Digital Marketing Strategy Development Part 2: Audience Acquisition

Continuing my series on conquering common digital marketing strategy development problems, today we tackle problem number two:

2.  No path to acquire and grow an audience

It’s not enough to figure out ways to gain attention from random people for fleeting moments.  You need to find a way to market to target groups consistently over time.  And the tactics used should be compelling enough not just to attract an audience, but inspire the audience to grow itself.

You might not think you need an audience.  But if you’re looking to grow month over month in an organic fashion, an audience (aka a community) will work on your behalf to provide both search and social visibility.

Think about it…

  • SEOs: if you’re engaged in things like manual linkbuilding efforts, yet competitors have hordes of subscribers/fans linking to them daily as organic reactions to their content, you’re fighting a losing battle.
  • PR pros: you can act far more strategically when your clients or brand have an audience you’re able to activate behind ideas.  What if all your PR came to you?
  • Social media marketers: if you’re just spamming social sites in the hopes of gaining pageviews but not building real value, you’re not creating sustainable efforts or being at all strategic.  A community can be why you succeed in a big way.

How to acquire the right kind of audience?

Show your passion – you’re not going to create the right following by not showing passion.  It’s a (not so)  secret of the social web.  Amazingly most forget this simple step.

Cause controversy, be polarized, provoke emotiongroups rally around ideas that have some sort of edge.  By playing to the middle, you succeed in appealing to no one.  The long tail fulfills the demand for the mediocre:  in digital communities, only those at the edge become hits.

Build relationships – you need to get personal and carve out a few strong relationships to act as initial advocates for your community growth.  As Seth Godin succinctly states:  first, 10:

This, in two words, is the secret of the new marketing.

Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you…

Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat.

If they don’t love it, you need a new product. Start over.

Your idea spreads. Your business grows. Not as fast as you want, but faster than you could ever imagine.

Be the starting point of conversationsfinding a way to make what you’re doing the launching point for conversations, content, reactions and feedback positions your brand ahead of almost everyone else.  Or, if you’re into buzzwords – what this means is to be a thought leader.  There are SEO, PR and digital reputation benefits that flow back from this

Consistency – audiences crave this.  They have a never-ending thirst for what’s new from their favorite brands.  It’s how you reinforce to the world you’re committed.  Consistency in creating content has all sorts of benefits to boost your digital marketing KPIs, but I think it goes a level deeper than this.  Readers notice just how consistent you are in contributing to your community, and mentally there is a connection they feel a need to join your community or they might miss something.

Leverage existing audiences/traffic streams – do you already have sporadic followings and lists here and there?  Ramp them together and create one large, powerful network.  As Kevin Kelly advises:

The fastest way to amp up the worth of your own network is to bring smaller networks together with it so they can act as one larger network and gain the total n2 value.

…Three thousand members in one network are far more powerful than one thousand members in three networks.

Create incentives to subscribe – create reasons someone would want to become a member of your community, organically.  I hesitate to say you should use push to do this, if only because you won’t attract the right kind of audience that will grow itself (you’ll be lucky to attract influencers/connectors through push – it’s the wrong approach when they’re susceptible to pull).

Executed on properly, an audience acquisition strategy provides an advantage against competitors with greater resources who may not be as agile or creative as you can be.

Previously in this series: digital brand identity development.

Next in this series: creating cohesion of content.

image credit: Tischenko Irina via Shutterstock