2014: the year of the audience

To succeed in the rapidly changing marketplace, you need to make the switch from thinking in channels to thinking about real people: their context, their needs, their objectives for engaging with you, and the barriers you must overcome to get them engaged in a meaningful way.

You must understand who your audience is, not just how they interact with you.

Here are three practical ways you can make 2014 the Year of the Audience at your non-profit.

Three ways to make 2014 the Year of the Audience

1) Expand your thinking beyond donor life cycle

Non-profit direct marketers most often think of their audience in broad buckets, like Prospective, Current, Lapsed.

These definitions are helpful, but they don’t give you a full picture of each constituent group. Other important factors such as audience needs, demographics and ethnographics help you create great content that will engage your audience and motivate them to take action.

Put it into practice: Persona development
A good persona is backed up by audience research. Armed with this research you can create personas (biographical sketches) for each major demographic segment that will allow you to tailor your marketing and fundraising efforts to make them more relevant. In her latest book, The Digital Crown, content strategist Ahava Leibtag identifies three questions actionable personas must answer:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What do they care about?
  3. Where do they spend their time so you can engage with them?

2) Focus on the largest giving generation ever…the Boomers

Baby Boomers have become the dominant generational cohort. This is likely true for your audience as well. As an audience, Boomers respond very differently from the generation before them.

Our own Kn Moy wrote at length All About The Boomers. Glancing through the statistics he references shows you why you should pay attention. The golden question is…how do you do that?

Put it into practice: Evaluate your efforts by the 5 C’s
One of the frameworks we use when we talk about Boomers at Masterworks is the 5 C’s:

  1. Clarity
  2. Control
  3. Choice
  4. Convenience
  5. Community

Ideally, any marketing effort to the Boomers should have components of each of these. A great place to start would be to evaluate your current efforts based on the 5 C’s. This will give you some immediate ideas on how to make your efforts more Boomer-friendly.

If you want to try something more extensive, think about testing out a new approach. If you’re a Masterworks client you can try out one of the tests that we’ve built around the C’s.

3) Observe your audience in action

You can discover invaluable information about your audience’s perception by watching them interact with your website. In our web design process we take great pains to keep our audience front of mind at all times, but even then our intuition and expertise can fail us. Turns out, not all people think the same way. That’s why we have real people interact with websites before we launch them through a process called usability testing.

Usability testing allows you to observe how your audience interacts with your website. It will help you understand:

  • Which information they consider valuable
  • How they interact with the site
  • Potential pitfalls that need to be addressed to make the user experience stronger

Put it into practice: Run a Usability Test
A usability test is a great way to observe your audience in real time. Usability testing gives your audience the opportunity to interact with your site and complete a number of actions while they explain their thinking out loud. By observing and recording a test like this, you’ll discover a myriad of ways to tailor your site to your audience.

There you have it

We could spend another 1000 words on the topic, but I’ll leave it at that. These audience-focused approaches could be the first steps towards a change in philosophy. You have it in your power to make 2014 the Year of the Audience. Now, go and do it.

As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment. I’d love to talk with you.