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7 worthwhile ways to profile your audience online 0

Posted on April 13, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Audience Profiling

How well do you know your audience? Here are some ways to know them a lot better.

An online audience profile is a set of data that defines your ideal customers.

It reflects actual behaviors so it’s real, quantified and recent. To put across your message to the right people in the most effective way, audience profiles are worth knowing and doing for your business. They’re not hard to do, but it’s not the data, it’s what you do with it.

Here are 7 ways to do online audience profiling with examples, illustrations and specific benefits for your business.

  • ROLES: If audiences for your business have diverse needs, Roles are an effective way to profile. For example, with an academic institution like NYU (below), audience needs are very different depending on whether your audience is undergraduate students, graduate students or people pursuing continuing education. On a website, Roles are usually called out with specific navigation tabs so each group has structured content and user experiences specific to their needs. When “tasks” like register or apply are established for each profile, the content and user experience can be measured, quantified and improved.

Audience Profiles Roles

  • BUYER PERSONAS: To empathize with your audience and understand their needs, consider developing a Buyer Persona, a hypothetical person representing an important class of visitors to your site. HubSpot offers a free template for developing Personas. The benefits to a business are Buyer Personas help construct a relevant and effective conversion experience. If your audience is “Busy Moms,” you can see how answering the questions in the example below helps better address her needs and actions.

Buyer Personas

  • VISITOR ENGAGEMENT: Any business can profile their audience through their website analytic tool. Look in the Audience section of Google Analytics. Establish Segments like people who view 3 or more pages or stay on your site for 3 or more minutes or new vs returning visitors. Track this group monthly and see how this more “engaged” group finds your site, what content they view and when they take actions.

Audience Profiling Visitor Engagement

  • KEYWORDS AND KEYWORD TRENDS: According to Forrester, 54% of people find a website by first typing their unmet need in the query box of a search engine. The keywords that attract your audience are an effective way to profile. From a previous posts, here are 10 Keyword Tools you can use for your website. My favorites, for audience profiling, are the Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. They tell what is the search volume and if it is increasing of decreasing. For example, since this is a digital marketing blog, I’m interested in knowing the marketing areas that reflect the interests of this audience. What are they? See for yourself.


  • TECHNOGRAPHICS: With the rise of social media, Technographics classifies people according to how they use social technologies. There are seven segments to a Technographic audience. The segments reflect an “empowered” audience and the fact that, although only a small number of people in a community may be active participants, they can have great influence over others. Technographics are a benefit to a business likely to be heavily influence by reviews and recommendations. Since 78% of us trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertising, Technographic profiling makes sense for an increasing number of businesses. Here’s a tool from Forrester to define and create the seven segments for your audience. Try it out for yourself.

  • ADVOCATES: 92% of us trust Advocates according to Zuberance. Advocates tend to be highly satisfied customers. They are loyal, helpful, generally aren’t motivated by incentives are represent a sustainable marketing force. To find advocates in your industry, consider profiling by the Authority Score from Technorati. It measures a site’s standing and influence in the blogosphere by calculating the number of other site’s that have linked into it within the last six months. It’s a good way to find and profile advocates in your industry.

Technorati Authority Score

  • SENTIMENT:  If the use of language, text or linguistics to define the polarity of your audience is important, there are ways to look at what your audience is saying about your business online to profile based on sentiment. A couple of tools  available are Topsy and Social Searcher. The sentiment metric that Topsy provides is also rather advanced. Not only are users able to see the overall score, but the score is tempered based around overall Twitter sentiment at the time. Topsy adjusts the sentiment score based on the overall Twitter environment.

Topsy Sentiment Score

These are some of the ways you can profile your audience.

Mike Moran and I teach Social Media and Internet Audience Profiling at the University of California. You can also learn from my offering, Social Media Listening and Online Audience Profiling, Ask me about it.

Did these ways convince you of the value of online audience profiling for your business? Which one would have the greatest benefit to your business?

