Let people target themselves
I once worked with an education advocacy group that blanketed all of its audience members with the same communications.
- Teachers got the same information as students.
- Community members got the same messages as administrators.
- The mother of Billy the third-grader got the same level of detail as Washingtonian policy wonks.
The problem is, the broader your audience, the more trouble you’ll have reaching audience members effectively. In communications, as in so much else in life, the problem with trying to reach everybody at once is that you too often reach nobody at all.
So you need to segment your audience, offering relevant information — and only relevant information — to subsections of your targeted groups.
The web makes it easier than ever to deliver the right information to the right audiences. Here are three ways to segment your content and let audience members target themselves:
1. Offer streams for different segments.
A person who lives on the north side of town doesn’t want to get tweets about south-side bridge closings, for instance. But those affected by the closings can’t get enough.
Discrete Facebook and Twitter streams let followers and fans get what they want — and not what they don’t.
2. Invite visitors to subscribe to e-zines of interest.
At Poynteronline I’ve signed up to get emailed updates on design, writing and editing and online communications. But I don’t ever want to get anything about photography, broadcast news or — heaven forbid — ethics.
3. Organize your website by audience groups.
You might structure your site into sections for:
- Doctors who prescribe your drug — and patients who take it
- Financial professionals — and individual investors
- Mothers of toddlers — and mothers of teens
- People shopping for insurance after having their first child — and those shopping for insurance after getting their first divorce
Don’t skip segmentation.
However you handle segmentation, it’s essential.
For one thing, it helps you battle information overload. Give readers information that’s relevant to them — and don’t bury them in irrelevant details — and your communications will be a lot more effective.