Getting-To-Know-Your-Audience

When you start a website (or any kind of business really) it is very easy to lose track of things and focus on what you personally think needs to happen.  We all do it, it is perfectly natural to do this yet in the long run it can be quite damaging.  Any successful business knows that THE most important person for them is the customer.  You always have to keep putting yourself in the customer’s shoes to see where you need to improve, but in order to do that you need to know your audience!

Only by knowing who your audience is and knowing your target market can you begin to move forward as a business.  But how do you do that???

Questions To Ask Yourself

Websites and blogs are always trying to think of ideas for new content to publish on their site.  In fact, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is (along the lines of) “What can I write about for my site?”  I always give the same answer to this question – “Well who is your audience?” – which is often followed by “……erm?!?

Too often website owners seem to know absolutely nothing about the people that they are writing for.  This is crazy when you think about it as you wouldn’t expect other types of business to do this.  Only by knowing who your audience is can you better approach your website.

Take a few minutes to think about who your ideal reader would be.  Ask yourself;

  • Where do they live?
  • Where do they work?
  • What is their native language?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they male or female?
  • What kind of job do they do?
  • What kind of education do they have?
  • How much do they earn?
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have kids?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are they passionate about?
  • What are their driving ambitions?
  • What are their wants and needs?

Difference Between “Ideal” & “Actual” Audience

Now, there is a HUGE difference between your “ideal reader” and your “actual reader”.  Your ideal reader may be young, trendy, single and have a well-paid, exciting job, whereas the people who are actually visiting your site may be middle aged parents with little time on their hands due to having children.

This is why it is important to know your audience as you may be writing for the wrong kind of people.

How To Find Out Who Your Audience Is?

There are many different ways to actually find out who your audience is but one of the best ways is to use Google Analytics.  Analytics lets you track certain data that can give you a better understanding of who is actually visiting your site.  Specific data, such as; age, gender, language, location, in-market audiences, etc. can all be found within Analytics.

Google works this out by tracking the browsing tendencies of people online.  This is what “cookies” are used for, as they can help advertisers and website owners to better understand their audience.  Learn more about how Google determines user demographics.

Google Analytics - Location Demographics

So Analytics is good for learning about specific user traits, but what about other useful information, such as; passions, drives, wants and needs?  Well, a lot of this information is right there in front of you already.  Blog comments, social media streams, forums, emails, question and answer sessions, etc. that are already associated with your website can give you a big insight into the type pf people who are visiting your site.  If not, why not just ask your readers themselves.  At worst they can just say no, otherwise it can be a good way to get people talking and help to build a community around your site.

If you can use these two sets of information together you can build a more accurate representation of your audience.  That way, when you are thinking of ideas for what to write about, you can visualise what your audience would like to read about.

Create Reader Profiles

With the information that you gather about your audience, you can begin to piece together reader profiles.  The great thing about these profiles is that you can have more than one.

For example, let’s say that I ran a pet website.  My ideal reader would be family oriented, married people with young kids that have a dog or a cat.  The actual person that I found tends to read the site are people who are looking to buy their first pet, are quite young and often single.  I may also be able to create another profile of older individuals who have lots of pets who like reading about them.

Reader-Profiles

From these three simple profiles, I can come up with plenty of ideas better suited to each of them.  If my aim is to better target the “Family Oriented” people, perhaps I could publish more about pets & kids, for example.

There are plenty of ways to better understand your audience online.  Only by truly knowing who is visiting your site can you better aim your content and tailor it for them.

What type of people visit your website?  Which tools/programs/methods do you use to determine your audience?  We want to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.