Audience Development Strategies for Better Content Marketing

Jessica Thiefels on Tuesday, July 6, 2021

audience development

Audience development is a key part of the content marketing process—but are you making time for it? For example, take a moment to reflect on who is really reading your social media posts and blog content. Step away from the Google Analytics reports and instead focus on the people who turn to your posts. What are their needs? What do they like? 

Do you know the answers to these questions? Understanding your audience, and then putting them first is a key aspect of audience development. Irek Klimczak at GetResponse defines the process of audience development as nurturing a crowd of loyal people who keep returning to your brand.

When you truly know the people liking your social media posts, getting your marketing emails, and reading your blog content, you can anticipate their desires and their needs. This means you can create content that works even better because you know what they want. It also means those people are likely to come back for more because you have what they want and need.

Conversely, without this in-depth knowledge, your content will fall flat—your audience will turn to brands that actually understand them. Audience development means shifting from what you want from customers and moving toward what they need from you. 

Get started with audience development using these simple steps and strategies. 

Understand Why People Follow You

Are you trying too hard to make your brand seem fun and approachable? Do you model your posts after Red Bull and Wendy’s, even if you target a B2B audience? If this is the case then you might struggle to develop an audience who will engage with your brand in a meaningful way. 

Consider the data by Sprout Social, which found that 60 percent of consumers follow brands to learn more about their products or services. Additionally, 45 percent of consumers unfollow brands because of irrelevant content or too many ads. As soon as your content becomes irrelevant, your audience will stop engaging. 

Take time to understand the goals of your audience with a few key questions:

  • Do your followers want industry insight or tips to improve? 
  • Do they want to learn how to maximize usage of your products? 
  • Do they want to know more about your story and journey?

Knowing the goals of your customers is a key element of audience development that can’t be overlooked, no matter which area of content marketing you’re focused on. When you know this, you can tailor your content in a way that drives more engagement, traffic, and ultimately, sales.

See Your Entire Audience

Your customers don’t operate in a monolith. They don’t all have the same concerns or interests. While it’s important to get to know them as a whole, you can’t treat them like they’re all the same. If you do, you’ll struggle to see results.

“Not spending time creating a strategy for multiple target audiences often results in a weak brand message that attempts to appeal to everyone and ends up attracting no one,” says Courtney Farrow writes at Mattix Design. 

To understand the full spectrum of people in your audience, consider a few key questions:

  • How does our audience differ from platform to platform?
  • How can our content appeal to each audience member in one post or blog article?
  • How can we plan content for our entire audience? 

With this information, you can start to plan content accordingly—because all great content starts with a plan. For example, you might start doing “Newbie Wednesdays” for your beginner audience members on Instagram but stick to all technical content on Twitter.

Leverage Your Customer Service Team

Your customer service team is a valuable content resource. These people are on the front lines every day, hearing and learning what your care about most. This means they’re a valuable resource for audience development and content marketing.

Yet, this opportunity isn’t always leveraged as well as it could be. The 2020 State of Customer Service found that 31 percent of teams think their employers treat customer service like an expense, not an opportunity. Additionally, 39 percent of companies don’t track customer satisfaction or happiness.  

Bring your customer service team into the development process, starting by connecting with them on:

  • Questions they can ask or add into surveys to help you gather more data. 
  • Insights they’ve gained from talking with customers daily. 
  • Traits of your customers that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Build on the information you get from them and weave it into your content strategy. For example, you might start a blog post series answering questions specific to one element of your product that is commonly asked about. This content serves your audience in the way they want to be served.

Put a Face to Each Piece of Content You Create

One way to boost audience development is to create personas for them. Your personas can be in-depth, with information related to the number of kids an audience segment has or the number of years they worked at their current employer. It can also be simpler, more focused on big picture characteristics, like job industry or region. 

The value of this is not just to get to know your audience better, but to allow you to start knowing exactly who you’re creating content for. But don’t stop with identifying the personas. Take it a step further and bring them to the forefront of all that you do.

For example, you might identify who each piece of content is for. You can build this into your content calendar so every item is paired with a specific “person.” This type of awareness about your audience will help you better develop that sense of connection and ultimately see greater ROI from what you put out.

Don’t Overlook Audience Development

If you want to foster a close connection with your audience, you need to make a conscious effort toward these audience development strategies. Pick and choose the ones that feel most supportive for your brand and needs and execute so you can start creating better content.