31 business building benefits of Buyer Personas 3

Posted on February 16, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Buyer Persona

Buyer Personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo.

Buyer Personas are extremely useful for developing and evaluating messaging, content and offers that differentiate your brand from competitors. They are a foundation for any business that relies on customer acquisition, conversion and retention which, of course, is every business.

The best personas are created from real surveys and interviews – not from ballpark guesses, conjecture or assumptions. To get you started on creating Buyer Personas for your brand, HubSpot offers a free template:  Marketer’s Guide to Creating Buyer Personas.

To convince you it’s worthwhile, here are 31 business building benefits of Buyer Personas.


  1. Gives you a target for all prospects and customers
  2. Can’t effectively market a product or service if you don’t know who you are trying to communicate with
  3. Positions your products as relevant and worthy of consideration
  4. Provides valuable insights for prospecting, performing market research, targeting advertising, website design, usability testing and keywords for SEO
  5. Gives a deeper understanding and models buying behaviors of  buyers and customers
  6. Creates higher quality lead generation
  7. Avoids wasting time on those less of a fit


  1. Gives you the information and perspective you need to make objective decisions about how to craft your marketing messages
  2. Focuses marketing and advertising efforts
  3. Creates compelling content and offers
  4. Helps determine the platforms and media you use
  5. Enables content to be created to meet the targeted needs of each profile and speaks directly to the needs of each persona.
  6. Gives a framework to have informed discussions about who your customers are, how they behave, and what they want
  7. Helps make better connections through a common, focused understanding of an ideal customer’s common attributes, motivations, challenges and concerns
  8. Helps to speak to buyers and customers in their language
  9. Helps to be smarter at interpreting the digital behavior of our buyers and customers


  1. Gets a grasp of your prospect’s buying behavior
  2. Enables you to details each step in the buying process
  3. Are the blueprint for resources required to make a purchase decision
  4. Gives insight into how to foster interaction
  5. Relates to understanding how buying takes place and what is their critical buying path-to-purchase
  6. Allows you to truly tailor your marketing messages so you can get the best possible response at every touch point in the buying cycle
  7. Puts everyone in the company on the same page with respect to messaging and communications
  8. Won’t get the best return on your investment unless you conduct the fundamental research that tells you which customers are most likely to make a purchase and what you can say or do to increase the likelihood of a sale
  9.  Allows you to develop the most cost-effective marketing strategy based on how potential customers are most likely to act
  10. Develops a deep awareness of their day-to-day routine, challenges, goals and other insights into the type of person they are


  1.  Helps the marketing team better assess their segmentation, messaging and program strategies
  2. Aligns your sales process and communicate with prospects on a more meaningful level
  3. Improves the quality and quantity of conversations with your customers
  4. Are critical for the creation of any marketing content and campaigns that deliver conversations, especially for use with marketing automation tools and their industry-specific buying tracks


  1. Gives a human face to a collection of abstract data

In my experience, 3 to 4 Buyer Personas usually account for 90%+ of a company’s sales. This is the case with two of our clients, Global Partners and Virtual Incentives.

Do you know the Buyer Personas for your brand? Do you think it’s worth knowing them? Are you ready to develop them to build your business?


11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art 2

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Web visits from search engines

If your brand has a website, more people are likely to come to it from search engines than anyplace else according to Forrester.

That means Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to secure a high-ranking placement in the search results pages, is as essential means of marketing for anybody doing business on the internet.

Is SEO a science? Or an art? Science is facts or truths systematically arranged showing the operation of general laws. Art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.

Here are 11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art.

SEO is a science because it operates according to mathematical laws that are statistically reliable and predictive of human behavior.

