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An overview of audience development strategy
The definition of ‘audience development’ is fluid and (at present) not defined particularly well.
However, within the scope of this website I define audience development as distinct activities undertaken specifically (1) drive traffic to the destination website; (2) to maximise usage of the destination website by the audience; and (3) to increase conversions and sales by measurement and optimisation.
GENERAL TIPS FOR TRAFFIC GROWTH
The general tips within this section of the website act as a top-level guide as to the tasks. I will dig deeper into many of the points and relate them to other methodologies and tasks in other articles within the audience development section the knowledge base.
RESEARCH AND COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
- Discover what your primary competitors are doing?
- Benchmark your property against the top 3-4 relevant competitors, or businesses in similar spaces
- Profile the potential audience and industry as a whole
- Discover what functionality and/or content the industry desires most
EVERYTHING LEADS TO ROME
Every single activity undertaken must generate revenue either directly via sales, or indirectly via usage or brand awareness. All efforts must lead to Rome.
- Ensure that the business is producing the correct content mix and/or functionality to enable you to extract maximum usage and value from each user
- Produce evergreen content that has a long shelf-life. The quality of this content should be as high as possible
- Increase the Bang per Buck of the effort by ensuring that the business prioritises audience generating platforms over and above all others. Basically, do not waste time
SET TARGETS AND GOALS
- Identify key goals and objectives. What are you trying to achieve? Concentrate relentlessly on that and do not attempt to dilute the idea and/or concept to hit other supplementary but less important goals
- Ensure you can measure your progress against targets honestly and objectively
- Be conservative in your reporting of actuals, especially in terms of the top-level stats
- Set goals and milestones that are achievable… and ramp. Always be growing
- Break tasks down into suitable chunks. Chunks that are achievable over a stipulated period of time. This is both realistic and motivating
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITIES
- Ensure that the business and (especially) the editorial team are immersed within the relevant industry groups, communities and networks. Remember that this means not simply promoting the business, but promoting the business and community surrounding it. Historically, I have used a four posts to one link to home content methodology on social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit. I suspect the same strategy works today
- Target the correct demographics, industry verticals and special interest groups
- Be viral
- Run tests using popular Firefox and/or Firefox SEO-focussed toolbars and plugins, along with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools
- Make amendments to the portals based on the recommendations returned. Take special note of (1) speed; (2) crawlability; (3) text to code ratio; and (4) code errors
- Benchmark the results against other properties in order to gauge how competitive the site is. Personally, I like to do this after every iteration
- Seek out the highest quality links, including those with a .edu or .gov domain extensions
- MAke sure the source code is clean
- Optimise the sales funnel
- Constantly and relentlessly hone the marketing spend and mix in order to generate the best possible ROI from not just the budget, but also in terms of effort
- Always seek new opportunities
- Test the product. Where you see specific weaknesses amend. Do this in an ongoing progressive way to ensure constant innovation and that the product meets an evolving industry
- Get the potential audience talking about the product
- Garner testimonials from members to reinforce the sales proposition
- Create and distribute suitable surveys and polls to ensure the product meets the users requirements
- Create training literature and/or walkthrough videos to maximise the usage of existing members
- Commission and/or produce videos, white papers, eBooks and reports to reinforce the proposition and generate leads for the business
- Authority, credible, gravitas, trusted, expert and resource are important describing words any industry portal should strive for. Authority develops usage and trust. Credibility establishes the business as ‘expert’. Resource equates to usefulness and relevance to professionals working within the sector
- Always look for ways to build tangible recognition, citations in publications and mentions within related communities
- Try to create a buzz around both the business and the industry
- Be passionate. Membership business seen by professionals working as being an advocate for the industry they operate within and are often passionate about equates to those professionals being passionate and loyal to the business