Define your audience to boost your blog

Newspapers focus on their audience - does your blog?Take a look at today’s newspapers and you will see a striking difference. The Guardian has the headline “David Cameron to delay Trident replacement” – blaming the Prime Minister himself for an action which Guardian readers probably perceive as negative. Meanwhile, over at The Daily Telegraph, the main headline is “Michael Gove uses Oxford Union tricks to baffle Andy Burnham”, an article which demonstrates the apparently superior intellect of a Tory over a member of the Labour Party. Yes, both newspapers are playing to the gallery here – but, importantly, they know exactly who their readers are.

The readers of the Daily Telegraph tend to vote Tory, tend to be right of centre and tend to like the country the way it used to be…!* Guardian readers, on the other hand, are left-leaning, Labour Party supporters who feel the current Government is causing more problems than it is solving. The result is that the editors make sure the articles they publish match these viewpoints – otherwise their customers would up and leave.

It’s the same in retail. The people who shop every week in John Lewis walk straight past Poundland. That shop is “not for them”…! Yet the people who venture into Poundland cannot believe why the customers of John Lewis are happy to pay so much more…! Some people love McDonalds and will not go into Burger King on principle. You get my drift here – different shops appeal to different people. Different newspapers appeal to different audiences. Different blogs appeal to…hang on a minute…

The latest figures from Technorati suggest that there are 10 new blog posts published every second of every day. Google itself recently suggested that the amount of new content added to the web every second of every day would reach three miles high if printed on standard paper. There is literally tons of stuff being put online, constantly. You will find thousands of blogs on any one subject. For instance, Advertising Age Magazine lists over 1,100 blogs just on marketing – and those are the ones that have been submitted. Many of these blogs cover the same basic material, in the same way. Distinguishing between them is nigh-on impossible.

The Daily Telegraph is easily distinguished from The Guardian because of the headlines, the angles it takes and the focus of its material. So it begs the question, if you are a blogger – indeed if you have any online content – how focused is your material on your audience? Indeed do you even know who your audience is? Take a look at many of those marketing blogs and they appear to be written for “anyone interested in marketing”. Err…! 

When you know who your audience is – exactly – you will find it easier to write material. Not only that, they will find it easier to read because it is “for them”. That creates greater reader loyalty and produces a much more focused readership, allowing you to sell more…!

So, audience profiling is essential if your blog is to succeed. But what do you need to know? Here are some key components of a good audience profile:

  • Average age
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Parenting Status
  • Educational background
  • Location
  • Likes/dislikes
  • Political leanings
  • Religion
  • Financial position
  • Day/time of readership
  • Source of readership
  • Other websites they like

These items will help you get a picture of your readers so that you can focus on writing for them. If you only guess at what your readers are like, you will not be able to target them well enough. That means your readership will dwindle and you will get massive “bounce rates” on your website – people coming and going all the time.

You can get an audience profile completed if you use Compete or Quantcast to assess your website. They are not perfect tools by any means, but aside from a readership survey, they do help you understand your audience much better. Quantcast, for instance, tells me that my audience likes science more than the general population, which is why you will often find links to academic papers in my blog posts. The data from Quantast also tells me that my audience likes national news more than most, which is why I will always try and link what I write to something topical. Knowing such facts helps me focus my material more closely to you. My question to you is, how much data do you collect about your audience to ensure you position your blog as accurately as you can?

* There is an old adage that the readers of the Financial Times own the country, the readers of the Daily Mirror work for the people who own the country, the readers of the Times want to own the country and the readers of the Daily Telegraph want the owners of the country to run it like it used to be run. Meanwhile, the readers of the Daily Express are the people who used to run the country, the readers of the Daily Mail are the wives of the men who run the country and the readers of the Sun don’t care who runs the country as long as she keeps her top off…!

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