How often do we take the time to think about how our target audience actually experiences our blog or website? This often overlooked part of branding can make a huge difference in turning a first time visitor into a repeat-reader!
When I think about branding, the most valuable aspect of it is considering the experience (as a whole) that someone has with your brand. From the moment they enter into your world — whether via a retweet from someone else, a blog post graphic on Pinterest, or a web roundup on another blog — every aspect of your brand should be considered an ‘experience’ for your target audience.
This builds trust, loyalty, and likeability. Why do you associate things positively? Because you had a good experience with it.
To achieve a good experience with your branding, you’ve got to figure out some foundational questions first. The hardest of these questions seems to be who? Who is experiencing this? Who would you want to read your blog, buy your product, or become a fan?
If you just thought “everyone” to yourself, imagine me standing in front of you, a la The Supremes, and saying, “STOP!”
Your target audience isn’t everyone, and the sooner we figure out who the person is that you actually want supporting your blog or business, the sooner we can create an experience to support them.
This part is hard. Your instinct will tell you to not niche down too much because you don’t want to exclude people, but I am going to say otherwise. I’m going to say niche down so that you can really cater to the people you do include, give them an awesome experience, and turn them into raving fans and return visits.
Cultivating a Persona
There are a lot of posts on how to define your target audience, I’ve written my fair share, too. The essentials are that you think of your target audience as a living, breathing person, with real attributes, real hopes, real issues, and real needs.
- First you cover the basics, like age, location, gender, etc.
- Then you dig deeper, into things like religious or political associations, personality traits, etc.
- Finally you start to dig into what I find to be the most important aspects: what do they value and how do they build trust.
Figuring out the answers to these questions helps us to start developing that experience for them.
The benefit of those precursor questions like age, location and hobbies is that they will help you develop where this person hangs out and how they spend their time. So now you can check out what those related industries, blogs, or businesses are doing to gain trust and build relationships with them.
You can read your audience’s comments on things that they either appreciate or don’t like. Studying and researching like this is a type of market analysis, and though it might be less glamorous than making “pretty things” it definitely is very effective.
A Hypothetical Situation
You’ve decided you are going to niche down and create content for moms with young kids and busy lives that are re-approaching a healthy lifestyle. So you create this ideal mom who’s 32, used to be athletic and health-conscious but just ran out of time in her day to keep up with it.
She really wants to be re-introduced to a healthy lifestyle so she can be an example for her kids and have more energy for them. So you know this woman, you understand her, you’ve developed this whole image about her. You know her pain points, her struggles, and where there’s an opportunity to become her new favorite blog.
You make the decision that this will be your niche since you love health and fitness, you are also a mom and you understand what your audience needs.
So then you build out a color story and work on developing a logo. You go through all the visual identity pieces and parts. You’ve done your research and learned that moms with busy lives would prefer to hear a voice that is warm and friendly versus one that is blunt and intense, so you develop a way of writing that shows just how kind you are.
But first, I really want to talk to you about your blog and how it’s going to help you reach your target audience. Content might be the obvious answer. Yes, you need good content that your target audience will value. But, wait…
You’re forgetting something!
You’re forgetting the actual experience of your blog for this target mom. Remember that her life is hectic and overwhelming and she doesn’t have time?
So are your super long blog posts with no hierarchy going to appeal to her? What about your lack of search bar or categories so that she can quickly find a healthy lunch recipe with chicken, or a 10-minute core exercise routine? Probably not.
We spend a lot of time trying to appeal visually through our colors and typography (which, don’t get me wrong — that definitely matters, too!) but what about the actual experience that someone has with our brand? Great information, services, or products don’t work unless people actually get to experience them in a positive way.
The navigation through a website, ease of use, or the ability to find information in an understandable way; these things all add up to someone experiencing our brands, and are an often-overlooked part of branding. You create this plan and vision for your business (which usually requires someone liking your service, product or content, and then paying you for it), so shouldn’t we be making it the best-case scenario for them?
I don’t want you to read this and feel like you have to go redesign your blog and start from scratch. I just want you to consider who your target audience is, why they would visit your blog, and what you can do to make their experience as easy and efficient as possible.
When you started working on your branding, you probably thought of a few words that you wanted to describe your business as: maybe “friendly” or “exciting” or “soothing” — but I challenge you to consider possible words that your target audience may think of when visiting your site.
Did “exciting” become “overwhelming” suddenly? Did “soothing” become “hard to find information?” If you really feel stuck, I would suggest asking your audience. Reach out and ask them, “is it easy for you to find what you are looking for on my website?” Chances are if there are any pain-points, they will let you know.
Branding is such a huge umbrella of a topic, but as far as really creating trust with your audience, make sure you don’t forget to focus on their experience with your website or blog. I hope this gave you some ideas for narrowing down your target audience and creating an amazing experience for them.Got any frustrating or delightful experiences on any blogs you’d like to share with us? Please join the conversation below!
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