Does it feel like you can’t reach, or relate to, your audience (whether that includes buyers, visitors, readers, or some other group you’re trying to appeal to and connect with)? Do you struggle to convert visitors to your website into customers or subscribers? Do you sometimes feel like they flat out hate you — or worse, they’re totally indifferent?

They might. And if so, this might be why:

1. You’re treating them as a target “market” rather than an “audience” at all.

Sometimes the soft sell of PR kicks the ass of any blatant marketing tactic you can throw at people. Yet online, it’s too often about instant gratification. Image-building turns one-time buyers into repeat buyers, one-time site visitors into regular visitors, and casual passersby into trusting, devoted followers.

So stop thinking exclusively about direct selling, and get busy on some real reputation-building. The money, visitors, or whatever you’re after will follow more naturally (and with more staying power).

2. You have nothing to say.

People don’t visit your website for a blatant sales pitch. If you’re selling something, they probably won’t mind it all that much either, if they’re interested. But you need more than that.

Your site has to convey a message members of your target audience can relate to. Are you there to help them find business advice? Are you there to solve some other need? Why do you exist? What can you do for them? Your logo, site name, slogan, and other branding efforts should all play a part in conveying this.

3. You’re a self-centered ass.

Too many people and companies launch a website like it’s just their own little playground. Remember that, in most cases, your site is public, it should solve a problem for someone, and it needs to focus on something (and someone) other than yourself. If all you do is toot your own horn and focus on self-gratification, you’re not going to score points with your intended audience.

4. You’re not trustworthy.

Why should visitors of your website trust you? Is your site secure? How’s that privacy policy looking? Do you offer guarantees? Do you have a solid track record that precedes you? Give your audience or customers reasons to trust you. It doesn’t always come naturally. Far too many business owners are happy to screw folks over these days. Focus on building trust from the start, and you’ll build a more reliable community around your business because people won’t worry that you’re one of those louses willing to sell them out for a buck.

5. You made a lousy first impression.

Are you a fun, hip, and trendy online business? Then why does your site look like something that predates my grandmother? Again, it’s all about image. Forget about marketing for a minute, and worry about how you look in the eyes of others, especially in regards to the target audience’s expectations going in. You’d better meet… no, exceed, those expectations if you want your target market to love you, keep coming back, spending money, giving you traffic, clicking your ads, etc.

To put it simply, PR for a website is a lot like when you first start dating someone. You need to turn on the charm, pretend you actually care about the other person more than yourself, look snazzy, and keep it up. Once you stop, that’s when the bickering begins and eyes start wandering… and in the world of Web competition, it’s pretty easy for your audience’s eyes to start wandering over to Joe Schmo’s site.

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