It's a subtle but important difference. In short:
An audience is a group of people with shared interests and values, people you want to connect with and build a tribe. For example, your audience might say, "I want to buy my clothes from ethical suppliers."
A user is someone trying to achieve something by interacting with your website, app or other touchpoint. For example, a user might say, "I want to pay through PayPal."
Understanding your target audience is vital. You need to get in their shoes. Truly understand them. What do they need? What do they want? How do they communicate? What's important to them? This analysis will inform your brand identity, your tone of voice, your image style - maybe even your product.
By gathering all this information, you can start putting content in front of your audience that will engage them. There are loads of ways to do this, from creating a YouTube channel to sending out regular email newsletters. You can use social media audiences to target specific demographics, or rely on long-tail content to answer commonly asked questions in Google. The PESO model can help you decide the best way to do your online marketing.
A user is someone interacting with a specific touchpoint in order to achieve a goal. If you're building a new website, for example, you need to understand all the different things that website's users want or need to achieve. This is from really obvious things like 'As an online shopper, I want to buy some stuff,' to niche things like 'As an account holder, I need to be able to log into a private member's area to access my previous reports.'
Understanding use cases like these will shape how your website is structured, what functionality is required, and how and where content will be featured.
Once you've collated your use cases, you must prioritise them. There has to be one most important use case and one least important use case, with everything else ordered in between. This will inform how your website is laid out and the visual hierarchy on each page.
You can have a user for any touchpoint. The most complex use cases are associated with web and app design, but you also have users for a printed product brochure, for example. If the top use case is 'As a highstreet shopper, I want to see pictures of all the products' you would ensure that product photography is prominently featured in your brochure. Whereas if the top use case is 'As a highstreet shopper, I want to find my local store' you would put all your store addresses on the front cover.
Join us for a workshop to talk through audiences and users in more detail. Get in touch.
Transcript Show / Hide
Ah, a lovely cup of tea.
A lovely cup of tea. Um, Rusty Monkey was nearly called Tea, Please.
It was. Hmm. Yeah.
But it's not. Hello everyone. It's a Monkey Monday.
It is. And it is Matthew Burton.
Hello everyone. Is it me? Am I doing all of this one?
Well, yeah, go on then sit back and drink tea. It's fine.
All right, we're going to talk today, Chris, about the difference between audience and a user.
Oh, yes. Um, I've got a question for you.
What's the difference between an audience and a user?
Is it a joke? I don't know, Chris, what is the difference between an audience and a user?
I thought you were just going to answer.
Alright, I'll just try answering instead.
When we do a big workshops, I guess, we look at stuff in terms of a handful of bits of terminology. The first bit is the crowd. It's like the big, massive, noisy group of people that may interface with your organization in any way whatsoever. And the smart thing to do is to try and find those clusters in that crowd and called them audiences, things that unite them as a group of people. Um, inside audiences, you might have some users for your website. So the difference between an audience and a user, is that an audience describes a kind of person or group of people. And you can use that for marketing purposes. You can use it for branding, use it to communicate to them. And a user is someone that's coming to your website to do a damn thing. So you might have a couple of different types of users that sit across audiences, for instance, E.g. Example.
Oh yes. E.g. That's good. So what do these circles represent then? What, like each of those audiences, how are they different?
Well you... I think it's up to you, isn't it really it's up to you guys, how you want to try and determine your audience, or you can use like complicated stuff, like, um, uh, some software and stuff, or some market research companies to try and find out these nested groups of people, but let's do, let's pretend, Chris, we're bored of Rusty Monkey (previously called Tea, Please) um, and we're going to start a travel agency, a holiday company.
Holidays. That sounds nice.
So if we look at this in terms of different audiences for the noisy crowd that we could call the holiday enthusiast or something, then we might group all of these big orange circles or whatever by, I dunno, uh, location, for instance. People who want to travel to Europe or people that want to travel to...
Long haul Thailand. Thailand, please.
Uh, or you could cluster them by the kind of type of holiday, maybe, uh, beach holidays, stuff like that. Or you could cluster them by age, maybe. There's lots of different ways of sort of putting your audiences together. Um, but it's kind of up to you, really, as to how you want to do that and how you want to identify the audiences that could bring you meaning, I guess. The last thing we have is a persona as well. A persona is just a shorthand to describe somebody in the audience. It's good to give them like a bit of a name. So you can refer to them. Maggie. Would Maggie like this? All of your marketing, all of your communication. You can use Maggie as your shorthand to go, would this appeal to Maggie?
Yeah, we've got one called Dave Beethoven.
Dave Beethoven. Yes. All of ours are named after characters from Bill and Ted.
Oh, I was trying to work that out.
Well there you go.
Be excellent to each other. Party on dudes.
We haven't finished. That's an ending.
Oh, it is an ending.
There's still more to go. Surely.
All right. Let's dig into this a little bit deeper then. So our crowd we're going to call it the travel enthusiast. Anybody that interfaces with our business. In fact, it could be wider than that. We've just given it a name. It doesn't really mean much at this point. It's just, um, something to identify the big, big, noisy group of people. So, uh, inside that crowd, we're going to create audiences, Chris, for our new holiday company, which I can't wait to get off the ground. Uh, what we're going to call it?
Um, uh, um, I don't know...
Fun Times in the Sun.
Fun Times in the Sun? Sure. Let's go. We're starting a travel agency called Fun Times in the Sun. Dot com.
