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An audience is a group of people that is defined by both a common set of traits shared by its members, and by your decision to deliver value to that group in the form of content or functionality. In this section, I discuss the idea of audiences from the perspectives of marketing, software development, and writing. I discuss how you may go about segmenting users into audiences, and then I detail the information that you need to capture about each of your audiences so that you can deliver the best content to them.
It never ceases to amaze me how much lip service people pay to understanding their audiences and how little real effort they put into doing so. I've never run into someone who disagrees with the statement "You must understand who you're serving if you're to serve them well." On the other hand, I know of precious few who do anything more than a cursory analysis of those they intend to serve.
Cataloging Audiences Jumpstart
This Jumpstart summarizes what you need to do to include localization in your CM process and system.
Use this jumpstart as a summary without the weight of detail, or as a quick review if you've already read the chapter and want a checklist of what you need to do localization.
To analyze your audiences you can follow these steps:
1. Define your potential audiences. If your organization doesn'talready have a well-defined audience document, expect to spend several iterations refining your audience definition with key stakeholders.
2. Refine your list of audiences. Determine how the CMS can help you serve each audience better and also reach your goals.
3. For each audience on your final list:
Identify them by giving each audience a name and charting the characteristics that describe it.
Describe their demographics using a narrative that explains the audience and how they benefit from your organization. Also include descriptive characteristics such as their jobs, technical savvy, and traditional demographics, as well as the size of this audience.
Determine their attitudes, including their beliefs and opinions about the subjects of your content. Describe how you will establish credibility with the audience, what arguments will resonate with them, how to approach them effectively, and how much personal data you can gather from them.
Understand how they will compare your offerings to competitive publications. Determine what publications (yours and others) the audience most commonly reads.
Determine what you offer of value to them. Outline what benefits you offer and what costs you extract. Describe how you communicate this value equation to them and monitor it over time.
Decide how they will use your information. Start by identifying their goals for each of the publications you target to them; next, develop use case reviews, test usability, and describe how you expect the audience to use each publication. Figure out what sort of profile to create for them. A profile is a collection of traits and trait values. Decide which traits you can use to categorize individuals and place them in the correct audience.
Determine the localities that your audience encompasses. Localities take into account the local culture as well as the capability of your organization to provide content tailored to that locale. Include primary, constituent, and key localities in your description.
Determine the tasks that you must do on an ongoing basis to accommodate the audiences that you identify. These tasks can range from periodic review of audience definitions to monitoring their activities via site logs. You might also review competing publications and do periodic usability and use case reviews.
4. Relate your audiences to the other entities in your analysis. Be sure, above all, that by serving them with the information they want you are able to advance your goals
After you've identified and described your audiences, you can use the traits to serve as the user profiles on which you can build your personalization module.
Serving versus Exploiting an Audience
At the same time as you want to serve your audience, you also want to get something from them. The more that you know about people, the better you can anticipate their needs and provide them with just the right content. On the other hand, the better you know people, the more you can manipulate them into doing what you want them to. (Usually, you want them to buy something.)
This paradox plays out on both sides of the computer screen. Users expect the Web sites that they visit to be smart enough to anticipate their needs. They gravitate toward sites that seem to know them and remember their preferences. On the other hand, users are wary or even hostile toward sites that ask a lot of questions. The question immediately comes to mind: "What are they going to do with this information?"
Direct marketers live by the creed of "Know thy audience." They collect as much information as possible on you and then carefully craft a message that they think you may respond to. Direct marketers live and die by the lists of targeted audiences that they create. Marketers walk that very thin line between serving their audiences and exploiting them. And, very interestingly, the line isn't a sharp one. Consider the same piece of junk mail sent to two neighbors.
The mail is a flyer advertising a long-distance telephone plan. Neighbor A has a plan and is happy with it. She feels put upon and manipulated and says, "I hate all these advertisements trying to get me to buy something!" Neighbor B just moved in and has been researching longdistance phone plans all day. She looks with interest on the ad and says, "How fortuitous to get this today. I wish that every phone company had sent me one."
However thin and imprecise the line is between service and exploitation, a line still exists. And in your own publications, you can choose to cross it or not.
For the record, I forbid you to use any of the techniques that I mention in this book to manipulate or behave unethically toward your audiences!
I believe that the key to staying on the right side of the line between service and exploitation is to place a value proposition at the base of your audience analysis. For each audience that you expect to serve, you must decide what its members want from you and what you want from them. Then make sure that the equation is balanced. If you're willing to give as much value as you expect from your audiences in return, the relationship involves no exploitation. Your value propositions can serve as the guiding principles behind every other part of how you work with this audience.
