write more effective content, and bond with each more intimately. From your subject matter to your title to your meta description, all of this can be targeted as if you’re speaking to one person(a) in particular.
You can do this through segmentation in your content and media distribution/dissemination channels (different lists to be followed, etc.), but also by realizing that few people will follow the main or “general” list, instead coming in through one of your highly specific and targeted blog posts, and then branching out from there.
You will be capitalizing on your semantic search strategy by utilizing intent-driven queries to drive traffic to these focused landing pages within your site.
In order to fully capitalize on a semantic search strategy, as well as make your web site and web strategy more effective in communicating with your audiences, it is imperative that you go through the process of defining those audiences. The audiences that you’re targeting, but also the audiences that are coming to you, increasingly from Mobile Search.