Um, so we're going to, we're going to segment our audiences... no, that's even the wrong word already now. We're going to sort our audiences by type. That's what we're going to do. So we're going to say, Hey, there's an audience over here who like beach holidays. There's an audience over here who like, uh, skiing holidays. And there's an audience over here who like city breaks. Um, what you could do is we could try and sell to all of them audiences, but that's going to be pretty hard, right? Cause there's already loads of people in the marketplace that already do that. So it's kind of good to look at each audience and then break them down into segments. And understand what those look like too. So inside the beach holiday audience, you might have some segments in there of short haul, long haul. You could have some in there that are segmented by maybe age, or, um, other kind of interests maybe. And in doing that, you might find what we'd call a minimum viable audience too which we're going to get to in another vlog.
Yes. And that'll probably make a lot of sense because a lot of travel companies go for a minimum viable audience of like Saga Holidays, the over fifties.
Exactly. Yeah. So, and finding the niche is good, if we were going to do it. Sun in the Fun. Fun in the Sun? To get off the ground we're gonna want to find, um, our position in the marketplace that maybe isn't filled by anybody else. Um, audiences are very different to users. So when we do, when we think about audiences, it's, it really is about those groups of people. Users can be made up of loads of different audiences, and they're coming to your website to do a thing. So, um, in these cases, you've probably got people who are going to want to come and try and book a holiday with you. We might do, we might appeal to two audiences, people who like city breaks and people who like beach holidays, but both of those audiences are both gonna have users inside them that are going to come and book our holidays. And they have use cases. I want to be able to fit. That's what audiences sound like and users. I want to be able to filter by price. That's how they talk.
Different types of user can be admins for your website. So when you think about, um, people who are going to be, I don't know, putting the holidays on your site or doing stuff like that, they need to use your website too, they have a set of user requirements, too.
And if you were to build a website, is there an ideal number of users or is that...
No, I think if you end up with hundreds of use cases, then maybe you have got a case of breaking that down into different types of user, but, um, typically most websites will have a, a customer user and they might have an admin user. Admin users can be broken down too maybe you've got somebody that's in your human resources who has really specific needs from your website. I want to be able to connect the website to my human resources platform, for instance, that would be a use case for that particular user. I'm sorry. I started boring myself.
So, uh, for us what we might do is go, Hey, Fun in the Sun Incorporated
I bet it exists.
Fun in the Sun Incorporated. Fun in the Sun 2020s Incorporated. We might go, Hey, our audience, we're going to target the world traveler, the explorer, uh, kind of audience and inside that there might be some segments, backpackers, uh, bespoke tourists, people who want to build their own, their own custom holiday. And inside that maybe we can start identifying stuff that makes those audiences more interesting to us as well. And that's a bit minimum viable audience there. So we might go, Hey, anyone who wants to travel on a long haul holiday doing world exploration, building their own bespoke tour, who likes heavy metal, so they can plot their Thailand heavy metal bar hopping journey through Fun in the Sun 2020s Incorporated.
Yes, it would make your marketing very easy, wouldn't it?
Well, it does. I think that's the point. So minimum viable audience helps your marketing, helps you like write audience intent statements. So once you've got that audience defined or the audiences you want to talk to you to find, you can start writing, uh, audience intent statements, such as this one, Chris.
Oh, yes. As a bespoke tourer I want to document a holiday. Now, how could that help?
Well, once you understand your audience and what they want to do, um, it could change how you offer things in a way. So you don't just want to be thinking about web stuff - you do want to think about web stuff with your audience but you want to think about other stuff too. So if we know that these bespoke tourers want to document their whole holiday, maybe you'd gift them things to do that. You could give them, um, articles on how to document the holiday and maybe, I dunno, for every booking, give them a free underwater camera or something, or perhaps access to sync their stuff to a cloud system or something. I think Apple might already do that though, but yeah.
I think they might do, but, but that's a sort of way of you're, you're not fighting against the normal noise of online marketing. Is that, is that a thing there? Um, because you're doing something completely different.
It can definitely help because if you know, if, you know, if you write all these audience intent statements and do you know what the audience, your audience might be looking for, you can capture them in better long-tail searches. So perhaps that heavy metal, um, I can't remember what we called it, now. The heavy metal explorer long haul and person. Right?
It's like one of those games where you have to remember one more thing.
And a cuddly toy. The heavy metal person who loves cuddly toys. Anyway, him or her. Uh, they may never have heard of you, but they might be, um, searching for, I dunno, heavy metal bars in Thailand. I'm sure there are some, uh, if we know that that's what they're searching for and we can write a load of reviews of these bars in Thailand, they might land on your site and go, oh wow, these guys can organize my entire tour for me. So capturing the audience based on their really kind of specific wants and needs and desires based on their audience is really great. So audience intent is great for marketing is great for brand. It's great for UI design is a great thing to do. Find your audience, write loads of statements or ask them if you know who they are. They go. And then we've got use cases which are very different. They're a bit more boring. I like audiences because I'm brandy use cases are a bit more, a bit more WebDev aren't they.
Yeah. It's like as a holiday booker, I want to sort results by star rating.
But they're important because then when you do UI design, you can go, well, here's how you would achieve that thing for that particular user. And sometimes it can get fuzzy because you have a user that also has needs and wants as an audience. So blending the two is some kind of magical art that great UX and UI designers are brilliant at.
And because, um, I don't know too much about this. What was the, what's the difference between UX and UI again?
Oh, can we do, we'll do another vlog on that.
Oh really? Is that big?
I thought it'd be, I thought, thought it'd just be a nice one sentence answer.
Uh, UX and UI are spelled differently.
Oh, thanks. That's really informative.
Thus finishes my lecture on the difference between an audience and a user, I hope you found that informative. Robot Matt shutting down.
See you next week then.