The first step in figuring out if your site is effectively reaching your target audience is ensuring you know who that audience is. One of the best places to start is by looking at who already visits your website, and what actions they take while there. Dig into the analytics on your site to see where users are coming from and what their habits are.
Once you have a profile for your typical audience member, including their interests, values and behaviours, follow the steps below that will allow you to reach your target audience easily.
1. Fulfil a Need
Look at your target audience and figure out how you can fulfil a need for them. For example, if you are marketing to Baby Boomers, what are their biggest needs? Their children are grown, they are likely retired and they probably have some disposable income. Their focus may be more on experiences and quality of life at this point. How can you fulfil those needs through your website?
A good thing to consider when figuring out how to fulfil your audience’s needs is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In a nutshell, every individual must meet basic needs before they can be concerned with higher-order needs, such as love or having fun. Where is your audience on the needs hierarchy?
Check out Duluth Trading’s website for an example of fulfilling the needs of customers. Their target audience is men and women who are active and/or work outdoors. With that in mind, they came up with a problem many outdoorsy women run into — having to pull their tank tops down over and over to hide their backside. Duluth presents their “No-Yank Tank” as a solution to this problem.
2. Use a Funnel
As your website grows, it will become increasingly complicated. Levels of complexity make both you and the site visitor lose focus on what actions to take. Fortunately, you can create a landing page with a very narrow focus. The funnel is a set of steps that guide the audience toward the action you want them to take, as well as narrowing down the choices to create the most targeted audience possible. As they work their way through various filters, you can direct them where they need to go to get the most out of your site.
3. Relating to Your Audience
Let’s say you are a baby boomer trying to appeal to millennials. Even if you aren’t part of the demographic that makes up your target audience, you can still establish an empathy toward their wants and needs. There are several ways to cater to your audience, including putting yourself in their shoes, as well as bringing people on board who are in that demographic to provide input.
Let’s face it — each generation looks at the world differently. Getting input from the actual generation you’re trying to reach is just smart business sense.
4. Competitor Maps
Do you know who your competition is? If you don’t know everything about them, how can you hope to compete with them? A competitor map starts by placing the other companies’ headquarters on a map. You can expand the map to show the extent of their reach, which might very well be global. However, you can also assume customers who are in their geographic area are probably much more loyal to them.
Understanding your competitors’ reach allows you to figure out how far your reach extends, and whether it overlaps. You might need to change some things to remain competitive. For brick-and-mortar stores, a competitor map is almost a necessity, so you can see their locations versus yours.
5. Build a Relationship
Take time to build a relationship with your audience — including techniques such as storytelling, participating in forums and even reaching out on social media. The more you can interact with your customers, the more relevant you’ll become to them. Relationships are especially important on social media, where the philosophy is that you get what you give. If you constantly self-promote and never retweet or engage with customers, they aren’t going to follow you very long.
See how Enterprise engages customers on Twitter while linking back to their website? If a customer comments, Enterprise replies politely and professionally. Taking time to expand your reach beyond your website is smart in a world where more and more people are using social media to interact with brands.
6. Be Consistent With Design
It might sound simple, but keeping a consistent design throughout your website assures your target audience you are reliable and helps avoid frustration. Keep the logo in the same location sitewide. Place navigation at the top of each page. If your overall tone is serious, keep it professional. Don’t suddenly start inserting awkward jokes no one quite gets. You’ll even want to use a consistent colour scheme.
7. Colour Choices
Speaking of colour schemes, what colours speak to your target audience? It takes the average person only 90 seconds to form an opinion on a product, and most of that decision is based on colour.
The colour you choose for a website where your target audience is all female will be different than one for men. At the same time, if your target demographic is gen-Xers, you’d use a different color palette than for millennials. Be aware of the preferences of these different groups, and you can incorporate some of the colours that speak to that group in your overall design.
User experience is an important element in the overall effectiveness of your website. No matter who your target audience might be, if your site isn’t functioning properly, the audience will grow frustrated and leave your site. UX is a wide blanket that covers how fast your site loads, if all the buttons and links work and even how easy your forms are to fill out.
Boosted Boards offers a high-functioning site with good user-friendliness. Note how the navigation is near the top of every page of the site. The choices when you land on their homepage are clear and intuitive, anticipating the needs of their average site visitors. The overall look of the site is also aesthetically pleasing.
9. Ask Your Visitors
One of the easiest ways to get feedback on how well your site is working for your audience is just to ask. Offer a feedback form or post a poll. Ask your visitors how well different features of the site work for them. You should also allow room for comments, as some of the best ideas for your site will come from the audience.
10. Your Site Layout
When it comes to your site’s layout, the best rule of thumb is to keep things simple. Many experts believe the modern brain prefers simplicity. The average person, no matter the generation, tries to digest information quickly and efficiently. We live in a fast-paced world of 30-second bites of information. Make decisions clear and simple by using a magazine-style or grid layout.
11. Mobile Responsiveness
Users conduct almost 60 percent of searches on mobile devices. If you haven’t optimized your site for mobile, you are probably missing out on at least some of your target audience. Making sure your design is simple enough to load quickly and that your images and layout adapt to smaller screens should be at the top of your list when figuring out site design or redesign.
Take time to consider what would most appeal to your typical audience member. These elements involve which typography you use on your site, the size of the font and even what types of content you produce. Follow basic design principles for a clean, uncluttered look, then add elements that most appeal to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Appealing to Your Target Audience
There are a lot of factors to consider in figuring out if your site is reaching your target audience. The site design needs to appeal to your intended visitors, but there are so many other factors to consider. Focusing on the 12 ideas above will give you a good start to make sure your site meets the needs of your typical customer. Beyond that, strive to improve your site every month, so you stay ahead of the competition and are the best at meeting your customers’ needs.