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Counties – Know Your Audience

4h-kids-gardeningWho is your audience? What information are they looking for on your website?

For most UGA Extension county websites, the primary audience is made up of your neighbors and community. Other audiences may include local decision makers, state and federal decision makers, and peers.

Knowing your audience helps you to make decisions about what information to include, how to organize that information, and what kind of supporting details will be necessary for your visitors to understand the information you are presenting on your website. It also influences the tone and delivery style for your message.

Think of your website as another “doorway” to your office. How do want to greet people as they enter? What do you want visitors to know about who you are and what you do? What program information should be immediately accessible?

James-Jacobs-producersIdentify specific audience segments in your community. This process will help you answer the questions above. For most counties, audiences can be broken out into sub-groups, including:

  • Producers
  • Homeowners
  • 4-H and youth
  • Parents

Another way to break out audiences is by:

  • Those you hear from frequently
  • Those that don’t know about Extension at all

Tailor your message to specific audience segments. Different pages on your website can target a different segment of your overall audience. For instance, you would probably write quite a bit differently for 4-H kids than you would for local producers.  Your approach should match the audience you are targeting.

Organize materials in a way that will make sense to the audience. When you’re trying to decide what content to give more prominent placement on your web page, lean towards the information your primary audience will be seeking.

Ask yourself: What information will draw people into my website? Not a photo of your building. Not your mission statement. Not a paragraph of text about your staff. Those elements have a place, but they are not your primary message and should not take up “prime” real estate on your home page – the “front door” to your online information. Instead, focus on your most popular programs and success stories. Examples are:

  • Soil testing. Water testing.
  • Summer camp!
  • It’s planting season? Show a list of relevant publications.
  • Promoting healthier lifestyles? Highlight the Walk Georgia program.
  • How about featuring a local farmer or homeowner who has benefited from Extension services?

Remember, our website visitors are generally looking to solve a problem. It’s your job to tell visitors you have the answers they need and, then, give them a clear path to find those answers! Provide shortcuts to specific things you know your local community is interested in. To build loyalty, it is imperative to let clients know that we listen to their concerns and provide answers to their specific problems.

It’s all about relevancy! What you offer and how you present it should match your audience’s interests and needs. Knowing your target audience will help you to use your website as a powerful marketing tool for UGA Extension programs.