Are You Truly Focused on Your Audience?


Or is it still really all about you?

If there’s one thing that gets repeated at Copyblogger over and over, it’s that the key to effective blogging and online marketing is a relentless focus on the needs of the people you are trying to reach. I often wonder if the next time I mention it, I’ll get an angry slew of comments saying:

OK, OK, we get it already!

Unfortunately, I can think of two prime examples of ways in which many are not getting it. The funny thing about these two things is that they are both aspects of what makes the Internet truly unique as a marketing platform, and yet we often fail to take advantage of them.

Take a look to see if you’re guilty of either of them.

1. Producing Content in the Format You Personally Prefer

One thing that many who publish online share in common is that we prefer to read. It’s faster to scan, pull out selected pieces of information, and decide whether to invest in a more careful examination.

The problem is, statistically the majority of people don’t like to read, and don’t comprehend and retain well when they do. The result is, those of us who publish only in text are fighting over a limited audience, while a larger group of people go under served.

I hear bloggers all the time claiming that they don’t do audio, video or visually enhanced online presentations because they personally don’t prefer to consume information that way. But the question you should be asking yourself is:

What format does my prospective audience prefer?

With Copyblogger, I know the vast majority of my readers are, well… readers. But learning psychology tells us that even those who learn primarily from text can benefit from a multiple media format approach. And anytime I’m developing content to sell, it’s definitely a complete audio / visual / interactive collection. The choice of media is that which is best for that particular information.

Multimedia content (combinations of text, audio and visual elements) is perceived as more valuable, because for a large segment of the population, it is more valuable. Thanks to differing learning styles, multiple formats allow most people to extract the benefits of consuming the information.

Start thinking about how you can gain a competitive advantage in your niche by presenting content in other formats. And remember, good copywriting is just as vital to audio, video and live presentations as it is to written text.

2. Ignoring the Marketing Genius

There’s only one true marketing genius in the world. Just one single person who knows exactly what it will take to make a particular person buy.

The genius is that particular paying customer who decides to take the desired action. What you want to achieve with your sales copy is to coordinate your approach with what results in more of those paying customers.

To find out what this collective of marketing geniuses can tell you, you have to test different aspects of your copy against alternative approaches to see what results in the largest number of buyers. After all, are you really focusing on what more of your prospects really want and need if you refuse to find out which headline, offer and call to action they actually prefer within the specific context of your business?

I’d say you’re not. What’s worse, you’re likely leaving money on the table.

Again, many people fall into the trap of marketing in a style that they personally respond to, instead of testing what works with the people who matter—the prospects. Or worse, they blindly follow expert advice without evaluating for themselves what actually works in their particular context.

The Internet is the most easily testable media environment so far. Everything online is trackable, and there are plenty of low cost and even free tools to do it with, so there’s really no excuse for not testing your copy.

Don’t be Afraid to be Wrong – It’s a Contest!

A short time ago I shared the results of a Marketing Sherpa study that concluded that telling people to “click” is still effective in certain contexts. I blogged about it because I have also received higher click through ratios by including the word “click” within the anchor text, based on my own testing.

OK, I admit it’s not always actually “click here”—I focused on that phrase in the headline because it drives some people crazy (and it did). But I have found click combined with other text to boost conversions, often significantly.

But what if something else works better? Would I be upset to be wrong?

Not at all—being attached to being right means you’re not truly focused on your audience. I’d be happy to have something to work with that people respond better to.

With that in mind, the conversion geniuses at FutureNow’s GrokDotCom blog have just announced a landing page contest that could bring you some very valuable data about your specific copy that will help you make more money. And I’m one of the judges of that My Hyperlink Can Beat Your Hyperlink Contest.

Here’s how it works:

  • Just comment on this post or the ones like it at GrokDotCom and SEOmoz, linking us to the landing page you want tested and telling us why you should win.
  • Judges Brian Clark, Rand Fishkin & Bryan Eisenberg will choose 5 winners.
  • To be eligible, contestants must have clear metrics and analytics in place, the ability to test (Google Website Optimizer is free, so no excuses), and the willingness to implement our suggestions.
  • Contestants must have enough traffic to yield valid test results.
  • For each of our winners, the judges will select a single link to be tested, then agree on three variations of that call to action (a.k.a., anchor link).
  • Winners will be announced Thursday, October 11th. Results and analysis of the winners’ hyperlink tests will be posted a few weeks later.

Click here Instruct your web browsing software application to engage this hyperlink in order to retrieve more information from GrokDotCom. Ouch, that much usability hurts!

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Reader Comments (43)

  1. says

    You can’t see this because I’m the first to comment, but Brian’s so good, he doesn’t even need a hyperlink:

    “There are no comments yet…Kick things off by filling out the form below.”

    Somebody, put this guy to the test! :)

  2. says

    Here’s a good question that I have to answer for myself someday soon: How frequently should I revisit topics on my blog?