What Is an Audience?
Audiences are simply groups of people that you choose to serve in some way. The first natural question to answer is, "How do I know someone who's in my audience from someone who's not?" The answer is to find the set of traits that distinguishes this audience from others and then figure out whether the person in question demonstrates these traits.
A trait is a specific characteristic of a person that you can discover, store, and combine with other characteristics to know this person. For you, a person, to know another person is one thing. For a computer to know a person is quite another. For you or me, a person isn't some set of data points; she's a complex being whom we intuitively "get." You say that you know someone if you can recognize her and can accurately predict what she may do, say, and want.
No computer that I know of can "get" a person in this sense, so you better settle for something less. You can settle for coming up with a few isolated traits and using them to try to predict wants. And, amazingly, that approach basically works. In most of the circumstances that you face in a CMS, you can limit the number of potential wants that you serve. You can also draw wide enough distinctions between your users that determining who's who and what they probably want isn't too hard. As you learn to discern more traits more accurately, you can continue to get better at predicting more wants for more people.
Although many disciplines talk around or about audiences, I've never seen the concept nailed down enough to become specifically useful in the context of a CMS. So in the following list, I try to draw the elements of audiences out of the three different disciplines in which I've seen the concept operate. My goal is to piece together a use of the term audience that you can apply very specifically to a CMS:
* From the discipline of writing and oral communication: I draw the idea of audience analysis, which tries to define what you need to know to "speak" to a particular group of people. * From marketing: I draw the notions of segmentation and profiling, which tries to tie groups of people together by using data about them. * From computer science: I draw the notion of the user as a kind of person that an application must serve psychologically and ergonomically.
From these three bases, I construct the set of data that you can gather to understand, serve, and be served by your audiences.
Audiences and communicators
Writers, public speakers, and other communication professionals have used the concept of an audience analysis for a long time. A lot is written on this subject, appearing in textbooks and the popular press. Most of the work that I've seen boils down to the following seemingly simple points:
* Who are these people objectively? What are their ages, interests, jobs, and other relevant data? * What does this audience already know and believe about this subject? * What are people's needs and desires for new information in your subject area? * What kind of presentation style are they likely to respond to favorably? * What publications do they already trust, and to which are they likely to compare yours?
* What's the author's relationship to this audience? Is she a peer, an expert, or an outsider?
* How do you establish credibility with this audience? What do audience members consider good information sources, arguments, and examples? * What tasks and purposes do your audience members have in mind as they approach your material?
This sort of analysis has motivated communicators from the ancient Greek rhetoricians to the modern technical writer and journalist. I believe that it's a pretty good list of the sorts of information required to understand how to communicate with an audience. Most of the time, you conduct this analysis quite informally, and it results in an intuitive feel that gives the communicator a sense of how to approach an audience. For a CMS audience analysis, you can make the answers to these questions explicit and relate them to the parts of the CMS that they're going to help structure.
Audiences and marketing
I rarely hear marketing people use the word audience, but I hear them talk about target markets all the time. A market itself is a group of people with common concerns that motivate their behaviors-basically, it's an audience. Within the broad market that an organization serves are market segments that consist of subgroups with identifiable traits and targetable needs.
Marketers are getting more and more precise in how they construct and manage segment data and how they target individuals. Today's merchandizing and campaign-management systems are very sophisticated in the ways that they divide people into categories (or segments) based on the data that they can collect or acquire. These systems match profiles to the materials that each group is to receive. Profiles are sets of traits and trait values that you can group together to define a kind of person.
Traits are another form of metadata. They consist of data about a person.
Traits such as age, sex, interests, pages viewed, job type, and time on the site, for example, may be at your disposal and you can use them to define segments. You may create a segment that you call Info Addicts, for example, that consists of males between the ages of 16 and 25 who spent a lot of time on your site. Based on the age and sex of a visitor (which you ask or otherwise obtain) and the time that visitor spends on the site (which you measure), you can determine who is and who's not an Info Addict. Of course, the next question is, "So what?" What do you do differently with an Info Addict than with any other visitor?
Marketers use segmentation information to understand and speak to a market segment. They may design an ad campaign, for example, to reach these info addicts and draw them to your site. The kind of advertisements that Info Addicts receive are different from those that a segment that you call, say, Casual Browsers receives.