  1. #1 reason people come to a website is: It showed up on a search engine page when they were looking for something (source: Forrester)
  2. 80% of people click on a website that is on the natural or organic side of the search engine page (source: Search Engine Watch)
  3. 35% click through to the website that is in the #1 position (source: SEO Book)
  4. 90% click through on a website that is on the 1st page (source: Search Engine Watch)
  5. Algorithms that comprise hundreds of criteria determine how websites rise or fall in rank for specific keywords
  6. Volume of search for any keyword and key phrase can be easily known with tools the the Google Keyword Planner and Wordtracker.
  7. Demand for those keywords, if is increasing or decreasing over time, is measurable through Google Trends. So, you can even predict the value both now and in the future.
  8. Search rank of your domain or your competitors’  can be tracked for any keyword or key phrase to help understand the rise or fall in rank by Ispionage or Rank Checker.
  9. Number of  links that increase or decrease your authority in a particular area and also influences search rank can be found through Majestic SEO or Alexa.
  10. Value of the links, whether they are high or low value authority, can be determined by SEO Majestic and Marketing Grader.
  11. Machines, or  search bots, that do the searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are programmed to even identify the underlying meanings behind by keywords to returns the most meaningful results. The is called Semantic Search; it is predicted to play a more important role with the Google “Hummingbird” algorithm.

SEO is an art because mathematical models don’t establish business goals, know why your audience buys your product or how to convince them. You do.

  1. Search bot don’t buy your product; people do.
  2. It is impossible to model an algorithm on the needs of human being.
  3. Machines can’t study your niche, know your audience’s Internet surfing habit or their shopping behavior.
  4. Keyword research takes creativity to know what is best for your audience and where there is an opportunity.
  5. People read good content before the read good keywords.
  6. A top rank doesn’t mean people take the action you want unless you’re clear with them on your website.
  7. Good, relevant, quality content is what readers (and algorithms) want. If you focus on this, search visibility follows.
  8. SEO is thinking about how marketing can encompass social, graphic design, link building, content generation, and PR to drive toward a common goal.
  9. SEO and marketing is creating social buzz (especially with Google+).
  10. High value links have to be placed where they are going to be most relevant and cause the most desirable actions
  11. Keywords that flow them seamlessly into your copy are more convincing.
  12. Machines are incapable of storytelling
  13. Titles that convince people have clarity, creativity and imagination. The right keywords and key phrases just happen to be in them.
  14. If you view SEO as a byproduct of good content, high search rank generally follows.
  15. SEO can’t make your business a success, only you can.

This post comes out of a dialogue from Hollis Thomases, Augustine Fou, Mike Moran and Mark Schaefer which was inspiring and worth building upon.

What do you think SEO is more of: science or art?


12 insights for a new year from building stone walls 1

Posted on December 28, 2013 by Rob Petersen



lessons from building a stone wall

Rocks are abundant in Connecticut. Since this is where I live, when I have spare time, I build stone walls.

Even if you’re an amateur or have no experience, anyone can build one. It”s an experience that’s rich in learning because rocks always teach something new.

Here are 8 insights for a new year from building stone walls.

  • THE ONE ESSENTIAL IS TO HAVE A PURPOSE: Few tools if any are required to build a stone wall and the rocks, of course, are very available. Just putting a few stones together gets you started. But you need a purpose and a plan for what you intend to build and can’t start without one.

Stone Walls require a plan

  • THE ONLY WAY TO PROVE YOUR PURPOSE IS BUILD UPON IT: To show belief and faith in what you’ve started, there are no shortcuts other than to keep adding to what you’ve begun.

Belief in your purpose require how you add to it

  • A STONE WALL DOESN’T CREATE BARRIERS; IT SHOWS HOW YOU DEFINE BOUNDARIES: What most people perceive as a stone wall is actually a stone fence. It’s used to show boundaries rather than act as a barrier.
  • FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION: They are only two kinds of stone walls – free-standing stone walls or retaining walls meant to hold up the land. The form it takes depends on function you give it.


