I’ll primarily use 2 examples of building an audience from my past…
How to find similar sites. What are their audiences? What are they doing that’s working or not?
Of considerable use when the audience is large. Helps narrow your focus.
Showed us what we did not expect. That the main audience was fragmented into different wants and needs, showed us a segment we were ignoring, and allowed us to prioritize the segments (when paired with sales and customer data)
Now you know a little about your potential audience and what is important to them, what next? What do you say to them? Partly you have to try, test, fail, try again. Again, data is great, but start by just having a conversation with them.
What venue makes the most sense. Your site obviously...Offline could be local newspapers, radio, TV, charity events. There are lots of places to grow your audience.
At BD we really started from nothing (in 2000) and we made assumptions about this initially that were wrong (contractors) and tried to develop that audience. Didn’t work so well because we were trying to drive the bus not letting customers do it. Came to the realization that wasn’t working, retail sales became more prevalent (customer base was changing) and we started getting a little more experienced about marketing. Took a lot of soul searching and some long slow lobbying of the CEO who believed so passionately in his vision that he though customers would simply conform to what he wanted.
I did start with a site (and later a network of sites) that I inherited and it allowed me to have some data to start with on the audience. This gave me at least a basic demo to start from.
So I went about it the way I knew, find content I though relevant to them, start producing and sharing, and let readership grow. Except it didn’t work. Again I made an assumption that I knew better. In this case (to some degree) the previous owners were right customers were so unused to hearing from us out of season and for other reasons that at first they simply left. Clearly this was a very different kind of audience. The content we did produce fell flat (buying guides, gift guides, etc). In this case since it was a fairly web un-savvy audience, of primarily women, one venue we targeted was FB. Looking at our FB stats they were very heavily weighted to our target audience. Previously we had done RSS, Manual posts about ads and about our content and useful content) Armed with the knowledge that they were moms, etc, we out together a totally different campaign (show examples of posts and engagement).The audience was about the DAY. Planning, make it easier, help me decide.
Give example and mention mobile. Why? We were entertaining them with content relevant to them that was easy to consume. That’s what THIS audience wants, not ALL audiences.
Wildfire’s prices have come way down since Google bought them
insights we are gaining there are invaluable such as... what to buy (especially tech stuff and roundups of best deal at best place. They want someone to tell them what to buy)
The big stores did not ask or listen to customers and had huge negative backlash. Commiserate with the audience. Rather than support the big brands we sympathized with users to create a tighter bond. It was self serving (store openings were during our peak hours and we encouraged people to shop online instead of ruining thanksgiving dinner).
BlueGlass X 2012How to Build a Large, PassionateAudience From Scratch with NoConnections
Who Am I?• 12 years of online marketing and product merchandizing experience in e-commerce and affiliate marketing• Worked in all facets of online marketing with a focus on SEO, Social, and Content• Currently with Reinvent an in-house incubator for one of the largest domainers in the world• Run my own P/T consulting business
My Audiences• BuildDirect.com – long buying cycle, complex products, high $ value but a broad audience.• BlackFriday.com - very seasonally focused site with a short buying cycle, very focused on a single day - Long build up and must both capture the audience beforehand retain them, but also must lure them away from the competition just before buying
Getting Started• Who are they?• What’s important to them?• Where do you talk to them / find them?• How do you get their attention?• How do you get them to act to join you?• How do you get them to share and expand the audience for you?
Who Are They?• Make some assumptions• You have to start somewhere• Don’t let the assumptions stand too long w/o more info• Prepare the organization to re-evaluate or change audiences• Make a list of sites like yours
Who Are They?• Google Ad Planner https://www.google.com/adplanner/
Ask Them!• Talk to your customers – Surveys – Ask similar people• Surveys – 4Q http://www.4qsurvey.com/ – Survey Monkey http://www.surveymonkey.com/
Create Personas• What’s a Persona?• How do I build them?• Allows you to put yourself in their shoes• Segment and prioritize large diverse audiencesResources:• http://usability.gov/methods/analyze_current/personas.html• http://www.stcsig.org/usability/topics/personas.html• http://boxesandarrows.com/making-personas-more-powerful-details-to- drive-strategic-and-tactical-design/• http://uxmag.com/articles/personas-the-foundation-of-a-great-user- experience• http://www.amazon.com/The-User-Always-Right-Practical/dp/0321434536/
Create Personas Debbie Do-it-Yourselfer• Debbie is a 35 year old married woman with 2 school age kids. Debbie’s home is important to her. She likes to entertain and takes pride in having a stylish home that others admire. Debbie enjoys reading home decorating and gardening magazines. Debbie and her husband Dan are of middle income but Debbie aspires to the types of homes she sees on TV and in the magazines.• Dan Do-it-yourselfer, Sam Small-contractor, Dan Developer
What’s Important to Them?• What works for your competition? Don’t be afraid to be a fast follower for a while.• Ask around• Phone Calls• Picked (via email) a group of customers then we simply phoned them and asked – What do you like about the site? – What resources do you use to do research? – What other sites do you like? – What matters to you when you make a decision? – Do you use Facebook, Twitter, browse on your phone, etc. – Etc.
