How to dig into what your audience wants to read now and avoid getting tuned out later

Have you been writing articles for your program’s website for a while but can’t seem to get any traction? Are you tired of people tuning you out?

There is a good chance that your writing is being tuned out because of the topics and language you are using.

Think about this example. You and a friend are talking and you notice someone nearby is trying to eavesdrop. If you are talking about something they care about, they listen closer. If you speak in the language they understand they may even jump in and comment. But if they have no interest or don’t understand your language, they will tune you out and move on.

Your articles and posts are no different. Your goal is to get engagement. You want to bring people in. You want them to read the entire article. And ideally you want to get feedback in the form of a comment or a follow-up email.

So, your posts need to reflect topics your readers care about. And they need to speak their language using the terms and words they use and understand.

You need to understand who is reading your blog and then produce the right content. Here are some ways to make sure that your writing is grabbing the attention of your readers.

Know your audience

The first thing you need to know is who your audience is. The difference between your DESIRED audience and your ACTUAL audience is may surprise you.

Start by picturing who you think or want your audience to be. How old are they? Are they a parent or grandparent? Are the male or female? Do they live on a ranch or in the city?

Now let’s see if this image matches the reality of who is reading your stuff.

The information you already have

You already have a bunch of information you need. There are two sources of information you can immediately tap in to: your current/past families and your website.

For your families, look at the players AND the parents. Get to know them better. What are they interested in? Do they have other siblings/children? Do they play other sports? How long have they played basketball?

Do you have a database of the families? If so, how old are they and where do they live? Could you send them a “getting to know our families” survey? Try to collect information that will help you know them better.

When you know the families you are working with, you will know the type of reader you want.

For your website, look at your website analytics. This will tell you who is visiting your website. Under the AUDIENCE tab, there is a bunch of great information. You can find age and gender data, region information and a lot of other stuff. Decide what is most important and then see how you are doing.

Compare your families to your website visitors. How do they match up? This may shock you. If whom you want to read your articles is different from whom is actually visiting your site, you have found a problem. This means you need to adjust how you are driving traffic to your site.

But if these two are matching up pretty good, you are ready to tweak your topic selection and the language you use.

What do my readers care about?

This one can be easy. And sometimes it can take a little more thought.

It is very likely your families have already told you more about what they want. Go back to previous conversations and emails. Their questions and comments to you can become the topic of your next article.

But what about the stuff they are NOT talking to you about? What can we learn from our website visitors? Especially the readers that are not our families (but could be in the future).

Think about what our website analytics could mean in the bigger picture of things. Can they lead you to some great topical ideas that you haven’t considered?

Here are some examples:

Over 65% of our mobile viewers use an Apple product of some kind. So, writing an article about a basketball app that runs on an iPhone would definitely hit our readers.

One of the top interests of our readers (other than basketball) is American Football. An article about NFL tight ends that played college basketball will resonate.

Facebook Audience Insights

Another source of information you can tap in to is through Facebook. If you have set up a custom audience based on your website visitors, you can then dive into what interests them. Keep in mind, your custom audience may need a minimum about of users before this tool will work.

Here are two examples of how to use these:

When I look at “Household” I see that 82% of these Facebook users own their own home. This means an article on Built-In vs. Temporary Outdoor baskets could be a winner.

Under “Page Likes” I see that SLAM Magazine is one of the top media pages that interests these viewers. A quick look at SLAM’s page shows a post called Sneaker of the Night with over 8K reactions and over 500 shares. Writing an article about how shoes can impact a basketball player may have an impact.

Language Matters

Now you have some new ideas. But you must write your articles in a way that will make people feel comfortable with what they are reading. To do this, use the language that they use.

Here’s how I do it.

First, I go back to emails that I have received and I look at their tone. Are there any patterns? Is there a common slang or vocabulary used? If people are using it with me, I like to use it in my writing.

Next, I like to find blog posts that others have written and then comb through the comments. The comments are huge. People are expressing their opinion in support or contrast of someone’s opinion. And usually, they are pretty unfiltered. The language they use is what I am interested, not their actual opinion. I built several web pages on the Select Basketball site based on comments. “Daddy Coach”, “Exposure” and “Development” were all terms that came from comments.

Check, Topic, Tone

If you’ve followed along then you are on the right path to gaining attention and traffic. Did you check your ACTUAL audience against your DESIRED audience? Now you know if you are targeting the right people.

Give your audience more articles on the topics they want. Now your audience will grow.

Finally, write those articles in a tone that reflects their own language. Now your audience will pay even more attention to what you are writing. They will jump into the conversation and go from passive bystander to active listener.

Article Resources:

Segmenting your database – does it match your readers?
Tools I use – Google analytics