[372] How to build an engaged online audience

If you want to sell your products or services online you need to build a following. More social media followers, more website visitors and email subscribers. So when you do have something to sell you have an 'audience' of people who already know, like and trust you - which means they're far more likely to buy. But building an engaged audience takes time. With that in mind, here's the answers to the most common questions I get asked on building an online audience.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode.}

1.What exactly is an online audience? 

Your ‘audience’ is the people who engage with your online content e.g. social media, blog/vlog/podcast, email marketing.

2. Why do I need to build an online audience? 

You don’t NEED to have an online audience. You can choose to market your business completely offline if you wish. But if you want to to do business online, you do need an online audience - otherwise who are you going to sell your products/services to? 

3. When's the best time to start building my online audience?

If you want to sell online, the ideal time to start building your audience is way before your product/service goes on sale. That way, you'll already have built relationships with prospective customers/clients - which means you're far more likely to make sales.

4. What size does your online audience need to be?

This depends on your sales goals. The average conversion rate for online sales is 1-2%.

Which means for every 100 people on your email list, only a small number will actually buy from you.

If you’re a coach selling 1-2-1 coaching and need 20 clients a year, you may only need a thousand or so on your email list. If you sell lower-priced products or online courses/memberships you’ll almost certainly need to shoot for 10k or beyond. So whatever it is you’re selling…you almost certainly need a much bigger audience than you think.

To find out what size your audience needs to be right now, check out my audience calculator   

5. What is the best way to measure your audience numbers?

Some people think your audience is the number of social media followers, readers of your blog or listeners to your podcast. But while you may make the odd sale on social media - or from your blog/podcast/YouTube channel - the majority of sales will happen in your inbox. PLUS it’s almost impossible to reliably predict and track income from sales on social media. 

This is why building your email list is the single most important thing you can do in your business. Which means the number of engaged email subscribers you have on your list is the most reliable measure of audience size.  

In order to build your email list, you need an audience of people who engage with your content (otherwise how are you going to get people to join your email list?). This is why I recommend starting by building your audience on social media, then moving on to content (e.g.blog, podcast./YouTube) before tackling email marketing. And that’s exactly what I cover in my Build Your Online Audience Programme

6. How do I find out where my ideal audience is hanging out online (so I can find more people like them)?

 Just ask them. Find 10 of your ideal clients/customers and ask them where they spend time online. Then start sharing some content on that platform and test and tweak accordingly (see the next question). 

7. How do I find out what kind of content my audience would like me to share? 

Just ask them. Find 10 of your ideal clients/customers and ask them what they would like to hear about. But don’t just leave it at that. People sometimes tell you what they think you want to hear. Which means you’ll need to test and tweak different types of content until you figure out what works best (i.e. what gets the most engagement). And do remember that it’s not about numbers of followers/likes. Your best measure of success is comments and conversations. 

Bonus tip: Making a list of your most frequently asked questions is an easy way to generate content ideas for your audience.  This can be turned into ten blog posts/podcast episodes/YouTube videos and/or social media posts. Also look at your competitors - those who are have a bigger audience than you.  The more you understand about the type of content that captures your ideal clients’ attention, the better placed you’ll be to create your own engaging content. 

8. I want to launch an online course/membership programme or a live event. Do I need to build my audience before I launch? 

Ideally yes. Otherwise who are you going to sell to? People often think they can use cold ads. But ask yourself this: when’s the last time you invested in an online course/membership or live event after seeing an ad? While there are always exceptions, most of us need to get to know, like and trust someone before we hand over our hard-earned cash. Which is why it’s generally best to start building your audience organically before you start using advertising. If you have the budget to hire a strategist and/or a testing budget for ads, a Facebook ad campaign can work, but you’ll still need to ‘warm up’ your audience before they’ll buy from you with content. 

Find out: how to build an audience for an online course/membership. 

9. Do I need to be active on every social media platform to make online sales? 

While it’s tempting to think you need to be active on every single platform, it’s much better to start with one or two. Once you’ve mastered those, and understand what works, you can replicate your strategy on other platforms. Spread yourself too thin, and could wind up being ineffective on multiple social media platforms (and wasting time and money in the process).

Podcast shownotes

  • About this podcast (2:47)
  • What is an ’online audience’ (and why it needs to be bigger than you think) (3:11)
  • Why an email list is essential if you want to make a regular profit in your business (8:10)
  • Why you need more than social media to build an engaged online audience (09:05)
  • How to build your online audience without overwhelming yourself (10:10)
  • How to find out where your online audience is (13:34)
  • Why finding out your audiences problems will help you create content that will engage your audience (15:22)
  • Why sharing  personal content will engage your online audience (22:20)
  • How to create engaging content for a product based business without being selly (24:15)
  • Why you should think about building your online audience as early as possible in your business (26:01)
  • Why you should start with one social media platform to build an engaged audience and then think about other platforms (29:45)

Resources

[333] 39 Surprisingly easy ways to increase your email subscribers (podcast)
[334] How to build a large audience without paid advertising with Callie Willows (podcast)[335] How to create a high-converting lead magnet (podcast)
[337] The tools I am using to build my online audience (podcast)
[339] How to build an audience for an online course or membership (podcast)
[358] 13 Ideas for engaging social media posts (podcast)[363] Five ways to bust through an audience growth plateau (podcast)

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