Where Do You Talk to Them?• Suit the medium to the audience• Don’t just think about online• Participate where they do• Developers might be Reddit, Hacker News• Marketers might be Twitter, marketing blogs• Retail buyers might be Facebook, your own blog, “shopping” blogs, etc.
What We Did @ BuildDirect.com• Started with an assumption of who they were• We were WRONG• Talked to customers, surveyed them, built personas• What did they want? Aspirations. Dream home.• Give them what they wanted – room scenes, blog posts on interior design, engaged designers, participated in forums• Went other places they would be: TV, Home improvement shows.
What We Did @ BuildDirect.com• Tried FB and completely failed, it wasn’t what they wanted• Gave away free stuff (samples) with tons of our branding• Long slow build• Follow up, customer service, and word of mouth was one of the best audience builders.• The audience was built by other audience members, but not through social• One way was to let them show off their homes, let them do the promotion
What We Did @ BuildDirect.com• Then went after smaller audience segments (builders)• Industry organizations (even local, Twitter)• Use different speakers for different segments (CEO for getting professionals to follow on Twitter, etc.)
What We Did @ BlackFriday.com• With Black Friday it was very different• The basic “audience” was everyone who shops on Black Friday.• This year that was 247,000,000 Americans. 80% of the country.• First step, again, figure out who they are• Women, 25-45, middle income and middle education, overwhelmingly with kids 0-17.• Previous owners made no attempt to develop the audience through any means besides the site and reactive PR.• No content (none) and no customer service.
What We Did @ BlackFriday.com• Started the same way as BuildDirect. Same audience must equal same tactics, right?• Wrong!!!• Back to the drawing board• Not just who they are but what they want• Talked extensively to – former owners – several very experienced retail people who had BF experience, – internal and external people who loved BF
What We Did @ BlackFriday.com• Now I had a better idea of what users wanted from us• Did not want to hear from us out of season• They wanted quick hits, things that made life easy• Go back to who they are, what they like, and where they are• Timely updates (the fastest), easy to read, not complicated, not too far of what they expected (yet).
What We Did @ BlackFriday.com• Armed with the knowledge that they were moms, etc, we out together a totally different campaign• Given the audience, Facebook was the best place to test• Looked at FB stats to confirm – 75% female , 55% age 25-44• Went to image based posts that women, esp. moms could identify with• The audience on FB began to grow rapidly• Former best post was 20K views, 783 Likes, 136 Comments, 292 Shares
Facebook• Ask for the Like, Share, Comment, etc.• Give them a reason to visit the site• 50% of our growth came from mobile on Facebook• Mobile ads to Like pages• Images, Images, Images!• Make sure images are optimized for mobile. (403px × 271px)
Facebook• Give-aways• Simple to run• I like Wildfire http://www.wildfireapp.com/ and Strutta http://www.strutta.com/• Almost $0 outlay on our part added 120K email subscribers• People love free stuff
Email• Email is our fastest, most reliable, cheapest way to reach our audience• Make email signup obvious• We place it on every page and have it follow the user as they scroll• Strong call to action and create urgency• Match email to the rest of your audience building• Leverage email to build audience in other places
Mobile• 38% of traffic was mobile (18% last year)• Created iPhone and iPad apps• Used other media to push apps• #1 Free Lifestyle app in 24 hrs• We can push content to them and keep us top of mind• Let’s us provide the content our audience wants
Future Growth• We continue to learn by listening• As the network grows they will tell you how to grow it more• Where? UserVoice http://www.uservoice.com , FB, site comments, social media monitoring• Now we know better what they want and can create that content
Results• Has this stuff worked?• Since mid Sept we have increased our audience by: – 800K Facebook fans – 500K email subscribers – 900K mobile app downloads – 1 in 20 Americans visited the site in Nov. – 200M pageviews – 45% Growth YoY
Tips - Where• Facebook just use pics and video• Twitter much better for growing professional networks, really hasn’t worked in either case for us for retail stuff• Use every medium that makes sense• Think beyond the traditional web. Mobile, apps, print, radio, TV, web video, are all ways to reach your audience. How do they work together to present the same message and to drive your audience to your most effective media?
Tips - What• Don’t give them too little, but also don’t give them more than they want• Don’t underestimate or over-estimate your audience• Respond when they ask questions• Sympathise with their troubles• Create urgency – why do they want to pay attention to you NOW
Tips• Don’t assume like demographics want the same things at the same time• What they want from your site is as important as who they users are• Create an authoritative voice on the subject matter• Users want to feel like you are the expert• Know your industry (trends, deals, products, etc.)