  • THE ACTION YOU TAKE MOST OFTEN IS TO MAKE CHOICES: Although there is some lifting, fitting and pushing stone into place, you spend the most time making a choice: what stone should go here?
  • A STONE THAT FINDS  ITS PERFECT FIT IS SUPPORTED EQUALLY BE A STONE ON EITHER SIDE: The answer to this question, what stone should go here, is not the biggest, squarest or most unique-looking stone. It’s the stone that is held is place because it is balanced equally by two other stones.

free standing stone wall

  • A STONE WALL THAT ENDURES REPEATS THIS PATTERN OVER AND OVER: One stone balanced and supported by two other stones repeated over and over is the key dynamic behind a stone wall that stands the test of time.
  • STONE WALLS SHOULD LEAN TOWARD THE TOP: Even structures as rigid as stone walls are not meant to be perfect straight. As a rule, a dry stacked wall should lean in towards the top 1/6 of the height.
  • CAPSTONES SHOULD BE SET ASIDE WHEN THEY ARE FOUND: The crowning achievement is a capstone placed at the top. Since they are the final stroke, you are likely to spot one as your are building. It should be set aside and used at the end to recognize achievements.

Capstone in a dry stacked stone wall

  • YOUR WORK HOLDS UP FOR CENTURIES: There are few things that any of us could build that could a purpose and function based on the successful repetition of a simple principle that are capable of standing for centuries.
  • THERE IS A STORY BEHIND EVERY STONE WALL: Once you build a stone wall for yourself, you will look at them differently. For me, they capture my imagination and I wonder: Who built them? How many were involved? How long did it take and why was it built?

BarnRaisers is a full service digital marketing solutions company. We help businesses achieve their goals in new channels of digital, social, mobile. We make results happen quickly but purposefully because we repeat patterns that work over and over. We’ve found this makes enduring brands.

How about you? Do these insights from building a stone wall give you any ideas for the new year?

The best way to predict the future is to create it. 12 reasons why 0

Posted on December 22, 2013 by Rob Petersen



Blank Canvas

“The best way to predict the future is to to create it.” This quote is credited to both Abraham Lincoln and Peter Drucker, two people known for their word of wisdom and lessons to live by.

Will 2014 be the year you predict your future by creating it?

Here are 12 reasons why this is such timeless wisdom. 12 perspectives on the meaning and benefits behind advice that has been given to us for over 200 years.

  1. “Life is a largely uncharted waters.  The best way to know what is coming is to be an active participant.” – Philosoblog
  2. “The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” - Dalai Lama
  3. “We are still the masters of our fate. Rational thinking, even assisted by any conceivable electronic computers, cannot predict the future.” – Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future
  4. “In the face of the unknown, entrepreneurs act. Specifically they: 1) Figure out what they want, 2) take a small step toward making it reality, 3) think about what they learned from taking that step, 3) build that learning into their next step, In other words: Act. Learn. Build. Repeat.” – Forbes
  5. “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare
  6. “Don’t worry about what anybody else is going to do.” – Alan Kay, Apple
  7. “Today’s leaders create the future, versus simply trying to predict it. They: 1)  Unlock potential through empowerment, 2)  Move away from linear thinking, 3) Experiment, Experiment, Experiment and 4) Find your authentic voice.” – Miroslay Tibernaus, Vice-president of Barroso Comission and European Commissioner for Enterprise
  8. “When faced with a challenge, make one. The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” – Peter Diamandus, Chairman and Co-Founder, Singularity University
  9.  ”In order to build a future you must know the past”, Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father
  10. “Change is inevitable and one can either effect a desired change yourself, or be subject to the results of someone else’s change. In other words, be a leader, rather than a follower; proactive rather than reactive.” – Active Rain
  11.   ”What is the use of running when we are not on the right road?” – German Proverb
  12. “The only real way to have any kind of insight into what will happen is to create your future.” - Jennine Jacobs

Did these perspective teach you something new? Will 2014 be the year you predict your future by creating it?

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