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
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 …