How to Engage your Audience with Digital Marketing
Before the rise of the internet, advertising was pretty straightforward. Billboards, TV commercials, radio ads, and print ads were used to promote a brand’s offer, and customers didn’t expect much more than a sales pitch from advertising campaigns.
With the rise of the internet and social media, however, customers have developed new expectations. They no longer want to be “pitched” your product or service. Instead, customers expect to be engaged in conversation and relationship.
You can invest countless hours and dollars on digital marketing, but if your content doesn’t actually engage your target market, you’ll waste your investment. In the age of the internet, effective engagement is key to maximizing your marketing ROI as you turn strangers into leads, leads into customers, and customers into ambassadors for your brand.
Effective engagement always starts with a commitment to serving your audience. When your digital marketing is rooted in a desire to serve your target audience, the sales will naturally follow. Read on for five engagement tips to help you provide value to your target market and, as a result, grow your brand.
Engagement Tip #1: Know your buyer personas.
Before you can effectively engage your target audience, you have to know who makes up that audience. Creating and studying your buyer personas is a great way to dive into really understanding your target market.
Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters that represent segments of your target audience and answer questions like:
- What are the biggest pain points, goals, and motivations of my customers?
- On what social platforms are they spending their time?
- Why do they follow our brand on social media? What kind of answers or value are they hoping to find?
- What type of content resonates with them?
If you’ve never created a buyer persona for your customer base, click here for a simple guide to getting started. One you create a buyer persona, take time to study it until you feel like you personally know your buyer personas the way you know your closest family members.
Remember to check in periodically with your audience via polls, surveys, and quizzes. Your customers will change over time, and this is the best way to ensure you stay relevant and engage your followers and customers.
Engagement Tip #2: Talk to them, not at them.
When you’re creating content to share online, it can be easy to forget that a real person will be on the other side of the screen reading what you write. Keep your buyer personas on hand as you write posts, articles, or emails, and craft copy like you’re having a one-on-one conversation with one of those personas. This will help ensure you sound authentic and helpful rather than distant or condescending.
Customers choose businesses that are both authoritative and helpful, not just one or the other. Your digital content marketing should show what you know, but if you use “salesy” language or confusing industry lingo, customers won’t see you as helpful. That’s why it’s important to provide value while keeping a conversational tone. When you do, customers will recognize you as knowledgeable and approachable—and ultimately more worthy of their trust and business.
Engagement Tip #3: Listen and deliver.
Have you ever been cornered at a dinner party by someone who droned on and on about themselves without showing any interest in you or your thoughts? If so, you probably remember how quickly you grew bored, tuned them out, and began looking for an escape. The same thing happens when brands forget to use digital marketing an opportunity for a two-way conversation.
Effective engagement always starts with listening to your target market. To practice social listening, pay attention to comments and mentions on social media. What are your customers saying about you and your content? What kind of questions are your followers asking—not only on your profiles, but also on your competitors or even in their own content?
When you take the time to conduct careful social listening with these questions in mind, you can glean all sorts of insights about your customers. As you listen carefully and record what you learn, consider how you can get creative and deliver the answers your customers are looking for. Responding to common customer requests in your digital marketing strategy will always lead to the greatest impact and engagement.
Successful companies understand they must treat customers as people, not just opportunities to make a dollar. Similarly, digital marketing must be treated as an ongoing conversation with those people, not just an opportunity to spark a financial transaction.
Engagement Tip #4: Show up for your audience consistently.
People purchase from brands they trust, and people trust brands that show up consistently. One way to do that is to shape expectations around how often your followers can expect to hear from you in their feeds or inboxes.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew and promise new content daily if you can’t deliver on that promise. Instead, decide how often you can realistically provide valuable content and plan out your blog posts, social media updates, video content, podcasts, or email newsletters accordingly.
The pace you choose is up to you, but the important part is to engage your customers consistently. If you only seek to engage people when you need a boost in sales, your prospects will sense that and avoid your content, which will come across as a thinly veiled sales pitch.
On the other hand, a commitment to consistency should never serve as an excuse to sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. Showing up consistently also means your digital marketing content is valuable to your target audience. Instead of churning out new material just for the sake of sticking to a schedule, take time to ensure everything you produce has a purpose and is executed well.
When you can consistently create quality content at a pace your customers can predict, you’ll not only keep your brand in front of your target customer but also reinforce the idea that you are available to provide solutions, support, and service consistently as well.
Engagement Tip #5: Be real.
Digital marketing and sales may take place online, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect the human touch in your business. In fact, doing business online means you need to strive all the harder to humanize your brand and build relationships where your audience feels truly connected with you. As you create content, think outside the box and look for ways to make your communications more engaging.
For example, Native Deodorant uses the order confirmation screen as an opportunity to get creative and make a memorable connection with new customers. Check out the fun message that appears after a new purchase:
Even if your business’s brand doesn’t lend itself to cheeky humor like this, you can always look for opportunities to replace generic copy or technical jargon with approachable language written for real humans. At the end of the day, no matter your industry, your customers just want to feel seen, heard, and understood. Write copy and plan content with that in mind, and you’ll have no trouble engaging your target market in every phase of your digital marketing strategy.
The idea that serving your customer matters is not anything new. Successful businesses have always placed a focus on serving and supporting their customers. But before the rise of digital marketing, most of that service took place after the purchase. Now, successful businesses let customer service drive everything they do, including advertising and digital marketing.
As you move forward in creating a digital marketing strategy, try not to get bogged down in obsessively tracking lead generation and sales. When you focus on serving and engaging your target audience with content that answers their questions, the sales will naturally follow.
Always remember: The first step in engaging your customers is knowing your customers. Whether you have fully developed buyer personas or a brand new business idea, surveying your customers is a great way to make sure you fully understand your target audience’s goals, motivations, and pain points. And surveying your customers doesn’t have to be difficult! In fact, we’ll provide a free resource to get you started.
This template can be used to survey your customers via email, website forms, or personal interviews. Use what you learn about your target audience’s biggest pain points and goals to plan content that serves them, and the audience engagement (and sales!) will follow naturally. Click below to access your free customer survey template now.
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