You’ve thoroughly researched your niche and your target audience. You’ve setup an editorial calendar of stellar content, and you’ve even gone so far as to start recruiting followers for your brand.
But the question remains: as much as you’ve researched and studied other blogs in your niche, are you really providing your readers with the information they need most?
The best way to answer this question is to “listen with your eyes,” and here’s how to do so:
1. Through Reader Comments
The best way to spark a conversation with your readers is to end each blog post with a question. Take note of the answers your readers share through their comments. Much of the time, you’ll notice common themes related to what their most pressing needs are.
Instead of ending up with scads of notes and post-its all over your desk, use the Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin. Each time you come across new ideas for content, add a blog post draft to your editorial calendar.
2. Through Your Analytics
Periodically study your website statistics to define your most popular content so you can keep your readers coming back for more.
Take note of:
- How your readers find your blog. (Link from another blog, social media, search engines, etc.)
- The keywords they use to find your blog through search engines.
- The blog posts that receive the most traffic.
- Outside websites sending traffic your way.
This will give you a solid indication of where your readers are coming from, and what their priorities are.
3. Through Your Social Media Activity
Keep track of how many times each of your posts are shared. More than that, curate content from other top blogs in your niche, and keep track of the response each post receives (the amount of shares, retweets, pins, etc.).
Spark discussions through your social media accounts and ask your readers for their opinions on the content you’re curating. You’ll be able to tell what your readers are in need of most by the amount of attention your social media posts receive.
4. Through Polls & Surveys
Periodically, you should ask your readership if you’re on the right track with your content, products and services. The best way to take your brand to the next level is through requesting they take part in polls and surveys.
This step is especially crucial if you’re planning on launching a new product or service. It will help to ensure you’re providing information your readers are in desperate need of.
Don’t just use radio buttons – allow your readers to provide additional information. There’s no black and white; always let your readers share their grey areas with you.
5. Through Your Competition
If your blog doesn’t have a lot of traffic yet, don’t fret! Successful blogs in your niche do. Take time out to study your competition. Which posts are most popular? Have the most comments? How close are their target audiences to your own?
The great thing about WordPress plugins such as Digg Digg and GetSocial is the fact that you can see how many times a blog post has been shared via social media accounts. This is the best indicator of your audience’s “bleeding beck” needs.
Check out the content that’s taken off for your competition and see if you can contribute to the topics in your own, unique way.
6. Through Being Approachable
Make it easy for your readers to contact you about their needs. Even a simple “How can I help?” alongside your email address will suffice.
Ways to be approachable include:
- Placing your email address in your author bio, with a blurb encouraging your readers to contact you about their needs.
- Creating a Contact page and embedding a convenient form for your readers to fill out.
- Including links to your social media accounts on your sidebar.
- Including your contact information on the footer of your blog.
Your readers will appreciate the time you take out to curate the best possible content for them, and will continue to contact you with their needs.
7. Through Asking Yourself
Because you’re passionate about what your brand stands for, you’re likely a member of your own target audience. Take a look at the blogs you follow, and ask yourself:
- Why do I follow the blogs I follow?
- What do I like about them?
- What don’t I like about them?
- What void can I fill that’s not being met on these blogs?
Effective brand building is about building your own tribe of likeminded people to connect and share insights with. Answer the above questions as honestly as possible, and take action by using the characteristics you feel are most important in connecting with your audience.
It’s a constant evolution, so make sure to reevaluate your answers every few months, minimum.
8. Through Asking Your Readers
If you really want to know what your readers’ needs are, simply ask them! It will give off the impression that you truly care, and you’ll be surprised at how many responses you end up receiving.
Let your audience open up to you, and you’ll never run out of ideas. For every one person who’s sharing their needs, there’s likely 20 more who feel the same way.
Start by reaching out to your brand new subscribers. Customize your autoresponder message to encourage them to contact you with their specific needs. It’s the best time to start building new online relationships.
Using these techniques will help you better understand your readers’ specific needs and wants so you can make the resources available to them. This will build their trust in you, and they’ll begin to depend on your brand for the information they need most.
Be good to your audience, and your audience will be good to you.
Which of these techniques do you find especially useful? Would you add any to this list?
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