The herculean task for any online organization or retailer is to create an audience out of the millions of everyday Internet users. Digital marketers do that through content marketing, advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), or social media.
Growing an audience requires a lot of work, attention, and recalibration. And you have to do this while thinking strategically about how you invest your limited time and resources. So we thought we’d remind you why the effort you’re putting in is so important.
You don’t have to pay to communicate with them
Advertising is pay to play (obviously). The more money you put in (and the better your ads perform), the more eyes you get on your ad. With a good return on investment (ROI) on digital ads, it’s worth running them constantly. But you’re always going to pay for that visibility.
Growing an audience doesn’t work like that. Once you collect someone’s email, get them to follow you on social media, subscribe to your YouTube channel, or convince them to see your website as worth coming back to, you can continue communicating with those same people for free. You don’t have to pay Google, Facebook, or a publisher to talk to your own hard-earned audience.
It builds brand loyalty
Who knows you better: someone you talked to once in high school, or your family? It’s a ridiculous question, but that’s a lot like the difference between how someone who’s seen one ad perceives your brand versus someone who’s been part of your audience for weeks, months, or years.
Your audience has more opportunities to get to know your brand. Plain and simple. And that means they have more opportunities they have to see your organization as reliable, authoritative, informative, entertaining, or high quality.
As you give people valuable content (via email, a blog, or social media), they become more likely to choose you over the other brands in your space—because they know what they can expect from you.
Advertising is a great way to increase brand awareness, because it exposes your market to your brand. But growing an audience builds brand loyalty. And that’s something you can’t just buy.
You can drive traffic to new pages and promotions
Let’s say you just released a new product. Or you just completed a new study. Or wrote a story. Or you have a survey you need people to fill out. These are all things you could drive traffic to with advertising. Or you could just share it with your audience. Email, blogs, and social media platforms are all effective channels you can use to get eyes on the things you want people to see.
For pages that you want to rank in search engines, this early traffic can give you a valuable boost. It’s also a great way to validate ideas, or A/B test and optimize pages before you pay to send traffic there with advertising.
It creates remarketing opportunities
Many organizations use a “sales funnel” to represent how they increase brand awareness, acquire leads, and convert those leads into customers.
You don’t have to grow an audience to use a marketing funnel—it’s mostly about identifying the kinds of content and offers that are appropriate for someone’s familiarity with your brand. But building an audience allows you to consistently message the same people, so you can lead them from one stage of your funnel to the next.
As you grow your audience, you can retarget them with ads and offers that build on their previous interactions with you. Since it often takes multiple encounters with your brand for someone to convert, remarketing is an important step you need to take to maximize conversions.
Build your own audience
At the end of the day, we just want your organization to be successful. To do that, you need to reach the right people. And one of the best ways to consistently reach the right people is to grow an audience full of them.