Using Polls To Find Out More About Your Readers

by Robb Sutton

Having crucial information about your reader base can give you insight into what kind of content they will best connect with, but how to do you get this information out of your readers and into your database of ideas?

I have found that the best way is to ask. How are you ever going to know the answer to a question if you don’t ask first? Seems simple doesn’t it. By setting up a poll, you can find out your readers tastes, likes, dislikes and other information that is incredible feedback for future blog content. You can also use polls as a way to establish trends over time and tailor your content to how your readership changes and grows.

For polls on my blogs, I use the WP-Polls plugin. With its simple interface and reporting, it makes for a simple option that performs the job.

So the poll is up…now what?

Like any task that requires reader feedback, you need to do some simple marketing for your poll to bring in the readers to complete the required task.

  • Post the link to your Facebook account.
  • Tweet the poll on Twitter.
  • Shoot out an email to your email list inviting them to vote.
  • Encourage RSS feed readers to visit the site and vote. – Something like…”Feed readers…click here (linked to post)…to cast your vote!
  • Link up in other social media outlets that you are apart of and know you have readers in…forums, etc.

What do I do with the information?

This sort of information about your readers will allow you to generate content that better suits their needs. Have you been writing about vacation spots in Canada when most of your readers what to get information about Australia? Are most of your readers women and you have been writing more towards men? All of this information can help you grow your blog and readership faster.

Having regular polls throughout the year can also show you how you need to adapt and change your blog over time. In many cases, you might see trends start to develop in popular content and comments. As these trends start to emerge, simple polls can give you a little bit of insight into why the trends are appearing within your readers.

The positive side affect of polls

Having polls on your blog also shows your readers that you are actually listening. Your readers are going to appreciate your involvement and they will feel like they are more apart of the site…rather than just another stat. When it really boils down to it…you are writing to engage your readers, not just throw a bunch of words at them on a regular basis. This engagement is what separates a blog from a standard website and allows blogs to grow a large readership/following.

What if I am just starting out?

If you are just starting a blog, you are going to want to wait a little while until you post up a poll. To get results, you must to have readers. When you start to see comments increasing and your stats are on the rise, you can have a successful poll even with a small amount of readers. By placing the poll on the sidebar of the homepage, it will see a larger audience. Be careful with this though…as some first time readers will take the low voting results as an indication of poor content (even though they would be wrong…first impressions are everything).

What I suggest doing is properly marketing your poll, as stated above, in the beginning. If you start seeing great results, post to the sidebar for increased exposure. You never know…just by asking you might turn some search engine/first time readers into subscribers just by showing that you are interested in their opinion!

Have you used polls on your blog?

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Mike May 26, 2009 - 4:01 pm

I really like using polls on my blog. Slowly, but surely I’m learning a lot about the people who read my blog and their preferences.

Robb Sutton May 26, 2009 - 5:11 pm

It is really interesting to watch the trends over time. As you get more traffic…you get more voters and things can shift.

John May 27, 2009 - 8:08 pm

I have been surprised how much positive feedback you can get out of using polls. I use them on my sites pretty regularly now to keep an eye on trends.


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