Audience vs. Marketing Database: There’s a Difference—and It Matters

The following is a preview of some of the topics discussed during the July 23, 2020 webinar, To Gate or Not to Gate. Recording available here

Know your audience . . . it’s the first thing you learn on the first day of Public Speaking 101. Why is it so important? When you’re trying to persuade someone, you have to keep their attention. Your message has to be relevant to them. You have to tell them what they want to hear before you can tell them what you want them to hear.

Knowing your audience is also an essential best practice in marketing. Like public speaking, marketing is the art and science of persuasion. You have to understand their needs and motivations to speak to what matters to them, so you can convince them that not only do you understand them but, that you can best meet their needs.

Understanding “Audience”

But there’s a common misconception among marketers that their marketing database is their audience. After all, if someone’s in your database, they’ve shown some interest in you at some point. But your database is probably full of names from people registering for a piece of content, for a webinar or from badges scanned at tradeshows—names of people who were simply signing up for your iPad raffle.

Some of the characteristics that differentiate your audience from the bulk of names in your database include:

  • They’ve opted in – Your audience consists of willing participants. They’ve asked to receive specific content and they’re open to future communications.
  • They engage – beyond opening your emails, they follow you on social channels, like and share your content
  • You have a relationship with them – An audience is something you nurture. Over time, you get to know their preferences, and you’re continually adjusting your messaging and tactics to keep them engaged.
  • They trust you – Your audience sees you as an authority in a given area. They believe that what you have to say is credible and worthwhile. That means that the content you provide them has to be relevant to their interests and high quality.

We all know that relationships take work, so why is cultivating a relationship with your audience worth the time, effort, and resources you’ll expend over time? First, strong audiences act as de facto ambassadors of your brand. They pass along content you create. They recommend you to colleagues. They help you build awareness and credibility in a potential market. Anything positive they say about you will probably have more influence than anything you say about yourself.

Also, your audience is an important source of insight on the preferences, attitudes, and interests of your entire prospect base. They can help you refine your go-to-market strategy and zero in on the most compelling issues and messaging for specific market segments.

Finally, when an audience member is ready to make the transition to buyer, you’re more likely to make the short list. Not everyone is ready to buy at the same time, and you’ve proved yourself to be “likeable and distinct” above the noise and a credible source of expertise in your audience’s area of interest. So, it’s only natural that an audience member would consider your company when it’s time to buy.

The difference between your audience and your marketing database is one of the key factors in your decision on whether to gate the content you provide. We’ll be taking a closer look at that issue during our upcoming mini-webinar, To Gate or Not to Gate?, on July 23, 2020 at 11 a.m. EST. Please make plans to join us.

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