It used be that Newspapers, TV and radio stations and networks, local cable operators had all the control; these companies and institutions were the only ones with audiences. If for some reason you needed to reach a large number of people for something – you needed to buy advertising from them. Even as a large company you really wouldn’t have a way of interacting directly with your clients or customers in any other way.

Today it’s different, whether people realize it or not, anyone can build an audience. Whether that’s a Facebook page, twitter account or YouTube channel. People have many different ways to create and build an audience. You’ve probably heard of this kid Evan from EvanTubeHD, he and his dad set out to do toy product reviews and created a YouTube channel now with almost 2.5 million subscribers and has made millions of dollars and he’s only 10 years old. Literally, anyone can create an audience! It’s easy say and hear examples, but not easy to do.
Let’s define what an audience is, an audience is group of people who care about you. TV stations would define the size of their audience based on their Nielson ratings. Radio Stations would define their audiences based on ratings, the number of calls they get to their morning show or the number of people who show up to their events. It’s essentially people who care about you. On the internet it’s different you actually get a number. Your audience size is the number of unique visitors you get in any given month, or the size of your email list, or the number of people who follow you on social media. It’s people who are connected to you. And it goes a little further online than it does through traditional mediums. These people have given you permission – permission to market to them. And if we think about this a little more, no one asked my permission to put up those billboards up that I see on driving down the highway. And because these audiences have given their permission there is an inherent loyalty to online audiences that doesn’t exist in traditional marketing channels which, in my opinion, makes online channels more valuable.
The one goal that almost everyone understands, but not many focus on is that a business whether online or traditional in nature should be extremely focused on building an online audience. There really is no greater goal. The bigger the audience that you have the better and more inherent loyalty you will have from your market. Which means that your clients and customers aren’t going to listen to your competitors nearly as much as they used to. Your audience wants to hear what you have to say. They want to know how you can help them.
Goals need to be specific, measurable and time-bound. Unfortunately, each website is different and it would be impossible for me to tell you to go out and get a specific number of email subscribers and then you have arrived. You need to think about your audience and develop a goal.
There is this growing number of business owners online who help people and businesses develop larger audiences. And there is some consensus among them that somewhere between 2500 and 5000 email subscribers on a good list that could generate revenue. Not always in the specific ways that you might be thinking of, but maybe promoting some affiliate products or services or something similar. Obviously, the larger your opportunities grow as your audience grows.
I’ve been doing digital marketing for 8 or 9 years now and I’ve seen 1000s of websites – I’ve seen good websites and a lot of bad ones. Now, when I say bad in this instance I mean ineffective websites. Websites that really don’t have a clear purpose or direction. Now many websites I’ve seen and this is most prevalent in small business websites – not all of them of course – is the idea that their website is like a fancy business card or brochure. It never changes, it only gets updated when some gets really embarrassed about it and decides to do something with it. In essence these companies have websites because they are supposed to have websites. I think I get this. Websites, and marketing for that matter, are important until the moment enough money is being made to make people feel just comfortable enough. But what happens here is that companies begin get comfortable with the revenue that they are making or not making and give up on marketing because they don’t feel they need to do it. Most people don’t realize how much work it actually takes to build an audience online.
In the early days of Facebook, Noah Kagen was the 30th employee hired, you may have heard of him from his blog okdork.com. Noah has said many times that in the early days of Facebook he was focused on creating revenue and he felt like he was the only one who was. On one occasion, Noah pitched a revenue idea to Mark Zuckerberg. Mark walked over to a whiteboard in the room and simply wrote ‘GROWTH’. I was on Facebook in the early days, there were no ads. I remember when they opened it up to high school students. Revenue generation just was not on their mind at that moment. Zuckerberg was selling stock in Facebook so they didn’t have to raise revenue on the website. It was their believe that raising revenue would slow or even halt growth.
I hate the ads on Facebook, most everyone I know hates the ads on Facebook, but I don’t quite Facebook because of them. I’m sure there are some who have quite because of them, but in reality so many of my friends and family are on Facebook that I’m going to stay on Facebook to stay connected to them.
In those early days of Facebook they had one goal – get more users – whatever it took. And that should be the goal of your website. If you are serious about taking your business to the next level you should do whatever you can to grow it. You can track it several ways: the number of people who connect with you on Social Media, the number of unique visitors your website receives in a month, and how many email subscribers you have.I would argue that the best measure for this is how many email subscribers you have. If your website is a eCommerce store you might be tempted to focus on sales, but I would argue that your audience is larger than those who’ve bought from you.
When you grow your audience you will then have the ability to market opportunities and sell your services. You have then basically developed a community who trusts you and wants to hear what you have to say. You will then be considered in many people’s minds a thought leader – which in my opinion – is one of the most coveted titles in digital marketing. As far as your business goes you’ll have developed a brand loyalty and that is the ultimate goal; that is what sets apart the great websites from all the rest. So, make it your goal to focus hard on growth. Reorient yourself, your staff, and your website to be extremely focused on growth.
When you grow your audience you will then have the ability to market opportunities and sell your services. You have then basically developed a community who trusts you and wants to hear what you have to say. You will then be considered in many people’s minds a thought leader – which in my opinion – is one of the most coveted titles in digital marketing. As far as your business goes you’ll have developed a brand loyalty and that is the ultimate goal; that is what sets apart the great websites from all the rest. So, make it your goal to focus hard on growth. Reorient yourself, your staff, and your website to be extremely focused on growth.

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