Here is the naked truth about content creation:
Creating content is not a difficult task to perform. However, creating content that your readers will love is not easy, and this is where many entrepreneurs fail.
Don’t get me wrong; there are other content marketing hurdles as well which challenge entrepreneurs more than creating engaging content, but this is one of the most common problems faced. A good example is shown below:
You may agree that many bloggers have been dishing out advice on how to create content that is both optimized for search engines and readers.
However, many of them are still not able to solve the biggest crisis faced by the content marketers.
So, how do you find out what your readers want to read?
This is why I came up with a simple solution that will help you create content that will engage your readers, make them love it and have them glued to each word.
What is Audience Research?
Do you know your audience?
What do they think? How do they feel? What do they love? And what their needs are?
As a digital marketer, it is important to have an intimate understanding of your audience.
Audience dialogue defines audience research as a systematic and accurate way to know your audience in depth.
It involves more than knowing what they want. Its purpose is to find out why they want it, what motivates them and get to understand their feelings and emotions (source).
You have to get into your audience’s mind and let your data provide insight into your marketing strategies.
Advantages of Audience Research
If you go by your intuition and your own beliefs on what your readers love, you are gambling with your blog. Do you really want to gamble with your money and time invested?
Here is a list of the top benefits of audience research:
- It helps you know what your readers want.
- It helps you know your audience demographics. (regarding age, gender, income, etc.)
- It helps you estimate the size of your audience.
- You can locate where your audience hangs out.
- An insight into what your readers are sharing and following.
- An insight into what is working for you and what isn’t.
Methods of Audience Research
Below is a list of audience research methods which are used to learn audience behavior.
1. Use comment analysis to get an insight into what interests your visitors.
Comments have gained popularity as tools for engaging the audience and providing feedback on the content offered.
However, comments do more than that. Comments shed the light on what your audience needs and what is on their mind. While studying comments, don’t limit yourself to blog comments only. Other places where you can analyze reader comments include:
- Your website and blog. Unless you have disabled comments on your blog or still haven’t found a way to entice your readers to leave comments, you should encourage commenting on your posts.
- Your social media page. Active social media pages are one way to connect and communicate with your audience in the most informal way. You can personally get in touch with your audience through social media.
- Forum comments. Forums are often threaded with hundreds of comments. If you can find your audience on these forums, you can get to know what interests them, what’s trending and what their pain points are.
To deliver content that your audience seeks, you must check which posts yield the most engagement. You must learn what they love enough to comment on and what they just scan and scamper elsewhere.
Did I forget the numbers? The number of comments on your blog posts matters and should be useful. The higher the number of comments, the higher the level of readers’ interest in the topic. Take advantage of this information and offer more content on that topic.
You might have noticed that all the points mentioned above include your audience and not your competitor’s audience.
Unless most of your readers are also avid readers of another blog, don’t make the mistake of studying what works for your competition and then blindly using that information to direct your writing. You may be surprised at how different your audience is from other blogs in your niche
2. Analyze your website’s traffic to know your visitors’ behavior
Web traffic analysis has been credited as one of the best ways of increasing blog traffic.
When studying your web traffic, the most important factor is not the number of visitors you have, it’s their behavior after they have landed on your site.
Studying your web traffic can tell you:
- Where your traffic came from. Is it from search engines, referred from other websites, etc.?
- Which keywords did your visitors search before arriving at your blog?
- What blog posts received the most views?
- What was the average amount of time spent on each post?
Answering the questions above will tell you why people visit your website.
By knowing what keywords brought in most visitors, you can learn what people are really interested in when they visit your site.
On the other hand, by knowing the length of time spent on each post, you can learn which posts were most likely read and which posts were abandoned.
Combining web traffic analysis data with the data from comment analysis will give you a clearer picture of what drives readers to your site.
Here are a few tools to use for web traffic analysis:
While Google Analytics is the most commonly used tool, there are some who prefer its alternatives due to the different features supported by each software. Before settling on any of them, read their reviews written by SEO and Analytics specialists to know which one fits your needs.
3. Analyze your audience on social media to learn what they are interested in
You should use social media as a place to engage your readers.
Have you ever wondered what your readers do on social media when it’s not related to your blog?
To deliver content that will engage your readers, you should listen to them on your page and keep an eye on their activities.
Social listening tools have proved to be a must-have asset for content marketers and have left a trail of success for many of their users.
If you want to learn more about what your audience searches for on social media, use any of the following listening tools, and you will understand your audience better.
- Tweriod. This tool will help you establish when most of your followers are online.
- Fanpage Karma. This tool will give you detailed reports of your social media accounts. This includes the most shared posts, most engaging hashtags, and keywords, etc.
- Simply Measured. This tool analyzes social media giving you charts, calculations, and tables of more than ten social media platforms.
That’s only a short list of tools. You can find more by searching them on Google based on your needs.
Remember that no tool is perfect, you just have to find out which one works best for you.
4. Learn from your audience by using surveys
The direct communication is one of the best sources of data that exists today.
Have you ever thought of asking what your readers want to read?
Surveys are one of the best qualitative analysis tools and have become an important asset of gathering information without much effort.
A classic example of survey success is Linda, who used a simple survey of six questions to determine what her blog’s readers wanted. Using the survey, she learned that readers wanted templates, scripts, and workbooks: products that she did not offer.
Do your readers want what you offer or would they be happier if you gave them something else?
Think of it this way, if you were able to send out six questions to your readers, what would they be? Think of any number of questions that will tell you what your readers want without telling them that you don’t know what they want.
After coming up with the questions, feed them into one of the following survey tools and dish it out to your readers. If you are a fan of incentivizing, you can offer them a free product like an Ebook that will motivate them to take part in the survey.
Here are some free survey tools to get you started.
- Zoho Survey
- Survey Gizmo
- Survey Planet
Most of the above tools are free when used for small surveys. However, if you are conducting an extensive survey, you will have to pay a fee.
Do they love it enough to share?
Some materials obliviously get more shares than others. Photos top this list, then opinions, and the list goes on (Kim Garst shares it all here).
However, according to statistics, 84% of social media shares are based on support for causes the sharers believe in. How can you know what they believe in if you are not willing to get your hands dirty to find out?
However, your readers don’t share your content equally. Some posts will get hundreds of social shares while others only a handful of shares.
What does that tell you?
The content that gets most shares does so because your readers found it helpful and were hoping that their friends on social media would enjoy the post, too.
The posts that get the lowest number of shares may still be useful, but perhaps not enough for your readers to share them.
The question is, do you continue to create content that your readers don’t love, or do you sieve out the topics that don’t work and focus all your effort on those that do?
While blogging or doing any form of internet based business, best believe that you can not please everyone.
There is a chance that after your research, you may find multiple personas regarding your audience. You have to settle for pleasing the personas that most of your audience holds.
Of course, you can try to impress everyone by posting content for both parties, but how long will that holdup? If you set out to please everyone, you are going to lose lots of readers.
Just settle for writing content that most of your readers love.
However, if you find a way to please multiple audience personas at once, go for it.