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August 8, 2013 (Updated: January 26, 2023)
Many content marketers tout the importance of studying the feedback and behavior of a target audience. Gathering those insights, however, is easier said than done. Try these six ways to paint a better picture of what your audience wants and – more importantly – what your audience needs.
Survey software like Qualaroo pops up shortly after users land on a page to get feedback about why they’re there and what they’re thinking. Marketers can set up questions throughout their site, particularly targeting the weaker pages.
Let’s say a local pet shop owner runs a blog where one of their most popular pages is “X Ways to Calm Your Pet During a Storm.” They could set up a pop-up survey asking the reader what kind of pet they have. The question is minimally invasive and tells the admin about his or her audience. If the overwhelming majority of respondents own dogs, they could follow up with a blog called Which Thundershirt is Best for My Dog?
Qualaroo lets site owners set up multiple questions around their pages. The groomer could ask visitors who are reading about puppies if they are considering adopting a puppy or already have one. If they select the latter answer, a follow up question could ask how old the puppy is. With the right questions, blog owners can get a better understanding about why their readers come to their pages and how they can bring them back. With the above data, the pet groomer can create a blog series that covers the growth of a puppy during it’s first year (when it needs shots, when it should start socializing, etc.) Small questions can yield big results.
A survey’s strength depends on what you do with the data. If you let it sit unanalyzed, fail to read the comments, or pull the vanity answers, then you’re wasting your time and the time of your customers
Asking a multiple-choice question like “How satisfied were you with your purchase?” with answers ranging from highly satisfied with highly dissatisfied won’t tell you what your audience is feeling. Instead, it will tell you that 78% said they were satisfied or higher, which doesn’t help you much.
On top of choosing the right questions, it’s also important read and take action on the open-ended responses. Pro-Flowers recently sent out a follow-up survey after an online purchase, and after carefully writing out the pros and cons of the purchase in an open-ended question, they responded in an email with coupons referencing the phrase. (We’re sorry that your flowers did not arrive on time…)
If your blog isn’t attached to a business, consider sending out a survey to find out what topics your audience would like to learn more about, who knows, their ideas could provide you with content ideas for the next month or two.
When you can show your audience that you’re listening to their feedback from the surveys they will be more likely to take them in the future.
The above tactics for learning from your audience have been direct, but these next few ways use their behavior to draw conclusions about what they need.
Keyword research is something that we look into often at CopyPress. We check Google Analytics to see what queries people are using to get to our site, and then look to see if they found it. A real life example would be What Is Your Content Conversion Rate? Nicki Porter said that query brought someone to CopyPressed, so she brought our audience exactly what they needed answered.
We also did the same thing with How Much Does CopyPress Pay Writers? They asked so we created. This strategy figures out how your audience is already finding your brand and let’s you create content that will bring more people with the same needs to your page in the future.
Creating content with keyword research means that readers don’t have to dig through your site or the SERPs to find the answers they’re looking for. You’ll see this exact same idea in the next tool.
For many website owners, their site is their baby. Everyone else might think it’s ugly, but to the mom it’s perfect. User Testing tells web admins how helpful or difficult the site actually is. Within an hour, they can test your website, app, or a competitor from a specific demographic or current customer base.
When you can directly see where readers and customers are getting lost, you can change the web design to bring them exactly where they want to go. Website visitors don’t want to go on a scavenger hunt for information, they want it presented on the first hit.
Let’s use a local restaurant as an example. The most popular pages are the menu, store hours, and directions. This means that visitors want to see what kinds of food it offers and where it’s located, ergo: answering those questions will bring people to the store. If the tests report that website visitors are scrolling around and unsuccessfully finding the menu, it’s a sign that the website needs to be revamped.
This is another way you can fly under the radar to see what your users want and need. Neil Patel did A/B testing on his page with two different word counts, one with less than 500 words and one with more than 1,000. He found that the longer page garnered more leads because the content was relevant and answered the questions that his future customers needed to know. This rebukes the idea that in the modern Internet era, everything needs to be summed up in a few sentences. With A/B testing, he found that his audience didn’t need to be told the information quickly, they needed to be to the information thoroughly.
This can be helpful for websites looking to make the most of their web design. A site that showcases its items in tiles might think one particular product is the most popular, but if he or she sets up A/B testing with a similar product at a similar price point, that one spot might be what’s drawing customers in to convert. A/B testing brings you one step closer to answering the “why” in user behavior.
Foursquare has taken demographic analysis to the next level. Not only do they look at gender and age to target their ads, they also look at the multitude of places you’ve checked in over the past few months. Have you checked in to multiple airports recently? You’ll probably see an add for hotels.
Not everyone has access to the mass amounts of data that Foursquare does, but there are tools that you can use to dig a little bit deeper than country of origin. Weborama analyzes sites and pulls the interests of your readers on top of their demographics.
Weborama gives daily reports on audience interests and demographics, which not only provides inspiration for future blog posts (They’re interested in start-ups and small businesses? Maybe I should do an article on…) but helps analyze the content you create that day. What posts went over well with men older than 45? What about Women 25-35?
The key to these six tools is to answer questions a round table of questions regarding user behavior. Who is viewing your site? Where are they getting stuck? Why are they there? How did they get there? What is the best way to meet their needs? If you can turn these insights into actionable steps, you’ll never have to answer the question When will they be back? You’ll already know.