[Estimated reading time: 6 minutes]
Do you really know what your readers need? Have you asked them? Are you writing content that solves their problems? The easiest way to find out is to create a reader survey for your blog.
I hit a bit of a dry patch recently with my blogging, my ideas just dried up overnight. My content schedule needed filling but I was out of ideas. It didn’t last long thankfully and it prompted me to knock one item off my to-do list. The survey.
I’d been planning a reader survey all year. I started by reading ‘Ask’ by Ryan Levesque, a book about creating surveys. Although it’s quite hardcore and I doubt I’d follow the whole process there were some key tips I gained from it that helped me frame my questions and analyse the results.
I’m going to share the process that I followed and some of my results with you today.
If you have 3 minutes you can complete the survey I created here.
Listen below to find out how to create a reader survey for your blog:
Planning your reader survey
Why are you running a survey?
The purpose of this reader survey is to discover what you can write about that will attract your ideal reader.
Imagine you have a problem, you are surfing the net looking for the answer. Perhaps you search on Google, Facebook, Twitter and then… finally you find the answer you were looking for.
How does that make you feel? What do you want to do with that information? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest you feel happy and relieved to find the answer. You might also share it on your social networks as you know your friends would like to know the answer too.
That’s what you should be aiming for with your blog reader survey, you are looking to help your readers with their biggest problems, to answer their questions in full so that you become a cherished resource and your readers will want to spread the word.
That’s why your survey should start with this question:
What is the biggest ____ challenge you face. For me, that became ‘What is the biggest blogging challenge you face. Every question after this one is there to qualify the reader, to know if they fit into your target market.
It’s important that it is the first question you ask. It’s the one you really need the answer to so don’t risk readers starting the survey with easy questions and then abandoning it when they get to the important one.
Now that you know the answer to the big question you need to find out who is answering.
Who do you want to reach with your content? Who are your ideal customers and readers?
I have three categories:
1. Small business bloggers
2. Non-business bloggers
3. Small business owners who don’t blog yet
Identify different segments of your readers and make that list the basis of your next question. Knowing which answers belong to which set of customers will mean you can create more specific and relevant content for them.
What other information would it be useful for you to know about your readers?
I felt it would be valuable to know:
1. How often do they blog?
2. What stage of their blogging journey are they at?
This will help me pitch my content correctly. There is no point creating complex content if most of my readers are just starting out.
Compose 2 -3 questions that:
1. Segment your respondents into different types of reader.
2. Can help you gauge the level of interest or expertise they already have.
Now you have your key questions look at what other information it would be useful for you to have. These will be optional questions, you don’t want to put respondents off by asking them too much.
These are the 3 that I added:
1. Link to your blog
2. Your name
3. Email (if you want to get blog tips to your inbox)
So far 80% of respondents have willingly handed over this information.
Creating your survey
Once I had my questions it only took me 10 minutes to create the initial survey on Survey Monkey. However, I didn’t just create one survey. I created 5 to start with and have added a few since.
Why? Because the only way I could see which promotion techniques were working and find out which type of respondants were the best fit was to have a different version for each place I wanted to collect responses from.
This is another trick I picked up from ‘Ask’.
These are the first 5 survey’s I created:
1. For Facebook groups
2. For Facebook ads
3. For my newsletter
4. For Twitter
5. For LinkedIn
Promoting your reader survey
My goal for the first run of the survey is to get 100 responses. Decide on your own goal, be realistic, if you want to get 1000 responses it’s going to mean a lot more promotion and budget to reach it.
100 should work for most of us, it should give us a good idea of the common problems our readers face.
How do you promote it?
I’ve used 4 methods so far:
1. Shared in Facebook groups that I’m active in
2. Shared on Twitter and LinkedIn
3. Shared with my email lists
4. Used Facebook advertising to reach my website visitors
If you haven’t joined Facebook groups relevant to your target customer yet go do it now. It’s easy to find them, just type a word relating to your customers in the search bar and click ‘groups’ from the search results page.
I’d recommend becoming an active participant in the group before you post your link. Some groups have strict rules, others have specific threads for surveys and promotions. If in doubt check with the admin.
When you post your link you’ll need to write some compelling copy to maximise the number of responses you get. Think about how you can word it so that people feel there is benefit for them.
This is the text that performed the best for me:
I’m working on creating better content for bloggers that really addresses the problems and issues they have.
I’ve a short survey (7 questions) and I’d be delighted if you could complete it. I have asked for contact info but it’s not required to add that if you’d prefer to be anonymous.
Hopefully, this will help me write better stuff and help all bloggers with the problems they really have.
Thanks a mill in advance
You’ll need to create different variations of this text for different social networks. A shorter version for Twitter, a more professionally worded version for LinkedIn.
Facebook has been my top referrer so far. 52% of my responses came from the groups. You might find similar results if you are active in LinkedIn groups. I found I was less successful when I broadcast my survey on Twitter and LinkedIn.
I kept my add budget reasonably low to see if I could get responses from them. I created 3 versions of my ad with 3 images and targeted website visitors who had an interest in blogging.
Although I got quite a few click-throughs I didn’t get many responses. Facebook ads only accounted for 7% of my responses.
I sent out 3 emails to my list:
1. To everyone on my list asking for responses, I used similar language to the Facebook posts.
2. A reminder to everyone who opened or clicked the first email.
3. The first email again but with a different headline sent to those who didn’t open the first one.
The result was encouraging, 35% of respondents came from the list, most were hyper-relevant.
Analyse your survey results
When collating and analysing the survey responses start with question 2. This is the question that qualified people by the type of customer they were.
Start with your most important customer type and look at their responses to the big question. You’ll probably find that most answers will fall into three or four topics. This gives you topics you should focus on in your blog.
For me those topics could be :
3. Getting readers
Put each answer you got into one of your topic categories. There will always be a few that don’t fit so keep a final topic for ‘miscellaneous’.
Now you know your key topics brainstorm each one, tease out each idea and break it into blog posts you can write about each. When you work with others a brainstorming session will help. If you work alone like me try Mind Mapping.
This process should have given you a heap of content ideas that will service your ideal readers. But there is something else you can do with this information.
Now you know the specific challenges your readers face, and now they have given you permission to add them to your email list consider creating specific content for them.
For example, if I could identify a large segment of respondents who wanted to know more about getting started with their blog I could make sure the emails they got from me addressed those issues.
For those who are struggling to be consistent, I could send tips on finding content and managing a content schedule.
This week’s challenge is to create your own survey following the steps above. Let me know how you get on, I’d be interested to hear what promotion techniques work best for you and if you got a good pool of content ideas from it.
If you’ve been following my challenges or if you have done something on your blog that has worked well I’d love to hear about it. You can leave me a comment below, tweet me @spiderworking or snap me @spiderworking.
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