How to Understand Your Reader’s Level of Awareness to Grow Your Fanbase

five levels
Photo credit: derpunk on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Today’s guest post is by Dave Chesson (@DaveChesson) of Kindlepreneur.

The more educated a customer is about a product, the more they’ll understand what they are looking for—and therefore be more likely to buy it.

Imagine a reader who thinks they like science fiction books, as compared to one that can specifically tell you they love sci-fi military space marine adventures. The latter is more likely to know what they are looking for and quicker to buy the book when they see it.

While more people may type “science fiction” into Amazon’s search box, there is more money being made (per search) for the phrase “sci-fi military” and even more for “space marine adventures.”

sci-fi data
Numbers from KDP Rocket

Readers start their journey in a very broad sense, and over time, as they gain experience and understand more about what they are looking for, they refine their searches. By understanding the awareness level of a reader, we can better position our books or better craft content on our author websites that not only brings in more potential readers, but helps convert them into long-term fans. This all begins with the understanding of the five levels of awareness.

The Five Levels of Awareness: A Buyer’s Path to Success

In 1966, Eugene Schwartz, a renowned advertising specialist, described the buyer’s journey using the five levels of Awareness in his book Breakthrough Advertising.

These 5 levels are:

  • Unaware: People who don’t know there is a better way.
  • Problem aware: Aware of the problem, unaware of the solutions.
  • Solution aware: Aware of solutions in general, not yours specifically.
  • Product aware: Aware of your product, but haven’t bought it.
  • Most aware: Your best customers. Brand loyal.

A modern day example of this would be if someone overheard how a food delivery service made someone’s life easier (unaware). So, they do a search for “how to get any food delivered” (problem aware) and they find this article. As they research more, and progress through the stages of awareness, they discover that smoothie delivery services exist—something they love. Now, they just need to figure out which smoothie delivery service to use (most aware), so they read this article.

Which article do you think made the sale in the end? The second one, right? So, how can this be useful to an author?

Using Eugene’s Principles in Book Sales

When readers go to Amazon to find their next book, they start by typing something into the search box. Upon doing this, Amazon presents to them list of books.

However, if the reader types something very broad like “self-help” or “fantasy” do you really think Amazon will be able to show the perfect match? Probably not. Instead we are witnessing a reader who is probably in Eugene’s “problem aware” or “solution aware” level.

It is for this reason that even though broad keywords for your book might get lots of traffic, they are very competitive and also not at the “most aware” level—thus they are less likely to actually land the sale.

To illustrate this, here is a nonfiction and fiction example.

Numbers from KDP Rocket
Vampire Data
Numbers from KDP Rocket

As you can see, even though the broad keyword gets more searches, they are both more competitive and have worse conversion (fewer sales as a percentage of searches). However, as we niche down, the long-tail keywords have better conversion and less competition.

So, when you do your keyword research, you want accurate, long-tail keywords that still get traffic. To learn more about this, check this article out if you write fiction, and this one if you write nonfiction.

Using Eugene’s Principles in Author Websites

A lot of authors have websites but don’t know what to write about. Eugene’s awareness levels can help.

While it’s fun to write about what you’re doing, writing, or thinking about, this only helps if we already have fans reading your stuff and care to know about your comings and goings in the author world.

If you’re like many, and don’t already have a bunch of raving fans, here are two article types any author of both fiction and nonfiction can write about that meets Eugene’s Most Aware level in style.

The Power of Lists and Your Favorite Things

We all have a list of favorites. It could be a list of your favorite books or a list of your favorite writing places. The point is, lists are a beautiful thing so long as you aren’t broad.

Like our discussion on long-tail keywords above, writing about a “List of your favorite books” resides in the unaware level territory. However, writing about your “List of favorite Victorian era romance novels” or your “List of Best Nanotech Fiction books” can really win the day.

Here are examples of authors using this method and reaping the benefits:

Using a site like or, it’s easy to see that those articles are one of the best traffic generating articles on their entire sites. So, ask yourself, what list can you start writing?

Writing Review Articles

Lists are wondering things. Reviews are even better. Not sure what to review? Here are a few ideas:

  • Review of a favorite book in your genre
  • Review your favorite tool or software
  • Review conferences you’ve been to
  • Review your favorite writing or publishing training you’ve taken
  • Review the products you use—like coffee, Red Bull, or wine or any other author necessity
My wife plans ahead for my "writing bouts"
My wife plans ahead for my “writing bouts”

An example of this in action was a review I wrote on ProWritingAid. I didn’t write about a mistake I had (unaware) or why an author needs an editing software (problem aware). Instead I focused on the “most aware” stage: it is a review of a particular product and even offers a major discount for readers. However, because this was for my readers, I ensured it covered bits of the other levels so that someone new could follow along.

Parting advice

Eugene Schwartz illustrated the importance of getting our content or product displayed in the “most aware” levels. This doesn’t negate the importance of the other levels. However, it does go to show the importance of things like specific long-tail keywords, and the end state of a buyer’s mentality. Using these principles we can get our books in front of the reader who is ready to buy, and our content in front of the right person who’s truly self aware about what they want.

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