One of the most powerful market research tools that you have at your fingertips is your business blog.
You can learn everything about your audience with a few well written posts – their thoughts, their feelings and of course, their buying habits.
Blog posts are created with social media in mind, and should be used to interact with your audience.
If you use your business blog well, you can find out all kinds of information through it and that information will enable you to develop future products and services.
Ones that your readers actually want and will pay for. So how can you use your blog as one of your main market research platforms?
Let’s dig in.
Ask a Question
Come right out with it and ask a question in your blog post. Your audience and conversation is a two-way street, they’ll happily share what works for them – if you let them.
Write a blog post on a topic related to your business or product, and then at the end, ask readers what they think. They’ll give their opinions in the comments and you’ll learn valuable data about your product and service offering – live R&D
Always Answer Comments
Just because you asked a question, your job is far from done. You need to take the time to respond to every commenter.
- Thank them and comment on something they said
- Answer their question if they’ve asked one.
- Use this opportunity to follow up on their comments and ask them for more details.
In a market research style blog post your job is to make everyone, every commenter feel valued. After all, they’ve taken the time to help you and your business.
Email for More Info
You can also choose to email respondents for follow-up details. Sometimes this can be a better approach because your reader may be more willing to share their opinions on your products and services privately with you.
You do not want to look like you’re soliciting information or praise – that feels false, and your reader can detect that easily.
Only use the email address they provide on the blog’s comment form. Now this is something I don’t do as the privacy laws in the UK are different to those in the US, however, if I see they are subscribed to my newsletter as well, then I will reach out in private, as they have opted into communication and dialogue with me.
I tend to send a link to the post and express an interest in their opinion and thoughts on the topic.
You can always offer up your email address in post for private feedback or suggest they use your contact form if you prefer.
Making Your Blog a Nice, Safe Neighborhood
Often, people won’t leave their comments because they’re afraid of getting attacked or insulted.
I’ve stopped commenting on other blogs when other commenters have attacked people and the blog owner has ignored it. I don’t like to read bitchiness in the comments. Bitchy comments affect your business, they show the commenter and you in a not so positive light.
Help your commenters overcome their fear by aiming to be as supportive and personal as possible.
While your business blog should generally stick to business related topics, share a personal story sometimes and make it feel human rather than cold and sterile. And if there is any bitchiness, stamp on it quick, you may think it’s banter and harmless but I’m not the only person put off by it.
Use Comments for Future Posts
When people comment on your blog, they tell you what they like or don’t like. They may also express interest in learning more about something. Use this feedback for future blog posts.
For example, readers may ask a question about something you said in the post or something related to it. If you use the Editorial Calendar Plugin then add these ideas to the titles section. Start a list of these topics that your readers are interested in.
You’ll get the triple benefit of a ready source of new blog post ideas while giving your audience what they want and making them feel part of your community at the same time.
Spy on Your Competition
You can get great information about your market-place just by looking at your competitors’ blogs.
There’s a good chance you share your audience with them, so see what their readers have to say in the comments. Join in and leave a comment too, you can get traffic back to your own blog from a well placed, supportive comment.
You can use your competitors’ blogs for future post ideas as well. There is no copyright on a comment, so you can expand upon something you read, although it’s good practice to state your source. In fact, I’d insist on stating the source, it can lead to a friendship and all kinds of joint venture opportunities.
Beyond Your Blog
The technique of asking questions to get a discussion going for market research purposes is one you can use anywhere. Try posting your blog post on your Facebook profile, Twitter feed or any forums you belong to.
The key is to approach it not as a marketer gathering information, but as a friend asking for opinions. This makes people much more comfortable and the information they give you will be more honest and thoughtful.
And finally, remember there are many types of post you should be using on your business blog. Market research posts are just one type and you shouldn’t over do them. Remember to write the hyper useful posts that give back to your readers:
- How to posts
- Review posts
- Case Studies
- And avoid coma business blog posts
And always share with your readers the results of your research – as an extra for newsletter subscribers or as another blog post. This is another way of thanking them for their time.
Over to you – have you used your blog for market research? How did it go? What extra would you add to this?