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Reading time: 13 minutes

Enhancing Audience Engagement

Tackling Pain Points with Precision

Imagine you enter a store or come upon a website where you can immediately see why you came there, and that the experience from that point on seamlessly leads you to a variety of things included or extra that interest you. And an experience that incorporated positive pain points so that you felt accomplished and removed negative pain points so that you didn’t feel like you got cheated or given an unwanted surprise. The imaginary experience essentially led you through each interaction and touchpoint as though it were natural and organic, and it kept you engaged every step of the way until in all likelihood, you left happy with your purchase because you got what you wanted, and it was pleasant and painless.

Well, you don’t need to imagine it, to be honest, this is what successful businesses are already doing. The landscape is changing, and understanding how audience behaviour is changing and what the audience wants from their experiential journey is crucial to success in business today.

A thriving business can anticipate and meet their audience’s needs throughout their journey. Knowing what interactions and which touchpoints need to be altered, removed, augmented or increased is what ensures an audience’s engagement and loyalty to a business and their brand.

I’m sure you can think of an online experience from a business that was seamless and easy to navigate through. I know you can think of it because as I said, these are the successful ones, but if you’re having trouble pinpointing one, then let me help you. Apple is a good example of a business that has created a refined audience experience. And regardless of your personal feelings towards Apple, hate or love it, one thing is sure, they are very good at what they do, and they are successful because of it.

I’ll be coming back to Apple as an example throughout this article, and I want to use them because they are so famous, and their audience journey certainly is a strong showcase of how the three to four key elements of audience engagement work. These three to four key elements are what I’ve come to call the 3Ps of audience interaction, Points of Purpose, Points of Interest and Points of Pain. The fourth element is the various audience interaction touchpoints. These three points and their interactive touchpoints are fundamental elements in crafting a strong audience journey within the AEX design methodology.

To give you a better framing of what the 3Ps and their inherent touchpoints are and what they mean, think of them as the actions your audience takes on their journey and the reason they take those actions. These are the mechanics and triggers that you’ve put in place to enable and empower them, to nudge them and also what the various activators and inhibitors are within their journey.

What I hope you will gain from this piece on the various touchpoints in the audience journey is knowledge, a set of tools and an actionable insight into how you can enhance your audience engagement, retention and satisfaction. By the end, you will hopefully be able to incorporate the 3Ps into an Action Plan to better analyse and evaluate your audience journey.

Points of Purpose - Unveiling Audience Intent

The first point that your audience will have is the Point of Purpose. This is the moment that your audience expresses their intent or goal(s). Now when I say express, I don’t necessarily mean that they are saying this out loud. The point of purpose is you know who your audience is and why they are coming to you. This is the very point because it is part of the Discovery stage for your audience, and it is where you will have done market research, market orientation and correct positioning within the market.

Understanding your audience’s intent will help you to tailor your products, services, or what else to your audience. You will be able to customise the journey you provide to what they need and seek. This exercise in adapting to your target audience is what ensures engagement with your audience, and will lead to a stronger chance of retention and return.

If we look at Apple again, they’ve managed to position themselves quite well in the market, they know exactly what their audience’s intent and purpose are when they go to the Apple website. Their audience not only wants an Apple product but they also want the image that comes with this. Perhaps Apple isn’t the best example here, as they are a unique business that essentially created their position. Another company with a strong understanding of their audience and their position is the beauty product retailer Sephora. If you look at their website, they have done the work to have what appears to be an intrinsic understanding of their audience and their audience’s goals.

Sephora, as well as Apple, both understand what the purpose is of their audience. And with that, they’ve managed to align their own goals and tailor the experience they provide to this. What this breaks down into is understanding what your audience wants and crafting the experience to be as easy as possible for them. And with that having the right metrics and data analytics in place to continually research and improve upon that experience. The added benefit of having a strong data gathering position and capability also means that you as a business can be flexible in responding to the changes of your audience’s purpose and alter the experience to fit that. So long as that new purpose aligns of course.

Points of Interest - Engaging Your Audience

The next point on your audience’s experiential journey is points of interest. Points of interest are the elements that grab your audience’s attention and ensure that they are genuinely engaged with your brand.

These elements can take many forms and shapes, from simply the general visual design to additional features on a website. For example, with Apple it is the clean and crisp style that they’ve kept over the years, it offers familiarity, and the additions on top of this style are the product videos that support and help to pique the interests of the audience. They can on one side maintain the broad interest in what they are known for and on the other side create new tailored and personalised interests for their newer offerings.

I’d recommend looking at the Apple website and clicking whatever their current latest product or offering is. You can how these pages are built to take you, the audience, through a journey, a story if you will. Each aspect of the new offering is built up slowly, showing each interest point as you move down the page. The amount of information given in easy-to-consume bite-sized bits gives the feeling of a personalised experience, you gain the info you want and are offered the opportunity to find out more if you want to, but you also skip and continue.

The visuals, the language, all of it is a well-constructed narrative for their audience to go through, and importantly it is all of a consistent, high quality across the entire page and website. This type of consistency is what sustains your audience’s engagement. And that is an important takeaway, your business may not have the resources that Apple or Sephora has, but you can ensure that you create consistent, high-quality points of interest that speak to your audience’s purpose. And that creates an easy and frictionless experience for them.

