once you’ve done the groundwork to find a market for your product or service, it’s time to build on this momentum. Now you need to connect with people who are interested in what you have to offer. You can find and grow your audience by applying what you know across channels and using a mix of strategies that evolve as you learn.
Enlarging your marketing footprint into multiple tactics and channels offers huge potential payback. Over 85% of consumers crave a blend of both digital and non-digital experiences with brands, and 68% are likely to spend more with a brand that leverages those channels to treat them like individuals.
Building out your audience is essential for small business success, whether you’re a kitchen table startup or an established company. Try these fresh approaches to expand your audience.
1. Start with what you know
It’s likely that your target audience shares traits with the people you already know. These “lookalikes” are, therefore, a good bet for growing your audience.
To find new people who are interested in what you do, take a look at what you know about your current contacts. Are many of them around the same age? Do they live in a specific region? Do they respond consistently to a certain kind of content? You can use that data to find people who are similar.
Say you operate a neighborhood gourmet shop, and you notice allergen-free pancake mix is selling well to young families. You could use this insight to promote this product to a similar demographic online.
“Or, you can segment by interest,” says Shantel. “A fitness app might try to find people in a similar age bracket who’ve expressed an interest in improved health.”
2. Use social media to engage audiences
Whether you’re new to social media or have experience, taking a fresh look at your social approaches and channels can help you generate relationships. People want to connect with brands they like on social media: 66% of consumers who use Facebook follow a brand on the platform. And on the B2B front, 65% of B2B companies have used LinkedIn paid ads to acquire new business.
Effective social media posts don’t require having a social media manager on staff. Anyone can create compelling posts by sharing expertise that matches their audience’s interests. For example, if you’re an event photographer, you might post tips to set up and take a winning family photo and share your photos to showcase what you know about your field.
You can also encourage user-generated content like tagged photos. A decorator, for instance, could share DIY ideas for creating a cozy family room, and then encourage people to post photos of the décor they’ve assembled using that advice. Once people start sharing these pictures, you can post them on your social channels to add heft to your content and make your audience feel involved with your brand.
3. Focus on audience preferences
Examine the priorities, engagement habits, buying behaviors, favored pricing, social media activity, and other details of your current audience for commonalities. Then, use this data to inform or refresh your outreach.
You may find, for example, that your most-engaged contacts come from LinkedIn or in response to an email campaign, which can be a cue to emphasize those channels. Or, on the message front, you may discover that your audience responds to an offer for a free consultation with your top creative talent, rather than a price break.
Marketing CRM tools and an audience dashboard can help you organize and connect all your audience data. This approach lets you see patterns that can provide insight into how audiences respond, identify what they most want from you, and pinpoint opportunities to create personalized communications that show you understand their needs and desires.
4. Use postcards to stand out
The effectiveness of direct mail is on the rise, according to the Association of National Advertisers. Postcards—in a variety of sizes and formats—can be a cost-effective and attention-grabbing way to reach new potential audiences and reconnect with people you haven’t heard from recently. An optometrist in an eyeglasses store, for example, could send a postcard offering an eyeglasses discount and a reminder to schedule an appointment to maintain eye health.
Direct mail performs particularly well in multichannel campaigns: Response rates are 41% higher when integrated with other marketing efforts, and customized mailing pieces can boost response by up to 50%. And, you don’t need addresses to move your connection from inbox to mailbox. An address finder can help match back physical mailing details to individual contacts if you have their email addresses.
5. Expand your landing page traffic
Social posts, targeted digital ads, and other content pointing to your landing pages can bring in new audiences with the profile you want. Use strong calls to action (CTAs) in your marketing, based on audience priorities, to encourage page visits. For an e-commerce company with a budget-conscious buyer, this may be a free shipping offer.
Also, be sure you have something on these landing pages for people who want to learn more about your business. A digital ad might drive someone to a buy-now-promotion landing page that also features a newsletter signup or a link to your blog. By using multiple channels, you can broaden the audience you reach. When you have an engagement option on your landing pages for each of the visitors you attract, your efforts to get them there pay off.
6. Team up with complementary businesses
Other companies likely target your exact audience with products or services that don’t compete with what you offer. Why not let them share your marketing message with their audience, and vice versa? Partnerships, co-sponsored events, and other collaborations can lift brand awareness and marketing return on investment (ROI) for everyone involved.
“Be prepared to pivot with the times,” says Shantel. For example, a restaurant client ran co-promotions with the dating app Bumble for singles nights. When the coronavirus hit, the restaurant began partnering with a local hospital to encourage patrons to donate meals to doctors and nurses.
Finding a complementary partner with the same audience as yours is key. Then, you can collaborate on ways to boost visibility for both organizations, online and offline.
7. Create an omnichannel marketing strategy
One way to find new audiences is to use new channels; the other is to be sure your channels work together. This is called omnichannel marketing.
The payoff can be significant: Campaigns using 3 or more channels (for example, email, banner ads, and social media) have a 90% higher retention rate than single-channel efforts.
Omnichannel marketing ensures that your potential and current audiences receive 1 unified, consistent message that reflects how they have interacted with your brand. A specialty bakery might showcase its family baking videos on Facebook. People who watch the video could be encouraged to sign up for the bakery’s newsletter to receive more family baking tips with a link to a specific landing page. By signing up there, an automated email could be triggered that offers a special invitation to in-store classes at a discounted rate. Those who want to know about in-demand bakery items could sign up to receive texts when baked goods are about to come out of the oven and be available for pickup.