This guest post is by Neil Patel of Quick Sprout.
Whether you want to write a persuasive post or a headline that grabs attention, or create a call to action that grows your RSS subscription count by 243%, you first have to understand who your reader is.
So how do you go about finding this out?
You could guess, measure, and repeat until you hit upon a winning formula … but that could take months or years.
The easiest and fastest way to find out what will resonate with your readers is to ask them. And the best to do that is with a survey.
How can surveys help you?
You probably have a good working understanding of who your readers are because of your experience in the field. This will help you create surveys, but it won’t help you get to those breakthrough insights that will turn your posts into reader magnets.
To do that you need to know information like this:
- Demographics: A survey will tell you who’s reading your blog. It can tell you their sex, age, income, and interests.
- Content: A survey will tell you what kinds of content your readers like. Do they like practical articles or more research-based posts? Do they want those to be long or short? What about frequency?
- Products: A survey will also tell you what kinds of products your readers may be interested in.
- Problems: Finally, a survey can tell you what problems that your readers want solved. This is probably the best piece of information you could have when it comes to creating engaging content, right?
Top survey tools
AJ showed how to create a survey that gets insightful answers from your readers earlier today.
Now, let’s look at some in expensive tools that will help you gather this all-important information professionally and securely.
One of the simplest ways to get feedback from readers is to write a post with survey-like questions, and then ask your readers to respond in the comments.
There are some disadvantages to this approach. For example, because people are free to say anything they want in the comments, it may be hard to get the exact information you want.
Also, with this approach, the survey responses are out in the open, and this may suppress the response since people may be a little timid to share information so publicly.
What I’ve found about using comments for surveys is that this approach is perfect for simple questions like “What was the worst work experience you ever had?” If you want something more specific, then you need to use one of the tools we’ll look at next.
Using a WordPress plugin like WP-Polls on your blog will give you the option of asking very specific questions that should generate very specific answers over an extended amount of time.
This plugin is embedded on your site as a widget, and actually adds another element of interaction with your readers. Every month, you can change the questions.
The nice thing about WordPress plugins is that they’re simple to install from inside your WP admin control panel.
Google Docs offers a tool that will help you create surveys that you can link readers to (for example, in an email), or actually embed into your blog.
It creates these forms out of HTML, gives you several survey styles, and even gives you a huge selection of themes to choose from:
This is the form that Chris Brogan uses:
On the back end, you can review the collected data in a charts and graphs:
Survey Monkey is the most well-known survey tool online, having been around since 2002.
While there are paid plans that won’t bankrupt you, I’ve found that the free online version suits most of my needs. The only drawback to this type of survey is that it will drive your readers away from your site, as they need to go to Survey Monkey to give their answers.
The service gives you a choice of 15 question styles to choose from.
And you can even customize the survey to match your blog color scheme.
This tool is one my team developed. KISSinsights is a simple tool that takes two minutes to install, and allows you to ask one question of your readers. You can update that question at any time.
What I really like about this survey tool is that we tried to make it as little a distraction from your site as possible: it pops up, but then the user can close it and move on to your site immediately.
WP Survey and Quiz Tool
This robust WordPress tool, WP Survey and Quiz Tool, will let you do more than just create surveys—as the name suggests, you can also use it to create quizzes and polls.
There is no limit to the number of surveys or quizzes you can create, and the tool gives you these features as well:
- Limit answers to one per IP address.
- Send customized notification emails.
- Send notification emails to one email address or a group of WordPress users.
- Create custom contact forms.
- Export your surveys and quizzes.
The drawback to this tool is that your survey is limited to s single post—it’s not available site-wide.
WordPress Simple Survey
The jQuery-based WordPress survey tool Simple Survey will allow you to create basic weighted surveys that route users to a location based upon their survey “score.”
The page doesn’t need to be reloaded as the user progresses through the quiz:
You can have results emailed to you, or you can simply login into your WordPress dashboard to see the results.
SodaHead gives you great options for customizing and publishing polls. In addition, you can:
- add videos and photos
- add questions with more than ten choices
- protect against voting fraud with a Flash-based security code.
The feature that I really like about this tool is what it can do to help your poll go viral through features like one-click sharing to Twitter and Yahoo, and adding your survey to SodaHead’s network to get more exposure.
Polldaddy Polls and Ratings
This fully customizable survey tool for WordPress gives you the ability to post your poll on a single post or as a sidebar widget:
The nice thing about Polldaddy Polls is that it supports 57 different languages, making it a better option for those serving audiences outside of the United States.
Unfortunately if you have the latest WordPress update, 3.3.2, then it may not be compatible with your site.
For the people who don’t code out there, SurveyMe is probably the WordPress plugin you want to use.
This simple install will allow you to role out a poll within minutes.
By the way, if you are concerned about how many responses you’ll get to your survey, don’t worry. People love to share their opinions—you’ll probably get as high as a ten percent turnout!
If you are interested in getting an even higher response, I’d recommend you tell your readers that you’re going to share some of the best responses that you get from the survey. With a promise that they might get some exposure on your site, more people will be motivated to leave a response.
If you want an even higher turnout, or if you have a small audience and want to maximize the number of answers you receive, you may want to offer some kind of incentive (for example, everyone who responds will be entered in a drawing for a $50 Apple iTunes gift card).
What survey tools do you use? Tell us your faves in the comments.