Savvy business owners know how important it is to perform audience analysis periodically. It certainly should be done when a company is starting up, but sometimes, in the rush to “get to market”, it is overlooked until after a company is up and running, to the detriment of sales. The same is true of a blog: understanding your audience is crucial.
Audience analysis – or understanding who your clients, followers or customers are – can be an intimidating term, but it is much less difficult than it sounds. And again, it is absolutely critical to your success.
As a blogger, you may have started off with a particular person in your head to whom you wrote. Let’s imagine that you blog about exercise and you’ve always imagined that one person in your spinning class who seems so dedicated as the person who reads your posts. Or maybe, if you write for an auto parts company, you “see” the weekend shade-tree mechanic in your neighborhood checking out your latest post.
That’s absolutely fine, and a habit of most writers, to imagine your audience. Keep your character firmly in place. However, it’s not the method by which you determine to whom you’re marketing. During these times – when you are considering which subjects to cover, what information to pass on and when to time your posts – you need a real-life basis from which to make such decisions, an assessment of your audience.
You need to know who they are, their characteristics, spending habits, where they are located and what their needs are. Who is your target market? The better your answer to this question, the more effectively you can match ideas, formats, timing, and promotions.
Focus Groups & Surveys
Perhaps the most obvious ways to get a bead on who is reading your blog and what they’d like to see is to form a focus group or distribute and collect surveys. This may sound difficult, but it’s quite easy with the help of your mailing lists or follower registry.
First, start by sorting your audience. Is your blog visited by clients, Twitter or Facebook followers, or some other basis? Perhaps, your blog is part of a workforce website or maybe a readers’ group. Maybe you’ve developed a following while writing about your travels.
Whatever the sources are, you’ll need to sort them out a bit to determine how they came to you, so you’ll know how to recruit their opinions. For instance, if your followers are mainly from a Facebook page, then you can post a survey and ask for responses that way. If you have an email list, you can distribute a questionnaire to those people. You need to acquire between five to twenty people who you can rely on for their opinions on a regular basis – perhaps monthly or as issues arise. This will become your focus group.
In your initial surveys, ask for details – sex, age, household size. Ask if the respondent would like to participate in a focus group and request their email address if you don’t already have it.
Now you have a group to whom you can pose essential questions about your content.
Search Engine Optimization
Per Wikipedia, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results…” This might seem overwhelming to some unfamiliar with the term, but it is quite simple. This refers to using words and phrases that are most often searched for online to get more people to your site.
Start small with this one, but explore inserting phrases into your blog posts which seem relevant to your audience and see if it doesn’t have a positive effect on your following.
For instance, if you specialize in vegan recipes you’ll want to use terms a vegan or chef might search for beyond the specific phrase “vegan recipes”, which you should be sure to put somewhere in every post.
Googling “vegan terms” brought up many references you could use in your writing – faux meats, mock meats, soy, animal-free, almond milks, textured vegetable protein, tofu, and many others. Whatever your blog’s focus, try to use frequently searched-for terms as often as possible.
Using SEO, you’ll attract more followers and as you do you’ll get a better idea of what they are looking for simply by what words or phrases attract them to your site.
Employing some low-effort methods, such as those we’ve explored here, can go a long way towards understanding your audience – and growing it.