The concept of a digital audience and digital audience management has only really come about in the past decade or so in the marketing field. This fact speaks volumes about how different the general views on web-based branding and engagement were back then. But it’s pretty clear that nowadays, the widespread success of digital audience targeting is plenty of reason to use it as a standard for all digital media brands.
But while it’s easy to understand that engaging with a digital audience is the smart thing to do, it’s not nearly as easy to know how to go about it. Today, stats and metrics dominate how we typically measure success, and it’s easy for digital media brands to forget that clicks and views aren’t as crucial to the big picture as digital audience retention.
Thankfully, Viafoura takes a structured approach to digital audience targeting and development, one that we’re happy to share here for any readers interested in learning how to go about it the right way.
What exactly is digital audience development?
For those who are a bit behind on things or are just looking to understand why it pays to maintain a digital audience, it’s best to start from the beginning – specifically, the objectives of maintaining a digital audience.
We’re long past the times where all organizations and brands were simply expected to deliver a product or service, with everything else being at their discretion. Customers today aren’t enticed by just getting a good price or exactly what they asked for. Instead, digital media brands should build relationships with their digital audience to create connections and have them value your efforts.
Getting more customers
Of course, this is still a big part of marketing and brand development; but the idea is that it isn’t the bottom line. Expanding your digital audience is something that will naturally happen over time as you build connections with your customers and engage with them beyond a source of information or a service provider; effectively, you’re taking out two birds with one stone. Be it through referrals, added value in your content, or using digital audience targeting to appeal to new, unexplored demographics, new customers can discover your brand and convert to paying members of your online community.
Building customer loyalty
It’s not enough to simply secure a customer for the moment. Continued success is built on digital media brands’ efforts to engage with their audience and encourage them to return for more. It’s essential to keep finding ways to turn first-time arrivals into repeat visitors since this forms the backbone of your community. More often than not, satisfied customers will bring their friends and family to you, which makes it even more important to secure the loyalty of your audience.
The difference between digital audience development and marketing
The first step to understanding the right approach to digital audience development is understanding its differences from marketing. Granted, there are some definite similarities between the two concepts, but some significant differences also need to be noted.
Marketing focuses on showcasing the full value proposition of your product or service. Print ads, commercials, billboards, and more connect customers with a specific need with a product that satisfies it. But developing an audience is more humanistic; it goes over what your audience likes about your service, what they want to see more of, how they use your services, and so on. Digital audience development actually shares a lot of its sensibilities with customer retention, which also employs marketing tactics to pull in and retain an audience.
So does this mean that you should prioritize one over the other? Not exactly. Digital audience development and marketing naturally promote each other; digital audience measurement and development often use marketing strategies, and digital marketing is often vital to building brand loyalty. Both are important to a brand’s overall success and should be equally utilized as a part of a digital media brand’s overall strategy.
It is worth considering that marketing tends to be more expensive compared to digital audience development. Since marketing works on creating ads and paying for advertising space, these costs are similar to traditional methods and can add up to a significant amount. On the other hand, digital audience measurement and development costs are much more frugal, often offering venues that are free to implement within your plan. And since digital audience development focuses on customer relations and your audience bringing in more first-time visitors in touch with your brand, your returns on investment are much more long-term. Viafoura’s tools are designed to do precisely that; provide long-term value and form a community that propagates itself after enough time and investment.
Most digital media brands have already implemented a combination of these strategies within their environments, but hopefully, these financial benefits convince those still wary of the returns on digital marketing development more of a reason to divert more resources towards it.
The key factors in digital audience development
Digital audience development has no formula, but it is based upon some concepts that can be considered key principles in developing your digital audience. They’re well known as the 4 C’s of successful audience development, and they apply at a digital level just as well. Take these factors into account when developing your strategy, and you’ll see significant success in bringing in members to form a community around your digital media brand.
Audiences respond positively to a brand’s efforts to interact and partner with organizations or causes they support. Because of this, collaboration is a crucial aspect of digital audience development that all digital media brands should be open to implementing. Collaboration offers opportunities for new members to find your brand and expands your audience over time. Collaboration doesn’t need to be at an organizational level either; interacting with your audience and sharing and highlighting their stories and experiences are also ways to collaborate with your readers to promote your brand.
Retaining an audience boils down to how much of a connection they have to your brand. If your audience agrees with your practices, supports the opinions you promote and sympathizes with the content you present, you’re building strong connections that last well past their initial visit to your platform. But this also means you’re expected to keep an ear to the ground and pay attention to what your audience thinks about your brand. Ignoring their opinions and value as individuals is a quick way to lose their interest and loyalty.
Newer generations of consumers are increasingly distrustful of advertisements and marketing strategies. As a result, the best approach to convincing them to give your digital media brand a shot is candid honesty. Make your communications, policies, and decisions transparent, and convey as clearly as possible what your intentions are. Promoting healthy discussion, entertaining critique, and taking your audience’s opinions into account is key here. This promotes trust, and digital audience development is much more successful when your audience members trust their brands.
This is our personal favourite C, not just because we promote online community development and management through our software suite. Following the previous 3 C’s will naturally allow your audience to come together around a digital media brand. When this happens, it’s up to the brand to provide the space and tools needed for healthy discourse to occur. And it doesn’t need to stop there! As the brand, your opinions and actions carry enormous sway within your audience. Therefore, a key aspect of digital audience development is taking part in the conversation. If you mingle with your audience, it humanizes your brand and reinforces their connection towards you and your content.
Digital audience development has always held the same concepts at its core – it’s just the times and the methodology that have changed over the years. Digital media brands are expected to remember their audience’s human aspect and look past the numbers when looking to promote goodwill and loyalty towards their content and image. By following the steps within this article, any brand can achieve huge success in bringing in and retaining an audience.
Viafoura strives to assist digital media brands with developing and maintaining a robust digital audience. Our suite of software tools is specifically designed to promote and retain audience viewership and attention through providing tools for community development. To learn more about what we do, contact us to schedule a demo and start building your online community today.