You can use this same approach in your CMS to identify audiences and target content to them.
Audiences and users
I've never heard programmers use the word audience; but as they talk about users, programmers are using the same concept. Users are the consumers of computer applications.
Users access an application through a user interface. To be successful, a user interface must be usable. Usability testers recruit representatives of user groups and watch them use the application to see whether it works well for them. What are these user groups if they're not audiences?
Today's hot design process Unified Modeling Language (UML) makes the link to audiences even more tangible. Programmers use UML to model the way that you use an application before they put any effort into programming it. UML defines roles as the types of people who're likely to use an application. In UML, you create a set of use cases that define what a type of person wants to accomplish and how you can expect her to go about accomplishing it.
For an electronic publication, audiences are users. In fact, I call audience members users throughout this book as I discuss people interacting with Web sites and other electronic publications. Thus application usability, user groups, and use cases apply literally to much of what a CMS produces.
In fact, I carry the notions of usability and use cases forward into my discussion of CMS audience analysis. As part of the audience analysis that you do for a CMS, you can define a set of use cases and usability concerns for each audience.
How many audiences do you have?
The Web gave rise to the notion of "one-to-one electronic marketing." The idea is to use technology to reach out to each person and serve that person individually. The computer, many believe, can know you and serve you the way that the corner grocer used to. Personally, I can't imagine a computer leaving me with the same feeling as the retailers of my youth. But personality aside, is an audience size of one obtainable in your organization? And if it's even technically feasible, is driving toward that much segmentation advisable?
First, you need to determine what level of audience segmentation is feasible. Considering that most publishing systems in use today don't have any notion of audiences (that is, they serve one conglomerate audience), you may be best off by beginning modestly. You may ask, "What's the smallest number of audiences that we can divide our users into and still derive tangible business benefit?" Or you may ask, "What audience segments does everybody agree on today?" or even, "Can we latch onto one or two traits to use to divide our users into just two segments?"
Regardless of how ambitious your approach is, the following things are sure:
* You need at least a few cycles of defining and refining audiences before you can know for sure that you have it right. If your organization's worked at this goal for a while, you can perhaps say right now who your key audiences are. If not, expect to start somewhere and continue to refine toward a stable set of audiences. * Your audiences change over time. Not only do your segments get smaller and smaller, but you also begin to expand toward audiences that you may not have been initially prepared to serve or that present themselves as good opportunities to broaden your constituency.
Excerpted from Content Management Bible by Bob Bolko Excerpted by permission.
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Part I: What Is Content?
Chapter 1: Defining Data, Information, and Content.
Chapter 2: Content Has Format.
Chapter 3: Content Has Structure.
Chapter 4: Functionality Is Content, Too!
Chapter 5: But What Is Content Really?
Part II: What Is Content Management?
Chapter 6: Understanding Content Management.
Chapter 7: Introducing the Major Parts of a CMS.
Chapter 8: Knowing When You Need a CMS.
Chapter 9: Component Management versus Composition Management.
Chapter 10: The Roots of Content Management.
Chapter 11: The Branches of Content Management.
Part III: Doing Content Management Projects.
Chapter 12: Doing CM Projects Simply.
Chapter 13: Staffing a CMS.
Chapter 14: Working within the Organization.
Chapter 15: Getting Ready for a CMS.
Chapter 16: Securing a Project Mandate.
Chapter 17: Doing Requirements Gathering.
Chapter 18: Doing Logical Design.
Chapter 19: Selecting Hardware and Software.
Chapter 20: Implementing the System.
Chapter 21: Rolling Out the System.
Part IV: Designing a CMS.
Chapter 22: Designing a CMS Simply.
Chapter 23: The Wheel of Content Management.
Chapter 24: Working with Metadata.
Chapter 25: Cataloging Audiences.
Chapter 26: Designing Publications.
Chapter 27: Designing Content Types.
Chapter 28: Accounting for Authors.
Chapter 29: Accounting for Acquisition Sources.
Chapter 30: Designing Content Access Structures.
Chapter 31: Designing Templates.
Chapter 32: Designing Personalization.
Chapter 33: Designing Workflow and Staffing Models.
Part V: Building a CMS.
Chapter 34: Building a CMS Simply.
Chapter 35: What Are Content Markup Languages?
Chapter 36: XML and Content Management.
Chapter 37: Processing Content.
Chapter 38: Building Collection Systems.
Chapter 39: Building Management Systems.
Chapter 40: Building Publishing Systems.