    I sometimes forget that my audience doesn’t read everything I write/read and might not be bored of the same things I would be bored of.

  3. says

    Great post. We posted along the same lines today at YGG but geared more towards the problem with everyone vying to be a “millionaire blogger” and ruining their personal brand in the process.

    Here’s the linkage.

  4. says

    I catch myself writing not for the reader all the time, then I remember to put in “you”, “your”, etc…

    If you can think along the mindset you are talking with one person, you’ll create a very interactive piece.

  5. says

    But Brian, in many cases blogs are about branding and about personality. Don’t you think there are exceptions–when the blog is supposed to be about developing you and differentiating yourself–that it’s prudent to focus less on the reader?

  6. says

    Ryan, no. What you do is find a unique way to delight the reader with who you are while giving them something they want.

    Over time, “you” become what the reader wants. Some people have personalities and perspectives that allow them to fill a need the reader has just by being who they are. Tucker Max is one of those guys, but that doesn’t mean he’s not fulfilling a need his readers didn’t already have.

    A “brand” doesn’t exist until other people care about it. What’s the best way to make someone care? Give them something they want.

  7. says

    You are right on again man! I find that the minute we humble out and accept other’s point of view or “try their hat on”, we can see ways in which we can be totally wrong or mistaken.

    No one is always right.

  8. says

    Here’s the reason I should win: It’s because I want my copy on as well as the layout and Call To Action to be the most effective I can make it.

    # 2- I ask questions all the time and read volumes of books in order to be the best I can be.

    # 3- Most of my good ideas and energy go toward clients and I find my own work (my own site) suffering as a result…

    # 4- Living in North Florida provides few chances, other than online, to meet and be taught by valuable mentors and teachers. I welcome this experience.

  9. says

    I just wanted to say that long hyperlink at the end of your post sounds hilarious! Was it a technique to get people clicking by using sense of humour? (Or maybe by writing long and confusing anchor text that might provoke curiosity and/or a need for clarification?)

  10. says

    Brian – Another great post that reminds us what is most important to focus on – you.

    Thank you for all of your efforts and wonderful personality that shines through in every post that you write. You’re the best. Maybe a video could be made explaining why, except that someone else has already done that for you.


  11. says

    Brian – Personally I find a mixture of media types for the same subject a true benefit. For example, Adobe CS3 has a great set of video tutorials that really fast track you into using the software. They also have written tutorials in conjunction with the videos that whilst take considerably longer to read and absorb, reinforce what was learnt as well as giving additional instruction and detail skimmed over in the videos.

    For me this combination of different media styles really helps with the learning process.

    So can we hope to see a few Videopods or Podcasts from Mr Clark in the future perhaps?

  12. says

    Hello all! Long time reader, short time commenter :-)

    Anyways, I would like to nonimate my site: for this contest :-) I should note I am the CTO of this company too.

    Why’s that?

    – We appeal to moms, and as we have found, is a very hard audience to target on the web. Current generation of moms tend to be less savvy (what’s a feed?) and highly protective “why should I sign up and give you my email”.

    – Everyone has a mom, so why not make one of the most friendly and up and coming mom sites out there even better? Your wife or mom would agree 😉

    What do we want to achieve?

    – increase our user signup rate, either for an account or to join the newsletter (amazingly fantastic articles once week)

    What have we done?

    – After reading this blog, I rewrote our welcome user page (try it and sign up!) and it’s working wonders — clear concise, and lots of action items!

    How do we measure?

    – We have Google Analytics and Heatmapping (e.g., we can tell what parts of the page are hot and being clicked) technology in place to track results

    We would implement results right away and compare them to our current rate of user signups verse how much this increases after changing the text / adding buttons / etc.

    Thanks for your consideration and keep up the awesome and helpful topics!


  13. says

    Thanks for the great advice. Sometimes it can be hard to see the forest before the trees when writing for a site. I guess every mistake is just another opportunity to learn.

  14. says

    “Win your own Free Killer Hyper-link, Competition ends soon”

    So all the contact details and avenues on this page count for nought if they don’t use them (and they don’t).

    A marginal increase with the addittion of Audio but maybe a 20-30 second video message would be the way to go.

    With space blocked out in my schedule I’m ready to begin testing as we say Downunder “pick me Pick me”
    Regards, Brendan

  15. says

    My blog is about literature and writing – so I hope my core readers don’t mind my “text-only” content. However, I do plan on expanding out with some other ways of getting information to my audience rather shortly.

    Personally, however, I’m one of those people who tends to shun blogs where every post is a video/audio clip. I like the reading part.

  16. says

    Your article is great. But what can I do when I don’t know what my audience is ?
    My blog has so few visitors so that I can’t messure it.
    So the real question is to know what my audience want to be and not what my audience is.

  17. says

    This is a great post. I was browsing through some of the blog posts on your blog and came across this particular post, even though it is an old post, but the information is of timeless value. Thanks for putting out such great content.

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