Content Marketing 105: Harvesting the audience

Author: William Holeksa

Welcome to the next part of our series about how to build a successful content marketing strategy. In the previous parts, we talked about the basics of a content marketing strategy and discussed three critical steps for developing it: finding your sweet spot, identifying the content tilt, and building a base.

By finding their sweet spot, brands can identify the topic that will become the core of their content marketing strategy. But today’s market is saturated with content, and if you want your brand to stand out, you need to find a specific angle that will make your content genuinely unique. That’s called the content tilt. Once you have a sweet spot and content tilt, the next step is building the base where you decide what type of content you will create, the primary platform where you will publish it, as well as how often you will be publishing it.

The next step starts with taking a closer look at your audience.

Harvesting The Audience - Closer look at your audienceJoe Pulizzi suggests that brands should be focusing on platforms that truly yield returns in terms of a sustainable audience base. The idea is to double down on your core audience and specialize your content to help your brand stand out. The primary goal of this strategy is building a platform that is valuable and fulfills the needs of your target audience better than anything else.

After all, the primary goal of content marketing is attracting and engaging people so they see your brand as an expert who can be trusted. And once they trust your content, they are more likely to buy your products or services. Gaining their trust with quality content is an excellent strategy for making your audience more sensitive to your offer. They will see it as irresistible, something they just can’t live without. And they will be willing to provide you with their name and email address to get that.

This is where we could begin talking about monetization. But remember that monetization is much more than just revenue. You’re just getting started, remember? At this point, what you want is earning contact information that will help you in establishing an audience of dedicated and loyal subscribers.

And that’s what harvesting the audience is all about.

Why is gaining subscribers so important?

Traditional advertising and marketing build brand awareness in a completely different way than we at our content marketing platform. Content marketing offers you something even more precious than just opportunities to expose consumers to your products or services: you get to build a community of subscribers who are highly engaged in your offer.

Subscribers are your biggest asset and the most valuable thing you get from your content marketing strategy.

It doesn’t matter whether you engage your audience by email, social media, or your blog – your subscribers are very valuable, and they are the key to your growth and success in the long run. The individuals who choose to consume your content regularly in time may become your most loyal customers. In a recent survey, 60% of customers said that they’re more positive towards the company that delivers custom content and that they are like more likely to buy from that company.

Harvesting The Audience - Why is gaining subscribers so important

Building your audience

In his book Content Inc, Joe Pulizzi argues that it’s possible to start a company without a product or service. That may sound crazy, but there’s a logic to that.

Ask yourself this question: How can I create a successful product when I have no idea what my prospective customers need and want? Building an audience is all about focusing on their pain points, desires, preferences.

Smart entrepreneurs can use that information to create the foundation for solutions only they can offer – because they were the only ones to go through all the effort to get these insights. It’s only by gaining that information that you will be able to create products your audience needs.

Harvesting The Audience - Building your audience

That’s because you will understand your customers better than anyone else – including your competitors. Building an audience is the core of content marketing leads. The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t limit the growth of your company in any way. Once you gain success with one audience, you can start engaging another one and repeat the entire process.

Harvesting the audience – what is it all about?

Harvesting the audience refers to one of your critical goals which is always growing your audience. The idea is building an email audience – your subscribers become an asset you actually own. Social media audiences aren’t bad, but remember that it’s the social networks that technically owns the list of your followers and they can restrict your access or reach at any time.

Do you remember what happened when Facebook introduced new rules that drastically minimized the reach of company pages to their followers? That could happen again, and you have no control over it. By building a list of subscribers on your blog through email, however, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your audience.

Harvesting The Audience - What is it all about

So once you’re done building the base for your content marketing strategy, it’s time to focus on how you will increase your audience and convert one-time readers into loyal subscribers.

So where do you start growing your list of subscribers?

Email subscribers are the most valuable kind of subscribers because email is a tool that allows your business to gain the highest amount of control over your messages and methods of delivery.

Social media subscribers are another valuable group of subscribers – these are the people who follow your page or subscribe to your channel. Youtube stands out as one of the most prominent examples of a platform that offers a fair amount of control to businesses. Twitter is not that bad either – and so is LinkedIn, especially if you plan to use content marketing to become a thought leader in your sector. Your LinkedIn connections can then become useful for marketing in B2B sector.

Unfortunately, Facebook is the least valuable platform for gathering followers, simply because it doesn’t guarantee that all of them will get to see your content.

Medium is an attractive space if you plan to share long-form articles. Its system of followers ensures that everyone will get updated when you publish new content. Additionally, your content may be featured in one of the dedicated services or even the Medium newsletter. That kind of exposure can easily take your brand to the next level. Just make sure to share high-quality content and ask your readers for claps that work like likes on Medium.

Audience harvesting in action – a case study

Now that you know the theory, it’s time to see what growing an audience looks like in practice. Perhaps you’ve heard about Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch? The small business expert published great content early on because he thought it was an excellent method for growing his consulting practice. He even published a book series.

Harvesting The Audience - Audience harvesting in action

But his real breakthrough came in the early 2000s when he added a sign my guestbook area to his website. John probably had an idea about how many people read content. You can use data like website traffic analytics to know whether your content is performing well. But that’s a passive method, and he wanted something more.

John realized that at this point, it was possible to build a database of people who actively expressed an interest in his work. That subscription provided with him with a method for connecting and communicating directly with his subscribers – in other words, people who might be interested in his consulting services.

As a result, John transformed Duct Tape Marketing into a multimillion-dollar business that Forbes once named as one of the hundred best websites for entrepreneurs.

Key takeaway

Focusing on audience growth is the smartest approach to content marketing. It’s not only about finding something interesting to say. The idea is first to engage your audience and then jump on the opportunity to transform those who appreciate your content most into direct value.

Harvesting The Audience - Key takeaway

That’s why monetization starts already when you create your first subscription platform – be it an email newsletter, a social media page, or a Medium accounts. Once you to develop a strong subscription base for your primary content platform, it’s time to explore some new ways you can reach your audience by diversifying the content you create.

Do you have any questions about building and growing an audience for your content marketing strategy? Give us a shout out in the comments; we look forward to engaging with you and answering your most pressing questions about audience building for content purposes.

William Holeksa

Managing Director at Marketin9

With over 12 years of commercial experience SEO and Application Development and 8 years in Web Development, William is extremely passionate about IT, web security and data science.

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