Content marketing strategies aren’t something to just post and forget about—they are living entities that must be nurtured and improved over time. Audience tastes, competition conditions, and multiple other factors will evolve over the course of your regular posts, and eventually, you’ll need to either adjust your campaign or watch it succumb to irrelevance and disinterest.
Fortunately, there are many ways to gauge the health of your campaign and scout for potential improvements to make. One of the best ways to do this is through user surveys, given to your regular readers to measure and analyze their views of your current content efforts. Through their answers, you’ll be able to determine what’s next for your content marketing strategy, and you’ll be able to better engage your audience as a result.
Ask these questions of your users:
This is a critical question that can reveal how engaging your blog is compared to how engaging you think it is. Of course, if you have Google Analytics installed, you should be able to easily tell how many repeat readers you have, but calling direct attention to this can elicit an honest, individual response. If you include a follow-up question as simple as “why?” you might also get a first glimpse into what is motivating the individual to read your blog frequently or infrequently. Be aware that your results may skew slightly to more active readers, since they’ll have more opportunities to see your survey to begin with.
This question will help divide your audience into several segments, which you can use to qualify some of the other points of data throughout your survey. For example, one individual who reads your blog for casual entertainment might have different preferences than one who reads your blog for raw information. Understanding the difference can help you cater to one type of individual over the other (if you determine one to be more popular or more valuable). Alternatively, you can construct different segments of your blog and cater to each segment of your audience individually.
This is a perfect question to figure out which outlets are making the greatest impact on your blog traffic. Once again, Google Analytics or similar tracking programs might be able to tell you broader, more objective statistics, but you can use each individual’s answer to this question to qualify the answers to the other questions. For example, users who found you through a guest blog on an industry news site might appreciate different subjects than users who found you through a Google search. You can then use this information to set up different landing pages, or segment your blog to different inbound streams.
With this question, you’ll be able to determine the most effective syndication platform for your posts. Some possible answers might include visiting the blog regularly, seeing them published on social media, finding them through social bookmarks, or seeing someone talk about them. The answers you don’t get to this question will be more informative than the ones you do get. If you notice any of your syndication channels conspicuously absent from mention, it’s time to do a thorough audit of that platform’s effectiveness in the grand scheme of your content strategy.
This is a revealing question about the effectiveness of your content marketing strategy at producing conversions. There are ways to use objective data to tie your total number of conversions to your content marketing efforts, but nothing beats a direct question. First, you’ll get an idea of what type of reader frequently makes purchases—for example, is this the type of user who prefers informative posts? Is this the type of user who finds you on social media? As a result, you’ll be able to fine-tune your strategy to focus more on the users who are liable to make more frequent purchases.
Odds are, you have a handful of “landmark” content pieces that have made lasting impressions with your audience. This question is designed to help you figure out what those pieces are. Collect the information from all your users, and start analyzing the characteristics of your most commonly cited works. There will never be a perfect recipe for successful content, but if you understand what content features are the most impressive for your users, you can customize your strategy to include more of them.
This is the opposite of the previous question, and can help you understand why some of your topics fail to impress your users. You may already have a suspicion that a certain category or a certain style of post simply fails to generate attention, but this question can help you figure out why—especially if you include a follow-up question that requests more reasoning behind their answer. Weed out the topic types that seem to falter.
There are two important things you’ll learn from this question. First, you’ll get a solid idea of your brand’s reputation on the web, and second, you’ll learn how good your blog is at carrying a relevant, appropriate brand voice. Don’t stress over a few outliers; you’re bound to get a handful of people who simply don’t understand the brand. But if you start to see a trend of people failing to understand your brand’s intentions and personality, you might want to revisit your brand voice.
This is one of the most straightforward and informative questions you can ask. It’s simple, to the point, and it will help guide the future direction of your campaign. It’s an open-ended question, so you might get a few non-answers, but for the most part your audience will be more than willing to help you find great ideas for your future blog posts. Take note of them, especially if they sync up with the “landmark” pieces you uncovered earlier, and adjust your content plan accordingly.
Figure out where else your target audience is going. If they’re going to other sites within your industry, consider reaching out to those external blogs for an ongoing guest post partnership. Otherwise, try to figure out what elements of the other sites are attracting them in the first place. You can theoretically analyze each individual’s profile, and uncover trends that illuminate what characteristics of your blog make it popular in a given space.
Audience engagement is everything, so if you’re trying to give your users exactly what they want, why not ask them exactly what they want directly? Finding the answers to these ten questions can help you shape the course of your content marketing strategy, weed out any weaknesses, and increase brand loyalty for months to come. Conduct these strategic surveys often to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate your audience’s needs.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.