Editor’s note: This post was written by Dustin Greene, a tech writer based out of North Carolina. He graduated from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson and spends most of his free time golfing… weather permitting. You can follow him on Google+.
A blog is an essential piece of the content marketing arsenal for any business. 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog. Your blog visitors come to your weblog, read your opinions and insights, and if you’re lucky they will share or comment on them before leaving.
Source: Desi Mendosa
Often, this accurately portrays the depth of onsite blogger-visitor engagement. Most bloggers will turn to social media as a means of gauging their blog visitors. But there are more strategic ways which provide a representative view of readership in order to better understand visitors’ habits and preferences and overall engagement.
Audry Larocque, the CEO of iPerceptions, was quoted on Market Watch last month stating “online communities need to measure more than unique visitors per month, conversions and goal completion to understand how to grow their audience.” Understanding your audience is critical to growing and further engaging with them as a marketer or a blogger.
How are Bloggers Currently Engaging their Audience?
As it stands right now, up to 94% of bloggers use social media marketing as their primary channel to promote their blog. Other traffic drivers included SEO, email marketing, paid services like PPC and more.
Bloggers could speak to their audience more effectively through any of these channels, but especially through social, if they took the time to talk to their visitors onsite first. Social data is by nature unstructured feedback from the audience you’re currently engaging with, but this is the problem – it’s unstructured and doesn’t allow bloggers to gain a true representation or understanding of their current audience.
Engagement Through Understanding
Thought Symposium recently published an article detailing why a strategic approach must be taken when building a blog audience. A strategic approach starts with a well-researched understanding of visitors on your site. The aim is to get an understanding of your current site visitors and then build a blog audience that will allow you to market to them whether it be through social media or another channel. Begin by evaluate visitors’ level of engagement with your blog, and identify key items which drive engagement and increase visitor loyalty such as visitor awareness, likelihood to return or recommend.
Don’t focus on social followers, track true engagement on your website first. Bloggers cannot decide if the content they are creating resonates with their readership purely on the number of likes or tweets a blog post produces. Bloggers have to get their hands dirty on site by collecting data about their blog traffic to understand how to keep the conversation going and grow their audience.
Bloggers have to gather customer feedback to get a blueprint of their current blog audience. By understanding your visitors and engagement levels you can accurately recalibrate the content of a blog in order to increase engagement and loyalty. Also use audience profiles in terms of demographics and content preferences, to inform advertisers on traffic quality.
Investing in Engagement
You may choose to invest more time and resources in the channel that is getting you the most engaged visitors, rather than a few loud audience members. We recommend that bloggers measure channels and gather visitor feedback using representative sampling. This type of survey method considers all opinions equally and allows for open-ended feedback collection.
The time and perhaps money you invest in actively researching your current blog traffic will pay off. Collecting a representative feedback sample allows bloggers to evaluate and better understand traffic sources to their blog, segment user engagement groups, identify brand advocates and monitor word of mouth by measuring brand perception. More importantly, this is the information that will increase visitor frequency by emphasizing key engagement drivers.
For the Road
Your readers came to you because you’re doing something right in the first place, you have to figure out what that is and nurture it so you can keep these readers coming back to you. All of your efforts culminating in you effectively engaging your audience and building loyal brand ambassadors. With a strategy that starts by understanding who you’re speaking to, you can cater your marketing messages to suit them on your blog and have genuine conversations on social media with these people.