Trying to stay on top of what their readers want to hear about is one of the most pressing challenges news outlets and media writers try to handle.
Trying to stay on top of what their readers want to hear about is one of the most pressing challenges news outlets and media writers try to handle. In order to best capture their audiences’ attention, authors research and develop their content to fit the tastes and attitudes of those that consume it.
Determining who your readers are and what they care about can be difficult. In order for writers to identify the issues their readers care about, they must first engage them formally. The most effective way to gather critical information from your readers is through surveying.
Today’s readers have more outlets vying for their attention than ever before. They live busy lives, with limited time to browse through and absorb media. It can take as little as a few seconds for you to have lost your readers precious and limited attention, as they attempt to parse through the hundreds of links and advertisements thrown their way every waking moment.
Authors want their readers to enjoy their work as much as they want to communicate their message. Nobody wants to write a piece that lacks character, or drones on for too long; but what are some of the other common pitfalls that writers find themselves stumbling over when writing interesting content?
So how can writers work to overcome these roadblocks, and create content that pulls in readers? The answer lies with split testing your content with a mock online audience, and surveying them to uncover what issues your readers want you to write about.
Surveying starts with creating a clear goal. Without a concrete idea of what you wish to accomplish with your survey, you risk wasting valuable time and resources running ineffective studies.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you have a clear grasp on what you expect to get out of your engagement survey:
Do your questions serve the greater purpose of trying to discern what types of content your audience wants more of? Keep your questions on topic, and resist the temptation to over-stuff them with additional asks or wants. If you need to ask about a related topic, you can always run a separate survey.
Do your questions cut to the core of your research needs? Avoid asking extraneous or unnecessary questions; culling your survey down to only the most necessary questions keeps your audiences engaged and reduces your early exit rate.
Knowing who your audience is made up of is just as important - if not more so - than knowing what kind of content they desire. Make sure you’ve correctly identified who your readers are (i.e. demographics) so that you can pair your survey with the appropriate audiences.
What is your action plan? In other words: how are you going to turn the raw data from your surveys into real, tangible changes to your copy? Developing a plan of action enables researchers to create
When it comes to developing a visual presentation for your data set, keep in mind the audience you’ll be presenting your data to. Are they executives? Investors? Voters? Political pundits? Keeping your data visualization.
How much time, money, and employees are you able to invest in making these research campaigns happen? Planning, developing, executing, and analyzing surveys can take anywhere from days to weeks of your time. Make sure you plan accordingly.
Straight-forward and to the point. Asking your readers what they’d like to see more of on your website is often the easiest way to gather feedback on the relevancy of your posting.
Learn what other types of content and media your readers consume to identify where your competition is stiffest.
Do your readers respond the most to informal blogs? Articles? Videos? The medium through which you deliver your message is just as vital as the message itself. Don’t let your story be undermined by the simple fact that your readers may prefer blog essays to slideshows.
While this may seem similar to the first question in our list, it cuts to the core of a related but distinct subject. Data like this serves to build a more complete and accurate picture of your readers. Knowing what drives your audience - their passions, hobbies, careers, and interests - drives your content creation in the right direction.
Now that you know what your readers are after, it’s finally come time to deliver the goods. Here is how you start to turn your innate knowledge of your customers into real content.
When readers tell you what they want to read - listen to them. It may be tempting to read further into what they’re saying - or disregard their tastes in favor of writing what may be more interesting to you. Suppress the urge.
When you want to write effective, engaging content - you must give the readers what they’re after. Their comments, engagement, and polling data are all proof to help reassert the
Take the opportunity to refresh your well of resources. It’s easy to get into a routine of visiting the same websites and the same authors to reference for your content. A much better practice would be to explore a breadth of different websites and creators, taking notes on what strikes well with certain audiences.
Create a content map to guide your writing. Set realistic deadlines for when you can finish your projects, and plan to release them on a consistent schedule; one that fits with the content you’re writing and the expectations of your audience.
Sometimes it’s not the content that fails to connect with your audience - but the medium through which you present it; or the style and flair you use to present it. Try introducing breathing new life into your writing process by writing in a different setting, or find a new editor to review your work. Challenge yourself to present your content in a way that both engages and resonates with your target readers.
At the end of the day, the most important element of connecting with your readers on any topic is: loving what you write. If you don’t have your heart in it, no amount of forcing yourself to write is going to compensate for a lack of natural enthusiasm.
So don’t be afraid to be yourself in your writing. Connect with your readers on their level, and develop real relationships with them. The more closely you can genuinely empathize with your readers, the better you’re able to tell their stories.
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