Ask your audience about your content strategy
Marketing Content Strategy

6 Content Strategy Questions Marketers Should Ask Their Audiences

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As managing editor of the Content Standard, I’m in Google Analytics and Skyword’s Platform Analytics pretty much all day. I’m clicking into referral sources to see where our traffic is coming from, analyzing why certain article titles seem to lead to more newsletter subscriptions than others, and reviewing the quality of the leads that come into our database. I’m checking how our social media distribution is performing, how our keyword rankings are changing, and, and, and

Data gives me a picture of how to shape our content strategy. Without it, I’d be guessing.

But data doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s strangely easy to forget that those “users” and “site visitors” that marketers talk about—*guilty*—are actual human beings with passions and pet peeves, ambitions and outrage. They’re not just data points, they’re people with opinions.

So let them share those opinions with you.

Here are six questions to consider asking your audience—whether through your business’ newsletter, at your next conference, via a social media poll, or elsewhere. Get to know them. They’ll thank you, and your content strategy will be better for it.

1. What do you think about the design of our website?

Do people like that infinite scroll that was part of your last website redesign? What about the floating widgets on the sidebar of your content? Is there a popup they wish would disappear? Does the color scheme appeal to them?

You won’t find the answers to these questions anywhere in Google Analytics, but they’re nonetheless crucial to providing the best user experience possible. After ESPN listened to its community and redesigned its website with its audience’s suggestions in mind, revenue increased by 35 percent.

Screenshot on ESPN homepage

2. What other industry blogs do you read, and why?

Digiday. Fast Company. Think with Google. I have a list of content marketing, creativity, and tech-related media sites that’s dozens of links long. When I’m researching for a new Content Standard story or just browsing industry goings-on, I open them all and tab through until a headline catches my eye.

Anyone who’s interested in improving their content marketing strategy is probably (read: should be) browsing new stories daily. Asking your readership what they have bookmarked is an excellent way to gain competitive intel, find new sources for statistics to prove a point in a story you’re writing, review writers who might be a good fit for your content program, and many other benefits.

3. Whose opinions in the industry do you value, and why?

Similar to asking which blogs your audience reads, surveying them about who they follow and why allows you to understand what matters to most them. These are a few of the content marketers whose opinions I trust, and who keep me coming back to their sites:

Why? She writes Tweets like this. But seriously, Handley is one of the industry’s leading voices on tone of voice. In a contentscape devoid of much color, Handley is the premiere spokesperson for the value of a sharp writing voice, which she argues is crucial to marketing. I couldn’t agree more.

Why? Brenner is my go-to source for content marketing ROI knowledge. Even if it’s part of your job to prove ROI, it can be confusing, and Brenner makes it easy to understand.

Okay, I couldn’t really choose between the two. Burney (director of content) and White (community manager) publish content about making your brand’s social media marketing the best it can be, simplifying complicated topics into actionable points, and maybe best of all, providing free, original research on content marketing trends the team at TrackMaven has conducted. Yes, please.

Getting answers to this question is also good for adding to your influencer marketing list, opening up guest posting or syndication potential, and in general just establishing good relationships with the people who matter most in your industry.

4. What types of content are we missing?

Sure, you might have an idea of what will perform well based on similar content, but until you actually publish it, your data won’t be able to tell you a certain topic is worth creating content around. In May, we decided to run a few stories around chatbots in marketing, and our audience turned out to be very interested in reading about them. It was a trend that we guessed would work, based on similar themes performing well, but this information could have easy come from just asking our audience what trends they’re following.

With this question, you’re also inviting your audience into a brainstorm. You’re saying, we value your opinion—so much so that we’ll consider your ideas to turn into published stories. You’re the expert, and we’re listening.

Chatbots in marketing

5. How else would you want to check out our content?

What content media does your brand offer? Infographics? eBooks? Case studies? Does it have a Snapchat account? Instagram? Do you publish through LinkedIn? What about live video? 360-degree video? Virtual reality experiences?

You get the point. If you’re not offering it, you don’t have a way of discerning whether or not your audience would engage with it. But at the same time, you don’t want to invest time and budget in something that’s going to flop. So what do you do? Ask your audience.

6. Would you be willing to be interviewed for an upcoming story?

It’s a simple question, but chances are, some of the people responding to your questions are experts in the field and would want to share their thoughts with you. Why not tap them for insight and bring them closer to your brand? This is another great way to expand your influencer marketing list by starting conversations with industry players.

What other content strategy-related questions should content marketers ask their audiences? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter to read more stories about creating a successful content marketing strategy.

Managing editor of the Content Standard, writer at Monster, Sound of Boston, Trill, and others. Hip-hop producer.

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