Points of Pain - Addressing Audience Friction

The third point is points of pain. Pain points are slightly different, as in my view they have a binary purpose, one that is positive for you and one that is negative for your audience. What I mean by this is that there are intentional pain points placed by you in the experience so that your audience can overcome them and have a sense of accomplishment, which endears them to you. And then there are the unintentional pain points which occur due to complexity, unforeseen issues or simply low quality of work. These negative pain points are obstacles that will cause your audience to drop off and leave you.

One could see the differences as one being a challenge that creates interest and the other an obstruction that causes friction.

An example of a positive pain point or a challenge is when you are offering a product and it’s almost exactly what your audience wants, but it’s missing one extra feature. However, they can add this feature when they go through the customisation feature before purchasing, such as when people are building their own custom laptop or PC. Be aware though that the extra feature that’s missing shouldn’t be one that’s expected, such as when a famous car-maker decides to have a variety of base features only be available through a subscription model, in this case, the positive pain point turns into a negative one and will likely cause your audience to avoid you.

Other common negative pain points are the more common ones that spring to mind, such as slow or poor customer service. Or bad UX such as a confusing website or a service that doesn’t disclose or has various hidden costs after the fact. When you analyse your audience journey, and review the data analytics from it, then you should be able to see where your audience drops off. This will give you an insight into where the friction occurs for them.

Once you discover these points, you should act immediately, don’t delay with removing or altering them, because if they remain then these unresolved points will evolve from frustrations to alienation points. When they become alienation points your audience loyalty will suffer greatly, as it won’t simply mean that you’re losing your audience but you may also have created anti-advocates, these are individuals who will inform others to avoid you as well, due to the bad experience they’ve had.

To avoid such a situation, there are a few basic steps you can take. As I said before, regularly review your audience data analytics, and also ask your audience for feedback. They will appreciate your interest in them, and your audience is always ready to provide feedback. Be considerate of their wants and needs and be efficient in changing the experience so that it meets those needs, within reason though. Don’t jump on each piece of feedback as though it were gold, make sure you maintain a good flow through your journey and one that doesn’t break the bank.

Audience Interactions - Navigating Touchpoints

Improving the audience journey, minimising pain points and improving interest points is a continuous process. And it is one that needs to be done across the various touchpoints and interactions that your audience goes through.

The interactive touchpoints are the areas where your audience can interact with you, these are the action points and the visible platforms for them. Clicking a button, adding something to a shopping cart, watching a video, seeing your brand on LinkedIn, Instagram, Tik Tok or the platform formerly known as Twitter. Each of these is where a variety of points of purpose, interest and pain can be placed and where they can manifest themselves.

I don’t want to go too deeply into how you optimise your audience’s interactions with all of these touchpoints, as I have written other articles about the audience journey, audience retention, audience progress and audience drop-off. All of these have an aspect of the AEX design methodology which can aid you in improving and optimising your touchpoints.

But what I will say is that one of the most important aspects for improving the experience and the 3Ps of your audience is to ensure that you have a consistent and holistic experience across the board. Now this isn’t a suggestion of scrapping and starting from scratch with your audience journey. You can overall iterate, alter and improve bit by bit. Consider your brand, what it is, what it stands for, and what is your brand statement. Taking that, make sure that every aspect of the audience journey fits into that, and measure it, and test it, go through it yourself, your team, and get feedback from your target audience.

And if needed, bring in specialists who specifically focus on the journey and they can test it without organisational bias. And if something needs to be changed, then don’t be afraid to question the change and implement it if it indeed helps you.

You may even be able to use new AI-powered tools to analyse and evaluate your audience journeys, giving you recommendations and feedback based on their inherent optimisation algorithms. Be aware that these aren’t magic wands and don’t beat real data from real people.

Final Thoughts

If I leave you with anything from this, then it is the idea that you must be open to change. The action plan that the 3Ps can offer you is one of evolution and change. The 3Ps are not immutable commandments, they are the touchpoints that you need to tweak, alter, or replace so that you can continue to engage your audience. Your audience will change and evolve as the world changes and their needs and goals will change as well.

You as a business must be proactive in implementing the changes from the insights that you’ve gained from understanding the various elements of the audience’s journey. Continuous monitoring of the metrics and analytics from the points of purpose, points of interest and points of pain will ensure lasting success for your business.

With that, I recommend that you go through the journey that you offer your audience and try to envision how they would go through it. Find the points that inspire you, grab your interest and attention which offer a pleasant and challenge and which points genuinely frustrate you. Then develop your action plan and engagement strategy based on this ‘new’ information, evaluate and alter as needed and be intentional with what points you place where. It needs to fit within an overall strategy, it must be a journey that your audience goes on and not a path with a thousand tangents. Only that way can you truly engage and retain your audience’s ever-changing needs.

I hope you’ve found this piece useful, if you have, then please click the button below to join the aeStranger email list. This way you can always be the first to find out when aeStranger releases a new piece of content in the field of audience engagement.

And very soon aeStranger will be releasing a beginner’s course on AEX Design, with which you can learn more about how to craft an effective audience engagement strategy. What tools and techniques you can use to provide robust yet flexible audience experiential journeys. As well as a variety of case studies you can learn from about how highly successful businesses created their audience engagement strategies.

I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Do check out the other posts on æ, and do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

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