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Audiences are not created equal

By Adam Landrum, CEO, Digital Strategy Agency Merge

Three things executives care about: "Will it take my time or my company's time? Am I incurring significant risk? Will it cost me or make me money?"

Three things managers think about: "Can I trust the quality? Will I get good service? Is the price the best deal I can get or is it fair?"

Think about your audience. Maybe it's managers and executives. Students. New hires. Recruits. Vendors. Partners. Existing customers. One message does not fit all.

Here are five practical ways your Web assets can speak to different audiences.

  1. The home page (Role-based calls to action and navigation)
  2. The job of the home page is to quickly tell the user who you are, what you do (the benefit) and whom you do it for (hopefully, the user). Assuming you have many different users with different needs, the next step of the home page is to get the user on the right track. By creating a proper sitemap, users can be taken down "paths" that specifically apply to them. For instance, a health care services site may speak to health administrators, doctors and nurses. These individuals play different roles and thus have different needs, yet they can all use the same product. As such, the home page would have calls-to-action for each of these roles, taking the user to the appropriate section of the Web site for that particular role.

  3. Landing Pages
  4. Probably the most straightforward method of talking to multiple audiences is to create landing pages for each specific audience. So whether you use search, pay-per-click, email marketing or social media, you can tailor your campaigns around a specific audience and send the audience to a highly customized and targeted landing page.

  5. Email marketing: segmented lists
  6. A lot of damage was done when early email marketing techniques were called "email blasts." Rather, email marketing should be called "email snipers." Most companies compile one huge list and send the same message out to everyone. Messages should be tailored for each audience, industry, role, etc. When combined with targeted landing pages, your tailored messaging becomes extremely effective.

  7. Paid search
  8. Let's say you want to target CEOs 60+ years old who live in the Southeast. You can use paid search to do that. Whether it's a pay-per-click model or a social media ad (think LinkedIn), you can craft a message in your ad that speaks directly (and is shown only) to that audience. Again, sending that click to a landing page or appropriate section of your website means you're speaking their language.

  9. Portals
  10. Portals are special-use websites that typically speak to a specific audience. For instance, Merge has worked with universities that want to speak only to prospective students and their parents. (Ah, two different audiences! More on that in a second.) We recommended the creation of an admissions portal, rather than trying to address these two audiences on the universities' main websites. The admissions portals then separate users with technique No. 1 (home pages) to send students on their own path ("This is the school for you!") and parents on a different one ("Your child will love it here and be safe!").

Bottom Line: Your products or services probably appeal to many different audiences and/or roles. Most effective digital strategies don't implement a one-size-fits-all content marketing approach. Instead, savvy digital marketers tailor messages for a specific type of user, and use the techniques listed above to drive specific audiences to specific Web assets to maximize marketing effectiveness.

This article originally appeared on the Merge blog and is used here with permission.

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