I ask them to describe their target customer. If the person uses data to craft a clear picture of their reader then they are on the right path. If they use their so-called “gut” or “intuition”, then I head to their About Us page. I look to see if they work at Apple or have “Jobs” as a last name. If not, they are automatically put in the “needs improvement” category.
There is one iron-clad law than bloggers can’t ignore. It’s simple – extraordinary blogging starts with a crystal clear picture of the reader.
As a professional power blogger you must constantly strive to understand your customer in detail. In fact, this is a prerequisite for success. In a recent video interview with Laura Click I mentioned that I started seeing success with Pushing Social when I fell in love with my readers.
By falling in love I mean that I obsessively gathered every scrap of data I could about them. My “profiles” include gender, household income, average number of times they visit the blog, hobbies, education, geographic location, and more. This information is used to write blog posts, special reports, landing pages, and emails.
I don’t guess. You shouldn’t either. Here are some ways to get acquainted with your readers.
Quick and Inexpensive Ways to Spy on Your Readers
When I started, I asked my email subscribers for their first names. This information provided a clue to their gender. Even though I’ve since settled on asking for just their email address, I still use MailChimp to gather gender and age information.
MailChimp offers an add-on from RapLeaf that will append age and gender data to each email subscriber’s record. Although I wouldn’t write a post specifically for a specific gender, having a clear picture of my reader in mind helps me write to a specific person.
RapLeaf also offers a stand-alone service where you can upload your subscriber database and get a report that includes: age, gender, household income, marital status, presence of children, home ownership, and home market value. You’ll need to pay a token amount for the bigger data report, but it’s worth it.
You can learn a wealth of information about your readers by digging into your Google Analytics stats. Here are a few gems I suggest reviewing regularly:
“Count of Visits”
(Audience -> Behavior -> Frequency and Recency)
Use the Count of Visits metric to see how your audience engages with your blog. Specifically this metric shows how many times your readers visited your blog during the time period. If you blog 5x a week, you would like to see a a number of good percentage of visitors coming to your blog around 15-25x a month.
This metric is great for spot-checking the quality and frequency of your posts. For example If the overwhelming majority of your readers only visit your blog once a month, you should concentrate on improving topic selection, headlines, and post promotion.
Days Since Last Visit
(Audience -> Behavior – Frequency and Recency -> Days Since Last Visit Tab)
This metric shows the last time your reader visited your blog. Again, if you blog daily, you want to see a growing number of people visiting waiting just 1 − 2 days between visits.
Like the “Count of Visits” metric, this information helps you gauge the effectiveness of your blog promotion. Ideally, you would want to see readers return to your blog at least once a week, more frequently if you post daily.
Quick one-question surveys are an effective way to get juicy information from your readers. I use open-ended questions to get the most useful information.
Right now, KissInsights is my favorite tool for quickly creating and publishing attractive surveys. SurveyMonkey is a close second. The key to collecting useful insights is to keep your questions short and specific.
Comments are a goldmine for understanding my most active readers. Since only 1% of my readers actually leave comments, I use these folks to get a feel for my most ardent fans. I recommend combing through your comments and pulling out questions. These questions point to your readers’ challenges and are great clues for posts.
Email Inbox Detective
As your blog grows, you’ll spend more time fielding email from your readers. Rapportive is a gmail plugin that gives you information on email senders pulled from social networks. I’ve fallen in love with this tool because it gives me great background information that helps flesh out the person behind the profile. This information helps me fill in the gaps in my overall reader profile, further refining my picture of my reader.
What’s In Your Toolbox?
How to you learn more about your readers. Give up the good stuff in the comments below.
(Image fist bump: etringita)