HOW DO I BUILD AN AUDIENCE?
It’s probably the most frequently asked question I hear and the answer is simple is you have to spend money, sorry!
I am fairly sure that’s not what you want to hear, but the fact is there is very little left for free on today’s internet that has value.
Don’t go yet! I do have some suggestions for free that might work that you can try, as well as some paid for options that will work and not cost you the earth.
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE WITH ENGAGING PRESS RELEASES
You are an expert. That’s right you.
Whatever industry you chose to be in and whatever your website is about you know more about it than the journo/blogger that you are sending it to or the audience you hope to reach.
For a press release to be considered it has to be;
- Newsworthy – is it something new or exciting? If the subject has been covered by others you’ll need a new angle, or it won’t be picked up
- Timely – no point sending something about Christmas in March
- Relevant – Your knitted scarves are lovely but not interesting to the readers of Nudists Monthly
- Has a good catchy headline – you get one very short sentence to grab the readers’ attention, that includes the person you are sending it to and remember you are not the sun, puns are unlikely to work.
- In the third person – If you use phrases like I or we, then it doesn’t work this is supposed to be the journo/blogger’s voice not yours.
- Checked – Nobody wants to spend time fixing your spelling and grammatical errors, it’s like fingernails down a blackboard to a journo
Finally, research who you are sending it to. Sending a “to whom it may concern” is rude and will end in failure, as will sending a nice piece on cupcakes to a sports reporter.
Pros: It’s Free (apart from your time)
Cons: The chances of success are minimal
GET A PR COMPANY TO WRITE A PRESS RELEASE
They’ll do all the things I just suggested and more. Plus, they have relationships with journo’s and Bloggers so already have a foot in the door.
Pros: You will get press coverage and possibly links to your website
Cons: It won’t be cheap, expect to pay a minimum of £500 for a day rate
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Ahh, the good old days when everything you put on Facebook was viewed by everyone who liked or followed you. Now less than 3% on average and as low as 0.5% of followers get to see your content and the less interaction you get the less will see it next time.
Other social media platforms have similar low rate of views because they want you to spend money, their inflated business models depend on it.
Use it but don’t expect a lot of growth unless you happen to get someone with a seriously big audience liking your post. Our top tips;
- Think of it as a mini press release and follow the guide above
- Two or three quality posts a week are more effective than 3 posts of nonsense a day
- Use video if possible, social media platforms are at war with YouTube and so are more generous with videos in our experience
- Make sure you link to the most relevant page on your site, don’t send people to the homepage to hunt the info down because it won’t happen
- Give your posts a personality and maintain it, are you professional? Jokey? Quirky? Authoritative? This should apply to your whole brand BTW.
Pros: It’s free
Cons: The size of the audience is limited and likely already engaged so no new viewers
Chances of Building an Audience: 40%
USE PAID SOCIAL MEDIA
Using paid boosts or adverts are great ways to reach new audiences and can be relatively inexpensive if set up correctly. If you don’t know how to use it then call in a professional, you’ll waste a bundle of cash otherwise.
- Use analytics to understand who your current audience is, it’s too big a subject for now, but you can get excellent data to use
- Create personas for your audience. Who is going to be interested, gender, ages, hobbies, jobs, income levels, cars they drive, holidays they take etc
- Choose your locations, don’t waste money targeting places you don’t need to
- Target only people who fit your personas you think may be interested. Don’t waste money targeting over 65’s for your gym equipment, yes there might be 1 or 2 interested, but there’ll be huge wastage
- Only target the times they are receptive, few people are bothered about curries on a Monday morning, target drinkers toward at the weekend first
- Target their life events, are they getting married? Moving home?
Pros: Great way to build an audience of new followers or buyers
Cons: Will cost a small fortune if you don’t get your targeting right
Chances of Building an Audience: 90%
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE WITH GOOGLE
Firstly you are going to need to rank well on Google, easier said than done I know! Having said that if you are in a sector with relatively low competition it may only take some tweaks to rank for some search terms.
SEO is a huge discipline of its own, so I am not going to cover it here, but I’ll give a few tips;
- Each page on your website should have a purpose, that purpose should be to target a keyword. A keyword is a short phrase people search for, so for example if you sell chairs then the description of the chair is the thing to target.
- Once you have a keyword for the page write the content around that subject, make sure the phrase is included in the page title, the page description and in the heading of your content. Google will then know what the page is about.
- Use press releases to get people to link to your website
Like I say, it is not easy, and you should probably consider getting the help of a digital marketing agency (happy to throw our hat in the ring if you want to chat)
Pros: It’s free, if you can master the skills required
Cons: It’s competitive out there and tough to get to the top even for professionals
Chances of Building an Audience: 10%
BUY YOUR WAY TO THE TOP WITH GOOGLE ADS
Google sells listings in several locations on the page, including the top. The keywords I talked about are up for auction, and you can bid to have your advert show at the top if you have the money. It’s an auction so expect to pay a tidy penny for competitive words such as “jobs in London”. Again if you don’t know what you are doing it could end up costing a bundle so use a professional.
Top tips are similar to paid social media, however Google Ads have a whole extra layer of complexity which I simply can’t cover in this article.
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE THROUGH YOUR NETWORK
Have you got a relative with a large social following? Or a friend that was in some reality TV show? Ask them to help you by sharing your social posts or talking about you on theirs.
Pros: It’s free
Cons: They might not have the right audience or be reluctant to help
Chances of Building an Audience: 10%
For a price people with large social followings will talk about your products/website or share your posts. Beware though, as a lot of them have “bought” their following which is largely made up of bots and followers based in China and India.
Do your homework;
- Are they the right fit for your brand?
- What is their audience? Beautiful people suddenly talking about haemorrhoid cream probably isn’t going to hit the spot, if you pardon the expression.
- Who is their audience? Lots of followers with very few followers themselves is a bit of a giveaway
- Don’t be blinded by the number of followers look at the engagement, how many likes and shares do they get?
Giving away a bar of soap for someone with 30,000 followers is a low-risk option, spending thousands on one post from that guy from love island is a total waste of money.
Pros: Done well it can have a significant impact
Cons: It’ll more likely be an expensive failure unless you have done your research
Chances of Building an Audience: 20%
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE BY DOING NOTHING OR HOPING
This is the one option you can’t take, otherwise why did you invest in a website? Hoping that your site will somehow miraculously appear in Google or that a journalist will stumble across you and beg top write a story is not a recipe for growth.
Pros: Doing nothing costs nothing and takes no effort
Cons: You wasted time and/or money having a website built, very few people will ever find it
Chances of Building an Audience: 0%
So if you are looking at building an audience then try the free stuff, after all you only have your time to lose. Be careful with the paid stuff, unless you get it right you’ll probably save money using a professional service like 4th Revolution Marketing.
Feel free to leave any tips you have in the comments below, we are not precious, we’ll steal the best ones for ourselves.