Interrogate Your Audience With a Blog
At the “Affiliate Doctors” session of the recent A4UExpo one of the audience members asked a question about what you should do when launching a new site. One of the key things I suggested in my answer was to get into the mindset of your readers and prospects.
Understanding your audience is vital, but trickier when you first start. If you already have a working blog, though, you have a ready-made focus group!
Readers as Focus Group
Just attracting a community of readers will give you real insights into your audience. Find every way you can to encourage feedback, comments, suggestions and interactions.
Every week I spend time on chat and the phone outside of my consulting calls, because I want to keep in touch with my readers.
On top of that I have my blogging forum which is a wonderful source of interaction, while obviously helping people get the answers they need!
If you provide your feed over email, use your real email address so that people can simply hit “reply” to get in touch with you.
Run a Survey
The obvious comprehensive choice when gathering data from your audience is to run a survey or poll. Some of my friends are running a great survey right now where you can win a Tom Tom GPS system for your car (enter it now, you will have very good odds of winning!). If you take a look at the actual survey you will see it is very simple. The recipe basically boils down to:
- Work out what you want to know
- Ask easy questions, but not too many
- Incentivise submissions, to get enough to have confidence in the results, statistically
- Make it easy to use, so people don’t drop out
- Share the survey around to get a wide demographic of responses
You don’t need to use fancy software like my friends did, either. Take a look at Polldaddy, surveymonkey.
If you want something more advanced to build right into your WordPress blog, check out Damian’s SurveyPress WordPress plugin for surveys.
Meet In Person
Of course one of the reasons I was even at A4U was to meet people. Not much can compete with actually getting together with people from your community and talking. If you get chance, go to a meetup in your area, or organise one! Our next Northern Bloggers meetup will be 24th October, and looks like it will be “Bloggers and Baltis” as a theme :)
How do you find ways to understand your readers better? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments …
A4u picture attribution jm_affiliation
Chris is a professional blogger and internet marketing consultant. You can get more of his blogging tips, internet marketing advice and copywriting articles and a FREE ebook just by subscribing at chrisg.com
Really nice trick, i wonder if this trick to interrogate increase blog unique visitors??
It does, it works directly and also the more you understand your reader, the more of them you can attract :)
Great idea. I will most definitely try this. Thanks for posting.
I have run polls in the past, in fact I published one half an hour ago, but I think it is important to distinguish that what people answer to polls and what they are actually interested are two different things.
My polling never produced a clear answer, and when I used a suggestion tool the few suggestions that I got simply weren’t relevant to the topic of my blog.
I decided that that point that I would generally do what had worked so far, i.e. what I wanted, until the reader numbers started to fall and then do something different.
Tips are always welcome though.
I always write what I want to write.
Polls may be helpful but I agree with Andrew. Polls may not reveal what your readers truly want. Instead, I rely more on the other methods you mentioned, Chris. I look at whatever people are buzzing about and then try to take it a step further. What are the implications? How will it affect us? How can we use it? What’s next? If our readers could see this themselves, synthesize it and then formulate it into something informative, entertaining and/or enlightening they wouldn’t be reading us. So our job is to listen in, think about what we’re hearing and then add something to the conversation – or not. Either way, I always write what I want to write – even if it’s based on what other people are talking about. I can’t imagine writing anything worthwhile otherwise.
I would say that the meeting in person is a great way of meeting readers, getting an idea of what direction to go (in the form of advice from other bloggers) as well as general marketing.
I’ve certainly got a lot of the Northern Bloggers’ meet-ups.