In part one of this series; How to Build an Audience, we discussed ways to begin a simple content strategy and how to share relevant content from zero followers or subscribers. In this article, we’ll identify some tools you can use to amplify your message.
Tools to Build an Audience
There are three tried and tested ways tools to build an audience and get your message in front of customers:
- Social Media
- Paid Ads (PPC)
You can use any of these or all three. We mainly use the first two, email and social media. We chose when it is right for us to push out relevant message further through Paid Ads. For early startups looking to grow an audience from zero, you’ll typically start with social media. Social media is great to build up subscribers and begin to fill a marketing funnel. Then you’ll move to email newsletters and PPC. It’s all dependant on time, your financial runway and budget allocations.
Email newsletters are great and will keep you in constant communication with your customers. But without a database, you will need to begin with social media to fill up your list membership. From social media, you can expand into email newsletters, sharing either your own content or other peoples articles you find interesting (and more importantly, what your audience will find relevant).
We tackled the process in a way which worked for us. You may already have a list and start there, but as we’re writing this article based around having zero audiences, social media is your most straightforward early win.
Social media is one of the best tools to build an audience from zero. It’s free, has a global reach, and most of us already have accounts so are familiar in how to use it. Several social media accounts from Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, for instance, will build new relationships that will help you acquire new customers that begin to fill up your marketing and sales funnel for ongoing email newsletters. Encourage people on social media to sign up to your mailing list by offering incentives (if possible) and set auto-responding emails, thanking them for joining the community.
Social media is an excellent audience as all of your customers will be using it, but, the whole world selling to those people are also using it so getting noticed through all of the noise will be difficult at first. If you identify a voice and visual brand, then social media can prove to be one of your most powerful tools to build an audience from zero. Don’t forget, though, don’t go to social media blind. Learn how to develop a digital customer acquisition strategy first!
Social media will also help you get involved in the conversation, identifying you as a contributor and that your opinion matters. You can begin discussions and get noticed just by tweeting replies or comments.
Social Media Pros
- Reach a lot of people
- Get involved in conversations
- Join relevant networks
- It’s free after all
Social Media Cons
- To begin with, you’ll have a minimal reach
- Posts are visible and accessible, for years to come!
When you start to get some followers into your marketing lists, you need to start sending out newsletters. Emails have a much more personal relationship with your audience as they have opted in to receive communications from you. This means they’re already interested in what you have to say.
Before you start writing your own content, show that you are embedded in your industry by sharing exciting innovations and information that have helped you and should be of interested to your audience. This will identify you as a keen source of insights. As soon as you mix this with your own thought-leading content, you will start to become an influencer in the space, and this builds trust.
An email newsletter is like a mini-blog post but quicker to put together. You can take the latest news, mix it with relevant content and become a central source of information pertinent to the industry.
Building a newsletter is one of the easiest ways to start engaging people once you have their details, and every week, sending an email at the same time will become an expected source or contact from you.
Email Newsletter Pros
- Early mistakes are forgiving during the learning stage
- Quick to produce and collate
- Enables you to tell a story
- It’s free (in most cases)
Email Newsletter Cons
- You may have no emails yet
From your social media and email accounts, you will identify a trend of what your audience responds to. This information is essential in helping you identify keywords to use for your paid media campaigns to attract a broader audience that is actively looking for solutions and information like yours.
We’ve written a series on Paid Media which goes into the pros and cons of different channels including setting you own up.
Paid Ads are not simple, and early on, it can be not very easy identifying where to spend your initial money. You will not find a golden ticket to a channel that works immediately. Try different channels and sources to create a larger pool of potential sign-ups.
Pay Per Click (PPC), though, is a sure-fire way of getting new customers and leads in a short time. Google is continually offering $120 of free ad revenue to give it a try. It also has quick results, and you need to ensure you can act on those results when they do start coming in.
Facebook and Google are both at the top of the game for PPC traffic. If you’re looking for a specific audience based on location, gender, age and interests, for example, then Facebook is the best place.
Google works best through search terms or keyword phrases that your customers are typing in search engines.
Paid Media Pros
- Get traffic quickly
- Search terms can identify easy keyword wins organically
- Build up an audience quickly
Paid Media Cons
- Can cost a lot of money
- Search terms without research can cost a lot per click
- Traffic can be irrelevant
Building an audience through outbound marketing is a dark art. Understanding where to begin is always an awkward position to be motivated. As you will see slow results at first, keeping momentum and passion is challenging but is ultimately beneficial.
An easy way to start is with your immediate friends and family who can help you learn about email marketing and social media content without having your mistakes cost you dearly. This group will all help you share, to start growing a relevant audience, as you work on perfecting your messaging and channel strategy.
From social media comes email newsletters quite quickly and matching this with paid media through Google or Facebook, for instance, will start to see greater reach into your potential customers. Here you will find search terms that work, and some that don’t. Continuously evolve to find more useful search terms.