Always remember: you are NOT your own target audience

People who are not online marketers always seem to forget an essential element of online marketing – that you are not your own target audience.

Sounds self-evident doesn’t it?  Sounds like one of those truisms that just does not need to be articulated because it should be so obvious to everyone….

And yet it is amazing how often in my professional life that I have walked smack-bang into the assumption that the only problems a site serves to solve are those of the authors or owners.

There are a vast amount of differences between real world target audiences and the person or organisation who created the site:

  • whoever created the site is simply unable to come to it fresh and to see it through the eyes of a new visitor.  Those who created the site already know it intimately and just can not look at it anew – and to be blunt are unable to give it the real-world 4-second overview before deciding there is nothing here for them.
  • the site’s creators care about the site and all of the work that went into it.  This is the most fundamental difference and it is the most difficult for site stakeholders to grasp on a visceral level: your site visitors absolutely do not care about the site or your organisation: they ONLY care about what problem of theirs your site can make go away.
This is why usability testing needs to be one of the fundamental sub-disciplines of successful online marketing.  Unless you put your site in front of your target audience and actually view their reactions yourself, first hand you will never understand just how much your target audience does not care about your site.  You need to have it emphasised that the site is there to solve the problems of the people who come to it, and that if it fails to do so then people just will not visit.
Or they might visit – and then leave after 4 seconds flat.

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