One of the first questions we get about audience development is, “I want to understand the ROI—can you show me some statistics?” Sure thing. To demonstrate the data that speaks to the value of audience development, here are a few top examples:
Customers Know They Start Out As Audience Members
In voice-of-customer research, customers don’t hide the fact that they appreciate branded content. This holds true for both B2B buyers and consumers.
Among B2B buyers, 75% cite the winning vendor’s content as a significant contributing factor in their decision to buy. Additionally, 89% of business buyers said that winning vendors “provided content that made it easier to show ROI and/or build a business case for the purchase.”
Audience Development Dramatically Decreases The Cost Per Lead (CPL)
We’ve seen this decrease of CPL happen firsthand with MARCOA, a JumpCrew company that specializes in military base installation guides, maps, and other materials.
Before the acquisition, MARCOA partnered with JumpCrew to expand its marketing infrastructure. This involved a much deeper focus on audience development and communication between MARCOA and its audience members on social media, email, and other channels. We transformed their communications channels into true, two-way streets, where correspondence flowed freely between prospects and MARCOA representatives. JumpCrew used content and paid ads to target prospects they knew were the right audience for the content, meaning that we could pay less to attract the new lead because of how relevant the content was to them. Thanks to the new marketing infrastructure, MARCOA decreased its cost per lead (CPL) by 59% over one year.
Audience Development Helps Companies Double Down On Early Success
For PartsTech, audience development was the key to scaling some early success into a turnkey sales pipeline. Back in 2013, PartsTech launched a platform that saw organic success. By 2018, the company was ready to launch a complete, robust sales strategy. The sales plan needed to accommodate PartsTech’s long B2B sales cycle and prioritize long-term customer relationships rather than quick, one-off sales. Audience development—proven to nurture long-term relationships—was the perfect fit for the company. By implementing this approach focused on long-term adoption by audience members, JumpCrew was able to add $700K in value to PartsTech.
Audience Development Directly Reduces Ad Costs
If you’re running any ads on social media, the smarter you are about your audience, the cheaper your advertising will be. Notably, Facebook transparently charges less for higher-quality ads, specifically those featuring content that’s demonstrably relevant to the audience being served. Additionally, analyzing and segmenting your audience intelligently will drive better conversion rates and higher ROI anytime you serve ads to a particular audience via Pixel, etc.
When buyers have to choose between your product and a competitor’s, they usually opt for the brand they recognize. That’s why whether you’re DTC, wholesale, or multichannel, consumers need to be familiar with your brand. Audience development is the best action you can take to build the customer affinity that drives recognition and sales. It’s not only a proactive move, but a strategic defense. If consumers aren’t in your brand’s audience and interacting with your content, they’re likely in a competitor’s audience instead. This means that your competitors will always sound more familiar to them (as well as the consumer’s social circle).
Often, we run into B2C leaders who shy away from investing in audience development because they’re worried that they won’t see ROI fast enough. In our extensive experience, audience development is highly efficient. It’s a far-reaching strategic move that builds on itself, spreading brand recognition among audience members and the people they know. With that, audience development requires time, grit, and patience. Being part of a brand’s loyal audience is comparable to being in a relationship.
People don’t get married after meeting one another for the first time, as consumers aren’t loyal after sampling only one option. Months to years of courtship is required before engagement.
TripAdvisor focused on SEO, Content Marketing, and User Generated reviews to dominate the travel industry. This focus helped them build a strong brand, a $3 billion market cap, and highly engaged audiences across the travel vertical.
B2B brands need audience development as much as B2C brands—but the approach is a bit different. While B2C brands need to cast a wide net, B2B brands need to target decision-makers. The goal is to develop a small but profitable audience, such that each member of the audience respects what your brand does and has the agency to act. With effective B2B audience development, your content reaches the companies that need your product the most.
While consumers sometimes buy products by simple inclination, the same isn’t true for B2B buyers: this means that content should be centered on prospective clients’ needs, demonstrating a deep understanding of the industry.
For example, for B2B audiences, content is most effective when it addresses needs they’re already aware that they have. Trying to convince people that they need your product is less effective than nurturing an audience of people who are already feeling the pain that your product can alleviate.
B2B companies can use acquisition as a quick way to build a relationship with the right audience. Sales enablement software company Outreach.io bought SalesHacker.com to do just that. SalesHacker.com had a highly engaged audience that was built over time with world-class articles, webinars, and live events. Instead of spending time pumping out their own sales content, Outreach bought it. As a result, Outreach.io is one of the fastest-growing companies in its category and now has its ideal audience that adores the product.
The Risk Of Improper Audience Development
Audience development is important for all kinds of brands, but it needs to be done right. Reaching the wrong audience with your content is not only a
resource drain; it can be a detriment to your brand. If your content reaches no one, the time and money spent creating it is wasted. However, if your content reaches the wrong people—people who aren’t potential customers—they can actually harm your brand’s image.
If they’re not aligned with your brand’s values, they’re likely to spread negative sentiments, which will make it even harder to reach the right people in the future. Facebook has been known to hold grudges on ad accounts that don’t get engagement, taking it as a signal that the potential audience is not a good fit for the product. This knowledge becomes the foundation of the audience development strategy, guiding all subsequent decisions. In the following sections, we’ll cover how to do each of these things and more.